Forty Mile: Welcome to Forty Mile
First Nations camp on the Yukon River ice near Forty Mile, winter of 1895-96.
From: M.H.E. Hayne, The Pioneers of the Klondyke (Sampson, Low, Marston & Co., 1897), p. 84.
Brushing crew at Forty Mile, 2002.
Miners at the mouth of the Fortymile River, 1894.
V. Wilson, Glimpses of Alaska, Klondike and Goldfields, Oct. 1897, p. 40.
The people from around here [Tr’ochëk] also spent a lot of time down at Forty Mile which in my language is called Ch'èdà Dëk and I’m not sure what it means.
Percy Henry, 1995
At the confluence of two major rivers, the Fortymile and the Yukon, is the historic settlement of Forty Mile. The Fortymile River got its name, not because of its length, but because of its estimated distance downriver from the old trading post of Fort Reliance. The Fortymile begins in Alaska and, with its great network of tributaries, drains an area of 1830 km2 (706 square miles). For over 2000 years, First Nations people have come here to hunt, fish, trade and visit.
This is a key site in Yukon history. It is an important place for our ancestors and the Yukon’s first real non-native settlement. Forty Mile became a mining centre ten years before the Klondike Gold Rush and the building of Dawson City. This was one of the first major contact points between First Nations people and the newcomers to the upper Yukon River valley. The historic site also has two other parts that are located across the river: Fort Cudahy a trading post established in 1893 and Fort Constantine, the Yukon’s first North-West Mounted Police post, built in 1895.
Today, the Forty Mile, Fort Constantine and Fort Cudahy Historic Site is co-owned and co-managed by the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and the Yukon Government. Forty Mile is a Historic Site under the THFA, and the site will be designated as a Yukon Historic Site under the Historic Resources Act. To learn more about this special place, its history and its resources, explore the stories of Forty Mile in the following pages.