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Fractured Veins & Broken Dreams:
Montana Mountain and the Windy Arm Stampede

by Murray Lundberg
ISBN 0-9681672-0-9
Published December 1996
5.5" x 8.5", 160 pages, 46 photos, 3 maps
$19.95 (Canadian) (OUT OF PRINT)
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About the Book

    In the years following the Klondike Gold Rush, the population of the Yukon Territory plummeted as the placer gold fields, once the domain of individual or fairly small groups of miners, were taken over by huge dredges, owned by well-capitalized foreign corporations. These dredges processed enormous amounts of gold-bearing gravel, needed few men to operate, and were encouraged by the Territorial government, which saw them as the key to the economic future of the Yukon. For the independent placer and quartz miners who remained, any rumor of a new discovery of gold, silver or copper was cause for a stampede to the area. The most dramatic of these stampedes occurred in the spring of 1905, when development of silver claims between Windy Arm and Carcross, about 50 miles south of Whitehorse, began on a large scale.

    John Conrad, a flamboyant mining promoter from Montana, managed to raise the enormous amounts of capital required for development work from some of the most high-profile financiers in Canada, the United States and Great Britain. With that capital, he consolidated over 100 mining properties, built some of the most ambitious aerial tramways ever attempted, and drove over 6 miles of underground tunnels and drifts. At the height of the rush, the new service town of Conrad City was presumed by many to be the future capital of the Yukon. With three hotels, three churches, a private hospital, a Mounted Police detachment, and most other amenities, Conrad City rapidly became, not just a typical mining boom town, but a respectable place for men to bring their families.

    Unfortunately, the stories of the richness of the mines were too good to be true. Although the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway showed their faith in the mines by surveying for a spur line to Windy Arm to access them, little payable ore was ever shipped. Although the rush only lasted 18 months, several hundred people spent well over one million dollars on development. Now, the caribou and grizzlies have returned to Montana Mountain, and only ghosts and scattered mining ruins remain in what has become one of the prime year-round recreation areas in the southern Yukon.

    For a newspaper review of the book, see the Yukon News, January 17, 1997.

Murray Lundberg

About the Author

    Murray Lundberg has always been fascinated by both the history and the natural wonders of North America's "West" and "North." From an early age, his parents took him and his siblings on explorations across British Columbia; the most fondly remembered are those in search of lost mines, of which the province has many. In 1976, he spent seven months working underground at the enormous Granduc copper mine at Stewart, in British Columbia's rugged northwest, increasing his interest in both the business of mining and the Northern lifestyle.

    Returning south, he worked as a tractor-trailer driver in the Fraser Valley through the 1980s; during that time, he became an anti-clearcut-logging activist, as well as serving on the Boards of several Museums and Historical Associations, and writing trail guides and mining histories of the Chilliwack River Valley (they were never published). In 1985, having earned a commercial pilot's licence and bought a small Cessna, he flew to the Yukon and Northwest Territories, and fell in love with the country. In 1990 he quit his job in Langley and moved to Whitehorse as a tour bus driver, on routes running from Skagway, Alaska to Anchorage, to Inuvik, NWT. This gave him the unexcelled opportunity to see the North (at least the part that has roads) in great detail, and to learn much about the history of the country. Montana Mountain has held his attention since he first arrived in the Yukon; Fractured Veins & Broken Dreams is the result of six years of research both on the mountain, and in archives and museums across North America. It has had several forms, first as a magazine article, then a college history paper, and now a book. The mountain's allure has not faded for him, however.

    Murray and his huskies now live at the foot of Montana Mountain, in a 50-year-old cabin overlooking Lake Bennett. Many days are still spent exploring the area further, and working to ensure that the area's historic and natural wonders are protected, while still allowing small-scale mining to continue.