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Valdez Museum & Historical Archive

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Gold Rush Info

What was the Gold Rush? 
Where was the Gold Rush? 


There have been many gold rushes in the history of the United States.  The two most famous are the 1849 in California and the Klondike Stampede in the the late 1890s in Alaska and the Yukon Territory of Canada.

The gold rush that affected Valdez and the Prince William Sound Region was the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897.  It began when the ships Excelsior and Portland reached their "lower 48" ports in July 1897, laden with gold.  The stories spread like wildfire and people rushed to find riches beyond imagination.  An All American route to the gold fields was desired.  Valdez and a route over the Valdez Glacier were marketed by steamship companies as the "All American" route to the Klondike.  Thus began Valdez's history as a transportation hub for interior Alaska.

Unfortunately for many, by the time they reached the Klondike all the claims had been staked and they were forced to look elsewhere.  Others decided not to attempt the arduous journey from the coast to the Interior and elected to find their fortunes closer to their ports of entry.  This is the way many of the gold and copper mines in the Prince William Sound Region were found.

Once a miner landed in Valdez, they had to pack their 1500 pounds of gear to the foot of Valdez Glacier to begin their ascent.  The Glacier rose approximately 4,800 feet and it was a twenty mile hike to the top.  Miners were victims of storms, avalanches, crevasses; all which claimed some of the intrepid souls.   Provisions had to be packed up the Glacier in stages.  The miners had arrived in Valdez only to find their trips had only really just begun.  Some chose not to go further and either stayed in the Prince William Sound Region or returned home. 

The stories of these pioneering men and women provide a rich context in which to understand that period of American history and the beginnings of the discovery of Alaska's natural resources.  We welcome you to visit our web site and explore some of this history and also to visit Prince William Sound and the Valdez Museum & Historical Archive to learn more about the people, places and events that make Alaska and Valdez unique!

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Valdez Museum & Historical Archive

217 Egan Drive

P. O. Box 8

Valdez, AK 99686-0008

(907) 835-2764    FAX (907) 835-5800

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Copyright © 1998 Valdez Museum & Historical Archives
Last modified: October 17, 1998