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The Nature of Gold

An Environmental History of the Klondike Gold Rush

by Kathryn Morse

Publication Year: 2003

In 1896, a small group of prospectors discovered a stunningly rich pocket of gold at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon rivers, and in the following two years thousands of individuals traveled to the area, hoping to find wealth in a rugged and challenging setting. Ever since that time, the Klondike Gold Rush - especially as portrayed in photographs of long lines of gold seekers marching up Chilkoot Pass - has had a hold on the popular imagination.

Published by: University of Washington Press

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Foreword by William Cronon

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pp. ix-xiv

The great gold rushes of the nineteenth century are certainly among the most dramatic episodes of American western history. Their story typically begins with John Marshall's finding of a nugget in John Sutter's...

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pp. xv

This book began as a doctoral dissertation at the University of Washington, directed by Richard White. Richard read and commented on every draft with extraordinary energy and care, and those familiar with Richard's...

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Introduction: On the Chilkoot

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pp. 3-15

Chances are good that even if you picked up this book knowing absolutely nothing about the Klondike gold rush, you have probably seen the photographs before. They are the most famous...

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1 / The Culture of Gold

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pp. 16-39

It was the natural thing to do. There could be few more powerful arguments about any human endeavor than this one, that it was the natural thing to do. The gold seekers on the Chilkoot Pass and on the other...

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2 / The Nature of the Journey

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pp. 40-66

In the spring of1898, Kentucky-born gold seeker Hunter Fitzhugh spent a soul-wrenching fifty-seven days on foot traversing the Teslin Trail from Telegraph Creek on the Stikine River to the Yukon headwaters at Lake...

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3 / The Culture of the Journey

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pp. 67-88

In the summer of 1897, a young woman named Nora Crane accompanied her husband to his new job as storekeeper in Circle City, Alaska. Steaming up the Yukon on the North American Trade & Transportation...

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4 / The Nature of Gold Mining

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pp. 89-114

Bill Hiscock traveled for seven months from his home in New Zealand by way ofHawaii, Vancouver, B.C., Chilkoot Pass, and Dawson City before he finally reached Bonanza Creek in November 1898. Following...

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5 / The Culture of Gold Mining

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pp. 115-137

In September 1898, gold seeker Bill Ballou settled in for the long northern winter at Rampart City, Alaska. A letter home explained that he could not start winter work at the mines until later in the season, but that he was enjoying Alaskan life so far. He was working hard, he wrote...

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6 / The Nature & Culture of Food

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pp. 138-165

When Charlie Chaplin happened upon photographs of miners ascending the Chilkoot Pass, he was so taken by the power of the images that he decided to make a film. Chaplin's 1925 silent, The Gold Rush, opened with the classic Chilkoot shot...

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7 / The Nature & Culture of Seattle

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pp. 166-190

In the spring of 1898, a gold miner bound for the Yukon walked into Stetson Brothers in Seattle, Washington, and spent $517.16 on mining supplies. O. S. Johnson's purchases, remarkable only in that his manuscript...

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Conclusion: Nature, Culture, and Value

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pp. 191-202

What, then, was the nature of gold? If you asked that question of a miner crossing the Chilkoot Pass in 1898, toiling upward in fervent pursuit of wealth and burdened by a heavy load of...


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pp. 203-254

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 255-274


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pp. 275-290

E-ISBN-13: 9780295989877
E-ISBN-10: 0295989874
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295983301
Print-ISBN-10: 0295983302

Publication Year: 2003