'We're hoping for big gold bars': Mystery safe discovered by construction workers in Dawson City

'We're hoping for big gold bars': Mystery safe discovered by construction workers in Dawson City

An old iron safe discovered by construction workers digging up part of downtown Dawson City, Yukon, is generating a lot of curiosity.

"Everybody wants to know what's inside, but we checked with YG [Yukon Government] heritage resources and the local museum and neither of those people seem to be interested in it," said Mark Dauphinee, superintendent of public works in Dawson City.

"So I guess it falls to us and we're going to see what we're going to do to open it." 

Dauphinee said the safe was found Saturday buried near the intersection of Second Avenue and York Street.

The exterior part of the safe door had fallen off while the interior door is still locked, he said. There are also cracks in the door and there appear to be boxes inside, but no clues as to what they contain. 

"We're hoping for big gold bars, but we're a bit more realistic," Dauphinee said.

Dauphinee said he's not sure when the safe might be opened. He thinks a pry bar might be all that is needed, but wants to be sure it's safe first.

He said one possibility could be revealing the contents on Aug. 18 during Discovery Day celebrations in Dawson City. The annual long weekend holiday marks the anniversary of the discovery of gold on Bonanza Creek and the beginning of the Klondike Gold Rush. 

Yukon archeologist Ty Heffner, with the territorial government, said the safe is "just a big blank spot at this point in time."

"Because there's not a lot of information about it, it captures the public's imagination and curiosity of people who are wondering about this safe," he said. 

"But at the same time, from the historical significance perspective, it kind of erodes the potential significance it might have because there's not [a] story attached to it."

Heffner said the safe looks too eroded to be used as a historic exhibit, but he would definitely be interested in any papers that might be inside. He said his initial disinterest in the safe was based on his belief it was empty. 

The safe appears to have been among a bunch of trash that was used as fill at that site, said Heffner. Nevertheless, he wants to be on hand when the contents are revealed.

Heffner commends city staff and the crew from Wildstone Construction for stopping work to check with him on Saturday about what they should do with the safe.

They did the right thing, he said.

With files from Alexandra Byers