The Llewellyn Glacier in British Columbia, Canada is generally accepted as the source of the Yukon River. Meaning “Great River” in the native Gwich’in language, it has served as a transportation and migration route for thousands of years. As a principal means of travel during the 1896-1903 Klondike Gold Rush, the river was plied by paddlewheel steamboats that used local timber as fuel to generate steam.
Eagle, the easternmost village on the Yukon in Alaska, began as a venture by several unsuccessful gold miners in 1897, and named for the bald eagles native to the area. The founders cleared and sold several hundred lots for five dollars apiece, and soon the town became an important supply center for the remainder of the Gold Rush.
Fort Yukon was established in 1847 as a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post named Fort Youcon. It sits at the confluence of the Yukon and the Porcupine Rivers, and has established itself as a winter tourist spot for viewing the spectacular Northern Lights. Residents earn income from trapping and native handicrafts, as well as the tourism.