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Stories From North Of 60



The Headless Valley

Just a bit north of the 60th parallel in Canadas Northwest Territories lies the ancient land of the Naha. A very wild rugged area. No roads in and no roads out. This wild and remote river area can only be reached by airplane.(or on foot, just like the old days) The Nahanni area is centered on one of the deepest river-canyon systems in the world, looming above the turbulent Nahanni River in The NWT. The Nahanni Country itself also includes rivers and a few small villages nestling in the foothills of the Nahanni Range of mountains, in the southwest corner of the Northwest Territories. Today this area is a park. The Nahanni National Park Reserve is one of Canada's greatest treasures, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But it wasn't always this way.

The first white man to visit the Nahanni area was a Hudson Bay trader at what is now Fort Simpson NWT. Alexander McLeod wrote about his exploration in 1823, spurring other adventurers to seek their fortunes in gold and furs.

The most famous story was that of the McLeod brothers, Willie and Frank McLeod. Because some prospectors attempted to use the Nahanni as an alternative route to the Klondike, the brothers had gone up the Nahanni River in 1906 in search of gold. Rumor has it that they had a discovery of sorts and hit the so called mother-lode of gold. But mother-lode or not, their headless skeletons were discovered in 1908 by other prospectors traveling through. That part of the river became known as Deadmen Valley. Some call it Headless Valley. Other mysterious deaths followed. A prospector by the name of Martin Jorgensen was found a few years later beside the burnt remains of his cabin along the Flat River. Once again just a skeleton without a head. A trapper by the name of John O'Brien who was found frozen beside his campfire, his matches still held in an icy grip. Their deaths are remembered in place names like Broken Skull River, Headless Creek and the Funeral Range.

Who killed these men? In the book The Rat River Trapper there was suspicions that he, Albert Johnson may have played a part in some of these deaths. It was thought because he had come from the east when he first arrived in the Ross River area of the Yukon. There is also speculation that another man by the name of Bobbie Weir who was traveling with them was the culprit. This Bobbie Weir is a missing third man and rumors of a gold find do make sense. Greed can do strange things. Especially in the Headless Valley of Nahanni in the old lands of the Naha.


Brothers Willie And Frank
Brothers Frank and Willie McLeod