Located on the Silver Trail, quirky Keno is worth more than a day trip.
The Yukon may be known for its gold, but Keno is the city that silver built. After a brief gold rush in the early 1900s, several silver-lead-zinc deposits were discovered in the area. This was the finding that led to the construction of three hotels, a liquor store and a post office.
These still stand today, alongside a mining museum that details the history of this tiny town, located at the end of the Yukon’s Silver Trail. Reader’s Digest has called it “the weirdest place in the Yukon” and a New York Times article concurred, with a headline that said Keno “mines its weirdness.”
Here, you’ll find about two dozen full-time residents, a Looney Tunes-style feud between the owners of two bars that sit on opposite sides of Duncan Creek Road, and a nearby ghost town.
The mining museum is housed in Jackson Hall, a 1920s-era wooden building that once served as the community hall for Keno. It’s open daily from late-May to mid-September, and features early tools, equipment, memorabilia, photographs and a little gift shop, full of both souvenirs and fine art from Yukon artists.
<p>The Alpine Interpretive Centre, right next door, will not only give you a wealth of information about the natural history of the area, but it’s also the starting point for exploring much of Keno and its surrounding hills. The views here are comparable to any in the Yukon, but are a better-kept secret than, say, those you’ll find in Tombstone Territorial Park. For example, Signpost Road leads nearly 2,000 metres up Keno Hill to offer incredible views of the region, including hiking trails and old mine sites.</p>
There are a number of historic sites in and around town, including the Tolmie Cabin, originally built by a prospector and then used as a brothel by Margaret Vera Dorval, aka the Bombay Peggy of Dawson City fame. It’s a private residence now, as are many of the historic cabins around town, but still worth checking out.
<p>A few blocks from the Keno City Mining Museum, you can also see the house of Geordie Dobson (former owner of the Keno City Hotel), which is sided with 32,000 empty beer bottles! Ask at the Keno Mining Museum for a full list of sights and buildings you should see, or pick a brochure at the information kiosk by the stop sign.</p>
Government of Yukon
Back in town, drop by the Keno City Snackbar, a great place to grab a homemade pizza from a homegrown chef.
Owner Mike Mancini grew up in nearby Elsa and sells pizza and sandwiches from what was once a bunkhouse for miners.
Where to stay
In terms of accommodations, the Silvermoon Bunkhouse has a shared kitchen and dining room and rents out private bunkies. The Keno City Hotel is an original hotel in a heritage building that’s been re-purposed for present-day tourism. Make sure to contact the properties ahead of time as they tend to book quickly.