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There was grim pathos in the scene on the dock while the gold hunters were waiting for permission to go on board.  Some were taking passage who would surely never leave Alaska alive.  They had heard stories of the returned miners that health was an absolute requisite in the terrible climate of the Klondyke district.  they smiled and knew better.

One man said he was suffering from lung trouble, but that he might as well die making a fortune as to remain on the shores of Puget Sound and die in poverty.

Gold Madness

The city of Seattle hired a public relations expert to sell the world on the story of the Klondike gold rush and sell it he did.  Within days, a mad stampede began to seek fame and fortune in the gold diggings of Bonanza and El dorado Creeks.  The Klondike gold rush was on.

 

Monday, July 19, 1897

Tacoma Daily News, Tacoma, Washington

Page 1

Seattle, July 19. - The mining excitement, caused by reports of rich gold finds in the Klondike region of Alaska, has not at all abated here.  Over 100 men took passage for the far north on the steamer Alki, which sailed yesterday afternoon at 5 o'clock.  The steamer was scheduled to sail at 9 o'clock in the morning but the great amount of freight shipped delayed her departure eight hours.

At 5 o'clock the lines were cast off and with hope high in their hearts, with cheers and fluttering handkerchiefs, these men answered the honest wishes for their Godspeed and safe return. 

Following are the names of the Seattle passengers:

J. A. Bennett, A. B. Buck, Dr. J. Brown, Fred Bremer, M. Maresne, W. H. Hill, Mrs. W. H. Hill, J. C. Romine, Mrs. E. M. Smith, D. W. Ward, Ralph Schrack, A. K. Faber, E. M. Ward, T. J. Harris, Robert Evans, J. B. Corey, J. C. Boatman, M. Keenan, Thomas Keenan, E. R. Buck, A. Hennekan, L. C. Danbett, W. B. Goodrich, J. R. Wilson, J. Wright, C. E. Pfeifer, J. H. Hendren, H. B. Donahey, D. A. McGilvery, Dan A. Steward, E. J. Kelly, J. H. Holland, Thomas McElwain, Richard Wood, J. Hyand, John H. Hughes, B. A. Burton, William Jolly, E. D. Carfee, R. Abernathy, N. Pepoin, F. Ehewerette, B. R. Holden, P. I. Bursith, R. J. Allen, J. C. Farr, Thomas Christenson, A. Sutro, F. A. Wall, D. G. McFarrish, George Crist, George F. Gilmore, P. A. Gilmore, James Amestry, J. A. Graham, Miss Alice Gordon, Bert Porter, F. H. Coates, John Olson, J. Barter, F. Connor, H. Duncan, E. M. Barrington, G. Numan, Mrs. J. E. Bartey, A. Fish, A. Dreinger, Joseph Geiner, A. Mereoun, Joseph Green, A. E. Tambell, E. S. Hopkins, Mrs. B. Hogen, J. B. Kenney, J. R. Rods, S. Monnett, W. S. Shanks, F. Fisk, E. S. Jeffreys, Mrs. M. McLean, B. Raymond, H. R. Raymond, Annie Hughes.

Thirty-four of the above list went to Juneau; one went to Douglas and one to Wrangel; 30 of the remainder went to Dyea and 20 went to Skagway bay.

 

July 19, 1897

New Haven Register, New Haven, Connecticut

Page 3

Another steamer will sail today with humanity, and a third one will leave here Tuesday, carrying as many passengers as the law will allow.  Every ticket for Tuesday's boat has been sold.  already the companies are selling room on steamers booked to leave as fast as they can be placed in readiness.

Men are leaving all sorts of positions to go up there, and Seattle and Tacoma are livelier than they have been for years.  All classes are going, from prominent, professional and business men to stevedores.  Two thousand persons have already arranged to start from Puget Sound at once for Klondike.  Former (Washington) Governor John H. McGraw swill sail on Tuesday's steamer Portland.

Charles H. Hamilton, secretary of the North American Transportation Company who returned on the Portland, is the busiest man in town.  His office is besieged by persons impatiently waiting for an opportunity to arrange for transportation to the new El Dorado.

 

July 23, 1897

The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon

Page 6

LONDON, July 22. - Sir Donald Alexander Smith, Canadian high commissioner in London, has been besieged for several days past by inquirers who desire to go to the Yukon mines.  Most of the applicants for information are young men without money who are employed on farms and in factories.  Would-be emigrants of this class are urged to remain at home, but hardy men with a capital of $100 or more are encouraged to leave for the gold fields.

Various steamship companies report that few persons have left England for the new gold fields thus far.  This is probably due to monetary considerations.

 

July 22, 1897

Minneapolis Journal, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Page 1

Seattle, July 22. - The steamer Portland, which sails this afternoon for St. Michaels, Alaska, carries 125 passengers, the full limit, and is loaded almost to the danger limit with provisions.  Among her passengers are several well-known men.  Ex-Governor McGraw, who for many years was president of the First National bank of Wyoming, governor of Washington for four years ending January last, and later a candidate for United States senator to succeed W. S. Squire, goes to the Clondyke to seek fortune again.  General M. E. Carr, formerly brigadier general of the state militia and whose law practice is the largest in the state, is also a passenger on the Portland.  Captain A. J. Balliet, at one time Yale's greatest oarsman and football player, leaves a handsome law practice to seek gold on the Yukon.

 

July 23, 1897

The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon

Page 6

SAN FRANCISCO, July 22. - Captain Hays, of the Bertha, speaking of the Clondyke boom, said:

"The fact that the new fields are 2000 miles from St. Michaels, and the difficulties of transportation are innumerable, cannot be too forcibly impressed upon intending prospectors.  The newspapers will be responsible for the loss of many lives, and a great deal of suffering and hardship if they do not strongly advise the public that the river Yukon, now that the mountain torrents have ceased running, is very low, and consequently much of the 5,000 tons of supplies now awaiting transportation, cannot possibly be conveyed to their destination for some time."

Messrs. Sloss, of the Alaska Commercial Company, are equally frank.  One of the firm said:

"What we most fear is that the excitement will cause many people to rush northward without properly considering how they are to live through the winter after they get there.  We have about 5,000 tons of provisions on the Yukon, and are sending as large additional quantities as possible, but we are not able to say whether the supply will be equal to the demand, nor when the supplies will reach their destination with any certainty.  The sternwheel steamer with which the Excelsior is to connect will be the last to make the Yukon river trip this season.  It will reach Dawson City with a barge in tow about September, and must immediately return, as the river usually freezes over early in October.

"It is for this reason principally that we have declined to carry more than the usual complement of passengers on the Excelsior this trip.  We could easily have constructed accommodations for another hundred, but preferred to utilize the space for supplies to feed those already there and on the way."

 

July 23, 1897

The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon

Page 6

NEW YORK, July 22. - The world says:

"The Clondyke gold fever has reached this city.  At all the ticket agencies and railroad offices inquiries are being made about rates.

The first expedition from this city for the Yukon gold fields will leave early next week.  All the details have been arranged at the office of former Judge George M. Curtis.  The party is to comprise William Edwards, a young lawyer in Mr. Curtis' office, a son of Billy Edwards, of the Hoffman house; John W. Edwards, a Brooklyn druggist; Dr. James W. Broston, of Brooklyn, and Charles Edelman, a civil and mining engineer of this city.

 

July 23, 1897

The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon

Page 1

The announcement in yesterday's Oregonian that the steamer George W. Elder would go on the Alaska route from Portland, starting on her first trip July 20, was the subject of general conversation, and renewed the lively interest already prevailing in the Clondyke excitement.  The O. R. & N. has a large force of men at work on the Elder, lifting her up for her first trip, and Mr. N. Poston, the agent in this city of the Pacific Coast Steamship Company, was busy wiring his people in San Francisco for instructions relative to passenger and freight rates, in order to meet the many demands making for both as the result of the bare announcement that the steamer would be put on the route.  Before the noon hour he had all the data necessary to do business with, and commenced the sale of tickets for passengers,  and by 3 in the afternoon he had booked 31 cabin passengers and about as many in the steerage.  Many of the reservations were made by people in Portland for parties in the East and South, who expect to reach here in time to take the steamer.  Among the Portland people, Corbitt & Macleay will send a man up on the elder.  The others booked from Portland are:

F. A. Insley, Mrs. E. B. Miles, S. M. Mears, J. H. Hadley and wife, Alexander Kunz, E. J. Cristie, J. P. Menefee, R. M. Riner, E. B. Holmes, Mr. Clayton, O. M. Holmes, l. H. Adams, Charles Bresler, E. M. Cox.

Among the others who are said to be booked to go from the Sound are Dave Campbell, Detective Welch, and Mr. McCormick, of the Banquet restaurant, whose brother is said to have sent word to him to drop everything and come on, and if he couldn't sell his restaurant, to give it away.  Many others in the city are making quiet preparations to leave on short notice.

 

July 26, 1897

The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon

Page 1

SAN FRANCISCO, July 25. - The steamer Umatilla left this morning for the north with 290 passengers and a full cargo of provisions.  She left for Port Townsend, where she connects with the City of Topeka, sailing direct to Juneau.  The owners of the Umatilla have applied to Inspector of Hulls and Boilers Birmingham for permission to carry all the passengers that the vessels owned by the company will hold.  The Topeka, which is scheduled to leave Seattle early next week, has already more passengers than is permitted by the law.  The same is true of the George W. Elder, which is scheduled to sail from Portland July 30.  The people at Seattle are begging the steamship officers to provide them with transportation.  More people are anxious to go to Alaska and the Yukon than possible can be accommodated at the present time.  It is believed by many that the vessels now fitting at San Francisco and destined for Dawson City by way of St. Michaels will never reach the former place.  The river begins to freeze about September 20, and it is not possible for vessels leaving San Francisco after August 1 to reach Dawson City until at least five or six days after the extreme cold has set in.

The logistics of transporting this number of people in such a short period resulted in the use of ships that were past their prime in sea-faring years.  Hastily organized transportation companies leaped to life.  Mariners revived practically any boat that would float for hauling the stampeders north.  Even Seattle's mayor, W. D. Wood, joined the stampede - he resigned to set up a steamship and riverboat service to the Klondike.  Many of these ships were long past their prime sea-faring years and very dangerous to take into open waters.  Many of the ships were pressed out of retirement and used to transport goods to Alaska.  This danger was compounded by the gross overloading of men and material on these ships.  In the five weeks of late July and August twenty steamers left for Alaska.  On many occasions gear stored on the deck of ships would be ruined by the sea water.  Miraculously, few people were lost at sea when compared to the total number of those who went.

July 26, 1897

The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon

Page 1

SEATTLE, June 25. - No greater crowd ever assembled on the wharves of Seattle than that which witnessed the departure of the steamer City of Mexico.

Among those who applied for accommodations yesterday was Robert Cahill, who wired from Seattle, having evidently been unable to get passage on the steamers sailing from the Sound.  A plan which is being agitated by a number of young men, and which will probably be carried into effect before spring is to build several small steamboats for use on the Yukon.  The material for the boats will be got out here, so that they can be put together on the Yukon.  A transportation company will then be organized to do business on that river, connecting with a line of boats from Portland.

The Klondike gold fields were in Canada.  In 1897, the population in Dawson had mushroomed to about 25,000 people, many of them without enough food to last the oncoming winter, and threatened a famine.  Canadian law required that each miner have enough supplies to last himself one year (see the list).  This amounted to approximately 2,000 pounds of gear.  American and Canadian cities vied with each other for this lucrative trade.  The final word was had by the Northwest Mounted Police at the entry points to Canada.  Here, each miner's outfit was checked for content and given the Customs seal.  If the outfit had been purchased in Canada, it was not subject to Canadian import taxes.  American supplies were levied with a 10% surcharge.  There was no way for the miner to escape though, because he had to cross American soil to get to the Klondike, if he went by any of the popular routes, and United States Customs agents would tax outfits bought in Canada.  This led many people to seriously consider a route that did not pass through American territory.

 

 



 


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