The first white man to visit the land of the
Naha was the chief Hudson Bay trader at what
is now Fort Simpson. Alexander McLeod recorded
his exploration in 1823, spurring other adventurers
to seek their fortunes in gold and fur. There
were numerous tales of loss and death that seemed
to give credence to the evil giants
legend of the Naha.
The most famous story recounted
the demise of the McLeod brothers, who had
gone up the Nahanni River in 1906 in search
of gold. Rumour had it they had hit the motherlode,
but their headless skeletons were discovered
in 1908, cause of death unknown. That part
the river became known as Deadmen Valley. Other
mysterious deaths followed. Prospector Martin
Jorgensen's skeleton was found a few years
later, also without a head, beside the burnt
remains of his cabin along the Flat River.
Twisted Mountain claimed trapper John O'Brien
who was found frozen beside his campfire,
still held in an icy grip. Their deaths are
remembered in place names like Headless Creek,
Broken Skull River and the Funeral Range.
More recently, Albert Faille
made eight trips upriver convinced he would
find gold. He survived and is even celebrated
in a film by the National Film Board of Canada.
He did not however find a gold mine on the Nahanni