The Alaska gold rush happened between 1896-97. Many gold rushes happened at this time in diverse locations within Alaska, and there were lots of people involved. Some events that happened during the gold rush are less famous than others.
However, it's vital to learn about everything that took place if you are interested in the history of gold. You should know who discovered gold in Alaska, sparking a rush that attracted thousands of people.
That's what this article will help you understand. By the end of this post, you'll have learned every critical event that happened during the Alaska gold rush.
A Brief Overview of Alaska's Early Mining History
Alaska was a Russian territory by the time the gold rush happened. The Russians knew gold was there as early as 1849, but the gold rush didn't start immediately. P.P Doroshin, a Russian mining engineer, was the first person to discover gold in Alaska. This was within the Kenai Peninsula in the gravels of the Kenai River.
More gold discoveries happened within the exact location afterward. For instance, a party exploring a telegraph route discovered it in 1865-66 on the Seward Peninsula.
However, the Russians had initially gone to Alaska for valuable seals and fur otters. But these two were on the brink of extinction, and they feared that gold prospectors from other locations could kick them out once word spread about the gold discoveries.
This was one of the factors that made them sell Alaska to the United States. Gold exploration started when prospectors, traders, and trappers from the US moved there. The 1867 purchase of Alaska was impactful, as it triggered more exploration than ever before. Various gold strikes followed in Alaska and Yukon before the real gold rush began in 1896.
As a gold enthusiast, this brief overview gives you a hint of what happened. It's worth mentioning that gold discovery still happens in Alaska today. The best aspect is that gold refining has improved with modern technology.
Gold companies are producing gold in bars, coins, and jewelry forms. You can invest in any form and use it to build wealth. Or, you can invest in paper gold like stocks in mining companies.
The Effects of the Gold Rush
We've answered the question, 'who discovered gold in Alaska?' The next step is to understand the impact of the Alaska gold rush on the natives and visitors. Here's how it impacted them:
Who Became Rich?
Many people saw gold as a means of getting rich quickly. That's why the Alaska gold rush attracted more than 100,000 people, all with the dreams of striking it rich. As said, some of them had left their professions to join other prospectors.
Only 30,000 of the prospectors completed the journey to Dawson City, but most didn't get rich. They found out that the reports of gold discovery were exaggerated, and there was nothing quick about it.
Impacts on Dawson City
Dawson City saw a massive influx of people than it had ever seen in history, courtesy of the Alaska gold rush. This made it a legitimate city that partly helped the US out of economic depression because the US benefited from its booming economy.
But then, the growth of Dawson City also came with negative impacts. For instance, it led to deforestation, poor sanitation, loss of wildlife, soil erosion, etc. The massive influx of people affected natural resources as people had to, for instance, cut trees to build shelters.
Impacts on the Natives
The Alaska gold rush impacted natives negatively and positively. The positive aspect of it was the economic benefits it brought. The natives worked as guides and hauled supplies, which acted as a source of livelihood and contributed to economic growth.
However, it disrupted their cultural way of life. For instance, the miners introduced drunkenness, casual drinking, and other negative social behavior. Diseases like smallpox also came with the miners. Natives who didn't travel much hadn't been exposed to such diseases before.
8 Things You Didn't Know About the Alaska Gold Rush
- The discovery of gold in Alaska happened on Aug. 16, 1896. This was in the Bonanza creek of the Klondike River.
- The journey to Dawson City, where everything happened, was brutal. That's why only a tiny percentage of those who traveled made it there.
- The rush happened at a time when gold was already valued. The news had a significant impact on the US during its great recession.
- Only a tiny fraction of the prospectors became rich by the end of the rush.
- The rush attracted people from all walks of life. Even the Seattle mayor at the time resigned to join the search.
- It led to the development of owns like Dawson and Yukon. People also established businesses that impacted the economy.
- Two trails led miners to supply fields - White Pass and Chilkoot trails.
- Officials required travelers to carry a year's worth of food. This required them to make between 20-30 trips.
You can still explore Alaska on a prospecting tour. Or, you may decide to invest in the gold market. This can be by purchasing gold bars, coins, and jewelry or stocks in gold companies.
What Fueled The Alaskan Gold Rush?
Many people do not know what led to the Alaska gold rush. Some think that it just happened, while the truth is that there are events that fueled it. The Alaska gold rush came about because of the recession in the United States at that time.
When the news came, thousands of people abandoned their work to join the mission. Everyone who joined the gold rush hoped to get a better life, so they were ready to risk it all. Most people didn't have faith in banks and paper money, so gold, which was already valuable, attracted them.
Why Didn't Everyone Get Rich In the Alaskan Gold Rush?
We already mentioned that not everyone who joined the Alaska gold rush became rich. It made a few people rich while others returned home only with memories of the adventure. Gold seemed like the most lucrative trade, but this didn't turn out to be true for everyone.
Most people couldn't even get to the gold mining areas. The routes they were taking were dangerous in various aspects. Prospectors who made it through had battled diseases, wild animals, avalanches, etc. Besides the dangers, prospecting itself was a daunting task for some of them.
However, the modern route to Alaska is now smooth. You can decide to go prospect for gold because there's still more to be found. You can make money from it if you're lucky because gold is still a valuable metal today. All that'll be left is to refine it to ensure it is pure and ready for usage and investment.
For instance, one way to use gold is to store wealth and pass it to other generations. Or you can speculate on its price and resell to multiply your wealth. You can do this with either gold stocks or physical gold like jewelry, coins, or bullion bars that you can buy from gold dealers like Acre.
The Dead Horse Trail
This is one of the least mentioned happenings during the Alaska gold rush. Many animals, mainly horses, used for transport, die along the way. Like humans, the harsh conditions of the journey also affected horses. This also was because they were overburdened with luggage.
Remember, the prospectors were to carry a year's worth of food. As said earlier, they needed to make 20 - 30 trips to have enough supplies. The need to move these supplies in the fewest trips possible pushed them to overburden their horses. This didn't help as the trail was littered with horse carcasses and was named the dead horse trail.
The Alaska gold rushes came with a wide range of advantages and disadvantages. It impacted both the miners and natives of Alaska. This post has already discussed the impact it had on both sides. You now know who benefitted and got disadvantages by the discovery of gold.
We have also provided valuable insight into how gold was discovered. It has also provided historical facts from the Alaska gold rush. This also includes details on how only a few people ended up rich after prospecting. This was contrary to the initial thought that it was the best way to become rich quickly.
You can use this information to start gold prospecting in Alaska today if you are interested. Or consider an investment in the gold market. We're here to provide all the help you need to start investing in gold bars.
Contact Acre Gold for all the tips to help you build and multiply your gold.
Gold Rush | loc.gov