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 61 Vict. Supplementary Public Works Report. 436a
To W. S. Gore, Esq.,
Deputy Commissioner Lands and Works,
Victoria, B. G.
Sib,—In compliance with instructions from the Department, dated 27th July, 1897, I
have made a thorough and careful examination of the Hootalinqua River, taken accurate
soundings and notes thereof, and also made a complete inspection of the water-way from the
south end of Teslin Lake to Dawson City, on the Yukon River, an approximate distance of
569 miles. This distance was measured by time and carefully recorded, the result of which
shows Teslin Lake to be 112 miles in length, Hootalinqua River, 118 miles, the Lewes and
Yukon Rivers to Dawson City, 339 miles—a total distance of 569 miles. Upon this fine
stretch of navigable water I have the honour to submit the following report:—
Having already submitted a short report on the trail from Telegraph Creek to Teslin
Lake, shall confine this report chiefly to the water stretch, more especially that portion covered
by the Hootalinqua River.
Teslin Lake is a beautiful sheet of water. Commencing at the south end of what is now
designated the South Arm, the width of the lake varies from 450 feet to half a mile for a
distance of 12 miles. From this point the width varies from 2 to 1\ miles until it reaches the
north end, from which the Hootalinqua River flows. The lake is generally deep, in many
places there is a great depth of water. The lands at the shores are flat, level table lands,
broken hills and mountains, which latter at some points extend nearly to the edge of the
water, more especially at the northern end of the lake. But there the mountains are not of
high altitude, 1,000 to 1,500 feet, and clay bluffs of irregular formation usually intervene
between the water edge and mountains. A rough sketch of the lake is annexed to this
The Hootalinqua is a noble river. The general trend of the river is north-westerly.
For many miles the upper end of the river has a very regular course, with many long, straight
reaches; the lower end has a more irregular course.
The width of the river varies from 260 to 1,000 feet, as taken by observation, and the
depth varies from 5 to over 18 feet, as recorded by the soundings.
The current of the river is usually slow, from 1| to 4J miles per hour, excepting at two
points where 5^ miles, and one point where 6J, are recorded, but the distances are very short.
There is nothing throughout its length which can be properly classified as a rapid.
The bed of the river at the Teslin Lake end is hard clay for a short distance, but it is
generally composed of small boulders and gravel.
The banks of the river are river flats, hills, broken ridge hills, level table lands 8 to 20
feet above the water, clay and gravel, sand and silt banks. These several formations, in
alternate succession, form the character of the banks of the river throughout its whole length.
River flats frequently occur on both sides. At many points the clay and gravel, sand and
silt banks have perfectly regular slopes of beautiful form, and are frequently castellated similar
to those along the Thompson River, between Spence's Bridge and Kamloops Lake. They
have an attractive appearance.
The timber is chiefly small spruce, poplar, birch and black pine. The hills and mountains
are very often bare of trees, but bunch-grass is abundant.
The channel of the river has numerous islands. At some points, by including these, the
width is largely increased. This generally results in a decrease of the depth of water. The
deep channel is in many places irregular, crossing and re-crossing from bank to bank. 436b Supplementary Public Works Report. 1897
At 13 miles, where a depth of only 5 feet is recorded, undoubtedly a deeper channel does
exist. At this point islands are numerous, but every effort that time would admit of was
made to sound deeper water. Should a greater depth be required it can easily be obtained by
constructing wing-dams, or putting a dam across one of the channels between the islands. At
73|- miles, where a similar depth of 5 feet occurs, a deeper channel shows on the west side of
the river.
At 6| miles down stream from Teslin Lake, rock crops out on the west bank of the river
close to the water's edge.
The river does not indicate that any great and damaging freshets occur. There are no
log-jams, and no signs of ice-jams.    The greatest rise of water appears to be about 5 feet.
Many small streams empty into the river, and they may be considered gold-bearing.
Colours were found at a few points which were examined.
Mountain ranges show in the distance on both sides of the river.
As the notes taken are very copious, sufficient to fill a very lengthy document, it is
considered advisable to annex to the report a rough sketch of the river, with abridged notes,
and the distances, widths and soundings in a tabular form. This will furnish a clear and
comprehensive knowledge, such as may be required.
At 118 miles intersect the Lewes River. Islands and flats characterize the junction.
There appears to be a gravel bar, but the lowest depth of water shows 7 feet.
From the foregoing statements, in conjunction with annexed sketch and notes, it must be
inferred that the Hootalinqua is a magnificent stretch of water, suitable for navigation by
light draught, powerful river steamers.
From the confluence of the Hootalinqua and Lewes Rivers, general notes were carefully
recorded, along the latter as far as Dawson City, a distance of 339 miles. As the soundings
taken for a few miles were very satisfactory, and the channel of the river showing a depth of
water sufficient for the purpose of navigation, it was not considered necessary to incur the
delay required to continue taking soundings.
The course of the river is almost due north from the mouth of the Hootalinqua to
the Big Salmon River, a distance of 31 miles. From thence it flows in a north-westerly
The width of the river varies from 600 to 1,500 feet. At some points, where numerous
islands occur, the valley has a width of from half to one mile.
The current varies from 3 to 5 miles, excepting at the Five Finger Rapids, where the
speed is about 14 miles.
The bed of the river is chiefly boulders and gravel.
The river banks maintain a sameness of character throughout, flats, steep gravel, clay and
sand banks, broken ridges, hills and mountains; rock crops out occasionally. These formations are generally in alternate succession, but at some points the flats are on both sides. The
timber is chiefly small spruce, poplar and birch.
The trend of the river is very irregular, full of islands and gravel bars. The water is
much clearer than that of the Hootalinqua, and has a bluish tint. The climatic indications
assume a more northerly aspect than the valley of the Hootalinqua.
At 31 miles from the mouth of the Hootalinqua, pass the Big Salmon River, which flows
in on the east side. The Little Salmon River joins the Lewes at 65 miles on the east side.
At 72 miles, pass the Eagle's Nest Rock. At 118 miles coal prospecting is being carried on
in rocky mountain on the east bank of the river.
At 120 miles meet the Five Finger Rapids. The passage was made through the most
easterly channel. The rapids are rough and foam up furiously, but the distance is very short
and the depth of water good. There is every possibility of a steamer with powerful engines
being able to make it, the distance is so short. In any case there is an excellent surrounding
to enable a steamer to be lined over the difficulty. These rapids can be very much improved
by the removal of some of the rocks. The blasting required should be done during the winter
season at as early a date as possible. The rapid at some distance farther down stream is not
of much importance.
At the distance of 175 miles from the Hootalinqua River, pass Fort Selkirk on the west
bank of the river, and the great Pelly River, which enters on the east side. From this
confluence the Lewes River becomes the Yukon.
At 244 miles meet the mouth of the White River, which enters the Yukon on the west
side.    In this river the ice was running in large quantities. 61 Vict. Supplementary Public Works Report. 436c
At 258 miles the Stewart River, said to be so rich in gold, joins the Yukon on the east
side; 282 miles reach 60-Mile Post. There is a store and some cultivated land at this point.
The 60-Mile Creek joins the main river on the west, opposite to the store, which is located on
the east side.
At 339 miles strike Dawson City. The city is a long straggling place, composed of log
cabins and tents, located on the eastern bank of the river. The town extends over two miles
along the river front, is in two divisions, divided by the Klondike River. The south division
bears the dignified name of Louse Town, and the north division is called Dawson City. The
population of the town and mines will be at present about 7,000. An immense number of the
fortune hunters are frozen in along the different trails. The only buildings with any pretension
to size are three stores, opera house, hospital, two or three saloons and the police barracks.
Saloons and restaurants are innumerable. Whiskey is largely consumed at these places, and
costs 50 cents to $1 per glass. A famine in food is likely to occur during the early spring.
There is a great shortage, the stores have nothing to sell, such as flour, rice, beans and bacon.
Flour is now fetching $100 per bag, 50 pounds. Rice, beans and bacon, $1.00 per pound.
Beef, $1.25 per pound by the quarter, and everything else in proportion. Many hundreds of
the miners are obliged to go out, which is a serious and dangerous undertaking.
Gold has been and is being taken out of the creek beds which empty into the Klondike
River in marvellous quantities, especially on the Bonanza and Eldorado; $800,000 was refused
recently for seven claims.
Before closing this report it is desirable to draw your attention to the immense importance of establishing the route from Fort Wrangel via Teslin Lake and the Hootalinqua River.
It is a grand project, commanding over 2,500 miles of river navigation with only one portage
of 100 or 120 miles, over which a railway can be constructed without any difficulty. The
opening of this route would result in enormous benefit to the coast towns of British Columbia.
It would not only open up this vast gold region, but also the District of Cassiar, which is so
rich in mineral wealth. Therefore the construction of this short line of railway is worthy of
an active move on the part of the Government of B. C. The Dominion Government must
see the importance of making the necessary river improvements at an early date.
Trusting the foregoing statements are placed before you in a sufficiently clear and
satisfactory manner,
I have, &c,
(Signed)        L. B. Hamlin,
C. E. & D. L. S.
Dawson City, N. W.T., 1st November, 1897.
Note.—Received at Victoria 9th March, 1898.    Plans referred to have not yet been received.
W. S. G.
Printed by Richard Wolfenden, Printer to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty.


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