Cheechako money

William Hiscock related that one day while walking in Dawson City he saw a man throwing silver coins out into the river. Someone had just purchased goods in his store and paid in Cheechako (silver) money. “He said nothing but would have preferred the gold dust currency so he calmly takes the money and walks out to the bank of the river and disposes of it, so that it will not come into the shop again.”

Hiscock said that everybody carried their gold dust in a small buckskin bag and when a purchase was made in any of the stores, large or small, you poured the gold into a small tin scoop and then shook it in to a small set of gold scales. The amounts for convenience were dollars and cents stamped on the weights.

At the time gold dust was worth about $16 an ounce. Today gold is in the $1750-$1800 range per ounce. Seen above is a fellow paying for a loaf of bread with gold dust.

A Kiwi in the Klondike by Hiscock; Yukon archives.

William Lucius Churchill

Mr. Churchill was a member of the Skagway Camp of the Arctic Brotherhood in 1898. Born on this day, January 25, 1871 in Montpelier Vermont, he came to Skagway from White Plains New York. He was an engineer, and as such was always looking for a better way to do things. He actually invented a hot water system for thawing frozen gold bearing gravel in the Yukon in 1912.
William L. Churchill’s collection of Alaskan photographs was donated to the State of Alaska Photographic Archives by his grandson, William L. Churchill, in 2006.
The photographs taken by Mr. Churchill depict placer mining, hard rock gold mining and related activities in 1912 and during the Klondike gold rush. Some images document mining engineering practices such as brush retaining walls on streams and thawing of frozen ground to accommodate dredging.
He died in 1936 in White Plains New York.

From: Who’s who in engineering, 1922 online; Alaska State library photo collection; 1912 directory online.

How Much Gold?

I recently ran across an article from 1942 by T.A. Rickard detailing the value of gold taken out of the Klondike during the Gold Rush:
“The output of gold from the Yukon in 1897 was $2,500,000; this rose to $10,000,000 in 1898 and reached its maximum of $22,275,000 in 1900. Up to the end of 1911 the total output was over $140,000,000. After 1900 a decrease began, continuing until the output in 1910 was only $4,570,000. In 1939 with the price of gold at $35 an ounce, it was $3,171,000.”

Today gold is running around $1340 an ounce. I tried to do the math but there were way too many zeros there, lets just say there was over a Billion dollars of gold at our current price taken out during those few years.

The Klondike Rush, T.A. Rickard, 1942 in the British Columbia Historical Quarterly, June 1942. read the entire article at:

Edward Lawrence Schieffelin

Ed Schieffelin was born on this day, November 8, 1847 in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Although he did not come to the Yukon through Skagway, he is significant because he came to Alaska to prospect in 1882-it was the first significant investment made in Yukon mining.
He was a hardrock miner who had become a multi-millionaire in Arizona. In 1881 he and his brother Eff had sold their Tombstone claims and headed to San Francisco where they purchased the steamboat “New Racket”. He chartered a schooner there and put three years of supplies and lashed the “New Racket” to the deck. He then took it to St. Michael where they took it up the Tanana and built a winter cabin. After prospecting for awhile they did find some gold but not a bonanza and the winter weather discouraged them. They sold their boat to McQueston, Harper and Mayo and returned south.

Not one to stay in one place too long, Ed traveled to Oregon to search the hills for yet another claim. In May 1897, a neighboring prospector found him lying dead in his cabin. Although he always looked much older in appearance, Ed Schieffelin was only 49 years old. The coroner reported Schiefflin died of heart failure.
He was originally buried near the cabin in Oregon. But, when his wife went through his paperwork and will, she found another request he wished to have fulfilled. “It is my wish, if convenient, to be buried in the dress of a prospector, my old pick and canteen with me, on top of the granite hills about three miles westerly from the city of Tombstone Arizona, and a monument, such as prospectors build when locating a mining claim, be built over my graveyard or cemetery.”

The mayor of Tombstone made the arrangements and Ed Schieffelin was finally laid to rest in his beloved Tombstone on Sunday, May 23, 1897. His wife, mother, brother and a large crowd of friends attended the service. He was buried wearing his old red, flannel shirt and faded prospector’s clothes. Beside him they placed his pick, shovel, and the old canteen he had with him on the day he found his silver claim.
He is buried outside Tombstone, the city he founded in 1877.

Webb: Yukon-the Last Frontier; Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography;