The Klondike Gold Rush would begin when George Carmack, fishing for salmon in the Klondike River in Canada, would spot gold nuggets in the creek bed. This would lead to the last gold rush of the American West. While stories differ as to whether he or his other two companions actually spotted the gold nuggets, word of the gold strike spread across Canada and United States. Carmack and his companions staked a claim to the creek bed thick with gold. Over 50,000 would rush to the area to mine for gold. “Klondike Fever” ran high in both countries.
The fever reached its highest pitch in mid-July 1897 when two steamships from the Yukon arrived in San Francisco and Seattle bringing two tons of gold with them. This would spark the imagination of many to head north to strike it rich. A mine-fitter industry boomed selling what was called “Yukon kits” to these prospectors. These contained food, clothing and tools for the Yukon bound miner. Few, however, would strike it rich. The famous novelist Jack London, a young man at the time, found nothing but wrote short stories later of his Klondike experience. Many found when they got to the Yukon that the most promising areas had already been claimed by earlier prospectors.
Carmack would become rich and had over a $1 million worth of gold when he left. Many would sell their profitable stakes to mining outfits or organize themselves into their own mining companies. The gold fever would fade but the large scale gold mining in the Yukon would continue until 1966. By that time some $250 million in gold had been taken out of the Yukon Territory. Small gold mines still operate in the region.
History Channel (www.history.com):
National Park Service (www.nps.gov)
The Klondike Gold Rush