Yukon Gold Rush: Gold Rush Alaska: Who Discovered it First? Part II

Yukon Gold Rush Gold Rush Alaska
Yukon Gold Rush Gold Rush Alaska


It also led to Dawson City’s creation (1896) and the Yukon Territory (1898). Many of these prospectors would succumb to avalanches, hypothermia, and malnutrition on their journeys searching for gold. By 1899 the Yukon gold rush was short-lived, and those searchers moved north up to Alaska, leaving behind the destruction of the ecosystem caused by their heavy machinery ripping up the grounds and riverbeds.

Robert Henderson never claimed to be the first to find the gold that kickstarted the Yukon gold rush, but he claims him to be the one who pointed out the region that bared the gold to Carmack in summer 1896. The series of affidavits taken by William Ogilvie shortly after the Yukon gold rush discovery would show that neither confirms nor denies that Henderson’s advice was what led up to the gold rush. Jim and Tagish Charly and Carmack lived as they always have done. They did a combination of logging, fishing, and prospects as part of their typical day. They were always working, and now with the huge increase in population in the area, it only made them more business.

Kate Carmack (First Nations name “Shaw Tláa) (1862-1920) is Skookum Jim’s sister. She would live with George Carmack sometime shortly after 1888, and they would have a daughter together named Graphic. Although finding gold put stress in their relationship, and George would leave her and Graphic in 1900, he would marry a prostitute from Dawson. Graphic as an adult would marry her dad’s z new wife’s brother. Kate returned to living with her First Nation family, where she would live near her brother until his death.[3] She died as a result of the influenza epidemic of the 1920s.

Yukon Gold Rush
Yukon Gold Rush

Skookum Jim (First Nations name “Keish”) was an affiliate of the Tagish First Nations part of the wolf clan. Dawson Charlie was his nephew, and he was born sometime around 1855. He lived by the town known today as Carcross. When Skookum Jim was young, he worked as a packer, moving the supplies and equipment of early prospectors over the mountain trails from the coastline to the Yukon River’s waters. While he was working as a packer, he met Carmack, and they quickly would become friends along with Dawson Charlie. Skookum Jim passed away in 1916. The gold rush was not the first time gold had been known in the Yukon Territory. The first time Yukon gold was found was a bit earlier than 1896.[4]

To go back a bit further to when the first recorded time, the search for gold in the Yukon Territory would begin decades before the Yukon gold rush. Yukon gold was first discovered in 1874, which brought in just a small number of prospectors at the time. Some of those prospectors included Al Mayo, Arthur Harper, and Jack McQuesten. The three men became traders as they could not support themselves at the time as prospectors. These men promoted, encouraged, and then provided the growing prospecting group that matured slowly before the start of the gold rush.

Yukon Gold Rush
Yukon Gold Rush

At first, it was a slow burn, then a progressively increasing river of optimistic prospectors who would go through the Yukon basin, prompted by the good rumours of gold in the Yukon in one of the four rivers which consisted off: The Sixty Mile River (1891), Forty-mile River (1886), the Stewart River (1885), and finally Birch Creek, close to Circle City, Alaska (1892). There were about 1,600 prospectors by 1896 in search of gold nuggets in what is known today as the Yukon Territory.

An American known as Joseph Ladue lived in the Yukon since 1882. He was an owner and operator of a trading post on the Yukon River, which was just above the widest part of the Klondike. As other people made accusations for finding gold, Ladue was speedy to capitalize on finding gold on Bonanza Creek. He would divide 65 hectares of moose and swampy pasture at the tip of the Klondike River. He would name it Dawson City, and he would become very wealthy from cutting trees down and selling the lumber and would subdivide and sell the lots to have prospectors build on them.



[3] Gates, Michael, “Klondike Gold Rush.” In the Canadian Encyclopedia. Historical Canada. Article published July 19, 2009; Last Edited March 04, 2015. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/klondike-gold-rush

[4] Gates, Michael, “Klondike Gold Rush.” In the Canadian Encyclopedia. Historical Canada. Article published July 19, 2009; Last Edited March 04, 2015. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/klondike-gold-rush

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