Klondike Gold Rush Begins: August 16, 1896

Amelia Earhart Disappears: July 2, 1937

On August 16, 1896, gold was discovered at Bonanza Creek in northwest Canada, launching the 1896–99 Klondike (Yukon) Gold Rush.

It didn’t take long after gold was discovered in the Yukon for word to spread to the surrounding areas. Prospectors from nearby parts of Alaska and Canada quickly snapped up the most promising claims. But due to a lack of contact with the outside world, word didn’t reach beyond the area until prospectors toting large amounts of gold got off ships in San Francisco and Seattle in mid-July 1897, nearly a year after it was first discovered.

As word of the discovery of gold spread like wildfire, people rushed to buy passage on ships heading north, and the gold rush understandably became a major story in the newspapers. But Klondike gold permeated more than just the headlines. It was the subject of editorial cartoons as well as advertisements, such as those selling supplies for the Yukon and those drumming up support for mining ventures. One paper even used the prospect of winning a small amount of real Klondike gold as an incentive to increase subscriptions and advertising.

In all, about 100,000 people started off toward the Yukon to find their fortunes. It was a long, difficult trip to get there, and Canadian authorities required each person to bring a year’s worth of food and supplies since resources were scarce that far north.

Illustration showing the character and dress of the men now at Klondyke
While some people traveled the entire way by ship, the majority traveled partway by ship and then came the rest of the way via various overland and river routes through Alaska and Canada, braving rough terrain and freezing weather. Unfortunately, when the main rush of newcomers arrived in Dawson City (the boomtown nearest the discovery) in late June and early July of 1898, they found that the best claims had already been taken, as it had been two years since the original discovery.

Out of the 100,000 people who set out for the Yukon, only about 40,000 actually made it. Of those 40,000, about 20,000 worked claims, but only about 4,000 ever found any gold. And of those who found gold, only a few hundred made it rich.

Do you have an ancestor who was part of the Klondike Gold Rush or just want to learn more about it? Start a search on Newspapers.com.

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14 thoughts on “Klondike Gold Rush Begins: August 16, 1896

  1. My ancestors were there, some stayed, some left, a few made some money. Gordon McLellan had Mac’s Store in Dawson; his sister Winnie was the first teacher there….. Dorman Nelson

  2. My great great grandfather was Capt. C H Lewis who reportedly went down with the ship when the Clara Nevada sank in Feb 1898. There is some pretty solid evidence that he survived, may have taken the gold, and went back to his other family in Baltimore leaving my great grandmother and her siblings with their step mother. They all thought he was dead. I’ve found so many great articles about the wreck and Captain Lewis, but am always searching for more!

  3. My greatgrandfather and his brothers went with their father from New Zealand to California then up to the Klondike Gold Rush to seek their fortune. Unfortunately they did not strike it rich and after visiting family in the Toronto area they returned to New Zealand. We have some pages of a diary written by one of the brothers, there are some pages missing but not too many we believe, and it makes very interesting reading.

  4. My grandfather went alone to Dawson in 1899 by way of Seattle, bought a ticket on a steamer to Skagway. Then hiked with a pack on his back, with a constant stream of of hikers going over the trail to Dawson. No luck until he arrived at Rampart, Alaska. He had a partner at this time and a claim and they made good money for a few years until the vein ran out

  5. My 2nd great uncle, Thomas Austin Glenney, went to the Klondike from Chester, Pa. in 1898. Have a great studio portrait of him sitting next to a model sailing ship, looks to be taken in 1890’s. But we didn’t know anything about him or about the Klondike until we searched on Newspapers.com.
    Found 4 articles: him leaving Chester, Pa. 2/1/1898 for a “return” trip to Klondike. Austin and 2 friends would travel to Seattle and then take a steamer; then a Chicago paper telling of Austin buying sled dogs to be shipped to Seattle; and a final Chester, Pa. article in July 1898 describing Austin’s letter to the families back in Chester telling them how their sons died on the way to the Klondike “in the rapids”. The article describes how Austin drew a hill with 2 crosses on the top of his letter, so the parents could picture the graves of their now dead sons.
    Austin returned to Pa. and worked in an upscale clothing store in Philadelphia in 1910 census. He died in Houston, Tx in 1913 where he was a “fireman” probably on the railroad, since his only connection to Houston was his cousin, a longtime railroad conductor in Houston.
    Other articles tell of Austin’s “going to sea” at age 18 to Europe (Antwerp, Wales, Dublin). The family had written on the back of the picture, that he was “a World Traveler”, so with the help of Newspapers.com we’ve uncovered a lot of Austin’s story.

  6. My great grandfather also went to the gold rush. He left from Seattle in January of 1898 and made it to Skagway. He was there until March, when he died in Skagway of Pneumonia. The park rangers told me that there had been a meningitis outbreak around the time he died, and that it was possible he had gotten meningitis and then pneumonia. His body was brought back to Seattle where he is buried.

  7. Please stop sending me any and all of your dull and boring stories.

    Sincerely,
    Bob

    • Bob – there is an unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email you received. Use it. I sincerely doubt that an ugly comment in this area will get you unsubscribed. None of us (your fellow readers) can unsubscribe you!

  8. my ggggggreatgrand parents Christopher newman b.1769 sarah ross b. 1775 . I believe she was Cherokee. he dads name was john ross and her mom Elizabeth jane shoeboots . they were from va. and ohio country . if anyone has any information let me know.
    thank you,
    Shirley newman lawson

  9. This is a great newspaper but given that we’re living on a fixed income in the Great Bush Recession we cannot afford to pay your high subscription price.

    Thank you.

    • U better look to see who’s president typical liberal blame it on the right speak to ur non business friendly man in the whitehouse in charge if the Obama depression after 7 years enough of bush bash at least he had a set of balls

  10. I enjoy reading comments from others. Have been to San Francisco ,Seattle, Skagway +the Yukon as far as Carcross so am familiar with the whereabouts. As far as I know have no relatives there. Regards Irene ison

  11. I am looking for an Irish Newspaper report of a small navy ship which sank . It was circa 1930 .All I know is my uncle Michael Garrett Walsh,aged 21 and I think 8 others were on it . They left Cork ,Ireland and were to join a bigger ship in the UK ! I think it was the Merchant Navy as my grandfather Richard Walsh and several grand uncles ( family name Fitzgerald )were also in the Merchant Navy .Michael Garrett Walsh was from Whitegate,Co.Cork

  12. My grandfather Carlos Ibarra Molina used to own a real estate agency, during the gold rush in Arizona with his sister Antonia Ibarra de Ahumada until the day he was murdered. My grandfather was married to a woman named Victoria Vega de Ibarra. If anyone has any information regarding the situation please contact me via email. My grandfather also worked transporting and raising cows for his own profits during 1910-1931

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