Carmacks has a rich history with many interesting historical highlights. It is also the hub of much of the current economic development in the Yukon and is a popular stopping place when travelling the North Klondike Highway.
Hub of the Yukon
Traditional territory of the Northern Tutchone: fish camps established along the river.
Important trading center with other First Nations (Tagish, Tlingit, Southern Tutchone).
1840s brought white trappers and prospectors into the Yukon (but not many).
US Army’s Lieutenant Schwatka names Tantalus Butte on his 1883 expedition to Alaska.
Schwatka’s trip "wakes Ottawa up" from its total indifference to the Yukon (it goes back to sleep shortly afterwards), and they send George Dawson of the Geological Survey to check us out. Dawson notes coal seams around Tantalus Butte in 1887.
George Carmack discovers coal at Five Finger Rapids and near Tantalus Butte in 1893 (years later he finds gold at Bonanza Creek but it doesn’t burn well).
Carmack’s cabin turns into a trading post that becomes an important riverboat stop. Locals set up wood camps to supply fuel for the sternwheelers.
Northwest Mounted Police build a post and the Dominion Telegraph line to Dawson is built in 1899 (you can still find remnants of the trail close by).
The old telegraph office has been reclaimed and serves as our Visitor Information Center.
Coal replaces wood to fuel the riverboats when wood prices escalate around 1903. Captain Charles Miller stakes a claim and mines 40,000 tons by 1905.
The Overland Trail comes through in 1901 and Carmacks becomes an overnight stop.
Eugene Mack and Seymour Rawlinson build "#6 roadhouse" in 1903, with 20 beds and a dining room for 50. Closed in 1943, it was restored in the mid-90s.
Rawlinson tries to get a sign with "Carmack" on it for the roadhouse, but the sign painter adds an "S" or forgets an apostrophe – and we get our name.
Over 8,000 tons of coal a year are shipped to Dawson City by 1903 to heat homes and power the Dawson Electric Light Co.
The Tantalus Butte mine caught fire in 1978 and was sealed. We get occasional reports of puffs of steam.
High prices for fox pelts just before WWI led to 3 fox farms being started – closed in the late 1930s.
All-weather road was built to Mayo in 1950 and on to Dawson 5 years later. Thanks to the road, we did not suffer the fate of some sternwheeler stops along the river. The road also contributed to a population boost as many First Nations people moved in from outlying settlements.
Our population now is about 450. Carmacks is incorporated as a Yukon municipality, and the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation provides government in their jurisdiction.
The boardwalk is a favourite among our many visitors and the Mayor is happy to sign certificates for those who walk it end to end.
For more information about the Village Of Carmacks, Yukon, please visit www.carmacks.ca.