The "Real" Final Frontier

FTLComm - Faro, Yukon - Tuesday, December 4, 2001

These pictures were taken on a very cold Sunday afternoon in the mid 1980s. Our hockey teams had boarded Ermie's bus Friday afternoon and set off on the Campbell Highway from Watson Lake by Ross River to Faro. I finished off my school day then flew up to the isolated mining town touching down just before dark. The tournament over they got on the bus and I took off for home Sunday afternoon and these pictures give you some idea of what that part of the world is like.

I think that this picture (right) shows the mine area as does the scene below.

This pictures shows some of the town site with a neighbourhood of house trailers, the school and rink below. The school was interesting.

The town was built on permafrost and through the years the warmth of the school melted the ice beneath it causing structural damage. The solution to the problem was to drill a series of pipelines under the building connect them to a refrigeration unit and stabilise the ground by keeping it frozen.

The mine was a huge very rich deposit of lead and zinc.

The refined ore was taken by truck to Whitehorse then over the railway to the Alaskan port of Skagway then shipped to Japan. The enormous transportation costs made the product barely competitive and at this time the railroad had shut down and the ore was being trucked to Haines but the costs built up, mine owner ship changed and the scene above is now a ghost town. Only a few people still live in the once thriving mining town of Faro.

The picture above and the one above it tell the story of the desolation of this part of the world. Endless wilderness of fairly short forest, abundant with wildlife but almost devoid of people.

The Ross River people did some hunting and trapping but life there was very tough.

The terrain is amazing, very hard to discern on the surface because of the forest and musket but from the air things like this old worn mountain top protrude above the country side

With cloud above the light is very diffuse so that contrast between land, snow and sky almost vanishes. The picture on the right shows a mountain ridge in the foreground looking up a hanging valley.

Below the MacKenzie mountains which stretch down into Southern Yukon are tough and very hard to navigate. Rich in minerals that are worthless because of their extreme distance from markets.

Here is another peek over a mountain ridge with a valley below off in the distance.

The area has been carefully explored and there are roads to many mountain tops as prospectors checked out nickel, zinc and silver deposits. During the summer many mountains will have the red glow of mercury oxide.

At the South end of this mountain range there are areas where the Kaska people will not go, it is considered a taboo area, with legends of Saskquwatch and the local people refer to the area as the place of the elephants. Though no one had found, while we lived in Watson Lake, a mammoth a good friend of mine, a prospector took every opportunity he could to look up in the slopes of the Tungsten range for a frozen mammoth that had been reported in the area.

A land of mystery, legend and promise. But mostly an empty place with an unforgiving climate and yet miraculous potential. One day people will claim this land once more.