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Report from the Kluane district, 1914

Highlights of History from The Whitehorse Star

Arctic & Northern History

The Weekly Star (Whitehorse, Yukon Territory), Friday, August 21, 1914

The Weekly Star (Whitehorse, Yukon Territory), Friday, August 21, 1914

                KLUANE, Y. T., Aug. 9, 1914.

    Thinking that I have discovered an interesting region on the Upper Donjek river which, in my opinion, is well worth visiting by any tourist or naturalist, I write to you to give it publicity in the hope that it may be set aside as a reserve or park something like the Yellowstone National Park, and also for a safe refuge for wild game, especially the White Mountain Sheep whose extermination here seems otherwise assured.

    This region contains two very big glaciers both easily approached, and a waterfall where the whole Donjek river takes a tumble of 80 or 100 feet (my estimate.) These three features I have used a discoverers right to name and I hope the names will be allowed by the geographers of the future. The first or lower glacier I have named "Petrel Glacier," in memory of my departed friend, Ernest Petrel. The falls I have named "Miller Falls," in honor of Mr. R. C. Miller, our popular Assistant Gold Commissioner, and the upper glacier I have named "Acland Glacier" after Captain A. E. Acland who was in charge of a detachment of the R. N. W. M. P. at Kluane at the time when I first discovered the existence of this glacier and who was kind enough to inform me (when I indicated to him what direction I was going) that if I did not get back to Kluahne on the date set, he would come and look for me.

    The Petrel glacier was supposed to be the source of the Donjek river until 1905 when I proved otherwise. It is seven or eight miles across the face of it and it extends back into the yet unexplored. It has crowded the river out of its original bed and that turbulent stream in attempting to pass has cut antics that are worth anybodys time to see. First, we come to some caves which I have not as yet ventured to explore; next we come to the lower end of a gorge compared with which Miles canyon looks like a toy. Here we must climb up out of the river bed and if anyone cares to look over the brink he will see the whole river rushing through a crooked gorge from 12 to 20 feet wide, with perpendicular walls 200 to 300 feet high, the wildest of wild water that I have ever seen. At the upper end of the gorge is Miller falls and here one can stand on bare bedrock directly in front of the falls nearly on a level with it and about 100 feet from the water looking down, or ahead or he can walk around the seeth-hole in front, and stand on solid bedrock of granite close to the water where it breaks over (something I did not quite do) and see the huge chunks of ice which are continually breaking loose from the glacier in summer go over the falls to be ground up into small particles before it reaches the lower end of the gorge. All this, of course, makes an awful racket, but above it all can be heard the rumbling and grumbling of a very busy glacier. Next we come to two bridges of ice across the river, one of which looks as if constructed by man and will last for years.

    But enough for this time. I have only begun to describe the various sights and my letter will be too long. I am going to start back there tomorrow and will report more when I return. I want to say this: This region must be seen to be properly appreciated and it must be seen in the summer. With a road that autos can travel on, the trip can be made from Whitehorse to Kluane in 1½ days, probably less. With good launches or boats a week or two could be enjoyed on the Beautiful Kluane lake. A good pack trail can be made from there for a moderate cost to this wonderland I have started to describe.

    I will state that in this region I have made a rough estimate of the mountain sheep and place them at 2000 but there are probably more. There are lots of bear and I saw five moose there on my last trip which I did not molest. I am making a plea for the wild animals. They are my friends (except wolves and wolverines.) Cannot this be done by the Yukon government. Forbid above Wolf creek on the Donjek and its tributaries all hunting and trapping. One Indian boasted to me that he alone had killed sixty five sheep there in a few days last fall. It will work no hardship on anyhody here and it will furnish a permanent supply to the surrounding country. Poachers cannot take any game except down the river where they could be easily caught. Hoping this will receive some attention, I remain

            Very truly yours,
                ED. BENSON.

    P. S. - I shall be glad to answer any questions about this country but if the reply is delayed it will be because I have been delayed in reaching the post office. E. B.

    None of the names given by Ed Benson - Petrel Glacier, Acland Glacier, and Miller Falls - are listed in the current Gazetteer of Yukon, the official list of geographical names. The Petrel Glacier is now the Donjek Glacier, but we have not yet found whether or not the falls and upper glacier currently have names.

This related ad for the Whitehorse-Kluane Stage Line was positioned
beside the article above.