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There’s Gold In Them Thar Hills!

A few blocks walk from the hostel brought me to the headquarters of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park – Seattle Unit. As the Park Service explains,

This park is unlike many other parks in the National Park Service. Our “park” consist of a single building in Seattle, located within the Pioneer Square Historical District. It has no outdoor components, but the visitor center has indoor exhibits and displays. You can also find brochures and other information about surrounding national park sites located throughout western Washington.

The Seattle Unit is housed in the former Cadillac Hotel, where many of the Klondikers (as the prospectors were called) actually stayed on their way to the gold fields of the Yukon Territory.

cadillac hotel 1

The Cadillac Hotel

The Klondike Gold Rush resulted in about 100,000 prospectors heading to the gold fields on the Klondike River—and the vast majority of them came by way of Seattle. The result? Seattle became a major city almost overnight.

And while the Klondikers headed north with visions of gold nuggets dancing before their eyes, the folks who made the most money during the gold rush were the Seattle merchants. That’s because the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP, or the Mounties), wouldn’t let anyone into Canada without a year’s worth of provisions—nearly 2 tons of supplies!

The Chilkoot Trail

The Chilkoot Trail was the most common route into the gold fields. Starting at the town of Dyea, it followed an old Tlingit Indian trade trail over the pass.

Chilkoot Trail

The “Golden Staircase” over the Chilkoot Pass

The trail over the Chilkoot Pass consisted of 1500 steps carved in the ice. In order to ferry all their goods, most of the prospectors made 30 to 40 trips up the “Golden Staircase,” as it was called. (When I led a group of teenagers over the trail in the ‘80s, we called it “hell.”

The Scales

The Scales

The last resting spot before the climb over the pass is The Scales, so-called because this is where the Canadian Mounties had set up their scales to measure the weight of each prospectors goods. This was done to prevent the miners from starving over the fierce winters.

It is said that if a man stepped out of line on the Golden Staircase, it could take hours for a break in the line to let him back in.

White Pass Trail

Another route that many of the miners took was the White Pass Trail. More on that in another post.

Back In The Land of Greedy Landlords

Before moving back to Seattle, I had forgotten that Washington law allows landlords to collect 3x the rental price for a place to live: 1st and last month’s rent, plus a damage deposit equal to a month’s rent.

Which means it would cost me almost $1700 to move into the cheapest place I can find on Craig’s List. And at what I’m paying for a room in the hostel, it would take me 3 months to save that kind of money.

Except I can’t stay in the hostel much longer. I’ve reserved for 10 days, and they have a limit of 14. So after that, I may be out on the street before my next money arrives.

Enough of the Bad News!

I’m a block away from Uwajimaya a huge Asian grocery and gift store. I bought a decent lunch there the other day: Thai curried chicken over rice set me back all of $3! And I got a frozen dinner last night that I heated up in the microwave in the hostel’s kitchen. After I do a load of laundry, I’m going to head back there to buy a couple of days’ worth of food. I can’t afford to keep eating in restaurants, no matter how cheap they may be.

Yesterday I discovered that my age entitles me to discounted fare on the metro bus system; the system’s headquarters (where I have to go to buy the pass) is two blocks from the hostel.

What it doesn’t entitle me to? Laundry that does itself. So I’m off to do a load.