Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Alaska Caper - Day 22

June 25, 2007
Posted by: Dick Wilson

"Tourist Day" in Dawson City, YT

In 1896, just before the beginning of the gold rush, Dawson City’s population was around 1000. In the next 2½ years it grew to over 30,000. This population explosion occurred without a developed infrastructure; consequently, there were major problems with the water supply and sanitation. To make matters worse, Dawson City was built on swamp land which became extremely muddy in the springtime and froze rock solid in the winter when temperatures plummeted to -40 F. or colder. Because of the shortage of goods and services, the cost of living during the gold rush was extremely high. Millionaire gold rush miners would pay incredible prices for common articles of clothing and food. Eggs could easily cost $12.00 a dozen. Miners had money to spend, and the entrepreneurial sector was happy to oblige them. Many such individuals became millionaires in their own right, serving the needs of the prospectors. Today, Dawson City is primarily a tourist attraction. They have managed this task quite well, primarily by restoring the town to look as if it might have 100 years ago. The sidewalks are raised wood planks. Store fronts are ornate and brightly colored. The sides and backs of many of these buildings are corrugated metal "tin." We were told that this building material was chosen for fire prevention, as the downtown area had been nearly completely destroyed, when the buildings were constructed of logs, by a fire started by an angry "lady of the night" who threw a kerosene lantern at one of her "coworkers." We visited the Dawson City Museum as well as the Old Theater and the restored paddled wheeler, the Keno, which brought supplies to the gold rush president. Today was a relaxing and educational experience. Tomorrow we begin heading "home."

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