Stikine River

River reaches of the Stikine River

Stikine River to the mouth area

The Stikine River [ stɪki ː n] is a river in northwestern British Columbia ( Canada) and in the south of the Alaska Panhandle (USA).


The river rises on the plateau on Mount Spatsizi Umbach at about 1800 m altitude. It is 539 km long. He is one of the last pristine rivers in North America and also drains the natural territories east of the Coast Mountains. The Stikine is a fast flowing mountain river that threads its way through deep gorges and flows in the Alexander Archipelago, near the Wrangell Iceland, in the Pacific. Its catchment area covers 52,000 km ².

The river's name comes from the Tlingit Indians, who call him Shtax ' Heen, which means " Turbid River " ( by the seminal fluid of spawning salmon ).

The mouth of the river is now in Alaska, but at the time of the boundary surveys (1901-1903) she was at the border. The lower course of the river today suffers severe silting. Through a state agreement that should secure the original ship traffic for the mining industry and commerce, it is also the Canadian Navy allowed to drive on the Stikine without restriction. But this right now has almost no importance, also because the river mouth shifted again and again.


The largest tributaries, ordered from source to mouth, are:

  • Duti River
  • Chukachida River
  • Spatsizi River
  • Pitman River
  • McBride River
  • Klappan River Little River Klappman
  • Little Tahltan River


The Stikine is about 210 km upstream navigable and was used by the Tlingit Indians on the coast and inland transport. The first European who discovered the river was, Samuel Black, who visited the headwaters of the Stikine in 1824 during one of his expeditions. 1828 sought Robert Campbell of the Hudson's Bay Company after the last connection of a transcontinental canoe route and therefore explored the Stikine very accurate. 1879 John Muir traveled the lower third of the river, which reminded him of a 160- km-long Yosemite. Muir discovered it over 300 glaciers.

Between 1897 and 1898, during the gold rush, the Stikine was the main route to the Klondike ( Yukon ). Today it is the main route to the Cassiar mining region in northern British Columbia. The first bridge was built in the 1970s as part of the Stewart - Cassiar Highway. 1980, a study was begun, which had a dam project as a goal but quickly provoked massive protests. The estuary is a habitat for migratory birds and is now available as part of the Stikine - LeConte Wilderness Area protected.

The river is known for its rich salmon reasons. The salmon, however, were severely depleted by commercial fish traps in the early 20th century. Because of this and because of today's fish traps, the salmon reduced to one-third of the original number.