Road Trip Outtake: 40+ Years Later, Still Waiting For The Gas Jockey In Moose Creek, Yukon

Speeding down Yukon Highway #2 on my motorcycle, I was trying to put distance between myself and the rain clouds that were following me. I was in no mood to pull over to snap some pics as I had no other reason to stop. I wasn’t hungry or thirsty, and I didn’t need to pee or get gas. It’s just not very practical snapping vacation pics on a motorcycle so I like to have at least two reasons to stop. I had little time to waste, but as I passed this spot I knew I had to stop and turn around. I had already passed way too many opportunities like this and was willing to risk maybe getting wet again to capture this strange scene.

Moose Creek, Yukon is the only establishment (village would be too charitable) on the Klondike Hwy #2 between Pelly Crossing, Yukon and the gas station at the Dempster Highway junction. It’s so small that it doesn’t show up on Google Maps. I knew this as I had carefully studied the road map and accompanying services guide to ensure there were adequately spaced gas stations to accommodate the 275 kms fuel range of my bike. Obviously, this lodge had at one point long ago offered fuel but now offered only camping, lodging and a small store. They certainly don’t lack a sense of humour.

This was just one of many former gas stations/lodges/small towns that are slowly getting erased from Northern maps as the need for automotive services every couple hundred kms decreases with the popularity of modern, reliable vehicles. This lodge seemed to be doing alright without automotive services but I passed many other “ghost lodges” that went from thriving outposts offering fuel, repairs, tires, groceries, liquor, camping and lodging to just a grouping of dilapidated buildings. A Yukoner construction worker I was chatting with at a construction stoppage on the Highway joked that towns spring up and later die around gas stations. How right he was.

The old ‘binder still has beer cans in the bed

This pair of ’66 (?) pickups undoubtedly led a difficult life. Rust hasn’t completely ravaged their bodies as I doubt salt is of much use this far north. These trucks likely spent their whole lives in the area running up and down very rough back roads without the “luxury” of 4 wheel drive. Perhaps a past owner was a gold prospector perpetually chasing paydirt like so many Northerners before them? Or more likely they dutifully spent their whole lives serving the Moose Creek lodge and its many tourists? I did notice a trailer brake module inside the GMC.

I didn’t have the time talk with the proprietors and pop the hood so I’m not sure if the celebrated GMC V6 resides under the hood. There’s no V6 badge but the hood’s obviously been swapped in. As for the ‘Binder it’s beefier tires lead me to believe it’s a 3/4 ton and likely has a beefier engine, maybe the 345 cubic incher.

All business on the inside, but one of the few options I fully expect these rigs to have is a heater. While temperatures in the Yukon aren’t much worse then some spots on the Canadian prairies, it would be masochistic to operate these beasts in the winter without a reliable heat source. Considering the lack of sunlight in this area in the winter it would be downright dangerous if you added frosty windows to the equation.

Could this have been the first horseless carriage to grace Moose Creek? If so, I can only imagine the brutal journey it took to get there as the “roads” between Whitehorse and Dawson City were very primitive before WWII. It may well have done some of the journey up the rivers via steam ship. Even today, I would dispute the use of the word “highway” to describe that road, it laid a beating on the tires and suspension of my 34 year old motorbike. Was this “T” replaced by the two trucks still awaiting the gas attendant? Given it’s nearly a century old it’s still in pretty decent shape. I wouldn’t be surprised if it still runs.

There were a couple other treasures lurking behind the lodge; a ’78 Ford LTD and a camperized late 50’s Ford school bus but time was tight and I figured I might be crossing the line into private property. Not that anyone would have minded but I didn’t have the time to get into any conversations and had to keep moving. The rain clouds were catching up and I had only 10 days to travel the 6200 kms round trip to Dawson City Yukon and back. My old bike and I were straining under these ridiculous demands and I needed to get closer to civilization to regroup.

Canada Day Long Weekend (July 1) 2017

Full CC Roadtrip article to follow