In 1867, United States of America purchased Alaska from Russia. The U.S. government paid $7.2 million for this purchase but many people criticized it. This was because Alaska was a cold wilderness with little to no population at the time. However, this changed soon when gold was discovered in Alaska.
On August 16, 1896, George Carmack discovered gold in the Rabbit Creek of the Klondike River in Yukon, Canada. He was fishing for salmon in the Rabbit Creek and lived in the area with his wife and other relatives. His discovery of gold was a lucky chance. This was the first well-known discovery of gold in Yukon and news of this discovery soon spread to other parts of USA.
This led to the famous Klondike Gold Rush. As part of this gold rush, thousands of prospectors started arriving in Alaska in the hopes of striking it rich. This led to the creation of many towns and cities in a state which previously had very little population. The same Klondike River flowed through the state of Alaska as well which was in American territories. So many prospectors also headed for Alaska.
The Klondike Gold Rush began on August 16, 1896 with the discovery of gold in the Klondike River. It continued for a few years and came to an end in mid 1899. During this period, nearly 100,000 prospectors traveled from different parts of USA to the Klondike area.
The area of Yukon where gold was discovered had an intensely cold weather. The prospectors traveling from other parts of USA had to first reach one of the ports of Alaska. They then had to take the snow-covered Chilkoot or White Pass to reach the Yukon River and then sail all the way to the Klondike area. The journey was very hard and it was made worse by the fact that there were no supplies along the way. So the prospectors were required to bring at least one year’s supplies along with them in order to survive in the cold weather of Klondike.
The sudden arrival of so many prospectors in Klondike area led to the creation of boom towns. These were towns which came into being very quickly and once the gold rush was over, they were quickly abandoned and emptied. The most famous boom town during the Klondike Gold Rush was the Dawson City.
This city was located at the point where the Yukon and Klondike rivers met. In 1896, the population of Dawson City was only 500. By 1898, it had reached 30,000. The town was known for many wealthy prospectors who had made a lot of money during the gold rush. It was also known for many saloons that were located in the town. The town was hastily constructed and most of the buildings in Dawson City were made of wood. This resulted in many accidental fires which destroyed numerous buildings in the town.