Klondike Gold Rush NHP: Moore Homestead

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Klondike Gold Rush

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park commemorates the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1890s. From 1896 to 1899, 100,000 ‘stampeders’ set out to find their fortunes in the Yukon Territory. Of those who attempted the arduous journey, only 30,000 made it to the Klondike. Around 4000 actually struck gold.

Stepping into downtown Skagway is like stepping into the late 1800s. The National Park Service manages and preserves twenty historical structures here. The park seeks to tell the story of the boomtown days when hopeful prospectors passed through in search of a better life.

Skagway went from a tent city to a frontier town almost overnight. Stampeders sailed up the Inside Passage to Skagway. From Skagway, they trekked the White Pass Trail to the Yukon River. Once on the river, they had another 500 miles to go until they made it to the Klondike gold fields.

Authorities required prospectors to have a year’s worth of supplies in order to hike the White Pass. Transients arrived in Skagway without provisions and struggled to find work and and acquire the necessary supplies. Most of those who made the journey eventually returned home broke.

We stopped in Skagway on our Alaskan cruise. Once off the ship, we made beeline for the visitor center. We watched the movie and attended a ranger talk on the Buffalo Soldier outpost in Skagway. Then we toured Jeff Smith’s Parlor, walked through the Moore Homestead and finally rode the White Pass Railway up to the Yukon.

Moore Homestead

Captain William Moore and his son Ben settled in Skagway ten years before the gold rush. They foresaw how important the valley would be for access to the Klondike. They staked out a 160-acre homestead, built a wharf and a sawmill.

Ben Moore married a Tlingit woman, Klinget-sai-yet, who took the name Minnie. Ben and Minnie raised three children in a house built next to the original log cabin. Captain Moore didn’t approve of the interracial marriage and took his son to court over land rights. Ben and Minnie also faced racist attitudes as the town grew. They eventually moved away from Alaska.

The homestead is part of Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. The park restored some of the rooms to their original appearance and put up interpretive displays about the Moores in others.

Skagway posts

Location: Skagway, Alaska
Designation: National Historical Park
Date designated/established: June 30, 1976
Date of my visit: June 2, 2022

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