Why, Jack London’s The Call of the Wild remains in print and has been filmed countless times…with Clark Gable, Charlton Heston, Rutger Hauer and others acting alongside a dog named Buck. Hollywood’s still at it, with Harrison Ford starring in director Chris Sanders’s offering this year from 20th Century-Fox. (Pssst… Charles Chaplin’s The Gold Rush is better than any of the London adaptations.)
The discovery of gold in northwestern Canada sent an estimated 100,000 people north from 1896 to 1899—though only some 30,000 made it all the way to the Yukon’s Klondike, and 4,000 or so of those actually found pay dirt. You couldn’t blame Americans for trying, what with the country mired in depression since the Panic of 1893, and newspapers blasting news of riches.
“The tide,” Tappan Adney wrote in The Klondike Stampede (1900), “was too great to turn.”
But those prospectors had to get to Alaska and the Yukon first, and those escapades are practically as intriguing as rugged hikes up the Chilkoot Trail; crooked Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith’s shenanigans in Skagway, Alaska; and harrowing raft rides through Miles Canyon.
The first year of the rush saw 20,000 to 30,000 wannabe millionaires heading north. “A miner intending to go to the Klondike has the alternative of buying on the American side and paying duty, or of paying here,” Adney learned in Victoria, British Columbia.
North from San Francisco
Some took the Canadian route, but most set out from a U.S. port.
“All the [Pacific] coastal ports…were locked in an intense struggle for the lion’s share of the booty, each city screaming that it was the only possible outfitting port for the Klondike,” Pierre Berton wrote in The Klondike Fever: The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rush (1958).
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
TRUE WEST’S FIREARMS EDITOR PHIL SPANGENBERGER HAS SPENT DECADES GUN COACHING MANY OF HOLLYWOOD’S TOP ACTORS, WHILE ADDING AUTHENTICITY TO FILMS, WHEREVER HE COULD. HERE ARE HIS RECOLLECTIONS OF A COLORFUL CAREER IN MOVIES AND TV.
BRAVES AND BADGES
EARLY AMERICAN INDIAN POLICE PLAYED A STRONG ROLE IN THE SETTLEMENT OF THE WEST.
He Missed the Scoop
John Clum was busy when the Tombstone street fight took place.
The oil-enriched town preserves and celebrates its Western heritage.
Three Cheers for Hospitality
The Harvey Girls of yesteryear set the standard for uniform customer service across the West.
The Most Well-Known, Unknown Western Illustrator
A.R. Mitchell’s paintings are so “moving.”
WHAT HISTORY HAS TAUGHT ME
BEN NIGHTHORSE CAMPBELL, U.S. SENATOR, ARTIST, OLYMPIAN
Tombstone's Naked Chef
Isaac “Little Jakey” Jacobs raced his way into history.
THE LAST FRONTIER
EDWARD CURTIS’S FINAL ADVENTURE
Virginia City, Montana
This city struck it rich with a well-preserved ghost town.
You're Forced to Endure a Bizzard with No Utilities?
The Flight The Flight Attendant: The Travels of Molly Choma
“I started at Virgin Airlines. I was on airport standby a lot and wasn’t getting called to work much, so I asked my supervisor if I could walk around the airport and take pictures.”
Biden Administration Launches Series on Arctic Energy
Members of the Biden administration launched a series of events aimed at exploring the Arctic’s potential to act as a “living laboratory of clean energy innovation.”
2 Alaska Towns Allow Texts to 911 When Calling Not an Option
Residents in Wrangell and Petersburg now have the ability to text 911 for help when calling isn’t an option.
Our writer reconciles her family and her future on the path to Harding Icefield.
Forests – Last Stands
The soothing escapes that old-growth forests provide are probably much closer than you think. But they’re under siege
Traditional Tlingit Tastes
In Hoonah, Alaska, food is about much more than just what's on the plate.
For passengers to Alaska, the rush begins.
Skin in the Game
Let us introduce you to Goodfi sh, a sustainable snack company where salmon skin is the star (and super healthy!) ingredient.
US HOLDS FIRST OIL LEASE SALE FOR ALASKA'S ARCTIC REFUGE
The U.S. government held its first-ever oil and gas lease sale for Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an event critics labeled as a bust with major oil companies staying on the sidelines and a state corporation emerging as the main bidder.