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The American Experience (image map with 8 selections)
Greetings from the Klondike

"I'll Stick to My Plan"

"... I Know there has been hard weather on the Chilkoot, but think stories are exaggerated by Skagway people. I'll stick to my plan. I'm going to Dyea, and then over the Chilkoot. The more that are frightened off, the fewer competitors."
-- Fred Dewey

Photo of Fred Dewey with caption: 
"Twenty-eight year old Fred Dewey went to the Klondike to seek
his fortune"  Photo of "Chilkoot Pass: the
meanest 32 miles in the world."

"Buried Alive"

Photo of the avalanche with caption:
"After the avalanche, the search for bodies commences." "...In the night sometime, a snow slide began. I was awakened by the roar, but I could see nothing. Several more occurred, only not as close. ...We rushed out and watched a genuine avalanche. It was a grand and beautiful sight. It looked like a great waterfall as the snow came pouring over the rocks. Men came pouring out into the streets of the camp, shouting and shooting their rifles into the air. Moments later a man came running into Joppe and Mueller's restaurant by the Scales, yelling, "For God's sake, come quick! Help dig out Mrs. Maxon and several others! They've been buried alive in their tent." ...As far as one could see up the gulch, winding in and out, were men going to the rescue. About five hundred feet beyond, several tents were buried. As I arrived, one tent had been uncovered and three taken out dead. No one knows how many are buried, probably between forty and one hundred."
-- Fred Dewey


"The View"

Photo of the Rocky Mountains with the
caption: "Prospectors could take solace in the beauty of the land around
them." "...I wish I could show you the view from one of these great domes. I never tire of looking over the bleak Rockies a hundred miles away, and on all the country between."
-- Fred Dewey


"Get in Line and Wait 
Your Turn"

Photo of Clarence McNeil with the caption:
"Clarence McNeil traveled all the way from Minnesota to reach the Klondike." "...You have to get in line and wait your turn to get a chance to go up over the Summit. Though the men are forced to stop for over a half an hour in their place, they are as silent as a grave yard."
-- Clarence McNeil


"Dangerous to the Extreme"

"...The blinding snow rendered it dangerous in the extreme to attempt the descent from the mountain toward Lake Lindeman, the head waters of the Yukon River. To make matters worse, the clouds set down on the mountain top and we dared not leave the camp for more than a few hundred feet, for fear we might lose our footing and be lunged over a precipice or into some yawning chasm in the mountain. A misstep meant death.

Photo of 3 men with snow on their faces.
Caption reads: "Brutal wheather conditions awaited those who ventured
into the Klondike." We took shovels and dug a hole in the ice and snow and spread a tent over it, placing sacks of provisions on the tent to weight it down so the fierce wind could not carry it away. Our supper consisted of a cup of tea and a few crumbs of bread. We then wrapped our blankets about us and lay down to listen to the howling of an Alaskan storm, which seemed to shake the very mountain with its violence.

Two weeks were consumed in reaching Lake Lindeman, eleven miles further on. Another week had passed before a boat was completed with which we could make our way down the river. While in camp at Lake Lindeman one of the party injured his knee, and three times a hunting knife had to be brought into requisition and incisions made. Only after the most careful nursing was he able to proceed on the journey. Men are often taken with snow-blindness in that country and lie helpless for days in their tents, unable to cook enough to sustain life. If deserted by their companions in this condition their fate is sealed.

Photo of Chilkoot with caption reading:
"Passage over the Chilkoot, 1,000 feet straight up, and 2 feet wide." Many lives have been lost at these various points of danger, and along this section of the river many graves dot the shore where unfortunates have been laid in their last resting place. Niches cut in the frozen ground mark the lonely graves of fathers and sons whose return is waited for in vain by loved ones in the realm of civilization. It is a sad thing indeed to lay your friends away in that desolate region, where only wild beasts congregate to mourn a requiem over their graves. I simply mention these facts in order that any one who thinks of going into that country may know beforehand that the search for gold there is preceded by hardships and privations which they little dream of unless they have penetrated the American land of the midnight sun."
-- J.O. Hestwood


"Everybody Has Money"

Photo of "The Examiner."
Headline reads: "More Golden Millions Coming From Klondike."
Caption reads: "Newspapers of the day used tales of riches to
increase sales." "Gold is as common here in Dawson as iron is in Juneau. Everybody has money. There seems to be no limit to this district, and they are striking new diggings every few days of a hundred miles around, and stampedes are the rage. Men with packs on their backs, breaking for some new creek or new discovery, are met at every turn. Some are leaving good pay bound for something that promises better, and in this way the country is being explored and prospected. I have built a shop 12 by 20 feet, consisting of a tent drawn over a frame of scantling, and am doing well, working sixteen hours a day, and with all the work I can do. For making a half-ounce ring out of Klondike gold they pay me $25. This is the greatest gold camp on record."
--James Kite


"Hair-Breadth Escapes"

Photo of Yukon Hotel with caption reading:
"Dawson City sprung up to accomodate gold seekers." "After leaving Dyea we had a trip full of hair-breadth escapes, and arrived at Dawson on June 9th. We should have started either a month earlier or later, as we struck the worst time.

I start work tomorrow at $1.50 an hour, and will soon have a job which has been promised me at an ounce of gold daily. On the boat which leaves tomorrow for St. Michael's are 50 people who nine months ago were broke, and are now taking out from $10,000 to $100,000 each.

Photo of men weighing gold nuggets with
caption reading: "In Dawson City, gold nuggets became a common currency." One Montana man took $96,000 out of 45-square feet, and another took $130,000 out of 85-square feet, and other strikes equally rich are reported. Old-timers expect to make big strikes this winter. There are more ways of making money here than in any place I ever saw."
--Hart Humber


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