Klondike

Klondike (klŏnˈdĪk) [key], region of Yukon, NW Canada, just E of the Alaska border. It lies around Klondike River, a small stream that enters the Yukon River from the east at Dawson. The discovery in 1896 of rich placer gold deposits in Bonanza (Rabbit) Creek, a tributary of the Klondike, caused the Klondike stampede of 1897–98. News of the discovery reached the United States in July, 1897, and within a month thousands of people were rushing north. Most landed at Skagway at the head of Lynn Canal and crossed by Chilkoot or White Pass to the upper Yukon, which they descended to Dawson. Others went in by the Copper River Trail or over the Teslin Trail by Stikine River and Teslin Lake, and some by the all-Canadian Ashcroft and Edmonton trails. The rush continued by these passes all the following winter. The other main access route was up the Yukon River, c.1,600 mi (2,575 km), by steamer. Many of those using this route late in 1897 were caught by winter ice below Fort Yukon and had to be rescued. With unexpected thousands in the region a food famine threatened, and supplies were commandeered and rationed. The number in the Klondike in 1898 was c.25,000. Thousands of others who did not find claims drifted down the Yukon and found placer gold in Alaskan streams, notably at Nome, to which there was a new rush. Others went back to the United States. Gold is still mined in the area. The hardships of the trails and the color of Klondike days are described in many personal narratives; among the best are W. B. Haskell's Two Years in the Klondike (1898) and James Wickersham's Old Yukon (1938).

See W. S. Greever, The Bonanza West (1986).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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