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Atlin. A Gold Town

The Atlin gold rush was not quite as big as the Klondike gold rush back 1898 but it did garner world wide attention. What got it started was all these men hiking over the Chilkoot trail and beyond to get to Dawson City Yukon, some men ventured off in other directions. Two propsectors, Kenny MacLaren and Fritz Miller were two such people that didn't follow the crowd. Instead they headed east in an area just about 6 miles from where Atlin is today on Pine Creek and found gold. Lots of gold! Didn't take long and word got out that there was gold in Atlin and a lot of the men enroute to Dawson abandoned that idea and headed across to Atlin.

Wasn't long before a town sprung up out on Pine Creek. The town became known as Discovery and almost 10,000 people were there working the creeks for the yellow metal. At it's peak there dozen of saloons, brothels and of course essentials like groceries and other supplies. Soon the town moved to where it is today along the shores of Atlin Lake. Mining spread over to ther creeks such as Spruce Creek where some of the world's largest nuggets have been found. Small settlements scattered these creeks as well as small groups of miners lived out along the creeks. Mining was just for the little guys either. Various companies came in and built large dredges on both Pine and Spruce Creek. Upper Spruce became famous for the Nolan Mine right at the tributary of Spruce and Dominion Creek. It is estimated that over 300,000 ounces of gold were mined from Pine Creek and upwards of 400,000 ounces of gold mined from Spruce Creek. Gold nuggets weighing up to 48 ounces have been found on Pine Creek and gold nuggets over 80 ounces have been found on Spruce Creek.

Other creeks in the area like Birch Creek, Boulder Creek, became famous in their own ways. Pine Creek however held the most riches. Over the years many companies have gone in and developed large placer type opertaions on this creek In the 1980's Queenstake had a large placer operation where thousand of ounces were sluiced from this rich creek. Even today there are stilll small placer miners poking around looking for left overs.

Other creeks in the area such as Ruby Creek saw a lot of placer mining over the years but some other action, moly exploration by Adanac Moly took center stage for a while. In the early 2000's Adanac Moly was looking to develope the Ruby Creek Moly deposit. Roads where constructed and a lot of drilling had been done up to date. Then the 2008 credit crises hit and the abilty to raise money dried up. The price of moly also fell from around $40 lb to around $12 lb.

Gold wasn't the only metal sought in the Atlin area. In the early 1900's silver was found on Mt. Vaugn and soon silver was being mined at what became known as the Ruffer Silver Mine or Atlin Silver as others have called it.

Today Atlin is a sleepy little town on the edge of the largest lake in BC. Each summer there is still some active placer mining and exploration that takes place along with those hardy prospectors who are still looking for a way of life and the maybe the motherlode.

Atlin hotel today

Atlin hotel back in the day

The old Ruffner Silver mine
The site was reclaimed in 2012

Nugget Point on Pine Creek 1899

Hydraulic operation early 1900's