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Subject: Gold Rush Fever from the Eyes of Ed and Edith
These last few days Edith and I have relived a lot of the happening of the gold rush to Dawson City. We were to Dawson City
in June as you remember and now we have looked at the gold rush from the other end and have pretty much followed the two
best routes that 95% of the successful stampeders took. They took the steam boats from the west coast and landed at
Skagway and either took the White Pass Trail or the Chilkoot Trail. We viewed the White Pass trail taking the White
Pass & Yukon Railroad out of Skagway to White Pass. We also drove out to Dyrea(now ghost town) where the steam boats
dropped people off at the end of the fjord where Dyrea was at and they headed for the Chilkoot Pass from there. I am
kicking myself that I did not come prepared to hike the 33 mile trail to Lake Bennett. Chilkoot Pass is the famous
picture of a line of men climbing this steep mountain pass at about a 60 degree angle in the snow. Some how, some
way I am going to do this trail! Maybe two summers from now we can take the Alaska Marine Ferry up to Skagway and I can
do it then.
When the stampeders reached the top of Chilkoot Pass or White Pass out of Dyrea or Skagway they reached the Canadian
boundary which was guarded by the Royal Canadiam Mounted Police(RCMP). They were armed and had scales. They enforced
what was called the ONE TON RULE which meant to go on you had to have ONE TON of supplies of which certain items were
mandated! This was to assure that the stampeders, many inexperienced in regards to the wilderness had the necessary
food and supplies. On the White Pass pack animals could be used most of the way but on the Chilkoot Pass it was only
back packing over the pass. So a little simple math, if you could carry 50 lbs up the pass it meant 40 trips to get
your ton Cache to weigh out on the scales. It is reported most Stampeders made about 35 trips. It snowed so much on
the top of Chilkoot Pass that Stampeders ended up piling their cache on a lowwer cache down below. So now you can
better see why the line had no gaps in them and if you got out of line you had to wait hours to get back in line.
There were at least 30,000 stampeders that went in this way, likely more. Many when getting to Dawson City were broke
so they worked for service and supply businesses or worked for others on mining claims and earned enough money to get
back home. It was much easier going back as the rush had died down, prices were more reasonable and YOU DID NOT HAVE
THE ONE TON RULE so you just went back and got on the steamer and headed south!
Before I get into this any more I want to tell you we had a wonderful inside passage trip from Haines to Juneau, seen the
Mendenhall glacier and toured Juneau. Quite an amazing city when you realize absolutely everything you see got there via
boat or airplane. We seen I believe ten whales, they are "HUGE"! We watched them spout and had one come up and then
dive right by our boat. You just can not believe the cruise ships and the 1000's of passengers from them and the tourist
shops in Juneau.
We did the round trip in one day in the Glenn Canal which is a natural Fjord and has nothing to do with a canal. It is
over 1000 feet deep.
We stayed in the Chilkoot CG and toured Haines and a historic salmon canning plant. It is a sleepy little tourist town;
especially this year as only one cruise ship is stopping. There are lots of politics between cities and cruise companies
and per person docking fees. Juneau charges $5.00 pp for everybody getting off a cruise boat.
Back to the Chilkoot Trail. I hiked up it a ways and have it pretty well researched? I wanted to keep going so bad I
could taste it but you HAVE TO COME prepared and requires a Canadian permit which are limited in number and it can snow
any day and rain is almost for sure and you need to boil water, etc. so you have to have your act together on camping
gear and line up the permit ahead of time or be willing to spend some time waiting to get a permit. I think after mid
sept. you don't need a Canadian permit. Anybody want to come along or meet up and do it? It is one of the ultimate
From Haines we took the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry from Haines to Skagway and loaded the F-350 and Jayco on it.
Total length was 48 feet and for it and Edith and I it was $174.00. We got in our staging lane about 3 hours early and
were the second in line which gave us extra time to run around the ferry and check it out. It had the lower part for
vehicles, then the cabin deck, then the inside observation deck and eating places and a few more cabins, gift shop, and
some utilities for the boat and then clear on top are utilities and toward the back of the boat an open observation deck
and a solarium which is glass and open toward the back but does have heaters on the roof. You can sleep on a deck lounge
chair in your sleeping bag or put up a tent on the deck. No open fires though or no cooking! They had an abandon ship
drill and we watched them lower the lifeboats! The boat is huge and rides very smooth. It is pretty relaxing but you
would want to have plenty of clothes along and rain gear. The cabins are pretty small and expensive I thought but the
food prices were not cheap but not real bad either. It was a nice ride to Skagway except I got my directions turned
around. One could picture the steamers coming up the inside passage right where we had been from Juneau past Haines to
At Skagway in addition to the train ride to White Pass we watched slide shows and movies and had the commentary on the
train ride so heard lots of gold rush history and seen lots of pictures. The National Park Service runs what I would
call a Gold Rush park, has the Chilkoot Trail in the U.S. part and has a trail office in Skagway and museam of tourist
center. They do a good job. I watched a great video there on the Chilkoot Trail.
Yesterday we left Skagway and took the highway which goes on the otherside of the canyon going north to White Pass and
parked right on White Pass for the night and I operated amateur radio from there and made lots of contacts. The fog
really set in so you could see absolutely nothing so we just stayed the night. This morning we stopped where the White
Pass & Yukon railroad crosses the highway and goes to Lake Bennett. There were a lot of cars parked there. Hikers get
in and out here or schedule their hike so they can catch the twice a week train that goes to Lake Bennett. The other
choice is to hike the 33 miles back. The stampeders that took the White Pass trail then followed this trail where the
railroad was constructed to Lake Bennet at the very tail end of the gold rush The ones who took the Chilkoot Trail also
ended up at Lake Bennett. At Lake Bennett they built boats and took them across the Lake to Carcross and got on the
head waters of the Yukon and sailed with the current to Whitehorse, more on that in a moment.
We then went to Carcross and the end of Lake Bennett which then connects to the Yukon. From there we could look south
and see the huge mountains that the White Pass and Chilkoot Pass comes over. We then seen the Yukon as we got toward
Whitehorse. Before Whitehorse a few miles is what is known as Miles Canyon on the Yukon River and at Whitehorsse were
the Whitehorse Rapids. The stampeders had to stop at what was called Canyon City and hire their goods to be hauled by
tram around these two obstacles. Some tried it and were wrecked or killed. I will have pictures of Miles Canyon on the
web site. The rapids are basically gone as they put in a hydro dam there. I hiked to Canyon City and took pictures all
the way back to the small lake formed by the dam and then what is left below the dam and seen the chinook salmon fish
ladder around the dam. Whitehorse is a nice shopping town about like Aberdeen and it lays right along the fast flowing
We were along the Yukon after the amateur radio Field Day as we traveled to Dawson City so we have been along most of
the stampeders route.
The moral of the story is if there is a stampede of any sort the way to make money is to sell things to the stampeders
and in no way try to profit from what everyone is stampeding for. ie the people who made the big bucks we the ones who
sold things or provided services at outrageous prices to the stampeders. As far as gold riches their were a handful
who were already their that got rich. All the stampeders arrived to find all the land had been claimed by those already
BTW the other routes to Dawson City was via the Yukon from the Pacific ocean, ie the rich mans route. Only a few made
it but only after being frozen in the river long before Dawson City and have to wait until the spring thaw. The other
two routes were at Valdez over the glacier and a town that I can not remember south of Valdez which was also over a
glacier. These were very tragic routes with nearly everyone dying or turning back. A few lives to make it back but
were blind for life from snow blindness. There was an overland route up through the Yukon that basically no one succeed
using. Every trail brought A LOT of HEATACHE AND TRAGITY!
The gold rush from the eyes of Ed and Edith
[MID: 1124_W0SD Sent Via: W7BO Date: 2001/08/27 15:23:08]