Yukon Nuggets

  • This 1989 photo shows the restored No.4 dredge.

  • This photo shows the beauty of the tailings left by the gold dredges.

  • A side view of dredge Canadian No. 4. Date: 1916. Yukon Archives. Claude & Mary Tidd fonds, #8396.

1991 Yukon Nuggets

Gold Dredge No. 4


When she was built in 1912 on Bonanza Creek, she entered the record books as the largest dredge in the world. For almost 50 years, this magnificent structure helped turn the Klondike valley upside down and produced millions in gold for her owners.

They didn't give personalized names to dredges as they did riverboats back in the old days. If they had, dredge no. 4 would have been called King of the Klondike. She was built in the summer and winter of 1912, on claim number 112 below discovery on Bonanza Creek, by the Canadian Klondike Gold Mining company. Looking like a huge floating hotel, she was eight storeys high and two-thirds the length of a football field. Massive. That's the only way to really describe her.

The dredge, with huge 16-cubic-foot buckets, could dig down almost 50 feet to bedrock where millions of dollars in gold lay waiting to be dragged to the surface. When she started work in the spring of 1913, it took 300 men to keep the dredge operational from April till November. She slowly, but surely, dug her way upstream into what was then known as the Boyle concession, ground owned by Big Joe Boyle. There, in 1924, she sunk and was out of service for three years. In 1927, dredge no. 4 was refloated and dug her way down the Klondike valley and over to the rich ground on Hunker creek. Here it's said, she dug up 800 ounces of gold in a single day on claim 67 below discovery.

In 1941, she was dismantled and rebuilt by the Yukon Consolidated Gold Corporation on lower Bonanza, where she operated until 1959. The end came because the gold just wasn't enough to maintain the operating costs. But in her day, old dredge no. 4 had produced almost nine million dollars in gold when the yellow metal was no more than $35 an ounce.

The dredge sat in her final pond for more than 30 years. In 1991, she was excavated, refloated and moved to her present location on high ground near the world famous Bonanza Creek, an impressive reminder of how gold and the Klondike made Yukon history.


A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.

Les McLaughlin

Les McLaughlin

As storyteller, radio man, and music producer, Les proved a passionate preserver of Yukon heritage throughout his life — nowhere more evident than as the author and voice of CKRW’s “Yukon Nuggets,” from its inception until his passing in 2011.