The Klondike Gold Rush Museum in Seattle
Pioneer Square close to the harbour in Central Seattle contains many historic buildings. I was glad that we managed to go to the Klondike Gold Rush Museum. The exhibition was engaging as you followed different historical persons who took part in the gold rush or earned money on equipment for the journey to Alaska.
Very few people got rich from digging gold. It was already over when the big rush arrived.
Two men stood out to me. One was Erastus Brainerd who understood the value of the advertisement. Seattle was not the most obvious way to chose to go to Alaska, but he travelled all over the United States and succeeded to guide people to go to Seattle to buy the equipment for the challenging journey. From the Klondike Goldrush Museum’s Homepage:
Seattle merchants quickly exploited their port status. Advertisements far and wide declared Seattle as the “Gateway to the Gold Fields” – the place where all one’s Klondike needs, from food and warm clothing to tents and transportation-could easily be fulfilled. As a result, some 30,000 to 40,000 of the estimated 70,000 stampeders, who outfitted to go to the Klondike, bought their “ton of provisions” in Seattle. The city prospered.
John Nordstrom, a young man from Sweden who at the age of sixteen in 1887, left his homeland to start a new life in the USA. One day at work in 1897, he read about the Gold Rush and decided to go the next day. He did earn some money from gold-digging but sold his part due to a dispute and started a shoe shop with someone in Seattle.
Nordstrom’s shoe shop developed into a department store that still flourishes in many places in the Western part of the United States. I later enjoyed shopping in Nordstrom’s in Portland, Oregon. His store is known for high customer service.
I have a blogging friend Paula Pederson whose father Hans Pederson from Denmark (1865-1933), was one of the great builders of Seattle at the same time as John Nordstrom. Before Hans Pederson found his destiny in the building business, he nearly lost his life in the gold rush. You can read more about him on Paula’s blog and the book she wrote about him. He got his breakthrough in 1904 with the contract to plaster the Alaska Building.
From Hans Pederson’s obituary:
“He was among the first to answer the call of the North when the manhood world stampeded toward the artic and the sparkle of gold.”
Few women and children made it to the Yukon area in Alaska. Ethel Anderson was born in Bellingham, WA but spent her first six years in a cabin on Eldorado Creek in Yukon.
She later achieved to gather treasure of long-forgotten photographs from the adventure.