From “Along the Yukon Trail,” National Geographic, September, 1953.

Visions of Easy Riches Brought Thousands to the Forbidding North

Men of every type from every part of the world fought for space on ships. Some came up the Yukon to Dawson from the Bering Sea; many challenged the rugged passes above Dyea and Skagway, seeking to float downriver.

Photo courtesy of Webster & Stevens.

From “Along the Yukon Trail,” National Geographic, September, 1953.

1898 Photograph Shows men Streaming Like Ants Across Chilkoot

From September to June, Chilkoot Pass is solid with ice and frequently racked by storms. Each fortune seeker had to pack his ton of supplies in relays and carry his dogs across. Even with steps hacked in the ice, the long climb was grueling and dangerous.

Despite these hardships, stampeders streamed in unbroken lines over the pass as long as the light of day held out. Sickness, hurry, confusion, and bewilderment marked the trail; time was scarce for eating and sleeping — or for sentiment if a man dropped out of line.

Here men coming up from Dyea in 1898 wait their turn to tackle the summit. Once across, they raced on for Bennett Lake.

Ambitious Dyea dreamed of becoming the main passage to the gold creeks. But Skagway’s wharves lured the steamers, and White Pass offered easier going than Chilkoot. Moreover, the railroad chose the White pass route. So in time Skagway bloomed and Chilkoot wilted.