1869 Yukon Nuggets
There’s a neat well-maintained pathway with, of all things, stairs. It leads from Alexander Street to the airport. But when I was a kid in the fifties, the trail to the airport via Puckett’s Gulch hadn’t changed much since William Puckett built it around 1900.
Fact is, the trail was in better condition back then because it was regularly used by pack trains heading for the exciting Whitehorse Copper deposits. Lots of famous Yukon characters lived in the tiny town of Whitehorse then, and owned copper properties in the Copper belt:
Sam McGee, William Grainger, John McIntrye and the subject of today’s story, William Puckett. He was born in Missouri in 1869, came to the Yukon via the Chilkoot Pass in 1898 and staked a claim in the Whitehorse copper belt. By 1907, there were six major copper claims working, including Puckett’s Anaconda claim.
All this action was not ignored by the newly formed Territorial Government that provided cash to build a new trail from Whitehorse to the copper mines via what is now the Two Mile Hill. All told, the government funded 36 miles of road to all the major mines and they were shipping tons of copper ore.
Like always, the boom didn’t last and virtually came to a stop in 1908 when copper prices plummeted. But William Puckett was a diversified businessman. By now he owned the Upper Lebarge and Takhini roadhouses on the overland trail to Dawson. He and his wife Anna Harper, who came to Whitehorse from Kentucky in 1900, had three children and made their first home at the Takhini Roadhouse at Takhini Crossing.
However, in 1907, the family moved into Whitehorse, so that the children could attend school. Here, William operated a hardware store on Front Street. He called it - 'The Store that sells all kinds of miners' supplies'.
Later, William also started the Ford car and truck dealership, and in 1935, he opened a sheet metal shop. Sadly, in March 1934, Anna Puckett died in Long Beach, California, where she was visiting her two sons.
In 1937, William left the Yukon and returned to the United States. In Seattle for a cataract operation, he fell in love with his nurse, Margaret Jones. They married and settled in Long Beach, California . William Puckett, a diversified Yukon businessman - best remembered for Puckett’s Gulch, died in 1940.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.