ËDHÄ DÄDHËCHĄ (MOOSEHIDE SLIDE)
• size, shape, location, and composition of the slide and its immediate surroundings, including the scar, talus apron discharge and plateau at the base of the slide • Location and remnants of the Acklen Ditch across the slide • Moosehide Trail across the slide • Remains of hillside residences at the base of the slide, including stone foundations, tin midden and in situ artifacts • Views to and from Moosehide Slide including vistas overlooking the City of Dawson, Tr’ochëk, and the Yukon River.
Construction Period: Pre 1895 Designation Level: Municipal
The Moosehide Slide was designated for its cultural, historical, and aesthetic values.
Moosehide Slide is one of the most iconic natural features of the Yukon. For the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in it signified the arrival to their fishing grounds and a coming together of families following winter travels; for gold seekers it signified their arrival into the Klondike; and today it signifies a connection to place for all residents of the region.
The story of the creation of the Moosehide slide is a “long-ago” story demonstrating Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in’s enduring relationship with their landscape. This story relates to other important stories which describe the creation of Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in’s physical world in the Yukon, and further relates to other Athabascan stories both in the Yukon and Alaska. The Moosehide Trail, which crosses the slide and provides an overland route between Moosehide and Tr’ochëk, is one of the few Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in traditional routes still used today.
Historic photographs of Dawson City feature Moosehide Slide prominently, establishing this landmark in the imaginations of gold-rush aficionados world-wide. The site contains artifacts from Dawson City’s gold rush era: The Acklen Ditch, built in the early 1900s to transport water for hydraulic mining operations, is still visible across the Moosehide Slide. As well, at the base of the slide there are remains of historic residences, including stone foundations, a tin midden, and a number of in situ artifacts.
Presently, Moosehide Slide provides a backdrop to the City of Dawson’s North End green space. It includes a trail loop which connects to the ninth avenue trail and community park space with some of the most varied vegetation within the city limit. Viewpoints from the Moosehide trail provide vistas overlooking the City of Dawson, Tr’ochëk and the Yukon River.
Character Defining Elements
• size, shape, location, and composition of the slide and its immediate surroundings, including the scar, talus apron discharge and plateau at the base of the slide
• Location and remnants of the Acklen Ditch across the slide
• Moosehide Trail across the slide
• Remains of hillside residences at the base of the slide, including stone foundations, tin midden and in situ artifacts
• Views to and from Moosehide Slide including vistas overlooking the City of Dawson, Tr’ochëk, and the Yukon River.
Historical Sources Location
• City of Dawson Bylaw #2018-06 “Moosehide Slide Municipal Historic Site Bylaw”
• Moosehide Slide Municipal Heritage Site Nomination Package, submitted by Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in
• City of Dawson Heritage Advisory Committee Resolution #17-19-05
Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Elder Mary McLeod related the origin story of the slide in 1974:
“In early days there were cannibals everywhere and they bothered people. So one time people climb hill near where is now Moosehide to get above them. Lots of big trees on these hills that time. People had only axe made of sharp rock in those days. They cut down the biggest tree with stone axe and they throw that tree down the hill on cannibals. That tree start big slide. It kill all the cannibals. That slide is shaped like hide of moose so people call the place Moosehide.”
It is not known how long the trail across Ëddhä̀ dä̀ dhëchą has been in use. It links two ancient Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in communities, Moosehide and Tr’ochëk, and likely acted as a connection to many other traditional trails. The slide itself is a symbol of home to the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. Chief Isaac proudly displayed a drawing of the slide of Dawson on his drum because, as his great granddaughter explains, “the symbol that is shaped like a moose are signs of the land set there for his people to live and to remember.” Chief Isaac can be seen holding his drum in historical photos. The image has also become a symbol for the biennial Moosehide Gathering, an event that celebrates the strength and successes of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in.
The slide is thought to have occurred some 1,740 years ago possibly due to a combination of pore water pressure and seismic activity. The slide contains a rock glacier that becomes an earth flow near its base. The slide area is still active as evidenced by tension cracks and split trees near the head scarp. There is concern that another slide may be triggered that will run down into the townsite. With average temperatures increasing, permafrost will melt, increasing the pressure of groundwater held in the soil and between layers of rock. This is what is thought to have triggered the first great slide. The increase in annual snow and rainfall will also contribute to the pore ground water increasing the likelihood of another slide.
The remnants of a flume or aqueduct crossing the slide was the idea of J.A. Acklen. While digging an irrigation ditch to water his crops on the high ground above the Klondike River, he discovered gold. Realizing he could use water under pressure to wash out the gold, he struck upon the idea of diverting water from Moosehide Creek, storing it high above the Klondike Valley, then siphoning it to supply water to his mine. He began work in 1905. He sold his rights to the Guggenheims who eventually completed the project. Acklen was the first to envision hydraulic mining in the Klondike.
21: DCM, Isaac family fonds, Photograph 1990.77.12.
22: M. Sturzenegger et al., Hazard and risk of the Moosehide Slide (Ëddhä̀ dä̀ dhëchą), Dawson City, Yukon, 2022.
23: City of Dawson Municipal Designation - Moosehide Slide.