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KENO CITY




Keno City came into being around 1920. The were a few cabins before that, mainly belonging to miners who worked Duncan and Lightning creeks for placer gold. But when the silverstrike happened on Keno Hill, it started to take off. The town was officially surveyed into lots and streets big enough to accommodate about 5-6000 people, but it never got that far. There might have been up to a thousand people there at any one time.
But it was a town, complete with hotels, stores, churches,etc.
The grandiose townplan went sort of by the wayside, after people built houses and cabins pretty well where they wanted.
Here are a few of them.
This was locally known as the Waroffice. I never really got to the bottom of that one. The only plausible explanation we could come up with was, that, during WWII, that was the place to sign up for armed service volunteers. As good an explanation as any, I guess.
Anyway,I started to work for Keno Hill Mines on May 28,1960 and after spending that summer and the following winter in one of the Calumet bunkhouses ( Bunkhouse B) I had enough of bunkhouse life. I looked for a place in Keno and I ended up with the Waroffice.
An oldtimer by the name of Joe Cote had lived there for years, but one night on his way home, he tripped, whacked his head against a rock and expired. The cabin was sold as is where is and I rented it from the new owner for $25.- per month.
When I moved in or tried to, that is, I couldn't. The place was a storehouse of everything under the sun. There was a path to a bed, another path to the stove and a path to the door, the rest was stacked with whatever. A lot of it was old mining tools of all kinds.
It took me days to clean it out, before I could finally move in. The place, as old as it was, was as solid as a rock. Built with heavy logs and a tin roof it was still in good shape.At one end there was an addition, this was stickbuilt and it had a Blazo roof. For the uninitiated a Blazo roof is built with flattened fuel tins. Blazo was the brandname of a type of whitegas used for fueling lamps, it came in square 5-gallons cans. When empty the top and bottom were cut off and the rest flattened, and then it could be nailed on the roof. It lasted as long as corrugated iron roofing, but a lot cheaper.
Here is a couple of pics of my across-the-road neighbour's house.
    This was Bombay Peggy's house of illrepute :-). Peg was a madam in the old sense of the word. She had a house in Dawson City and this was a branchoffice, I guess. In my time she was long retired and so once in a while she would come and stay in the Keno cabin for a few weeks.I used to go and visit her, we would sit and drink tea. I usually ended up making it, she was good at getting people to do things for her. I would get her to talk about old times. She had led a colourful life to say the least, at one time in her life she had been married to an army officer, and was stationed in China in the twenties. There were photobooks ful of pictures of that time including a bunch off the Boxer Rebellion.
She could be a crabby old bag at times but she was a neat old lady evenso. If you were intimidated by her, you would get nowhere but if you gave it right back to her, you could get along just fine.
  Other houses were built in later years and one of these was Geordie Dobson's. Geordie owned the local bar and beer bottles were not recycled as they are nowadays.They kept piling up until on day Geordie decided that if you could built a stackwall house with logs, why not one with longnecked beerbottles.
And so he did.
      Don't even try to count them, Geordie himself doesn't even know .

(more to come)
 

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