Yukon River

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The Yukon River is a major watercourse of northwestern North America. The source of the river is located in British Columbia, Canada. The next portion lies in, and gives its name to Canada's Yukon Territory. Then, more than the lower half of the river lies in the U.S. state of Alaska. The river is 3,185 km (1,984 mi)[2][3] long and empties into the Bering Sea at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The average flow is 6,430 m³/s (227,000 ft³/s).[1] The total drainage area is 832,700 km² (321,500 mi²),[1] of which 323,800 km² (126,300 mi²) is in Canada. By comparison, the total area is more than 25% larger than Texas or Alberta.

The longest river in Alaska and the Yukon Territory, it was one of the principal means of transportation during the 1896–1903 Klondike Gold Rush. Paddle-wheel riverboats continued to ply the river until the 1950s, when the Klondike Highway was completed. After the purchase of Alaska by the United States in 1867, the Alaska Commercial Company acquired the assets of the Russian-American Company and constructed several posts at various locations on the Yukon River.

Yukon means "great river" in Gwich'in. The river was called Kuigpak, or "big river", in Central Yup'ik. The Lewes River is the former name of the upper course of the Yukon, from Marsh Lake to the confluence of the Pelly River at Fort Selkirk.

The Yukon River has had a history of pollution from gold mining, military installations, dumps, wastewater, and other sources. However, the Environmental Protection Agency does not list the Yukon River among its impaired watersheds, and water quality data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows relatively good levels of turbidity, metals, and dissolved oxygen.[4]

The Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council, a cooperative effort of 64 First Nations and tribes in Alaska and Canada, has the goal of making the river and its tributaries safe to drink from again by supplementing and scrutinizing Government data.


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