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Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

Attractions General--Parks and Museums

Cadillac Hotel Building

Cadillac Hotel Building Housing the Klondike Gold Rush Park (Museum Entrance Is Below the Street Lamp)

 

 

The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

310 Second Avenue South

Building was built in 1889 and restored in 1995

 

 Klondike Gold Rush Park Entrance Sign

Entrance Signs

 

INDEX

  History of the Klondike Gold Rush
  Museum Description
  Pioneer Square District Guided Tour
  Gold Panning Demonstration
  Facilities
  Admission
  Operating Hours
  Museum Web Site

 

Brief History of the Klondike Gold Rush

 

GOLD! GOLD! GOLD! GOLD!

Sixty-Eight Rich Men on

The Steamer Portland

STACKS OF YELLOW METAL!!

 

 

Gold from the Klondike Gold Rush

 

 A Museum Exhibit Displaying Gold from the Klondike Gold Rush

 

 

The above words were the Seattle Post-Intelligencer headlines in July 1897 when the steamer Portland landed in Seattle.  The first miners at the rumored Klondike gold region came ashore with bonanzas of gold.  The gold was stuffed in suitcases, bags, tin cans, and anything else that these early Klondikers could carry with them.  One man had a suitcase so heavy that the handles broke off.  Another had a small sack that weighed 100 pounds.  Accounting for inflation and a gold price hovering at $1,400 per ounce, the 100 pound sack was worth over $2,000,000 in 2011 dollars. 

The news of the Klondike strike spread around the world quickly with the telegraph, telephone, and newspapers.  Men and women started flooding to the northwest to get ready to journey to the new gold fields.  Seattle became a major starting point for the aspiring miners.  One of the huge challenges to get into the interior of Alaska was that Canadian border police required that each miner bring in one year's worth of food and supplies.  Seattle instantly became a major merchant town supplying many of the 100,000 who made the trek to the Yukon with their provisions.

Each miner had to bring around 2,000 pounds of provisions including 500 pounds of flour, 200 pounds of bacon and 500 pounds of assorted food items. The Seattle merchants sold over $25,000,000 of provisions in a few months.  In 2011 dollars, that is over $600,000,000 in merchandise.  You can guess who really won out in the gold rush--the suppliers to the miners.

From Seattle, the aspiring miners had to catch a boat to either the mouth of the Yukon and begin an extremely difficult journey by foot and by boat or catch a much longer boat trip to get to the Yukon interior.

By 1899, The Klondike gold rush was over almost as fast as it started but the impact on Seattle was a huge shot in the arm economically and it really helped propel Seattle toward its modern significance.

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Description of the Museum

This small museum attracts over 60,000 visitors annually.  It is part of a multiple location park in the United States and Canada to document the last major gold rush in north America. 

The museum shows you the significant role Seattle played in the Klondike rush.  It was the place where the prospectors bought their year's worth of supplies and made many Seattle merchants wealthy.  Seattle was where they boarded ships for passage to Alaska.  Finally, Seattle was the recipient of the gold that the successful prospectors brought back to the states. 

The museum takes the visitor on a simulated journey of several prospectors as they got outfitted, made their passage, and trekked into the Klondike gold fields in Canada.  The journey was arduous, lengthy, expensive, and dangerous.  

The rushes for gold and silver had a major impact on the settling of the west and far west in America.  The presentation in this museum paints a vivid picture of what the Klondike rush did for the Seattle area.  A number of greatly magnified historical photographs help you see scenes that the prospectors would have experienced.

Fully Loaded Miner's Sled

An Exhibit Showing the Prospector's Sled with One Year of Provisions

 

The Klondike museum moved into its current 3,200 square foot space in 2005.  The National Park Service carefully planned the design of this museum and it is a delightful small museum.  It is laid out on the ground floor and basement of the historic Cadillac Hotel building. 

Plan on spending 30 minutes to an hour enjoying your tour of the museum. 

Exhibit of Gold Panning Equipment

A Museum Exhibit Showing Gold Mining Equipment

 

The museum offers several videos that range from 15 minutes to 27 minutes.  Check with the Park Rangers at the welcome desk to see the video show times. During the winter season, the videos are shown on demand.

National Park Ranger with Gold Exhibit

One of the friendly and helpful Park Rangers

 

After your tour, check out the museum's gift shop.  It is a lovely shop with a lot of information about the gold rush and Seattle history.  Its name is appropriately Klondike Merchandise.

After you complete your museum visit, cross the street and treat yourself to a coffee at the beautiful Zeitgeist coffee house.

 

 

Pioneer Square District Guided Tour

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, a Park ranger takes museum visitors on a one hour guided tour that ends at Smith Tower.  The tour is free but the visitors who go to the Observation Deck of Smith Tower pay an admission fee.

 

Gold Panning Demonstration

During the summer season, a ranger will offer a 20 minute demonstration of how the prospectors panned for gold.

 

Facilities

The Klondike museum has rest rooms and water fountains.  An elevator offers handicapped access to the entire museum .

Admission

Admission to the Klondike museum is free.

 

 

Operating Hours

The museum is open daily except for Christmas Day, New Year's Day, and Thanksgiving Day.  Hours are generally from 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

 

Museum Official Web Site

 

Please click here to go to the Web site for the Klondike museum.