Gold was discovered in quantity in the Klondike goldfields of the Yukon Territory of Canada in 1896, and when the news reached the outside world in 1898 a gold rush with 30,000 people ensued. Thomas O'Brien (who owned the local brewery) and other entrepreneurs chartered the Klondike Mines Railway in 1899 to provide transportation to and from the goldfields, and while a start on construction was delayed by politics until 1905, by 1906 thirty-one miles of track was in operation.
The KMR ran from Dawson City on the Yukon River to Sulphur Springs near the highest point in the centre of the gold fields. Operation continued to 1913, by which time much of the railway's economic base had evaporated as the gold rush wound down, and dredges took over gold recovery with far fewer people. The railway infrastructure was however stored serviceable for some years.
Much of the KMR still exists after more than 100 years. Three of the four KMR locomotives have been preserved (and cosmetically restored) by the Dawson City Museum, and are on display in Dawson City, YT. Two of the KMR's boxcars can still be found, along with track components, trestle bridge remains, and the like.
A definitive history of the KMR (The Bonanza Narrow Gauge Railway) was published in 1997 by Eric L. Johnson. Also Johannes Vogt has reconstructed the route of the KMR via historical records and field research with GPS techniques. His report is to be found at http://polarcat.sasktelwebsite.net/ and is also available at the Yukon Heritage Resources Unit Library, Catalog Number PRO#46.00 (Their website is at http://www.yukonheritage.com/)
The Vancouver Westminster and Yukon Railway was one of several lines proposed to provide access to the Klondike gold fields from the outside world. It was chartered in 1902, laid track from New Westminster to Vancouver, and surveyed along Burrard Inlet's north shore. It was ultimately absorbed into the Great Northern Railway. The line shown in blue on the map is hypothetical, and will be discussed later.