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When a man journeys into a far country, he must be prepared to forget many of the things he has learned and to acquire such customs as are inherent with existence in the new land; he must abandon the old ideals and the old gods and oftentimes he must reverse the very codes by which his conduct has hitherto been shaped ... it were better for the man who cannot fit himself to the new groove to return to his own country; if he delay too long, he will surely die.

 

Jack London
The Son of Wolf

 

To The Klondike

Friday, July 16, 1897

Kansas Semi-Weekly Capital, Topeka, Kansas

Page 1

SAN FRANCISCO, July 15. - The steamer Alice arrived at St. Michaels on June 29, bringing twenty-five miners and half a million in gold for them and more on its own account.  The passengers of the Alice confirmed the news reported by the passengers of the Weare which is as follows:

"The richest gold strike the world has ever known was made in the Klondyke region last August and September but the news did not get even to Circle City until December 15, when there was a great stampede over the three hundred miles intervening between there and the newer fields.

"On August 12, George Carmack made the first great strike on Bonanza creek and on August 19 seven claims were filed in that region.  Word go to Forty Mile and Circle City, but the news was looked upon as a "grub stake" rumor.

"On December 15, however, authentic news was carried to Circle City by S. M. Wilson, of the Alaska Commercial company, and Thomas O'Brien, a trader.  They carried not only news, but prospects, and the greatest stampede ever known in this part of the world commenced.

 

Wednesday, July 21, 1897

Indiana State Journal, Indianapolis, Indiana

Page 2

SAN FRANCISCO, July 15. - Those who made the three hundred miles first struck it richest.  Of all the two hundred claims staked out on the Bonanza and Eldorado creeks, not one has proven a blank.  Equally rich finds were made June 6 and 10 on Dominion creek.  Not less than three hundred claims have been staked out on Indian creek, and the surface indications are that these are as rich as any of the others.

 

Men continued to work their shafts throughout the frozen winter of 1896-1897.  By burning down into the ground and then drilling horizontally, the relentless search for pay-dirt carried on.  To the experienced eye, it was readily apparent that the white gravel contained deposits of gold.  Just how rich they were could not be known until there was enough flowing water to begin sluicing.  Some miners literally sat on a fortune in gold throughout the winter - men who often did not have enough available money to pay cash for their food supplies.  Scurvy, mental breakdown, frostbite, gangrene and aching loneliness were the constant companions of the miners, many of whom were soon to be so rich as to never have to work again in their lives.  There were murders and suicides, disease and malnutrition, and death from hypothermia, avalanche, and, some said heartbreak. Klondike fever was in the dormant stage, waiting for spring.

The world was electrified to hear of the arrival of the SS Portland in Seattle, carrying with it a ton and a half of gold from the Klondike.  Stories, incredible but true, came back about buckets full of gold there for the picking.

Saturday, July 17, 1897

New York Tribune, New York, New York

Page 1

About seventy-five lucky miners have reached St. Michaels.  Some brought but a portion of their clean-up, preferring to invest other portions in mines they know to be rich.

Among the most lucky are J. J. Clements, of Los Angeles, who has cleaned up about $175,000.  He brought out $50,000 and invested the rest.  Prof. T. C. Lippy, of Seattle, who brought out about $50,000 and has $150,000 in sight, and who claims his mine is worth $500,000 or more; William Stanley, of Seattle, who cleaned up $112,000; Clarence Berry, $110,000; Henry Anderson, $55,000; Frank Keller, $50,000; T. J. Kelly, $33,000; William Sloan, of Nanaimo, B. C., $85,000; and at least thirty more who will not talk, but stand guard over the treasure in their state room.  Then there are at least twenty more men bringing from $5,000 to $20,000.

 

August 30, 1897

Duluth News Tribune, Duluth, Minnesota

Page 1

The miners on board, with the amount of their total mining profits, part of which were brought with them, are as follows: J. Rowan, $30,000; Jim Bell, $45,000; Joe Goldsmith, $35,000; H. W. Powers, $35,000; W. W. Caldwell, $35,000; W. Oler, $30,000; C. K. Zilly, $25,000; A. Buckley, $10,000; M. S. Lansing, $15,000; B. W. Farnaham, $20,000; M. R. Camler, 15,000.

 

There was no doubt about it, fortunes were to be made.  All you had to do was get there.

Pandemonium ruled Seattle and other West Coast cities - San Francisco, Portland, Tacoma, Victoria and Vancouver - after the landing of the Portland.  Immediately people wanted passage up to the Klondike. 

July 20, 1897

The Rocky Mountain News, Denver, Colorado

Page 1

Special to the News.

SEATTLE, Wash., July 19. - The people of this town have gone wild over the Clondyke discoveries.  Not in the history of the town has there been such excitement.  Everybody who can raise the money is going north.  Steamer accommodations have all been taken.

The statement that the new fields would output $10,000 worth of gold this year has made the excitement greater and tonight everybody is burning the wires with telegrams to friends in the East to send them money to invest in the fields.

 

July 26, 1897

The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon

Page 1

SAN FRANCISCO, July 25. - The desire of the gold-struck throng for the rich diggings in the Clondyke district resembles for all the world the craze of Easterners to reach California in the days of old.  There is little or no method in this longing of the masses to reach the Eldorado in the great unknown territory of the Northwest.  People who have had no experience in mining or have undergone none of the hardships incident to such a journey as will follow a trip to the Yukon country, are clamoring for passage and straining every nerve to secure the funds necessary on which to make the trip.  Many are making sacrifices in order to visit the country that promises so much.

Every steamship office in the city is literally overrun with people seeking information concerning the Clondyke country.  Those who have the money have not hesitated to pay for the passage, trusting in many instances to good luck to give them the food on which to subsist during the coming winter.  The Excelsior, which leaves on Wednesday next, has a full passenger list, but big bonuses are being offered every day for a berth on the vessel.

 

In all, some 200,000 people attempted to make it to the Klondike to seek their fortune.  Of that number, more than a quarter of those actually made it to the gold fields.  There was such a rush to get to the gold fields that many did not heed the warnings of danger that could befall them.  The biggest concern was the upcoming winter which could see temperatures drop to -50F.  These dangers prompted the United States Secretary of the Interior to issue a state paper warning against traveling to the Klondike.  The message was also issued by the Canadian government.  Both of the warnings did little or anything to stop people going to the Klondike.

Monday, July 19, 1897

New Haven Register, New Haven, Connecticut

Page 3

SAN FRANCISCO, Cal., July 19. - Mr. Ladue gives a timely warning to the thousands who are preparing to rush to the gold fields this year.  "There are at present about 3,500 persons in the country," he said, "and that number is about all that can be accommodated this winter.  Provisions are high, as it costs from 10 to 15 cents a pound to land goods at Dawson City, and it is impossible to get more provisions in this year that will supply the present population.  If miners rush up there this summer, unless they take with them their own supplies, they will suffer great hardships.

 

Tuesday, July 20, 1897

The Rocky Mountain News, Denver, Colorado

Page 2

NEW YORK, July 19. - There are well informed men who look upon the reported discoveries as exaggerated.  One of these is F. Hobart, associate editor of the Engineering and Mining Journal.

"Only the hardiest and most experienced miners could hope to prosper in that desolate land.  For eight months out of each year no work can be done.  The long winter is of arctic-like severity.  Into four months the miners must crowd a year's work.  Those who rush to the Yukon country will court hardships of which they do not dream.  If they start now they will barely reach Alaska before winter sets in.  Without money and plenty of it, their position would be terrible.

"Winter there means no work, costly provisions and a life-destroying climate."

 

Tuesday, July 20, 1897

San Diego Union, San Diego, California

Page 1

In an interview today, H. J. Borling, who has visited that section for the last ten seasons, spoke briefly of his ideas of the Alaskan prospects, and while his impressions are of a most sanguine character, he says emphatically that in his opinion no man should journey to the Clondyke country without at least $1,000 in money and supplies. 

"The season in which the mines can be worked is from May 10 to September 15, and during that time the weather closely resembles the weather in this locality, but during the balance of the year it is impossible to work the mines unless they are operated underneath the covering of a house.  The cost of living may be safely estimated at $5 per day, and those who go north must figure on that basis.  There is good game to be had in the form of reindeer, moose and mountain sheep during the winter, but outside of this form of food all other supplies must be imported."

 

Seattle was crowded with people who had gone made for wealth - those who had resolved to take passage in the steamer Al Ki and those who could not afford to pay for a ticket.  Where the gold hunters came from it was hard to tell.  There were faces in the crowd unfamiliar to Seattle.  The fever which has been raging here in the most virulent form during the last forty-eight hours has spread through every town and hamlet and these have sent their quota to the Klondyke.

A rumor had been circulated the night before departure that the Al Ki would not be able to carry all the passengers who had b ought tickets and that it would leave port during the night.  Those who heard the rumor carried their outfits with them and spent the night on dock in a fever of waiting lest the boat should go without them.  None of the passengers would leave the dock to get a meal.  Some declared they had food with them, but they did not eat it.  Others declared they surely would not be hungry until the steamer had left for the far north.

Before dawn both the lucky ones with tickets and those who could not afford to go began to gather on the dock.  Most of the passengers were wild-eyed and unkempt, as if they had spent a restless night and had been in too much of a hurry to wash themselves.  They gazed with hungry eyes on the steamer, looked vainly for the gangplank, and hugged their outfits as if they were favorite children.  All human passions and desires except fear seemed to be submerged in the all-absorbing lust for gold.  The fear that shone in the eyes of the passengers was that of missing the boat and fabulous wealth.

The Al Ki started for Alaska with 125 passengers, 800 sheep and 50 horses.  Crazed with gold fever and the hope of reaching Klondyke quickly, the passengers bad good-bye to thousands on shore who were crazed because they could not go.  Food, comfort, sleep were ignored in the fierce desire to get to the gold fields.  Those who could not go to Alaska stayed on the dock all day, shaking hands with those who were going and gazing with eyes of chagrin and envy on the lucky ones as the steamer started for the north.

 

 



 


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