Catch Gold Rush Fever
”Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!“ That banner headline, run in a special issue of the July 17, 1897 Seattle Post-Intelligencer, heralded the arrival of two tons of Yukon and Klondike gold in the Seattle harbor. It also signaled the start of a mad rush north to Alaska communities like Skagway, as an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 prospectors booked immediate passage to claim their share of the newfound riches. Even Seattle’s mayor, William D. Wood, quit his job on the spot and went looking for gold.
The journey was harder—and prosperity more elusive—than the prospectors had hoped. Still, quite a few people did find their fortune in the Klondike, among them the clever entrepreneurs that set out to “mine the miners,” selling everything from mining equipment to dance hall entertainment.
But the Klondike wasn’t the only place that gold fever struck: When reports of gold strikes in Nome reached the Klondike in the spring of 1899, some 8,000 prospectors departed Dawson for Nome in a single week. Again, all the claims along the creeks had been staked—but a judge ruled that land along the beach couldn’t be staked for claims, so the incoming miners camped there and extracted some $2 million of gold in a single summer.
FIND YOUR OWN GOLD
You don’t have to endure the same hardships those intrepid miners faced more than a century ago to get your own taste of Alaska gold fever. Instead, you can learn about Alaska’s gold mining history in museums and tours laced throughout almost every community. You’ll find an especially rich collection of gold mining artifacts in Fairbanks, where miners had to develop special technology to dig down through hundreds of feet of permafrost before they hit gold-bearing gravel.
"Sea otter in Kachemak Bay" - submitted by William J. Vaudrain, Jr.
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