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Gold Rush Ghost Ships Facts

A sternwheeler on the Yukon.

A sternwheeler on the Yukon. (View larger version)

Photograph by Spiegel TV Media GmbH

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  • A hundred thousand people set out on the trail to reach Dawson. But only a few hundred of them found gold in quantities large enough to make them rich. And out of these fortunate men, only a handful managed to keep their wealth.

  • The great trek to Dawson was considered one of the most useless mass movements in history. Some 50,000 men spent a thousand dollars each in the hopes of becoming rich. By 1901 the gold fields in the Yukon Territory had produced very little.

  • The river "Thron-diuck" – pronounced "Klondike" by the miners – became known as the finest salmon fishing stream in the Yukon. Its Indian name meant "hammer-water."

  • In Dawson, dance hall girls were paid 100 dollars a night. The Alaska Commercial Company made plans for a warehouse that cost only 93,000 to build but would have cost 4,000 in a Midwestern town. Even groceries such as bacon and tea cost up to seven or eight times as much as they did elsewhere.

  • A series of mass resignations became a feature of the early stages of the stampede. On the same day about a dozen clerks quit. Reporters from the Seattle Times and policemen and shipping men left their jobs. The Mayor of Seattle, W.D. Wood, wired his resignation. He had raised 150,000 dollars, bought an ocean steamer and formed the Seattle and Yukon Trading Company.

  • Forty-one regular ships were operating out of San Francisco harbour by February 1898.

  • In the fall of 1897, steamship tickets for the trip up north sold at inflated prices. Before the gold rush a ticket for the voyage from San Francisco to St. Michael would have cost 150 dollars. After the gold rush that same ticket could cost 1500 dollars.

  • The first steamships to reach Dawson were loaded with perishables and items of luxury. There were also thirty to forty loads eggs. One of the strangest shipments was a load of cats and kittens.

  • One of the best-preserved and large collections of stern-wheelers from the 19th century is found between Carcross and Dawson City in the Yukon Territory. There are twenty-two known sites with nineteen of them being wooden-hulled vessels.

  • The wreck of the small sternwheeler 'A.J. Goddard' is seen as a time capsule with items still resting where the crew left them.

  • The A.J. Goddard represents the last remaining example of the small sternwheelers that were used during the Klondike Gold Rush.

  • Since 1896, the search for gold in the Yukon never came to a halt. Today, geoscience provides baseline information to miners. It is then up to the individual miner to choose where they believe the gold is.

  • The requirements for staking a claim have not changed much over the last 100 years. You must place a post at each end of your claim. These posts cannot be more than 500 feet apart. You must inscribe your name and claim number on each post. Then you have to record your claim with the Mining Recorder.

  • Around 1900, an ounce of gold was worth about twenty dollars. A hundred years later, an ounce was valued at over 250 dollars. Just ten years later it rose to over 1,400 dollars.

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