The Klondike Stampede

As It Appeared to One of the Thousands of Cheechacos Who Participated in the Mad Rush of 1898–1899

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About the Book

 Life was harsh and dangerous for the prospectors of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898–1899. But it was also a grand adventure. Few got rich but those who survived had a tale to tell. Wallis R. Sanborn’s entertaining narrative of his journey from Illinois to the Yukon provides rare insight into the daily lives of the Klondike stampeders. He describes through his letters and diary what they ate, what they wore, the trails they mushed, the roadhouses and tents in which they slept, and the mining process. His original sketches—capturing the natural world around him, his cabin and hand-crafted furniture—and his hand-drawn maps are included, along with photographs, handbills, travel receipts and miner’s certificates.

About the Author(s)

Wallis R. Sanborn, III, teaches at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. He is the author of Animals in the Fiction of Cormac McCarthy and The American Novel of War. His work has appeared in many publications, including, Gale’s Contemporary Literary Criticism, Harold Bloom’s Modern Critical Views, The Cormac McCarthy Journal and Southwestern American Literature.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Wallis R. Sanborn, III
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 272
Bibliographic Info: 45 photos, maps, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9651-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2812-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Editor’s Acknowledgments ix

Editor’s Preface 1

Editor’s Introduction 3

Author’s Introduction 9

Part I. Rockford to Dawson City, 3943 Miles, February 26 to July 1, 1898

1. Rockford to Seattle 14

2. Seattle 18

Loading Our Outfit on the City of Seattle 22 • Outfit 24 • Personal Outfit for W.R. Sanborn 25 • Expense Per Man 26

3. Seattle to Dyea 27

Dyea 32

4. Sheep Camp and Chilkoot Pass 36

Moving from Dyea to Sheep Camp 36 • Sheep Camp 38 • Sheep Camp to the Scales 41 • Chilkoot Pass 45 • Lake Lindeman, White’s Cove 48 • Two Close Shaves 50 • Leaving Lake Lindeman 56

5. Lake Bennett 59

Our Temporary Camp 59 • Aristocrats of the Trail 61 • Our Permanent Camp on Lake Bennett 62 • Our Ten by Twelve Home 63 • Cooking 64 • Our Neighbors

and Ourselves 64 • Whip-sawing Lumber and Building Our Boats 65 • Letters To and From Home 68 • Tragedy 70 • Our Recreation 73 • Leaving Lake Bennett 75

6. The Boat Trip to Indian River 77

Caribou Crossing to Lake Marsh, June 4 and 5 77 • White Horse Rapids, June 6 80 • Lake Laberge and Thirty Mile River, June 7 and 8 83 • Down the Lewes and the Yukon, June 9–12 85 • The Stewart River Stampede, June 13–24 87

7. Summer in the Klondike 92

Dawson City, June 27 and 28 92 • Answering Questions from Home 94 • Bonanza and E1dorado Creeks, June 29–July 1 96

Part II. Prospecting Indian River, July 1, 1898, to February 21, 1899

8. Exploring Indian River 102

Arena Gulch Stampede 106 • The Indian River Bars 107 • Our Party Splits 109

 9. Autumn in the Klondike 111

Opportunity Knocks 111 • Back to Indian River 112 • Autumn Life on Indian River 115

10. Getting Ready for Winter 119

Selecting Neighbors for the Winter 119 • The Story of Ben Butler 121 • Building Our Cabin 123

11. Winter on Indian River 130

Hauling Our Outfit to Bedrock City 130 • Getting Acquainted with Winter Weather 131 • Daily Routine 136 • Thanksgiving Day Celebration 139

12. Winter at Dawson 144

Coming Events Cast Their Shadows Before Them 144 • A Winter Trip to Dawson 145 • The Hunker Creek Stampede, December 21, 1898 150 • The Shortest

Day of the Year 151 • How One Klondike Expedition Went Wrong 154 • Restless Days at Bedrock City 155 • Tobacco 158 • December and January Weather 159 • 

Thompson Goes to Dawson 160

13. Dawson’s Social Life and Business Section 165

Churches 166 • Breaking into Society 168 • Women and Dance Halls 169

14. Stampeding with Thompson 173

Our Bonanza Stampede, February 1899 173 • Our Big Stampede,

February 8–11 174 • The ­Old-Timer as a ­Gold-Digger 179 • 56 Degrees Below Zero 179 • Goodbye Thompson 182

Part III. Our Second Spring and Summer, February 22–August 16, 1899

15. Mysterious Creek 186

How It All Started 186 • Mushing to Mysterious Creek 189 • The Klondiker’s Soliloquy 193 • Prospecting 196 • At Last I Stake and Record a Claim 198 • Revealing the Secret of Mysterious Creek 203

16. Spring 206

Getting Back to Bedrock City 206 • Spring Activities at Bedrock 213

17. Our Second Summer 219

June 219 • Outfit for Sale 223 • Goodbye Dawson 226

18. Down the Yukon River 230

19. St. Michael to Seattle 242

St. Michael 242 • Bering Sea 243 • The Pacific 246

20. Author’s Conclusion 254

Index 257