Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Traveling Tuesday: Nome, Alaska

Traveling Tuesday: Nome, Alaska 

Fifty years after the California gold rush, prospectors flocked to Nome, Alaska for one of the biggest rushes in the far north of North America. The Klondike or Yukon is also often referred to as an Alaskan rush, but in reality, that rush occurred in Canada. 

Nome is located on the southern Seward Peninsula coast on the Norton Sound of the Bering Sea. The city has a subarctic climate, experiencing long, very cold winters, and short, cool summers. Because of its location on the coast, the seasons are somewhat moderated and less severe than in the interior. The coldest month is January, averaging five degrees Fahrenheit. Average high temperatures remain under freezing from late October until late April. July is the warmest month with average temperatures in the low fifties Fahrenheit and rarely reaching eighty degrees. 

Home to the Inupiat natives for several millennia, the area was quickly overrun by thousands of gold seekers from all over the United States. The rush is said to have started as a result of the discovery made by “Three Lucky Swedes” in Anvil Creek in September 1898. (Technically, one of the “Swedes” was Norwegian, but with the amount of money he was making, he didn’t refute the nickname.) 
By the following summer, gold was found in the beach sands for dozens of miles along the Nome coast
bringing even more prospectors. Gold seekers only needed a shovel and a sluice box to mine the copious nuggets from the gritty shoreline. Reports about the ease of extracting gold attracted women and the less hearty to the Alaskan goldfields. The spring of 1900 saw even more people pour into the area aboard steamships from Seattle and San Francisco. Word reached as far as Australia, and it wasn’t long before a schooner set sail from the continent. Additional mining was done in the creeks, however, the process was slow and cold. A layer of permafrost lies just below the surface, requiring equipment to thaw the ground and suck up the gravel. 
With the amount of wealth coming from the area, it’s not surprising that corruption reared its head. In 1900, North Dakota politician Alexander McKenzie managed to secure appointments for his hand-picked candidates for a federal judge, federal district attorney, and other positions. He then traveled to Nome where crooked Judge Arthur Noyes took mines and claims from their rightful owners and appointed McKenzie as the receiver to operate the mines. The closed court of appeals was in San Francisco, a two- to three-week voyage by boat, but the owners made the trek. 
After several months, the appeals court reversed Noyes’s decisions and ordered McKenzie to return the gold he’d received. However, the politician refused and continued removing gold from the mines. The claim-jumping scheme was finally stopped when the court had him arrested, them found him guilty of contempt of court. He was sentenced to one year in jail, of which he served three months. President William McKinley pardoned him in May, 1901. 
Most of the gold had played out by the end of summer 1909, and the prospectors trickled away. The 1910 census reported only 2,600 residents, down from the 20,000 that had called the area home for the prior decade. Fire and storms over the subsequent years destroyed most of the rush-era buildings.
Intrigued? Immerse yourself in the Gold Rush Bride series, a multi-author collection of stories about the U.S. and Canadian gold rushes in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

About Gold Rush Bride Hannah, Book 1:
A brand-new widow, she doesn’t need another man in her life. He’s not looking for a wife. But when danger thrusts them together, will they change their minds...and hearts? 
Hannah Lauman’s husband has been murdered, but rather than grief, she feels...relief. She decides to remain in Georgia to work their gold claim, but a series of incidents makes it clear someone wants her gone...dead or alive. Is a chance at being a woman of means and independence worth risking her life?
Jess Vogel never breaks a promise, so when he receives a letter from a former platoon mate about being in danger, he drops everything to help his old friend. Unfortunately, he arrives just in time for the funeral. Can he convince the man’s widow he’s there for her protection not for her money?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3H1YVBn

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