The Yukon basin is one of the most sparsely populated and least developed regions of North America. Much of its history, exploration, and development centers on the river system. Its lower reaches were explored (1836–37, 1843) by Russians, and in 1843 Robert Campbell of the Hudson's Bay Company explored the upper course. During the Klondike gold rush (1897–98) the Yukon was a major route to the gold fields. Greater development of the basin occurred in the mid-1900s due to its strategic location, and several military installations were later built.
The Yukon River is a major salmon-spawning ground, and salmon fishing is an important seasonal activity. The Yukon is used to generate hydroelectricity, but it remains one of the greatest undeveloped hydroelectric resources in North America. On the river's banks are fur-trading posts, missions, native villages, and towns with modern airports serving vast areas.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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