Are you sure there's gold in the Copper River area?

Perhaps the argument from ignorance has never played a greater role in the history of the U.S., than it did in the 1898-99 promotion of the Copper River gold fields.

Promoters argued that the few white men who had explored this vast area had reported finding small amounts of gold. Undoubtedly, once the area was better explored, those with pluck and luck would find the big deposits.



If white men hadn't yet explored it yet, some asked, what did the Indians say. Was there gold there? The newspapers were quick to reply -- the Copper River Indians were not forthcoming about gold deposits because they were either stupid and could not identify gold or they were sly and wouldn't tell where it was.

However, enough white men spoke confidently about the possibility for major gold finds in the Copper River Area, that stampeeders traveling across the country on long trains filled entirely with other Klondikers began to wonder. The Canadian Klondike was probably all ready completely staked, perhaps they'd do better in the Copper River area. Yes, the first ones there had the best chance of picking up the gold. Some men even bought gunny sacks to carry their Copper River gold home in.

(Jim and Nancy Lethcoe are the authors of Valdez Gold Rush Trails 1898-99 ).

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© Copyright 1998 Nancy Lethcoe and Virtual Valdez. This page is a Valdez Gold Rush site.