For those of you that tune each week for the latest trials and tribulations on the TV reality show “Gold Rush,” what was it like to visit the Klondike along the path of the original gold seekers during the Gold Rush in 1898? In the TV series, you see panning as a way of checking for color before launching into a possible source of gold, or watch the resuscitation of a massive gold dredge as it chews its way through a gold field. The importance of a “paying” sluice box was essential in 1898, as well as 2015. But, the scale of the show’s gold operation is gigantic in comparison to the simple wooden sluice boxes of the 1890s. There is even one episode that shows hydraulic mining for gold – a practice that became heavily-regulated in California during the same period due to the environmental destruction it wrought.
The cast of characters in the show and during the 1890s are very similar – they came from all walks of life, various non-mining occupations, all infected with gold fever.
This article from Frank Leslie’s Weekly, presents a picture of the Klondike gold fields by Mrs. C. R. Miller, a reporter…
The Golden Treasure of the Klondike Creeks
BY MRS. C. R. MILLER
TO OBTAIN a correct impression of the real condition of gold-seeking in the Klondike a trip to the “creeks” is necessary. It is surprising with what comparative ease and comfort this journey may be made, and for this the traveler is indebted to the progressive and liberal policy of the government. In all that immense territory which constitutes northwestern Canada, wherever the enterprising spirit of the gold-hunter has discovered a field worth working, Canada has immediately followed with an official investigation which, if favorable, leads promptly to the establishment of a good wagon road to that point. These assist in the rapid opening up of the country by attracting those people who would not settle there under less advantageous conditions, and by materially reducing the cost of transporting the machinery and implements necessary for extensive and productive mining operations. That part of the Yukon territory known as the Klondike covers about eight hundred square miles, and during the last nine years the Canadian government has expended more than a million dollars in the building of public highways, with the result that the great mining district is covered by a network of roads over which passenger and freight stages pass daily. The Klondike has produced about $110,000,000 in gold since its opening, and is likely to continue productive for many years, now that the machinery which reduces the cost of working the gravel has been installed at nearly all the mines.