A crew in Dawson City, Yukon, was digging what is delicately termed a “lifting station” — essentially, a pumping facility designed to move the community’s human waste from one place to another.
Until, an excavator struck something with a clang. “Two metres deep, they hit something hard and metallic,” said Mark Dauphinee, the town’s public works superintendent.
Digging up strange things is relatively common for Dawson City work crews. The community owes its existence to buried gold, of course, but the region is also home to a rich trove of Ice Age fossils. A uniquely pungent aroma wafting over a work site is often all that’s needed for crews to realize that they stumbled upon the long-buried carcass of a prehistoric horse.
Plus, as one of the world’s most famous boomtowns, Dawson City is utterly littered in 20th century artifacts, from Gilded Age belt buckles to abandoned dredges. “There’s certainly lots of junk that we dig up,” Dauphinee said.
After an investigation, the artifact turned out to be a safe. It was badly rusted, having spent at least a few decades under the water table. Although the safe is still locked, a large section of the door broke off as it was raised to the surface, exposing several small holes through which the inside can be viewed.
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