It is the turn of the century, a hundred years ago. Suddenly, hundreds of thousands of normal, hard-working people left their jobs, their homes, their families and headed north to the Klondike and Alaska. Why?
Because of gold. Lots of gold. And a patriotic opportunity for instant personal wealth.
The United States was in a depression caused by the shortage of gold in the U.S. Treasury. Going north to pick up the free gold, to make one's fortune, to raise one's families' financial position was also a patriotic thing to do. More gold would stimulate the economy nationwide. So the newspapers rallied behind the theme -- Gold! Go north, pick up your fortune, save your country! And hundreds of thousands answered that call.
(Jim and Nancy Lethcoe are the authors of Valdez Gold Rush Trails 1898-99 ).