When Skookum Jim Mason, Dawson Charlie and George Washington Carmack discovered gold deposits in tributary of the Klondike River in August 1896, they triggered one of the world’s greatest gold rushes in history. The following year, a stampede of gold diggers arrived from all over the country, arriving in droves to the small towns of Skagway and Dyea, which served as gateways for the arduous trek to the goldfields. During the first year of the gold rush, around 20,000 to 30,000 prospectors flocked to region in hopes of finding gold. Only a small percentage did, but enough to spark rumors of limitless gold in the area – and a migration totaling to around 100,000 to an extremely harsh and remote region. By 1899, claims of gold in Nome, Alaska all but ended the great Klondike Gold Rush.
To this day, Skagway remains one of the best locations in Alaska to relive the days of the Klondike Gold Rush and gain insight on this brief but grand event that has captured the imaginations of many ever since. Skagway offers a range of historic sites and excursions that provide insight into the town’s momentous history.
Go on a walking tour: Skagway’s historical buildings with turn-of-the-century facades evoke the gold rush boom town era that transformed the town forever more than a century ago. Visit classic restored saloons, like the Red Onion Saloon, along with the Moore House which was built 1887 by the founder of Skagway, Captain William Moore and features many of the pioneer family’s original treasured possessions.
Discover the Gold Rush Cemetery: A short walk from picturesque Reid Falls, the cemetery is home to the graves of Frank Reid and Soapy Smith, two of the most storied figures from the Klondike Gold Rush, along with founders and many other notable individuals from the era.
Explore the Trail of ’98 Museum: Home to a fascinating range of gold rush memorabilia, the museum offers interesting historical perspective and insight into the struggles and harsh conditions endured by prospectors during the gold rush.
Ride the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad: Recognized as an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, this narrow-gauge railroad was built in 1898 during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush. Witness stunning panoramas that include the original Trail of ’98 and Dead Horse Gulch, along with gorgeous mountains, waterfalls and glaciers.
More than a century later, the pioneer spirit and freewheeling zeal of this gold rush boomtown lives on – both in the streets and saloons, and the curves in its legendary mountain passes.