Faded Yukon Gold Rush Town, Population 20, Mines Its Weirdness – by Dan Levin (New York Times – October 15, 2017)


Mr. Tremblay began placer mining a few years ago, a passion he
admitted is stoked more by the thrill of discovery than the
prospect of striking it rich. “When you see gold rimmed along
the bottom of a pan,” he said, “it’s better than sex.”

KENO CITY, Yukon Territory — The journey to the heart of Yukon’s historic mineral wealth started with a question posed to a waitress at the aptly titled Gold Rush hotel in the territorial capital of Whitehorse: What’s the weirdest place in Yukon?

Her answer was a patch of pay dirt around 290 miles north, past endless forests of spruce and golden-leafed aspen, at the end of a gravel road known as the Silver Trail. There lies Keno City, a gold-rush-era relic with about a dozen full-time residents, tap water not fit for human consumption and two bars whose owners haven’t been on speaking terms for more than a decade.

Perched among hills rich in silver, zinc and lead, Keno City began as a Swedish prospector’s staked claim in 1919, its name inspired by a popular gambling game and intended to lure hearty fortune-seekers with the promise of an ore-laden metropolis in Canada’s frigid northern reaches.

People made a go of it here for 70 years, as the region became one of Canada’s largest producers of silver. But in 1989, the town was largely emptied by the closure of the United Keno Hill Mine. That turned the nearby company town of Elsa into a ghost town and prompted even the most stubborn holdouts to rebrand their beloved mining outpost as a quirky testament to human tenacity.

“You walk into a place like Keno and you’re like: ‘What? How many people live here, 12?’,” said Dirk Rentmeister, 57, a former miner who grew up in Keno and was drying out a freshly detached moose head in his driveway.

For the record, the population is 20, according to the 2016 census, but that includes part-time residents like Mr. Rentmeister, the owner of the Silvermoon Bunkhouse motel, who returns each summer to capitalize on visitors’ desires for nostalgia, nature and all-terrain-vehicle rides through the wilderness.

For the rest of this article: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/15/world/canada/yukon-keno-city.html