Klondyke Goldrush from Rishton

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Klondyke is now spelt with a I instead of a Y, but on this page the original spelling is used.

The Klondyke Gold Rush, also called the Yukon Gold Rush, the Alaska Gold Rush, the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush and the Last Great Gold Rush, was a migration by an estimated 100,000 prospectors to the Klondyke region of the Yukon in North-Western Canada between 1896 and 1899.

Gold was discovered there on the 16th of August, 1896 and, when news reached Seattle and San Francisco the following year, it triggered a "stampede" of would-be prospectors. The journey proved too hard for many and only between 30,000 and 40,000 managed to arrive. Some became wealthy, but the majority went in vain and only around 4,000 people struck gold. The Klondyke Gold Rush ended in 1899 after gold was discovered in Nome, prompting an exodus from the Klondyke.

Of the estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people who reached Dawson City during the gold rush, only around 15,000 to 20,000 finally became prospectors. Of these, no more than 4,000 struck gold and only a few hundred became rich. By the time that most of the prospectors had arrived in 1898, the best creeks had all been claimed, either by the long-term miners in the region, or by the first arrivals of the year before. The Bonanza, Eldorado, Hunker and Dominion Creeks were all taken, with almost 10,000 claims recorded by the authorities by July 1898; a new prospector would have to look further afield to find a claim of his own.

Klondyke was a town created by the miners at the time of the goldrush, but now stands empty as a ghost town.

On the 12th February 1898, 3 men from Rishton set up to make their fortune in the Klondyke gold rush.

RISHTON YOUNG MEN START FOR THE FROZEN GOLD FIELDS.

This (Saturday) morning three well-known young men who reside in Rishton intend to leave for Klondyke, determined to prove for themselves that the fabulous stories of the rich discoveries of gold are not fiction, and with the expectation of obtaining a supply of the precious metal.

Their names are Mr. J. Bennett, the secretary of the Conservative Club; Mr. R. Charnley, the captain of the billiard team of the club; and Mr. G. Slater, one of the members of the cricket team. Another member of the party is Mr. W. Braidwood, of Blackburn. Each member of the party is well-known in the township, and since the rumour of the proposed expedition got abroad they have been feted in a royal manner, and almost every member of the township has expressed his or her good wishes for their success, and some of them have testified to the sincerity of these good wishes in a substantial manner, as the numerous present they have received prove.

This is not a sudden and impulsive idea, but a deeply thought out, well matured scheme, the details and preparing of which have been in progress for several months. The young men are setting out with a full knowledge of the difficulties that will have to be surmounted, and the hardships and dangers which will have to be faced if success is to be achieved. That this is fully realised is evinced by the words of one of the partyâ€"

“If we don't succeed it will not be for lack of trying.”

Every possible contingency that may arise in such a journey has been anticipated and prepared for with almost with the forethought necessary for Arctic exploration. Each member takes with him a supply of food calculated to last twelve months. The food supplies have been provided by Mr. Boardman, grocer, Rishton, who has laid himself out to obtain provisions of the best quality, and packed in a manner suitable for such a journey, most of the food being packed in hermetically sealed tins. Messrs. Bottomley, of Blackburn, have supplied the party with a complete wardrobe of clothing of special texture, warranted to endure the rigours of the Klondyke climate. A complete medicine chest with which to ward off disease has been prepared and provided by Mr. H. Halstead, chemist, Rishton. The necessary tools for the object of the journeyâ€"mining for goldâ€"have not been omitted from the outfit, and these have been supplied by Mr. J. W. Bridge, of Accrington. The writer has seen the tabulated list of the supplies, the arrangements of which are very complete.

The steamship passage has been booked through Mr. Ingham, and berths secured on the Allen liner “Numidian.” The party leave Rishton to-day by the 7-42 train to Liverpool, and will embark at once on the vessel, which sails at noon, via Londonderry to Halifaxâ€"a nine days journey. This part of the journey partakes of the nature of a holiday, and the party are hoping that the sea voyage will be strengthening and invigorating. At Halifax the party proceed by rail over the large tracts of land of New Brunswick. Montreal, Ontario, Winnipeg, to Victoria in British Columbia. Here will be completed the outfit and the final preparations for the journey made. After a brief halt here, a passage on board a vessel bound for Wrangle, a new town 600 miles up the coast, will be obtained. Arrived at Wrangle, ponies and sledges will be procured, and the real difficulties of the journey will now commence.

The overland route to the River Yukon, over 300 miles of the most desolate, snow covered and frost-bound country will have to be traversedâ€" a route bristling with difficulties and dangers, and one that will tax the utmost strength of the party. This overland route has been chosen in preference to the somewhat easier river route, but as the river will not be passable for some time later, the party hope that they will be fully compensated for the increased difficulties by reaching the gold districts before the great rush commences. Dawson City, is, however, still some 600 miles away, and from here the journey will probably be completed on the river. A raft will be built, and the remainder of the journey made in this primitive fashion.

We join in the good wishes of the public of Rishton for the voyagers. We hope to publish from time to time letters from the young men describing their journey.

At a smoking concert held at Rishton Conservative Club, on Thursday night, a presentation was made to each of the young men who are going to Klondyke. The most valuable of the presentations was to Mr. John Bennett, who has been secretary of the club for about eighteen months. This was a portmanteau, an article which, of course, will be useful on the journey. Mr. George Slater and Mr. Ralph Charnley, the other young men, were each presented with a beautiful silver-mounted pipe and a tobacco pouch. The whole of the presentations had been subscribed for by members of the club. At the presentation ceremony, Councillor H. H. Cormack presided over a crowded attendance, among those present being Mr. R. F. Ware, Conservative agent, and Mr. Whiteside, solicitor, Rishton.

The Chairman said he supposed there were few places in any part of the world which had been so much talked of recently as the gold fields of Klondyke. The talk about the place had different effects upon different people, but it seemed to have impressed three members of the club to such an extent that they wanted to go to Klondyke. Consequently it had been thought a proper thing that the club should hold some sort of a gathering before they went, to show them that they had at any rate the best wishes of the members for the success of their enterprise.

Mr. Bennett had occupied a good many positions in connection with the club and the party, and as they all knew, he had worked hard both for the club and the registration of the Conservative party, not only in Rishton, but pretty well throughout the whole of the Accrington Division. (Applause.) Mr. Bennett was a young man well known to all the Conservatives of the district, who respected him greatly, and whose good wishes he would have. He had always gone about his work in relation to the club and the party in the most pleasant and amiable manner.

With regard to the other two young men they had, he believed, both been members of the club almost, if not quite, from the commencement. They had taken a prominent part in the social rather than the political work of the club, and the members could not do less than give them some token of their esteem when they were leaving. It was at first intended that that meeting should be more of a social one among themselves rather than a public one. But there were so many who wished to be present that it had expanded rather beyond what was the intention at the outset. So far as he was concerned, he regretted the loss they would suffer by the departure of Messrs. Bennett, Slater, and Charnley, If he had had to advise them as to whether or not they should go to Klondyke, he might have advised them not to go. but anyone giving such advice now would incur a great responsibility. When they had made up their minds to go, he was glad to see that they had the courage and pluck to carry the thing through. They would certainly have great hardships to undergo, and a great many obstacles to surmount before they got the fortune they were going to seek. Whether they would come back with a fortune each, of course he did not know. They all hoped they would come back wealthy. He had no doubt, however, that they would come back wiseâ€"with wisdom gained by experience.

He sincerely wished they would come back well in health, whether they made fortunes or not. In any case, the experience they would gain would be to their advantage, and undoubtedly when they did return they would have some rare tales to tell about Klondyke. He hoped the three would be good comrades to each other. They would have many opportunities for the display of comradeship, and he trusted they would stand by each other through thick and thin. (Applause.)

As he had already said. Mr. Bennett had been an exceedingly good worker for the dub. He had been the right hand of the committee. and they would miss him very much indeed, not only in respect of the feeling of friendship they had for him. but for the services he had tendered. He again expressed a hope that the three would come back healthy, if they did not come back wealthy. He had pleasure in calling upon Councillor Hanson to make the presentations. (Applause.).

Councillor Hanson said he had known these young men practically all their lives. He hopes that in their undertaking they would go out with open minds. They did not know what they were going to do when they got to Klondyke One thing was certain. namely, that they would find there were other ways of making money besides digging for gold. When other people were successful in gold mining; gold would be plentiful, and wages would be extremely high. Therefore, the number of undertakings which would be open to them would not be limited. So long as they got plenty of gold, it would not matter whether they dug it themselves or somebody else dug it for them. (Laughter.) He could not say that he found fault with them for going to Klondyke. If they did not get all the gold they wanted in that country, they would get sense. If they had health they would return better man than when they went. They would get the spots knocked off them, and the corners smoothed away. (Laughter.) He hoped they would always have pleasant memories of that night proceedings. All their friends hoped that when they were away they would always think kindly of the folks at home. He had the greatest pleasure in making the presentations. (Applause.)

A large tin case of vaseline, the gift of Mr. Halstead, was also presented to the young men, as their joint property.

Mr. Bennett said he could not sufficiently thank them for their kindness to him, not only on that but ,on many previous occasions. He had always received most considerate treatment from the members and officials of the club. It was not easy for him to part from such old and kind friends. He hoped that by the time he returned the new dub would be built, and that there would be a largely increased membership. On behalf of himself and Messrs. Slater and Charnley, he would to say that the proceedings of that night, and the many kind expressions which had been used about them, would be warmly cherished in their memories. (Applause.)

Mr, Slater said he and his two friends would have a great responsibility resting upon them at Klondyke, for they would represent Rishton there. (Laughter and applause.)

Mr. Charnley said the presents would recall to their minds when far away the kindness of their Rishton friends. (Applause.)

Votes of thanks to Mr. Hanson, for making the presentations, and to Mr. Cormack for presiding, brought the ceremony to a close.

Mr. R. F. Ware said he heartily joined in the good wishes which had been expressed for the success of their three friends in their journey to Klondyke. A number of people had called their expedition a foolhardy one, and had almost likened it to the bull which tupped at the express train, and of whom, the farmer remarked that he admired its pluck, but not its discretion. They were all bound to admit the pluck of those who undertook this arduous journey, and as to their discretion, they were certain to have made every inquiry, and satisfied themselves with regard to their undertaking, and therefore they were the best judges. He had been requested not to mention politics, as there were many with opposite views in the room.

He was glad to hear this, as it proved that the bonds of friendship, kindly feeling, and brotherhood, rose buoyantly above the differences of political opinion. Reference had been made to the hardships through which their friends would have to pass, and the coldness of the climate, but he hoped that the knowledge that they had so many fiends in Rishton and the district, who would be constantly thinking of them and wishing them success, would at least keep a warm corner in their hearts. He wished them every success in their venture. (Applause.)

Mr. H. Whiteside also spoke, and wished the three gentlemen every success.

So where they successful? No-one as yet knows, but if a newspaper reference is discovered, rest assured that this tale will be updated

References

The personal scrap book of H. H. Cormack.