April 30, 1998
National Archives to Display Original Klondike Gold Rush Photographs
Washington, DC . . . In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Great Klondike Gold Rush and the 1998 National History Day theme of "Migrations in History," the National Archives and Records Administration will display five original 1898 photographs documenting the prospectors’ struggle to reach the gold fields. These photographs show long lines of men hauling their supplies over the dangerous and steep Chilkoot Pass. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public in the Rotunda of the National Archives, opens on Monday, June 1, 1998, and will remain on display through June 30, 1998. The National Archives is located on Constitution Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets, NW. Hours are 10 A.M. to 9 P.M., seven days a week.
In August 1896, prospectors discovered large amounts of gold near the Klondike River in Canada’s Yukon Territory. After the news reached Seattle and San Francisco the next spring, more than 100,000 adventurers headed to the remote Yukon between 1897 and 1899 to search for gold.
Most prospectors arrived on the southeast coast of Alaska, went north over mountain passes, and traveled northwest down the Yukon River to the gold fields, a trip of about 550 miles. Each Klondiker transported a thousand or more pounds of supplies, including a 6-month supply of food, equipment to build a boat for the Yukon trip, tools to build a cabin, and mining supplies.
One popular but hazardous route over the mountains led through the Chilkoot Pass. Most of the year the trail was covered with snow and ice; in summer, it was mud and slippery shale. Before the last steep slope to the summit, in a flat area called The Scales, the prospectors prepared for the final grueling ascent. An average man carrying about 50 pounds could climb the summit in one day, repeating the trip day after day until he moved his 1,000 pounds of supplies. At first, the Klondikers scaled the slope on foot and unaided. In 1898, near the end of the gold rush, a steam-driven tram with miles of steel cable aided the adventurers.
For additional information regarding the exhibition or other public programs, the public can call the National Archives Public Events Line at (202) 501-5000.
For additional PRESS information or for black-and-white photographs, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.