The National Park Service and the Seattle Visitor Center, located at 319 Second Avenue South in Seattle, Washington, administers the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. The Seattle Unit of the park commemorates the city`s role as the most important staging area for the gold rush of the 1890s.
In August of 1896, three miners found gold in the Klondike River, a tributary of the Yukon, and had to wait through the winter before making their trek back to civilization.
In 1897, news of a gold strike in the Canadian Yukon reached Seattle, triggering a stampede north to the Klondike Gold Fields. From 1897 to 1898, tens of thousands of people from across the United States and around the world descended upon Seattle`s commercial district.
When the steamer S.S. Portland arrived in the harbor on July 17, 1897, thousands of local residents cheered as more than a ton of Yukon gold was unloaded.
Quickly the entire nation was mesmerized, like a deer in the headlights, as they watched the stampede northward to reach the Klondike. These adventurers on the fast track to the Klondike via Seattle were enticed by the speculation of quickly acquiring riches.
Cities throughout the west fought fierce battles to indoctrinate gold seekers that their city could best fulfill the miner`s needs. Seattle advertised itself in print from coast to coast. They declared that Seattle was the "only place" to outfit themselves for the gold fields, and tens of thousands rushed to Seattle, heeding the call.
The early arrivals begrudgingly remained in Seattle until the menacing Canadian winter abated. While in Seattle, the hopeful miners purchased millions of dollars of food, clothing, equipment, pack animals, and steamship tickets. The final outcome of this great stampede helped shape the Seattle we know today, bolstering the city`s reputation as the Queen City of the Pacific Northwest.
This boom helped transform Seattle into the leading city in the Northwest, as its merchants sold more than $25 million of goods, a figure larger than the gold extracted in any year of the Klondike Gold Rush. In fact, during this time, the economy of Seattle surpassed Portland, Oregon, and Los Angeles, California and was second only to San Francisco, California.
Over the next year, The Pioneer Square-Skid Road Historic District area became the center of this bustling activity, as prospectors bought supplies, booked passage, and, if lucky, returned to cash in their new-found gold. Today this unit of the National Park Service depicts this story through exhibits and audio-visual presentations and provides maps that show the remnants of Seattle a century ago.