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Alaska Gold Rush History and Genealogy
This web site is dedicated to Alaska's many gold rushes and is intended to showcase the less famous events. Gold has been found in many places in Alaska and whenever news leaked out of a possible discovery miners rushed to the area.
Gold strikes in Juneau, Nome and Fairbanks are well documented so while their history will not be ignored it is not the focus of this site.
The Klondike Gold Rush was to Canada thought it was primarily Americans who joined the rush and who made many of the discoveries. The route to the Klondike went through Alaska primarily at Skagway or up the Yukon River. The lure of Klondike gold brought thousands of people to the north country. It was responsible for one of the largest voluntary mass movements of people in history and some of the argonauts went on to discover gold in Alaska.
The Russians had been aware there was some gold in their territory of Alaska. In 1849 gold was found near the Russian River and possibly other places on the Kenai Peninsula. In 1861 gold was discovered on Telegraph Creek near the settlement of Wrangell. The Russians feared a rush of foreign prospectors into a land they could barely hold claim to and they had taken the valuable fur otter to the brink of extinction. This, in part, led to the sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867 (Source ).
Following the Alaska purchase a few American prospectors, trappers and traders came to explore the new territory. In 1880 gold was located at what is now Juneau, the capitol city. The discovery led to more mineral exploration in the North.
There were gold strikes in Alaska and the upper Yukon prior to the discovery of gold in the Klondike. Miners and prospectors on their way to the upper Yukon region had been coming through Dyea and over Chillkoot Pass since before the route was mapped by the Lieutenant Schwatka expedition in 1883.
The Klondike discovery let the world know that there was gold to be found in the north. The majority of the claims were staked by people who had been in Alaska when the strike was made. By the time the rush got under way and people began arriving from Seattle the good ground was all taken. Many returned home disappointed. Some hung around Dawson and rushed out at every rumor of a gold strike. Others headed down the Yukon into Alaska to search for gold.