Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Impact of Gold

When gold was discovered in 1848, people poured into California to prospect the "golden mountains."
 At the height of the gold rush the atmosphere in the mining country was of extreme excitement and
 greed. The impact of the gold rush, however, struck much deeper than soil of the Sierra Mountains.
 Many forty-niners did became prosperous from the mining of gold. Many did not. Most people became
 prosperous through other means other than mining.

The gold rush created a major labor shortage as many Californians left their jobs and went to the gold fields. This shortage created opportunities for many people that needed the work. Most of these people were immigrants who, when they finally reached California, found that the gold was harder to find and less abundant than they dreamed. They consequently got jobs in the cities and towns that were quickly growing. Unfortunately, this labor shortage also resulted in the exploitation of the Native Indians that was quite similar to slavery, without the official name.

The huge influx of people into California, especially the city of San Francisco, opened up many more opportunities in the economic scheme of things. Manufacturing, trade, merchant businesses, agriculture, entertainment market, and the newly formed banks and financial institutions all flourished and prospered because of the gold rush. By 1855, the day of the individual miner was dead and the modern capitalistic economy was established. The economy in California blossomed. The national economy also was impacted by the gold rush and did well because many companies across the country invested, in some way, shape or form, in the gold rush. The table below shows the rapid increase and then the decrease of the amount of money that came out of the gold fields of California. However, what this table doesn't show is that as the dollar amount of gold produced decreased, the dollar amount of business and industry was steadily rising because of the new business that was initiated during the gold rush.

The Gold Rush impacted the nation in another important area other than the economy: the issue of slavery. The immigrants to California were of very diverse nationalities and races. There were
 Europeans, South Americans, Chinese, Mexicans, free blacks and slavesthat came with the southern migrants. As this heterogeneous population evolved conflicts over gold and jobs collided with issues of race and ethnicity(click here to read about the impact the gold rush had on the Native American population). California was a very turbulent place. There was pressure on the national government to create a more stable and effective government. The gold rush therefore, forced the national government to deal with the status of the territories. The United States saw the need to establish government in the territories like California. It also forced the nation to deal with the issue of slavery in those territories. Slavery was already a big issue on the East coast. The admission of California into the union would upset the balance of free versus slave states. This pressure added to the slave crises, which was temporarily defused with the Compromise of 1850. Unfortunately, the Compromise of 1850 would fail and the United States would find itself in a civil war.

Although the whole state of California is known because of the gold rush (think of the state nickname, the "Golden State" and our NBA basketball team the "Golden State Warriors"), one of the most significant and important places of the gold rush was the city of San Francisco. Before the rush San Francisco was a small tired village, but after the gold was discovered it was soon one of the fastest growing cities in the world. In 1845, the population of the city was around 400 and by 1860, when the rush had slowed down considerably that number was over 56,000! San Francisco was the closest port to the gold fields, thus everything- miners, merchandise, supplies and gold- passed through the city. At the height of the rush the city was a crazy, exciting place, but only a few years earlier, when the rush first began, it was almost deserted because so many people left for the mines. Even the newspapers had to shut down.

At first, the city was covered with canvas tents and flimsy wooden shacks. It was dirty and crowded. This posed a fire threat. On May 3,1851, the first major fire in San Francisco's history burned down twenty two blocks in ten hours. But before the ashes even cooled buildings were being constructed. Gradually, the wooden houses were replaced by brick.

San Francisco was a boom town. It was very diverse in the race and ethnicity of the people that had come to California. These people brought with them their own culture and beliefs. This heterogeneous society created a lot of tension, but also helped shape the city as it evolved. As one walked down the street, they could witness every type of dress style in the world that had been seen in the last 25 years. Rarely was anyone considered bizarre or strange. The city was growing culturally, physically and economically. One of the great commercial city was evolving. Two images of San Francisco from similar viewpoints. The top is the city in 1848, the bottom in 1984. Notice the changes between the two.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Klondike Gold Rush of 1896

Gold was discovered in British Columbia in the Cassiar districts, in 1873, and miners entered the Yukon region, in 1882. In 1886, coarse gold was discovered after Forty-mile Creek was found, sending shock waves of excitement through the Yukon country.

 In August 1896, George and Kate Carmack, Skookum Jim, and Dawson Charlie, discovered gold on Bonanza (Rabbit) Creek, a tributary of Klondike River. Two weeks later, gold was found on Eldorado Creek, a tributary of Bonanza.

In the fall of 1896, news of the Klondike strikes reached Circle City, and miners departed for Dawson. Building began at the new site of Dawson City, Yukon Territory. By September 1896, Bonanza Creek is fully staked out and many claims were already producing.

 During the winter of 1896-97, miners worked the Klondike mines, removing millions of dollars in gold. The summer of 1897 brought news and spectacle. The day of July 14 exploded as the steamship Excelsior arrived in San Francisco, California with a half million dollars worth of gold on board, and wondrous stories of the Klondike Gold Rush hit the news wires. Three days later the steamship Portland docked in Seattle and 68 miners unloaded one million dollars worth of gold in front of a crowd of 5,000.

During July and August 1897, miners left Seattle and other cities for the Klondike. By September of that same year, 9,000 had left the Port of Seattle. Ships bearing the first stampeders arrived in Dyea and Skagway, Alaska or steamed directly up the Yukon River to Dawson City.

Oliver Millett of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, staked a claim on Cheechako Hill, far above Bonanza Creek, that produced a half million dollars worth of gold. A staking rush of the nearby hills began. In the winter of 1897-98, writer Jack London and an army of miners trudged over the White and the Chilkoot Pass trails.

In the spring of 1898, thousands left Seattle and other cities for the Klondike. The population of Yukon peaked at over 30,000. Dawson City became the largest Canadian city west of Winnipeg. The ice on Lake Lindemann and Bennett Lake thawed and an armada of more than 7,000 boats began their water journey to Dawson City.

Unfortunately, more than 60 men and women were killed by a snowslide on the Chilkoot Trail. Through the summer of 1898 between 20,000 and 30,000 potential miners had reached Dawson. Gold was discovered at Anvil Creek, Alaska. Two years after the Great Seattle fire of June 6, 1889, the city began to regrade downtown to expand the commercial district. More than $22 million worth of gold was pulled out of the creeks. Roughly $2.5 million was pulled out in 1897 and $10 million in 1898.

In the spring of 1899, more than a million dollars worth of property and 117 buildings are destroyed in a fire in Dawson City. The town site of Nome, Alaska, was staked out and established. The summer of 1899 brought change and growth to the Alaskan and Canadian gold territories, the railroad came to Alaska as the first White Pass and Yukon Route train ran from Skagway, Alaska, to Carcross, Yukon.

A year later, the line to Whitehorse was completed. When gold was discovered on the beaches of Nome, Alaska, two thousand arrived to extract it, and the next gold rush began. The Klondike Gold Rush was officially over. A Steamer arrived in Seattle in October 1899; it carried Nome miners and gold.

Early in 1900, from January to May, one to 2,000 miners went down the Yukon to Nome, and ships sailed from Seattle for the Nome gold beaches with up to 20,000 passengers on board. Throughout the summer of 1900, thousands descended on the Nome beaches to dig for gold in the sand. From 1901 through 1904, big things happened in Alaska and in Seattle.

Thanks to the Alaskan and Canadian Gold Rush and the rebuilding of Seattle and San Francisco, the annual volume of business in Seattle topped out at more than $50 million. Gold was discovered in the Tanana Valley of Alaska, and the city of Fairbanks was established. The Alaska Club, a Seattle organization of miners who had struck it rich in the Alaskan and Canadian gold territory and other Alaskan businessmen, was created.

Between the years of 1906 and 1916, Seattle grew significantly in size and recognition. Part of the re-growth of Seattle became apparent when, in 1906, the Schwabacher Company constructed a new eight-story building at First and Jackson in Seattle. In 1908, the Alaska Club and Arctic Club merged in Seattle, bringing together as one group the Seattle and Alaskan businessmen. The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition was a world's fair held in Seattle on the grounds of the University of Washington, in 1909, publicizing the development of the Pacific Northwest. The grounds design was achieved by the Olmsted Brothers. Also in 1909, the Statue of William Seward was placed in Seattle's Volunteer Park.

Seattle's ocean-borne commerce reached a new high of $155 million in 1914. Between 1915 and 1916, Alaska exported nearly $50 million in gold, silver, copper, other minerals and salmon to the United States. One of the benefits Seattle received from the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896 was the ability to rebuild the city. In 1916, the Construction of the Arctic Building in Seattle was the physical manifestation of the design work of A. Warren Gould.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Klondike Gold Rush

The Klondike Gold Rush[n 1] was a migration by an estimated 100,000 prospectors to the Klondike region of the Yukon in north-western Canada between 1896 and 1899. Gold was discovered there by local miners on August 16, 1896 and, when news reached Seattle and San Francisco the following year, it triggered a stampede of would-be prospectors. Some became wealthy, but the majority went in vain. The Klondike Gold Rush ended in 1899 after gold was discovered in Nome, Alaska prompting an exodus from the Klondike. It has been immortalized by photographs, books and films.

To reach the gold fields most took the route through the ports of Dyea and Skagway in Southeast Alaska. Here, the Klondikers could follow either the Chilkoot or the White Pass trails to the Yukon River and sail down to the Klondike. Each of them was required to bring a year's supply of food by the Canadian authorities in order to prevent starvation. In all, their equipment weighed close to a ton, which for most had to be carried in stages by themselves. Together with mountainous terrain and cold climate this meant that those who persisted did not arrive until summer 1898. Once there, they found few opportunities and many left disappointed.

Mining was challenging as the ore was distributed in an uneven manner and digging was made slow by permafrost. As a result, some miners chose to buy and sell claims, building up huge investments and letting others do the work. To accommodate the prospectors, boom towns sprang up along the routes and at their end Dawson City was founded at the confluence of the Klondike and the Yukon River. From a population of 500 in 1896, the hastily-constructed town came to house around 30,000 people by summer 1898. Built of wood, isolated and unsanitary, Dawson suffered from fires, high prices and epidemics. Despite this, the wealthiest prospectors spent extravagantly gambling and drinking in the saloons. The Native Hän people, on the other hand, suffered from the rush. Many of them died after being moved into a reserve to make way for the stampeders.

From 1898, the newspapers that had encouraged so many to travel to the Klondike lost interest in it. When news arrived in the summer of 1899 that gold had been discovered in Nome in west Alaska, many prospectors left the Klondike for the new goldfields, marking the end of the rush. The boom towns declined and the population of Dawson City fell away. Mining activity of the gold rush lasted until 1903 when production peaked after heavier equipment was brought in. Since then the Klondike has been mined on and off and today the legacy draws tourists to the region and contributes to its prosperity.

Monday, June 1, 2015


Well the 2012 seasons prospecting is over but it has also lead to greater insight to the gold paths and next season will be even let's reflect on last season and dream about the one to come.

Gold Rush at Waterville USA

Gold Rush - Working Gold Mine - Western Montana, MT

There's Gold in Them Thar Hills! Montana is nicknamed the "Treasure State" and our state motto, Oro y Plata means "gold and silver" in Spanish.