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The Stikine River (sti-KEEN) is a river, approximately 335 mi (539 km) long, in northwestern British Columbia in Canada and southeastern Alaska in the United States. Considered one of the last truly wild rivers in North America, it drains a rugged pristine area east of the Coast Mountains, cutting a fast-flowing course through the mountains in deep glacier-lined gorges to empty into an inlet in the Alexander Archipelago. The name of the river comes its Tlingit name Shtax' Héen, meaning "river cloudy with milt (of spawning salmon)". Its watershed emcompasses approximately 20,000 mi (52,000 km²).
It rises in the plateau of the Stikine Mountains of northwest British Columbia, in Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Park , and flows in a large arc through the mountains to the west and southwest, past Telegraph Creek . It passes through steeply-cut gorges in the Boundary Range along the Canada-U.S. border, in particular the spectacular 60 mi (100 km) long and 1,000-ft (300-m) deep Grand Canyon of the Stikine . It briefly enters southeast Alaska for its lower 40 mi (64 km) to form a delta opposite Mitkoff Island , approximately 25 mi (40 km) north of Wrangell at the confluence of Frederick Sound and Sumner Inlet .
It receives the Statsizi River in the upper plateau in the Spatsizi Mountains.
The river is navigable for approximately 130 mi (210 km) upstream from its mouth. It was used by the coastal Tlingit as a transportation route to the interior region. It was explored in 1838 by Robert Campbell, of the Hudson's Bay Company, completing the last link in the company's transcontinental canoe route. In 1879 it the lower third was travelled by John Muir who likened it to a Yosemite that was a hundred miles (160 kilometers) long. Muir recorded over 300 glaciers along the river's course.
From 1897-1898 it furnished one of the principal routes to the Klondike gold rush in the Yukon Territory. The river today furnishes the primary route to the Cassiar, British Columbia mining region of northern British Columbia. The first bridge was built across the river in the 1970s as part of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway . In 1980, BC Hydro began to study the feasibility of building a five-dam project in the Grand Canyon. The plan has led to opposition by conservation groups and a long struggle over the fate of the river. The mouth of the river in the United States provides a habitat for migratory birds and is protected as part of the Stikine-LeConte Wilderness Area .
The river is noted for its prolific salmon runs. The force of the current in the river's Grand Canyon limit the salmon runs to the lower one-third of the river.
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