Forty Mile: Built History
Harvey Van Patten by the NWMP detachment building, built in 1901 after the Mounties left Fort Constantine and moved across the river. The detachment moved into a smaller cabin after this building proved too large and difficult to heat. The building has been stabilized with a new foundation, strengthening of the interior structure and a new main beam.
This warehouse was built by the Alaska Commercial Company between 1895 and 1901. It also housed the company’s store and offices until the company shut down operations in 1915.
Yukon Government photo
This small cabin was Forty Mile’s telegraph office and post office in the early 1900s.
Midnight Arts photo
Part of the Forty Mile cemetery in the late 1970s.
Boris Dobrowolsky photo
Today, nothing remains of the once thriving First Nations community on Mission Island.
When you look at pictures of Forty Mile today, it is hard to imagine that this was once a town of 600 people and scores of buildings. Hidden in the overgrowth are traces of the log cabin town. As well as eight intact buildings, there are remains of other structures in various stages of decay. Under the bush and deep grass are hollows and berms that mark the outlines of long-gone cabins.
The buildings that remain tell stories of the site’s varied history. The two warehouses of the Alaska Commercial Company remind us of the company and its pioneer traders that supplied many Yukon River posts and supported the fur trade with First Nations people and early miners. The two-storey RCMP detachment is one of several buildings used by the Mounties after they moved across the river from Fort Constantine. St. James Anglican Church, built in 1895, was constructed by Reverend Richard Bowen who travelled north to minister to the miners. While looking at these buildings, try to visualize how this place looked at an even earlier time when women cut up fish during the salmon run and hunters sat by campfires crafting tools and looking out for game.