Wernecke House Restoration Project
Keno City is a quaint town located at the end of the famous Silver Trail nested at the base of mountains affectionately nicknamed the hills of silver. Keno has approximately 20 full-time residents who enthusiastically keep up the town's appeal and history through restorative work including the impressive Keno Mining Museum which boasts two additional outdoor-clad buildings. Locally restored and run, the 'Kenoites' take pride in the mining history of their hometown. The district is dotted with important historic mining artifacts and buildings making restoration of all of the important mining landmarks difficult for a place with such a limited population. However, one building located approximately 8 km NNE of Keno City was of great importance to the districts history- the Wernecke house located at Wernecke Minesite.
Livingston Wernecke was the General Superintendent of Treadwell Yukon from 1922 until shortly before his tragic death in a plane crash in 1941. Treadwell Yukon's operations [on Keno Hill] were a monument to Livingston Wernecke's dedication, engineering knowledge, business ability, efficiency and capacity to integrate government and social problems with pioneering the frontier of the North1. Wernecke was a colourful character remembered for his frugal nature, hard-working attitude and strict leadership; his workers adored and feared him. However, it was the combination of these characteristics that enabled him to be such an effective driving force behind the mining in the Keno district; which to date is nothing to snuff at as Canada's second largest producer of silver, forth worldwide. The district is still active with 43 minor and 5 major claim holders, including Monster Mining.
Wernecke is remembered and revered today by the mineral exploration community for his ability to see the big picture and work with infrastructure. Wernecke was a pioneer of supporting local prospectors through grubstaking and worked on air-reconnaissance programs with his team of local prospectors hoping to locate more showings and keep work in the Yukon. Many deposits that are owned by junior and major exploration companies today were first located by the Wernecke air-reconnaissance prospectors. His ability to work with the 'little guy' allowed him to continuously mine in the district and gave the prospector a chance to work their properties with pride before optioning to Treadwell Yukon.
In 2008 after years of discussion the Wernecke House Restoration Project was initiated under the direction of Matthias Bindig (local 'Kenoite' and claim holder) and Lauren Blackburn (Friends of Keno City). The Keno Community as a whole worked together over 2008 initiating the Wernecke House Restoration Project which included research, report preparation, consultation with claim holder Alexco Resources, local First Nations (Na-Cho Nyak Dun) as well as local residents. The crew focussed on preventing further deterioration through levelling the foundation, repairing the roof and winter-cladding the building. Brushing, general site clean-up and hazard assessment was completed before the project was underway and year one was wrapped up accident-free.
This work was made possible through the financial support of Yukon Historic Sites, Keno City Mining Museum and our major sponsor Monster Mining. Support from Monster Mining alone allowed us to purchase all of our necessary building supplies.
The project has received major support from local 'Kenoites', the Yukon public, has recently been featured in local newspaper articles and was nominated and won the Yukon Heritage Places of Initiative Conservation Program Award. Pending financial support, the restorative work will continue in 2009 and will include finishing the foundation, installing an architecturally accurate roof, front and back deck repair and window installation.
As a geologist it makes me proud to tell a good news story involving exploration where due diligence and consultation were of the utmost importance; where we all were able to come together to restore a historic site of significant importance for the mining industry, Yukon and for Canada.
Lauren Blackburn, Project Manager representing 'Friends of Keno City'
1 Dr. Aaro E. Aho, 2006. Hills of Silver- The Yukon's Mighty Keno Hill Mine, 336 p.