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A Watery Grave - Drownings in the Yukon & Alaska

by Murray Lundberg

        Even under the best conditions, travel along the waterways of the Yukon and Alaska has always been a hazardous undertaking. During the Klondike Gold Rush, when tens of thousands of cheechakos hit the trail to the goldfields, accidents were as frequent as they were inevitable. The North West Mounted Police made laws on the fly as they sought to reduce the death toll - probably the most significant (and unpopular) of those laws was the requirement (as of June 1898) to either prove competency or hire a professional pilot to take boats through Miles Canyon and White Horse Rapids. Although deaths still occurred, the number of victims would undoubtedly have run into hundreds without the Mountie's vigilance at Canyon City, the head of the canyon.

        Many people just vanished along the trail - did they fall through the ice? Change their plans and go somewhere else without telling anyone? Nobody knows - this is one of the great mysteries of the Klondike Stampede.

        This inventory is one of our many works-in-progress, and is presented in the hope that it will prompt further research in this area. If you find errors, have additions that you are willing to share, or just have a comment, please drop me a line. With a couple of exceptions, only drownings on inland waters are listed here - maritime deaths will be listed separately at some point.

        When several names are listed after a single date, the deaths occurred in a single accident - when the same date is listed twice, the accidents were unrelated. Although the target here is pre-1902, many other later drownings have been added as we came across them.

Alphabetical Listing

Chronological Listing