KLONDIKE RUSH. On 16 August 1896 gold was discovered by George Carmack and his two Indian brothers-in-law on Bonanza Creek of the Klondike River, a tributary of the Yukon River in Canada's Yukon Territory. News of the discovery reached the United States in January 1897, and in the spring of that year a number of people made preparations to depart by boat up the Yukon, or up the Inside Passage and the Chilcoot and White passes and then down the upper tributaries of the Yukon. On 14 July 1897 the steamer Excelsior arrived at San Francisco with $750,000 in gold; on 17 July the Portland arrived at Seattle with $800,000. The press made the Klondike Rush a national sensation, partly because there was little other important news at the time. Chambers of commerce, railroads, steamship lines, and outfitting houses received thousands of inquiries, and, seeing the commercial
possibilities, began a well-financed propaganda campaign that precipitated the rush. The peak of the rush occurred from 1897 to 1899, when 100,000 people left for Alaska, although only about half reached the mines, because of the harsh weather and terrain.
The Klondike Rush had far-reaching economic results, particularly for Alaska. Those unable to secure claims on the Klondike spread over Alaska, finding gold at Nome, Fairbanks, and numerous less famous places. Many turned to other pursuits. Taken together, participants in the rush were the principal factor in the diffuse settlement of Alaska and the economic development of the territory.
Hunt, William R. North of the 53 Degree: The Wild Days of the Alaska-Yukon Mining Frontier, 1870–1914. New York: Macmillan, 1974.
Shape, William. Faith of Fools: A Journal of the Klondike Gold Rush. Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1998.
Wharton, David. The Alaska Gold Rush. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1972.
V. J. Farrar / h. s.
See also Alaska ; Gold Mines and Mining ; Yukon Region .