Yukon Gold – Part 2

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So as promised, I’m continuing the post about the YUKON or KLONDIKE GOLD RUSH of 1897-1899. Today we’re talking about the routes the men and women had to take – carrying their heavy loads of supplies listed last month.

 

Most prospectors landed in either the port of Dyea (Alaska) or Skagway (Alaska). They could then take either the Chilkoot or the White Pass trails to the Yukon River. Then they would sail down-stream to the Klondike *We’ll discuss water travel next time. If the men landed in winter, then the freezing rivers meant they didn’t get to the gold fields until summer. Out of nearly 100,000 gold seekers, only between 30,000 and 40,000 of the stampeders made it to the Klondike.

 

The people who landed at Skagway had to make their way over  White Pass before traveling to Bennett Lake. The trail started with a gentle-enough slope, but it progressed  over several mountains with narrow paths, the wider parts covered with boulders and sharp rocks. So many of the horses that were used to help carry all the supplies died, the men named the ravine area Dead Horse Gulch, and the route Dead Horse Trail.

But what if you couldn’t afford a horse? Especially if you’d heard the stories of Dead Horse Trail! Well, men divided up their belongings into bundles that could be carried — or into heavier loads that could still be pulled by hand on a sled. But no way was 1 man pulling or carrying the 1000 lbs of supplies. So what did he do? He walked back and forth, moving a little at a time. A prospector would end up making about thirty round trips, a distance of at least 2,500 miles before he had moved all of his supplies over the pass and to the end of the trail.

 

Those whose ship made port at Dyea traveled the Chilkoot Trail. They had to cross the Chilkoot Pass to reach Lake Lindemann, which fed Lake Bennett located at the head of the Yukon River. Chilkoot Pass was higher than the White Pass, but for whatever reason, more people used it.The trail passed up through camps until it reached a flat ledge. This was just before the main climb; beyond this point the route was too steep for animals. (Makes me wonder what they did with their horses if they had them?) Anyway, this point was known  as the Scales, where supplies were weighed before stampeders could enter Canada. (Customs, anyone? Do you have anything to claim?)

It could take as much as a whole day to climb the 1,000 feet of the pass, back and forth, carrying small bundles or pulling your sled. Packers were men you could pay to carry or help carry your supplies….. But….they could charge up to $1 ( * $27 now* ) PER POUND !!

Avalanches were common up in the mountains. On April 3, 1898, an avalanche claimed the lives of more than 80 people travelling over Chilkoot Pass.

Jennifer Jakes

About jenniferjakes

Multi-award winning author telling the naughty side of the Old West ;)
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12 Responses to Yukon Gold – Part 2

  1. lib6258 says:

    and we reckon our lives are tough at times! Bet they would swap with us in a heartbeat!

    • jenniferjakes says:

      Oh, you know they would. Or at least those who realized they weren’t going to get rich after all they endured. Sad really.
      Thanks for stopping by today!

  2. jwl321 says:

    Of all those that finally made it to the Klondike, I wonder how many found enough gold to make the trip worth it.

    • jenniferjakes says:

      Not very many from what I’ve read/researched. And out of those that found gold, the number who became what we’d consider wealthy (making more than it took to get there and survive that etc etc) were very, very few. I’ve read that the people who were smart opened businesses and made there money off the miners. Hotels, restaurants, bath houses and brothels. And of course Mercantile stores who would sell necessary items for outrageous prices.
      Thanks for stopping by today!

  3. Mary Preston says:

    I just googled some maps to follow this route. Madness really.

    I also found that today there are some beautiful scenic train rides you can take. They sound more like me.

    • jenniferjakes says:

      Yes, there are some really interested maps — along with images — of this time period. And oddly, the beginnings of train tracks were starting about the same time as the Gold Rush. Of course the Rush was over long before the tracks were completed.
      But yes, there is some kind of scenic railway there now. And I bet that would be gorgeous and sooooo interesting!
      Thanks for stopping by !

  4. Clare O'Beara says:

    I read a description of the goods hauling in Mark Twain. Sounds like a deal-breaker and the men had only just arrived, not a sniff of gold!

    • jenniferjakes says:

      I know. It was truly sad. Most of these men weren’t rich (or even close) to begin with and all this Gold Adventure did was make them even more poor.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Ronda Tutt says:

    Totally amazing and desperate if you think about it. I know times were pretty tough back in their day and I believe they would of sacrificed everything just to get some gold. The routes sound so crazy and very harsh. I mean out of 100,000 only 30,000 or 40,000 made it. That’s not even 1/4 and I bet only 1/2 of that 1/4th struck gold.

  6. jenniferjakes says:

    Yes, and you know, I bet if they found a tiny, tiny nugget or some dust, they thought the next strike would be a nugget as big as their horse. But the ones who made millions (in today’s currency) were very few. Hopefully some of them just enjoyed their new life and made enough to survive. (Times were rough economically speaking) in the US at that time so perhaps they weren’t any worse off…..
    Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Thank you I love learning history.
    Z

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