Yukon Gold Rush: Gold Rush Alaska: Who Discovered it First? Part III

Yukon Gold Rush Gold Rush Alaska
Yukon Gold Rush Gold Rush Alaska

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The massive influx of prospectors was an impressive expedition during which many challenges would be met, with many obstacles to overcome the Yukon gold rush. In the beginning, there was a terrifying journey north along the Pacific coast from cities near the ocean such as Victoria, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle. They would travel to the coastal Alaskan harbours of Dyea, Haines, and Skagway. Dyea was the beginning of the most recognizable gold trail of them all. Haines was found close to the start of the Dalton Trail. Skagway was a lawless place, a town run by the outlaw Soapy Smith and his gang of thieves, found at the beginning of the White Pass Trail. Dawson City found itself expanding exponentially in no time, and the city was located at the widest part of the Klondike River.[5]

The stampeders arrived late in the Klondike looking to be a part of the Yukon gold rush, but it was too late for them to leave because of the shorter summers. Each individual had no choice but to build their shelter if they wanted a chance of surviving the brutally cold artic like winters. Then what followed after that is about seven months of darkness as the sun does not come up at all during this time a year, the cold.

They are met with complete isolation which is devastating to people’s mental health and diseases like influenza and measles. People who were lucky and could find gold could build a healthy, happy family and life. The majority of the successful prospectors lived lavishly. However, the majority of the prospectors found themselves starving and leading miserable, poor, disappointing lives.

Yukon Gold Rush
Yukon Gold Rush

Hitting pay dirt was far and in-between through looking for gold in frozen gravel in the bottom of valleys. While only a small number of miners became wealthy, most prospectors left empty-handed. The newcomers had no choice but to work along the edges of the creek beds that had already been dug up and sifted through. There was almost always nothing left to find but rocks and dirt. During the Klondike boom height, the population was about 30,000 or more, then dramatically fell to only a couple hundred within a decade. Gold mining is still, to this day, an economic pillar for the region.[6]

The amount of gold recovered in the Klondike from 1897 to 1899 was equally given to the participants in the Yukon gold rush. They found about $29 million worth of gold but had invested far more than that in machinery and hired many humans. And had to pay for normal living accommodations. They were paying for things like food, water and other goods and services.

They devastated the ecosystem and lost money, it was a loss for the prospectors, a loss for the First Nations people in Canada populations, and it was detrimental for the environment. The prospectors disrespected the Han people of the Yukon valley, and their women were often raped, and the introduction of alcohol destroyed their societal well-being. It would take about 100 years to regain the land and be recognized as the original landowners.

Yukon Gold Rush
Yukon Gold Rush

Most people saw the gold rush as devastating and detrimental to most people and especially the environment. The Yukon Territory’s economy benefited greatly. It may have been going through a depression and high unemployment rates, but the prospectors’ spending during the gold rush showed a massive rise in economic dollars. Parliament officially formed the Yukon Territory on June 13 in 1898. This was a result of the rapid development of the Yukon caused by the Klondike gold rush. The Klondike gold rush left behind the needed infostructure, governance, and support for the Yukon Territory foundation. If it were not for the Yukon gold rush, this territory would have been a long, arduous road before it would have had the proper foundation to be named a territory.

Overall, the prospectors would lose out on money compared to how much gold they could recover. They also destroyed the ecosystem with their heavy machinery ripping up the earth, they also took jobs away from independent contractors and made them work for big corporations and companies, but most would be left jobless. The prospectors would also displace the First Nations people. Many of their women were abused and raped, and introducing alcohol destroyed society and ripped families apart. The disease the prospectors brought with them killed about 90 percent of their population.

Yukon Gold Rush
Yukon Gold Rush

Robert Henderson was a prospector credited with being the person responsible for starting the Klondike gold rush. He would claim to point out the area where the gold was in the streams and riverbeds to the Indigenous man Skookum Jim and his daughter, his nephew, and an American named George Carmack.[7] All these people, in the end, would claim to be the first to find the gold, which began the Klondike gold rush. Just as fast as it started, the Yukon gold rush was over. It only would last three speedy, short, cold, and dark years from 1896 to 1899. The heavy increase in the population of gold-hungry prospectors consisting of most Americans would lead to Dawson City and many other cities and towns. Perhaps more importantly, it led to the creation of the Yukon Territory.

First Nations definition – any of the groups of indigenous peoples of Canada officially recognized as an administrative unit by the federal government or functioning as such without official status. The term is generally understood to exclude the Inuit and Metis.

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Sources:

[5] Holliday, J. S. “Gold Rushes.” In the Reader’s Companion to American History, edited by Eric Foner and John Arthur Garraty. Houghton Mifflin, 2014. http://ezproxy.ardc.talonline.ca/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/rcah/gold_rushes/0?institutionId=2645

[6] Pope, Jarvis William Henry. Great Gold Rush. Toronto, Alberta: Outlook Verlag, 1913. https://doi.org/http://www.gutenberg.org/files/35486/35486-h/35486-h.htm, 149-157.

[7] Young, Samuel Hall. The Klondike Clan: A Tale of the Great Stampede: By S. Hall Young. New York; Chicago; Toronto; London; Edinburgh: Fleming H. Revell Company, [c1916]. American Fiction, 1774-1920 (accessed February 14, 2021), 328-345.

First Nations Canada

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Yukon Gold Rush: Gold Rush Alaska: Who Discovered it First? Part III

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