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.

Hello!

Welcome to Dead Letter Office, the official blog of Paleogreetings!

I'm Ari, the owner and founder of Paleogreetings. I started Paleogreetings after I began collecting vintage postcards while living in the woods of New Hampshire with a lot of free time on my hands. As the years went by, I morphed from enthusiastic neophyte to connoisseur to aspiring entrepreneur ready to share these amazing artifacts with as wide an audience as possible.

Paleogreetings' mission is to seek out the most interesting and beautiful vintage postcards in the world and connect them with those who value the places, people, and times that they represent. Dead Letter Office showcases these amazing pieces and their relationship to all of the fun, sad, beautiful, and crazy things that have happened on this planet - aiming high!

So I'm guessing you didn't know that collecting postcards was a "thing." Well, it is - by some accounts, the third most popular collecting hobby in the world.

Postcards were an international obsession in the early 20th-century. In a single year (1908), the US Postal Service estimated that it delivered over 650 MILLION postcards. Keep in mind that the US population at this time was under 90 million....so in 1908 the average American sent about seven postcards a person (including babies)!

Postcards were an important feature of the cultural landscape throughout the 20th-century. They recorded broad and rich snapshots of life as it occurred during that momentous time of change. It follows that a blog about postcards is also a blog about people, art, history, architecture, technology, commerce, science, war, leisure, fashion....you get the drift.

War, leisure, and fashion! From left to right: A WWII Howitzer machine gun; cowboys playing craps; and the latest in 1910s German fashion.

War, leisure, and fashion! From left to right: A WWII Howitzer machine gun; cowboys playing craps; and the latest in 1910s German fashion.

In each post on Dead Letter Office, I'll be sharing a postcard or group of postcards united in a theme that teach us something new about the distant or sometimes recent past (or maybe they just look really cool).

Names and addresses of the sender and recipient will often be visible on the featured postcards. Our great hope is that someone will come along and find a lost piece of family history. So, as a matter of policy, if you believe that we have a family heirloom of yours, let us know. We are all about putting things in their right place. We'll either send you the original (if we still have it) or email a high-def scan. Simple.

We'll be posting on at least a weekly basis, so check back often and write us with any questions or comments on anything at any time. We hope you enjoy the images and messages to come. Thanks for finding us.