Lights along Alaska’s coast

The discovery of rich gold deposits in the upper Yukon River in the late 1890s brought a massive rise in the number of ships plying Alaska waters. Especially in Lynn Canal, a part of the Inside Passage. It was a safer route for ships to travel than the open ocean route to the west through […]

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Gold brings Post Office to Circle City

While the Southeast town of Sitka claims the first U.S. Post Office established in America’s new possession of Alaska in 1867, Circle City – located on the banks of the Yukon River – holds the honor for the first post office in Alaska’s Interior, according to “Directory of Alaska Post Offices and Postmasters.” Circle City’s […]

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Maternity suit ends with wedding bells

Long before marshals and judges brought law and order to Alaska’s Interior districts, miners made a point of policing themselves. When a wrong was perceived, a meeting of miners was called and both the offender and offendee could explain their sides of the matter. Then the miners would render a verdict and carry out the […]

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St. Michael Alaska Awakens

On June 25, 1897, the sleepy old Russian town of St. Michael Alaska awoke when the river steamer Alice arrived with 25 miners from Dawson carrying $500,000 among them in gold dust. That was enough to liven up just about any town. But the party wasn’t over. Two days later, the P.B. Weare carried in […]

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Arctic Brotherhood born on the high seas

What Alaska connection do England’s King Edward VII, Al Capone’s chief legal counsel, Albert Fink, and American presidents Warren G. Harding, Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley have in common? They are all honorary members of the Arctic Brotherhood club. This fraternal club, which at its height boasted around 10,000 members in the early 1900s, was […]

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Gold rush entertainers dazzle Hollywood

Although the frenzied gold seekers of the North lacked most of the luxuries, not to mention necessities, of civilized living, they did have theaters – even opera houses. There had been entertainment in California’s gold rush of 1849, but never had there been such garish and colorful entertainers as in the days of ’98. And […]

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Seattle ship swipes totem

Of the multitude of steamships that plied the waters from California to Point Barrow during the late 1800s, one has the dubious distinction of being what some may call a “pirate ship.” The City of Seattle, which sailed from Seattle to Skagway and points in between, played a major role in spiriting a totem pole […]

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Toll road to the Klondike

The short, feisty frontiersman held a rifle on the party trying to travel over his Yukon trail without paying the toll. Jack Dalton meant business, and people found he was a tough man with whom to deal. Dalton watched the group with their herd of cattle floundering through scrub trees and bushes and kept alongside […]

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Nuns Head to Nome

Many images come to mind when one thinks of gold rush days in Alaska: bearded prospectors swishing pans filled with water as they search for specks of gold; saloons beckoning the hardworking boys to forget all their troubles with a slug of whiskey and a game of chance; and ladies known as “Lil” leaning against […]

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White Pass Yukon Railway faces dispute

The White Pass and Yukon Railroad Co. began construction of its narrow-gauge railway to access the Klondike gold fields in May 1898. Along with the challenge of crossing coastal mountains – and a vertical rise of 3,000 feet in 20 miles near Skagway – engineers had to work around a boundary dispute between the United […]

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