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The Mines Of The Whitehorse Copper Belt

Almost everyone in the world has hear about the Klondike gold rush. It was one of the biggest gold rushes in the world ever. During that time prospectors from all over the world came to find fame and fortune. However many prospectors decided along the way to look elsewhere and that is how many of the gold towns and mining plays inother parts or the area came to be.

One such mining was that of the Whitehorse Copper Belt. This belt is about 20 some miles of rich high grade copper along with gold and silver and it was located just on what is the outside of Whitehorse today. There were many mines that started up along this high grade belt of copper.

The first copper ore in the Whitehorse copper belt was discovered in 1898 by an American named John McIntyre. Then 1899, another American named William Grainger came to the Yukon andd he acquired an interest in the property. These two men started the Copper King mine and by 1900 they were shipping ore. John McIntyre would work at odd jobs in the winter to help fund his mining operation like many other miners back then did. In 1902 he had the mail run from Atlin BC and during one of those trips he fell through the ice and drowned. This left just William Grainger to run the Copper King mine on his own.

In 1907 the Copper King mine was doing quite well and was turning out good copper ore so William optioned the mine out to some Americans for $200,000 and he stayed on as a mine manager. In May of that year William and a helper went down into the mine where there had been a fire burning that was melting frozen ground and ice. When the two never came to surface a search party went down into the mine only to find the two men dead. They had died from what was called "Black Damp" or carbon monoxide.

With two mine deaths now a lot of people started thinking that the copper belt was cursed. The so called curse did little to slow down the staking of claims and the building of mines. During that time several other mines were built. One of those mines was the Pueblo mine. It was the most productive mine and proved to be a big money maker for the owners. However this mine was what they called a "Wet mine" mening there was always water seeping into the shafts and tunnels. It was estimated that close to 600 gallons a minute was seeping into the mine. All this water funning in ended up washing away silts and formations and then one day, March 21, 1917, nine miners were trapped by a cave in. Searchers managed to rescue only three of the miners and the other 6 miners were never recovered. After that the Pueblo mine was closed.

You can still go to these old mines just outside Whitehorse Yukon. There is a museum where you can see the history and even ride the old rails where the narrow guage train use to haul the ore from these old famous mines.