Native Copper Specimen

Native Copper Specimen

Large chunk of native copper

Its oval like shape is irregular as it projects and recedes at acute angles. It has oxidized to a soft green.

Remarks about this large piece of native copper has been found in memoirs and records since the turn of the century. It is assumed that it was never moved because of its extreme weight. Officially, this slab of native copper, weighing in at 2590 lbs, was uncovered in the White River area in May 1905, yet rumours of its existence were circulating as early as 1891. Solomon Albert, a prospector in the area, estimated it to be eight-feet long, three-feet wide and four-and-a-half feet tall, weighing approximately 6,000 lbs. He overestimated its weight by 3,000 pounds. Nevertheless, it is a remarkable find.

So much so, that The Yukon Historical Society wanted to retrieve and display the nugget on behalf of the MacBride Museum of Yukon History. The nugget was on Crown land and required special permission to have it removed. After some negotiation Northern Affairs donated the nugget to the Society. A committee set about retrieving the copper slab for the museum. The chunk of copper was moved 250 miles northwest to Whitehorse with the help of 15 people. The committee consisted of prominent Yukoners such as W.D. MacBride, Bill Emery, John Phelps, Dorothy Scott and Them Kjar and later Jim Whyard in Kjar's place. With the help of the committee and numerous labourers the relocation effort was realised and after considerable effort the nugget was brought to Whitehorse.

It currently resides on the grounds of the MacBride Museum at the corner of Steele and Front streets. It is dedicated to the pioneer prospectors that staked copper claims on the White River from 1900 to 1958. Among the early prospectors that are mentioned on the dedicatory plaque is Frank R. Miles, the adoptive father of W.D. MacBride. Native Copper occurs in seams of sedimentary rock. The copper nuggets are unusual and have no market value because they are so hard. There are so few of the large rock nuggets that it would be impractical to set up the necessary milling machinery.


MacBride Museum of Yukon History, Whitehorse

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