Monday, March 22, 2010

The lost boulder of gold.

There are many notable personalities that spent years looking for their gold fortunes in the Fortymile. Those that spent more than a few seasons in the country, often settled down in one of the several communities that are now mostly ghost towns. One of the early characters on the scene was George Matlock, who made his way into the Fortymile country, poling his boat up the river, shortly after hearing about Howard Franklin's strike in 1886. Matlock and several partners staked or bought a claim on the South Fork in 1887 and spent part of that season mining. They wintered in the community of Fortymile on the Yukon that first year so they could whipsaw enough lumber to build boxes and flumes to work ground owned by Frank Bateau who had accumulated $3,000 in gold dust from the previous season's work. They survived on caribou meat, reportedly as many as 40, a bag or two of moldy flour, some moldy beans and a little dried fruit as the supply ship, the Arctic, had been damaged and could not make it up the Yukon before freeze up that year. 

In traveling through the Fortymile country, Matlock ran across a boulder on the Middle Fork, which he recognized as having extremely rich gold mineralization. Not having any way to break up the boulder, he made note of the location and continued on. He later learned that another miner had reported finding indications of a rich gold deposit on the Middle Fork, so Matlock returned but could not locate the spot where he had previously found the boulder of gold. 

George Matlock and his partner, Frank Bateau, continued their pursuit of gold at various locations in the Forlymile. They built one of the first successful flumes used to move dirt, which reportedly developed 24 lbs of head  pressure. Matlock eventually married Jessica Mathers of Eagle and settled down in Chicken. He continued looking for the rich gold he had seen that first year for the rest of his life, but eventually died in 1933 having never found it.  

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