Gold Rush Entrepreneurs and Townsite Boomers

During the California Gold Rush, the 49ers seem to have been primarily prospectors; the townsite developers, merchants, entrepreneurs, and scoundrels all came after gold was found. But between 1849 and 1898, railroads were built across America and many men became rich by developing townsites. Now others hoped to do so in Alaska.

Thus in the Valdez/Copper River gold rush many of the parties had diversified interests: finding gold, developing a townsite, providing transportation, establishing restaurants, stores and hotels.

In Port Valdez, Adam Swan, who arrived in Nov. 1997, claimed the townsite at Swansport, on the bay's east side near Alyeska; the Pacific Steam Whaling Company claimed a townsite near Glacier Creek and called it Copper City; Dr. LeRoy Townsend's Keystone party paused on their way across the glacier just long enough to claim a townsite adjacent to the Pacific Steam Whaling site and start selling lots at $50 a piece to people who had apparently already been camping there. They then hired a person to sell lots and took off across the glacier.

The Portland Group filed both a townsite and mining claims next to the Pacific Steam Whaling Company before they headed over the glacier.

By April, at least 7 townsites dotted the 4 mile valley from Port Valdez to Valdez Glacier and conflict brewed between gold rush entrepreneurs and real estate boomers who wanted free gold and free land for townsites and citizens and merchants who wanted free land on which to build homes and businesses.


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