Chilkoot Pass

Today I'm excited to share with you one of the favorite images in my collection. It depicts a line of gold prospectors on their way up the "Chilkat Pass" (apparently more commonly known as the Chilkoot or Chilcoot Pass) between Alaska and British Columbia during the Klondike Gold Rush.

chilkoot.jpg
 Sent from Altin, B.C. July 18, 1921 to Hopewell, NJ.  "We have met a number of old timers here who say this line of men going over the pass is no exaggeration. The have seen it many times in the gold rush days. - Grace G.I"   Published by Zaccarelli's Fruit, Book, and Stationery Store - Dawson, Yukon Territories.

Sent from Altin, B.C. July 18, 1921 to Hopewell, NJ. "We have met a number of old timers here who say this line of men going over the pass is no exaggeration. The have seen it many times in the gold rush days. - Grace G.I"

Published by Zaccarelli's Fruit, Book, and Stationery Store - Dawson, Yukon Territories.

The card depicts the "Golden Stairs," a junction in the pass where 1,500 stairs were carved into solid ice. They were wide enough for only a single hiker so prospectors lined up single-file by the hundreds to climb them.

 ­"Please line up single file to access the savage wilderness, thank you!"  Photo credit:  http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3a29253/

­"Please line up single file to access the savage wilderness, thank you!"

Photo credit: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3a29253/

To prevent underprepared fools from rushing to their icy deaths, the Canadian Government required prospectors to transport one ton of equipment and goods per man. The arduous schlep was partially aided by a suspended tram-line used to pull along equipment and goods, the trace of which is visible in the postcard image above the hikers heads. Nevertheless, you can't transport one ton of stuff over a snowy and icy mountain range by foot in a single trip - scholars estimate that every one mile that a prospector was able to move his cargo required 80 miles of hiking.

The things we do for money (or gold, in this case)! It puts the pain of an office job in proper perspective.

Beyond the interesting history, it is just a really cool shot. The stark contrast of the black, arrow-straight line of miners against the white ether of snow and sky - I would have sworn it was doctored somehow if it didn't date from pre-Photoshop days. 

If by some miracle of modern medicine any former Chilkoot Pass gold prospectors or their direct descendants are reading this, email me - I have your postcard.