Alaska Gold Rush History & Genealogy

The Nome gold rush was started by the trio of John Byrnteson, Erik Lindblom and Jafet Lindeberg, who became known as the "The Three Lucky Swedes," although Lindeberg was actually a Norwegian.They discovered gold in the Nome area in 1898 and set off a gold rush. Nome's population peaked at about 30,000 people. There was a 15 mile long tent mining camp along the beach. Much of the gold taken from Nome was found in the beach sands. Over $2 million in gold was taken from beach in 1899 alone.

In 1898 Byrnteson had been a member of an exploration party prospecting the Seward Peninsula. Weather had driven their ship into the mouth of the Snake River, about 13 miles west of Cape Nome. While waiting for the storm to subside they prospected the area creeks. They found a little color, but not enough to excite them. Byrnteson, however, was not discouraged and he formed a partnership with the two other Scandinavians. Soon they had staked out 43 claims between them and, by power of attorney, 47 others for friends and relatives.

As miners rushed to Nome rampant claim-jumping and litigation followed. Adding to the confusion were the large number of claims filed by power of attorney for individuals who, in many cases, may not have even existed. District Judge Arthur H. Noyes was assigned to Nome turned out to be a crook. The lawful resolution of litigations was not resolved until Judge James Wickershan came into the picture. This period of Nome's history inspired the book The Spoilers.




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