The original Copper King mine, just off the Fish Lake road, is the site of more than one mining tragedy. Two mountains in the Whitehorse area are named for men connected to the site in life and in death.
The first high-grade copper ore in the Whitehorse copper belt was discovered in 1898 by John McIntyre, who had come to the Yukon from California. In 1899, William Grainger, who came to the Yukon from Kentucky, acquired an interest in the property. Located just off McIntyre Creek, which was named for John in 1898, the Copper King mine delivered its first shipment of ore in 1900.
McIntyre was doing odd jobs during the winter of 1902-03 and was contracted to carry the mail from Atlin to Log Cabin on the White Pass rail line. On November 25, 1902, McIntyre and his partner left Atlin by dog sled with a load of mail. They never arrived at their destination. A long search resulted in the recovery of the sled and mail beneath the ice of Windy Arm. McIntyre's body was recovered on the shores of Windy Arm in May of 1903.
Four years later, the Copper King mine was showing signs of making money for William Grainger. For some days in May of 1907, the miners had been monitoring a fire they had lit in a shallow shaft to thaw the ice. On Friday, May 10, Grainger and a mine worker - Gilbert Joyce - went down the shaft to inspect the progress of the burn.
When they didn't return, a search party discovered the shaft had been filled with deadly gas known to miners as black damp. The bodies of Grainger and Joyce were eventually recovered near the ladder of the 50-foot shaft. Grainger had been a respected member of the Whitehorse community always boasting that a Greater Whitehorse would some day be a reality because of the many mining prospects.
The funeral was a large civic affair with many of the Whitehorse townsfolk standing outside the church, which was over-flowing with mourners. Sam McGee was one of the pallbearers.
The 5000-foot Mt McIntyre is located seven miles southwest of Whitehorse. The 6500-foot Mt. Granger is located 16 miles southwest of Whitehorse.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin
See also: John McIntyre