Sunday, March 26, 2006

3/26/06 Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park - Seattle Unit

西雅圖的Klondike淘金博物館,位於有名Pioneer Square Historic District一區。Klondike淘金熱的時間,比加州的淘金熱的時間要晚個40年左右,是19世紀末的社會現象。1897年7月15號,第一艘成功從加拿大Yukon Territory挖到黃金的蒸氣船在舊金山靠岸。兩天後,同樣的故事發生在西雅圖的港口。

在媒體大肆報導下以及當時美國經濟之蕭條,使得許多美國全國各地方的人民,都試著想藉此機會發財。許多淘金者,都是遠離家人,獨自來到Yukon Territory。史學家說Pierre Berton說「估計有十萬多淘金者開始Klondike Trail,其中只有三到四萬人有到最終目的地。這三到四萬人中,黃金量有挖到足以致富的,可能只有幾百人。最後,這幾百人當中,有守住財富的,卻屈指可數。」

西雅圖在Klondike Gold rush所扮演的角色,是相當重要的。大部份的淘金者,都是從這兒坐船出發到阿拉斯加的港口鎮,再進入加拿大,翻過山嶽,才會到達目的地Dawson City,試圖淘金。其中一個trail叫做White Pass,淘金者帶著他們的馬匹,要走過這座山,卻因為步道很窄,馬常常一失足就會墜入山谷。死掉的馬兒不計其數,因此還有"Dead Horse Trail"之稱。Visitor center的影片中,清楚地記載這些淘金者的悲慘的故事。這種大時代下的人,會做出那麼瘋狂不要命的事,現在看起來是不可思議,但相信歷史也常以不同的方式,重覆在發生。不過,Klondike Gold Rush在Jack London膾炙人口的小說「野性的呼喚」與「白牙」,還有在卓別林1925年有名的默片「淘金記」中,仍會不斷引發世人的遐想~~~

Well, I figured that there are probably enough blogs and books out there detailing what a mesmerizing town Seattle is, so I'll probably not jump on that bandwagon. I wrote earlier that the Spring 2006 road trip was also national park hopping trip, so while in Seattle, we were going to do exactly what we set out to do.

Naturally, the first question that came to my mind was, what does Seattle have to do with the Klondike Gold Rush? On July 17th, 1897, the steamship Portland docked in Seattle and brought news of the gold findings, thus began the Klondike Gold Rush. Fueled by the media and a bad economy of the time, this Gold Rush soon reached a frenzy of national and international status. Most prospectors stocked up in Seattle, acting as a port where thousands of gold prospectors would start their journey into the Yukon Territory. The prospectors would then arrive Alaska, before making their treacherous but hopefully fortuitous journey into Canada.

The visitor center offers a short but very informative film about the Gold Rush in general, documenting the hardships of the proprietors who literally risked everything to try making it rich. No doubt the odds were against them, but this part of American history has since been immortalized by Jack London's novels and Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush. Apparently the visitor center also serves as an information center on how to reach the other Klondike Gold Rush units in Alaska. A future distant trip perhaps?

Official Website:
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park - Seattle Unit

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