Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There's Gold in Them Thar Hills!

Hi everyone,
This post is going to be the first of a series about the Klondike Gold Rush which is the setting for my work-in-progress, ALASKAN HEAT.  I’ve found so many interesting facts about the era and the people that I thought it would make a great post. I hope you enjoy!

Yukon Territory 1897
The Klondike Gold Rush
The gold rush started in July, 1897 when two ships docked - one in San Francisco and one in Seattle - each carrying miners returning from the Yukon. The miners carried large amounts of gold and didn’t hesitate to proclaim great amounts of wealth was to be had in the Yukon. The press was alerted and papers carried the story to the masses – stories as ridiculous as gold nuggets lying just barely underground. * More on the reality in later posts.*
Soon, miners of all shapes and sizes – both male and female - called "stampeders", were on their way to the gold fields. Within six months, as many as 100,000 gold-seekers headed to the Yukon.
 Only approximately 30,000 completed the trip.
Most stampeders knew nothing about where they were going, so pamphlets were available to help them on their way. *Note: The United States was still in economic decline at this time, so the lure of money, much less a way to get-rich-quick made many leave or sell what little they had and head to Alaska. *
 Many of the pamphlets were pure fiction, some written by men who never even made the journey. But nevertheless, the pamphlets made outrageous claims of “easy” routes to the gold fields. Outfitters – both along the West coast and in Alaska - sprang up overnight that were more than happy to sell the stampeders whatever they needed to get started – most of the time at outrageous prices, especially the outfitters in Alaska. The supplies included food, clothing, tools and camping, mining and transportation equipment. Helping the outfitters in this regard were the Northwest Mounted Police who required all stampeders to have one year’s supply of goods before they allowed them across the border into Canada. *More about the different routes in later posts*  The supplies equaled roughly one ton of goods per person.
Here is a list of required supplies.
1898 Supplies
McDougall and Secord Klondike Outfit List (clothing & food):
2 suits heavy knit underwear
6 pairs wool socks
1 pairs heavy moccasins
2 pairs german stockings
2 heavy flannel overshirts
1 heavy woollen sweater
1 pair overalls
2 pairs 12-lb. blankets
1 waterproof blanket
1 dozen bandana handkerchiefs
1 stiff brim cowboy hat
1 pair hip rubber boots
1 pair prospectors' high land boots
1 mackinaw, coat, pants, shirt
1 pair heavy buck mitts, lined
1 pair unlined leather gloves
1 duck coat, pants, vest
6 towels
1 pocket matchbox, buttons, needles and thread comb, mirror, toothbrush
etc. mosquito netting/1 dunnage bag
1 sleeping bag/medicine chest
pack saddles, complete horses
flat sleighs
100 lbs. navy beans
150 lbs. bacon
400 lbs. flour
40 lbs. rolled oats
20 lbs. corn meal
10 lbs. rice
25 lbs. sugar
10 lbs. tea
20 lbs. coffee
10 lbs. baking powder
20 lbs. salt
1 lb. pepper
2 lbs. baking soda
1/2 lb. mustard
1/4 lb. vinegar
2 doz. condensed milk
20 lbs. evaporated potatoes
5 lbs. evaporated onions
6 tins/4 oz. extract beef
75 lbs. evaporated fruits
4 pkgs. yeast cakes
20 lbs. candles
1 pkg. tin matches
6 cakes borax
6 lbs. laundry soap
1/2 lb. ground ginger
25 lbs. hard tack
1 lb. citric acid
2 bottles Jamaica ginger
*This list found on Adventure Learning Foundation Site. http://www.questconnect.org/index.htm

Remember, all of this per person had to be hauled over a mountain range. That’s what we’ll talk about next time. J

Find out more about Jennifer

 Jakes and her books at 



  1. Love this post! So much research and that packing list is awesome. How could one person haul all of that? Can't wait to read ALASKAN HEAT.

  2. Good Heavens--I was about to say exactly what Cherie said--how could the prospectors haul such a load! Great stuff, Jenn. You've really immersed yourself in research for ALASKAN HEAT. The Gold Rushes were great examples of PR propaganda--and it worked, too. Write fast--we're longing to read Jake and Nora's story. LOL

  3. Can't wait to read the book, either! Wow - a lot of stuff to be hauled around, LOL Interesting how people who wrote the how-to didn't even go there. I think I might want to be a "gold digger" an easier way, ROFL!

  4. Love this post, Jenn. You've got me curious about some of the items...condensed milk? I know it can't be the kind I love to eat out of the can! Okay, and I'm thinking to haul that stuff they would have used dog sleds? Couldn't very well use wagons or pack mules in Alaska.

  5. Well, then again, in that part I'm sure they could use the horses and mules, since the list calls for flat bottomed sleighs and pack saddles. Duh!

  6. Thanks, girls! Yes, they did use sled-type or even flat bottoms. And some of them would make several back and forth trips to retrieve their goods.......ie: like go a mile, then go back and get the rest, etc etc.
    But they did use horses, and so many horses died on the way they have one area named Dead Horse Trail/Pass. I've seen photos of the bodies...it's gross.
    I'm pretty sure the condensed milk is the not the thick, sweetened kind but a thin (probably watered down) version.