When gold was discovered in the far northern regions of Alaska and the Yukon in the late nineteenth century, thousands of individuals headed north to strike it rich. This massive movement required a vast network of supplies and services and brought even more people north to manage and fulfill those needs. In this volume, archaeologists, historians, and ethnologists discuss their interlinking studies of the towns, trails, and mining districts that figured in the northern gold rushes, including the first sustained account of the archaeology of twentieth-century gold mining sites in Alaska or the Yukon.
The authors explore various parts of this extensive settlement and supply system: coastal towns that funneled goods inland from ships; the famous Chilkoot Trail, over which tens of thousands of gold-seekers trod; a host of retail-oriented sites that supported prospectors and transferred goods through the system; and actual camps on the creeks where gold was extracted from the ground. Discussing individual cases in terms of settlement patterns and archaeological assemblages, the essays shed light on issues of interest to students of gender, transience, and site abandonment behavior. Further commentary places the archaeology of the Far North within the larger context of early twentieth-century industrialized European American society.

Catherine Holder Spude is a retired archaeologist with the National Park Service. She is the author of Sin and Grace: The True Story of Skagway’s Underworld and has published articles in the Journal of Historical Archaeology,Arctic, and Alaska History. Robin O. Mills is an archaeologist with the Bureau of Land Management in the Fairbanks District Office. His articles have appeared in the Journal of Historical Archaeology and Arctic Anthropology. Karl Gurcke is a historian with the National Park Service at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. He is the author of Bricks and Brickmaking: A Handbook for Historical Archaeology. The late Roderick Sprague was professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Idaho, Moscow. He was the author of Burial Terminology: A Guide for Researchers.

"The authors make a compelling case for the preservation and study of the Klondike Gold rush. A cultural and scientific Eldorado awaits."—Mark Michael,American Archaeology

"By employing Donald L. Hardesty's frontier mining pattern composed of cross-cultural communities, Eldorado's authors enables readers to imagine its applicability to mining sites and systems around the glove."—Lynn Furnis, Alaska History

"Eldorado! is simply great history and well worth the time. . . . Western historians will profit by having this book in their collections."—Ronald M. James, Pacific Historical Review

"This volume will be very useful to anyone interested in the archaeology of mining, and it is an essential text for anyone conducting historical archaeology in the North."—Paul J. White, Industrial Archeology

The Archaeology of Gold Mining in the Far North

Edited by Catherine Holder Spude, Robin O. Mills, Karl Gurcke, and Roderick Sprague

2011. 376 pp.


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