JUNEAU - In 1897 and 1898, the Klondike Gold Rush brought thousands of intrepid souls to Alaska and the Yukon. For decades, modern travelers have been following in their footsteps, visiting parks, monuments and historic sites relating to the most famous of northward rushes. Until now, there hasn't been a formally designated route that travelers can follow, but that may change.
Local historian and Trail Mix Board President Jim Geraghty and Alaska Office of Economic Development tourism planner Odin Brudie have joined with individuals from several other communities in Southeast Alaska and the Yukon Territory to explore the links that their communities had to the Klondike Gold Rush.
Juneau had already seen its own gold rush and the hard-rock mining of gold was well underway when Skookum Jim hit pay dirt on Bonanza Creek in the Yukon. When the subsequent rush to Skagway and on to the gold fields hit, some miners abandoned Juneau for the chance at striking it rich. Many northward expeditions were bankrolled by enterprising Juneau business people. Seattle, Wrangell, Skagway and other Inside Passage communities all have some stories to tell relating to the Klondike Gold Rush. The idea of establishing an internationally designated route is the topic of discussion at a series of meetings planned later this month.
An international Klondike Gold Rush trail, though not a continuous physical trail, would be thematic, connecting gold rush sites, resources and communities from Seattle through Southeast Alaska into the Yukon Territory and back into Alaska along the Yukon River. The notion of a designation has appealed to local tourism marketing organizations, to managers at Holland America and other cruise lines, Parks Canada, and the National Park Service, which operates the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park facilities in Skagway, Dyea and Seattle. It is thought that a trail could span the communities of Seattle, Wrangell, Tenakee Springs, Juneau, Haines, Skagway, Whitehorse, Dawson City, Eagle and others along the way.
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