Reality Check: Hollywood Just Didn't Get It About The Gold Rush

Movie Poster At A Fairbanks Museum. (Photo, Country Journal) The 1898 Gold Rush: Where The Only Heavy Breathing On The Trail Was Due To...

Movie Poster At A Fairbanks Museum. (Photo, Country Journal)

The 1898 Gold Rush: Where The Only Heavy Breathing On The Trail Was Due To Hauling A Ton Of Supplies On A Homemade Sled

The 1898 Gold Rush in Mainland Alaska began in what was to become Valdez, Alaska. It was a pointless quest for gold in the Copper River Valley, which had no gold, but was the scrubbed-out floor of a massive Ice Age lake.

The 1898 Gold Rush was far from romantic. This movie poster shows a desperate man and woman, clutching each other. Actually, though, few women were in the Gold Rush, and many of the ones who were had husbands in tow, or ended up running trailside "roadhouses."

The thousands of would-be miners who participated in this Gold Rush each hauled up to 2,000 lbs. of dry beans, flour, pots, pans, coats, jackets, tools, pickaxes and who knows what else up and over wild, cold glaciers – many in sleds they had made themselves out of spruce saplings.

The desperation that people felt at that time was not one of ardent, lovelorn romance, as shown here. It was the sheer desperation of not having enough food, or a place to live – and of having come all this way to the Northland, and not finding a single piece of gold.

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