«-A- Adam’s ale — water Alaska Commercial Company (A.C.C., A.C. Co.) — successor to the Russian American Company, the ACC established a fur ...»
Klondike Gold Rush NHP—Seattle Unit
Scott Eckberg, Park Ranger
Adam’s ale — water
Alaska Commercial Company (A.C.C., A.C. Co.) — successor to the Russian American
Company, the ACC established a fur trade monopoly in Alaska following purchase in 1867 by
acquiring sealing rights off the Priblof Islands. Trading posts were thereafter established along
the Yukon River; trading emphasis shifted in 185 from furs to mining. (Adney: 237) Alaska Exploration Company — one of three primary trading companies (after ACC and NAT&T) active in Dawson City during the rush, subsequent competition forced it to merge with
the Alaska Commercial Company in 1901, to form the Northern Commercial Company. (Lynch:
300, 351) Alaska feathers — spruce boughs cut and used as a camp bed. (Davis: 66) Alaska Fever – the attraction of the territory that compelled men to return to live, work, and explore Alaska. (Chase: 186) Alaska or Bust – slogan of those heading for the Klondike goldfields. Also “Klondike or Bust.” (McMichael: 17) Alaskan strawberries – beans. (Jordan: 54) Alaska Pack Asses – “Our common jest was that we all (stampeders afoot) belonged to the A.P.A.—the Alaska Pack Asses!” (Davis: 68) All-American Route – primarily the Valdez or Copper River route to the interior of Alaska and the Yukon, secondarily, the so-called all-water or rich man’s route via St. Michael and the Yukon River.
All-Canadian Route – primarily the undeveloped overland and main water routes via Edmonton to the Klondike, and the Telegraph Creek Trail via Ashcroft, advertised by Canadian merchants emphasizing the absence of customs duties at U.S. ports.
All in – physically exhausted.
All the go – popular, as in “all the rage.” (Wells: 13) Alluvium – a sediment deposited by flowing water, as in a river bed, flood plain, or delta. Placer gold is found in alluvial deposits.
All-water route – the expensive, so-called rich man’s route to Dawson City via coastal steamer to St. Michael, Alaska, thence up the Yukon to Dawson by steamboat. The route was long, 124 expensive, dangerous in part, and risky due to the brief Yukon navigation season. In addition some transportation companies required that outfits had to be purchased from the company beforehand, thus eliminating the passengers option to buy elsewhere.
“All you have to do is step off” – popular saying explaining how one reached Sheep Camp from the summit of Chilkoot Pass four miles above. (Burnham: 106) Amalgam – substance consisting of gold and mercury, which form a bond during amalgamation.
Amalgamation – the retrieval of fine gold dust with mercury, used mainly during sluicing operations. Deposited behind riffle bars, the amalgam is collected afterward for separation by retorting. (PM: 120) Anchor ice – slush formed on an already frozen layer of lake or river ice, frustrating use of sleds.
Also ice still frozen or ‘anchored’ to riverbed.
Anvil City – initial name for Nome, taken from an anvil shaped rock outcrop nearby.
Anxious Seat – the seat occupied by the defendant in Dawson City’s police court. (White: 78) Apron - canvas or carpet stretched on a wooden frame and placed in a rocker, designed to capture the fine gold flakes sifted through the hopper during clean- up.
Arbuckles – slang for coffee, from a popular brand name.
Arctic Brotherhood – secret fraternal organization of prospectors formed in Skagway in 1899, one of whose purposes being adjudication of claim disputes. Its name was taken from the snowfilled AB discernible on a mountain outside Skagway. (Jordan: 55) Arctics – felt-lined rubber boots or overshoes. (Davis: 68) Armstrong Sawmill – whipsawing. Also, friendship killer.
Arnica – a natural liniment used for bruises or sore muscles. (Conger: 49) Ashcroft Trail – one of the all-Canadian overland routes to the Klondike, leading from Ashcroft B.C. along the Telegraph Creek Trail to Whitehorse, Yukon..
Assay - to test chemically the content of gold and other substances in ore, or to ascertain the fineness or purity of placer gold.
Assessment Month – a month in which assessment work on a mining claim must be done, usually July, thus assuring the claimholder’s privileges to the ground. (USGS Spurr : 128) Athabaska Landing – Hudson’s Bay Company post on the Athabaska River about 100 miles northwest of Edmonton, starting point for the 2595-mile main water route via the Athabaska, McKenzie, Porcupine, and the Yukon Rivers. (Graham :36).
Atlin City – boom-town on the shore of Atlin Lake established during the Atlin stampede of 1898. (Garland :220)
Atlin Strike – a brief gold rush on the east shore of Lake Atlin in summer, 1898, which distracted some latecomers to Skagway as well as much of the WP&YR railroad construction workers.
(Downs:148) “A ton of gold, a ton of goods” – merchant’s slogan in Seattle and elsewhere capitalizing on the need for a year’s supply of provisions required a prospectors heading for the Klondike.
Back-door Route – the all-Canadian route over the Edmonton trail. (CR: 29) Back-tripping – the ordeal of relaying one’s supplies up the trail in increments, making trips back to the last cache for relay of another load to the next.
Back-wash – to be left in the wake of a steamboat, especially in the course of a race down the river. (Hitchcock: 418) Badger Game – a con game in which a woman lured a financially well-off man into having an affair, during which her accomplice bursts in posing as her husband, threatening legal action. The victim of the entrapment usually paid off to avoid unwanted publicity. (Johnston: 103) the Bar – the outlet of the Yukon River on the Bering Sea, the destination of riverboats departing from St. Michael. (Hitchcock: 58) Bar – an alluvial deposit of sand and gravel, often ten or twenty feet or more above the low water level of the river or creek. (Adney: 236) Also the shallow portion of the river.
Bar diggings – strips of land 100 feet wide at high-water mark extending into the river at its lowest water level; its sides are parallel lines run at right angles to the stream. (PM: 46) Barabas – Eskimo houses along the lower Yukon River built half underground, inhabited in winter. (Moore: 72) Basket sleigh (sled) – dogsled with railing rising upward from sled front on either side, with handle bars for the driver. Used for sledding freight and occasional passengers. Loaded sled.
(Tuck: 88) British Columbia Yukon Railway Company – a corporation formed to obtain legislative charter from British Columbia in 1989 for construction of the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad through its territory.
British Yukon Navigation Company (B.Y.N.) – river division of the WP&YR railroad, formed in 1901 after purchase of the John Irving Navigation Co.—serving the Atlin-Bennett Lake region— and the Canadian Development Co., a winter stage line between Whitehorse and Dawson City.
This netted the WP&YR a transportation monopoly from Skagway to the Klondike.
Buck, buck over – carry one’s supplies, especially in fording a stream. (Garland: 83) Buck the ice – the dangerous journey of following the ice in a boat during break-up on the Yukon River. (Stanley: 47) Buck the tiger – to try one’s luck gambling, particularly with large stakes. (Jordan: 189) Buckle to it – hard work, “get down to business.” (Garland: 178) Building bee – neighbors assisting in erecting another’s cabin or building. (Hitchcock: 258) Bummer – a worthless person; a non-productive person. (Jordan: 73) Bunco – the trade of confidence or shell-game men; anything phony or deceptive.
Bullion – the gold melted into bars, ingots, or plates for shipment and safekeeping.
Bum – poor, badly or worn out. “I’m feeling bum.” (Tuck: 62) Bureau of Information – advertising committee spearheaded by Erastus Brainerd and supported by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce to promote Seattle at the time of the gold rush.
Burg – Dawson City. (Tuck: 53) Burning – thawing frozen ground by fire to enable excavation of a shaft or drift. Done in winter, green wood was used to produce a sustained, smoldering heat. (CR: 18) Burns Whim – the cable whim installed by Arthur Burns over the summit of Chilkoot Pass in 1897-98.
Bust, busted – financially broke, also a boom town or district that failed.
Beach rats – the goldseekers who worked the beach placers at Nome. (Jordan: 45) Beanpot – pot for cooking beans; carried along in winter, the cooked beans froze and thus kept for reheating at the next meal. (Chase: 52) Bedrock – the hard rock or clay-packed underground surface on which placer gold eventually lodged. In the Klondike this varied from ten to forty feet or more below the surface of the ground.
Belly-wash – coffee. (Chase: 49) Bench diggings (claims) – 100-food square claims staked on benches above streams. In the Klondike it was initially permitted to stake one creek and one bench claim, but not more than one of each excepting one additional by right of discovery. See: Discovery claim.
Big jaw – scurvy; in reference to the swelling of the gums characteristic of the disease. (Conger:
51) Big Rush – in after years, the term differentiating the Klondike from other gold rushes of the far North.
Big shots – the moneyed or powerful; also contemptuously as “know it all.” (Tuck: 45) Bitch – improvised illumination; originally a piece of fat wedged into a stick and lit; later, a rag twisted into a can of fat and lit as a lamp. (Adney: 201) Black leg, black leg rheumatism – scurvy; reference to the stage of the disease producing skin discoloration and aching joints, frequently mistaken for rheumatism. (Conger: 51) Black sand – magnetite, particles of iron frequently associated—due to its high specific gravity— with placer gold.
Blank – a failed prospect; any enterprise that netted disappointing results.
Blanket sail – a sail improvised from poles and a blanket to propel loaded sleds over snow and ice.
Blaze – in poker, a hand of any five picture cards; considered eccentric, in some gambling houses it beat two pairs but lost to three of a kind. (Jordan: 190) Bloody flux – dysentery, sometimes brought on by drinking water from streams where mining was underway. (Tuck: 62) Blow-downs – fallen trees along a riverbank.
Blower – a brass dish into which gold dust was poured from the poke for transfer to the weighing dish in a set of scales, the extra dust then transferred from the blower to the poke. See hitting he blower. (Johnston: 93) Blow in – spend lavishly. (Hitchcock: 130)
Blow (oneself) – to spend extravagantly, particularly on food, liquor, or entertainment. (White:
32) Bonanza King – a wealthy claim owner on Bonanza Creek; any of the wealthy claim owners in the Klondike.
Bonanza’s pup – reference to Eldorado Creek by the first men to stake along Bonanza—a.k.a.
Rabbit Creek—in 1896. (Berton: 55) Bone yard – cemetery.
Bone-cup – containers made of bone ash used for assaying.
Boomed – description of any product or service whose ordinary cost suddenly soared as a result of unexpected demand. (CR: 196) Booming – large scale ground sluicing using an intermittent water supply, i.e. a dam with an
automatic gate, opening when reservoir is filled, thereby washing away boulders and dirt. (PM:
66) Booster – an employee of a gambling house who oversaw and encouraged participation in the games of chance. (Walden: 126) Boss cook – head cook of a mining or other party, boss meaning top-notch or best. (Tuck: 21) Bottom; bottom in pay – to locate or strike paydirt in the bottom of a mine shaft. (Rickard: 212) Box – sluice box.
Box-length – an area of ground roughly 156 square feet, measured by the length of a sluice box (12 feet long by six feet to either side) being as far as a man could reach with a long-handled shovel. “The term is used in speaking of the amount of gold cleaned up from that extent of ground.” (Adney: 234) Brackett’s Road – George Brackett’s unfinished attempt to build a wagon road to the summit of White Pass. It terminated roughly 12 miles beyond Skagway; Brackett sold his right of way to the White Pass & Yukon Route railroad in 1898.
Break trail – to clear a trail with snowshoes, usually in advance of a dogsled.
Cabin fever – the restlessness caused by spending a long winter alone or with others in close confinement.
Cabin with – to share a cabin or living quarters. (Tuck: 93) Cache – a store of goods set off the trail during the transport of back-tripping of ones outfit; to store such supplies off-trail; a platform storage bin raised above ground as protection of camp stores from predators.
California pump – a crank-operated canvas conveyor belt to which wooden blocks were nailed, used to catch and raise water from a source below to a sluicing reservoir above. (CR: 117) Camp Dyea – U.S. Army camp established in 1898 at Dyea to maintain order and federal presence on the boundary; replaced by Camp Skagway following a fire that destroyed the first camp.
Camp robber – a scavenging bird that took food left open in camp or cache.
Canayens – French-Canadians. (Lynch: 5) Canyon City – a boom-town 7 ½ miles from Dyea on the Chilkoot Trail, and the farthest point for wagon traffic.
Cappers – accomplices in games of chance—particularly in rigged or shell games—who lure the unsuspecting by posing as lucky gamblers. (Davis: 43) Caribou – a rich placer district discovered in British Columbia in 1871, south of the headwaters of the Lewes River. One of a series of gold rushes leading to the northwesterly advancement of the mining frontier.
Caribou Crossing – originally a major trading site between interior and coastal Indians, and a migration corridor for vast herds of caribou, the site became a station on the WP&YR and was condensed to Carcross.
Cash in – die.