Chilkoot Trail

Here is a little more detail to the history of the Chilkoot Trail and the Klondike Gold Rush. I guess I should start by clarifying that the Chilkoot Trail actually begins from a town that no longer exists named Dyea. The Dyea townsite is now eight road miles from Skagway or at the very end of the Taiya Inlet. Skagway was a better port and had a longer and less difficult trail over White Pass to Lake Bennett. The Chilkoot Trail became the route more highly used between 1897 and 1899. All activity on the two trails ceased in 1900 when the railroad to Whitehorse was completed.

As far as the Klondike Gold Rush played out...when the first gold was brought back to Seattle in 1897, 100,000 people rushed to the Klondike Gold Fields. Sixteen hundred water miles, except the "easy" 33 land miles, lay between Seattle and the Klondike. When stampeders reached Skagway or Dyea they had to carry their "ton of goods" required by Canadian Mounties over the Chilkoot or White Pass into Bennett. The "ton of good" was a years worth of supplies that would prevent them from starving upon arriving in Dawson. The food supply totaled about 1500 lbs. with the essentials including 350 lbs. of flour, 150 lbs. bacon, and 100 lbs. each of beans and sugar. Plus, whatever mining equipment one might need. It took the average stampeder about three months to make the trek to Bennett--hauling a load, caching it, and repeating the process many times. Many people would hire natives that had been using the route for many years to carry loads of goods or equipment. Once in Bennett they had to whipsaw lumber from trees to build boats to float 100 miles of lakes to Whitehorse where they picked up the Yukon River which took them to Dawson City, the site of the Klondike Gold Fields.

The history is a lot more detailed, of course, but that is the gist of it. Winter was harsh but a desired time to travel over the pass because the frozen rivers made great highways and they could chop steps into the steep, snowy slopes of the Golden Stairs. However, they would have to wait for the rivers and lakes to break up before they could leave Bennett.

These are two pictures of pictures from the stampede over the Chilkoot Pass.