In what appears to be a Canadian first, a community is hoping to inaugurate mining waste as a protected historic site. Dawson City, Yukon, the former capital of the Klondike Gold Rush, is aiming to preserve several hectares of unremediated dredge tailings.
“It does seems a little bit odd that you would want to set aside what looks like worm casings, but it’s part of our history,” said Mayor Wayne Potoroka, noting that several piles have already been flattened to make way for new developments.
In a letter to territorial officials requesting municipal heritage status, Dawson City noted it was seeking the “protection necessary to ensure its cultural value isn’t lost.” The tailings are all the result of dredge mining.
The standard image of Yukon mining is a single prospector with a gold pan. However, by the 1920s, Klondike gold mining had been industrialized with massive building-sized bucket dredges.
Crawling along at a speed of less than one kilometre per season, the dredges churned up whole creeks, sifted the gravel for gold and then spat out the refuse.
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