Alaska Gold Rush History & Genealogy

June 1887, Skookum Jim, a Tlingit packer from Dyea and Tagish, leads Capt. William Moore, a member of Canada's Ogilvie survey party, over a new pass up the Skaqua river valley (later named White Pass for the Canadian Interior minister). In October, Moore returns with his son, Bernard. They lay claim to 160 acres in the valley floor and begin work on a cabin and dock. They call the place Mooresville.

1894-95 First group of prospectors hike Moore's crude trail over White Pass. 1896 - On Aug. 17, gold is discovered by Skookum Jim, George W. Carmack and Dawson Charlie on Rabbit Creek, later called Bonanza, a tributary of the Klondike River, 600 miles from Skagway. The Klondike Gold Rush was on.

On July 29, 1897 the steamer Queen lands at Moore's wharf, the first of many stuffed with hundreds of gold seekers. The Moores are overrun: Mooresville is re-platted by surveyor Frank Reid as Skaguay. Later that fall, a post office, and the first church (Union), and newspaper (Skaguay News) are established.
1898 - Skagway booms to 8,000 to 10,000 population. Read more about the history of Skagway and the goldrush here.


The last week in July it was a quiet nook in the dreary hills with a log hut and a tent near the flat beach In one hundred days there was a substantial town of five hundred frame and one hundred log buildings besides tents scattered all through the woods Many of the buildings were of two stories and some of them of three Among the enterprises which were flourishing were A wide awake six page weekly newspaper the Skag way Neus A church and schoolhouse combined seating capacity three hundred persons built by contributions from all denominations A private post office Three wharves for heavy draft vessels costing twenty thousand dollars each An electric light system was being introduced and a city water system consisting of a simple board flume brought an ample supply of good water from a lake on the mountain side A jail was built and sundry United States government officials including a United States commissioner with a number of doctors lawyers etc were among the citizens Skagway could accommodate one thousand eight hundred people at the hotels and lodging houses A three story hotel fifty by one hundred feet was in course of construction capable of accommodating four hundred people In three months it had become the biggest town in Alaska (Source p. 458 ).

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