Klondike Gold Rush

Claiming the Far North

the Arctic 1898.0613

Klondike Gold Rush

Arctic exploration, colonization of Greenland and Northern Canada, Erik the Red's Land (13 June 1898)

Historical Map of the Arctic & the Far North

On August 16, 1896, gold was discovered on the Yukon River, in the Klondike region of Canada's North-West Territories, sparking the biggest population migration the far north has ever seen. As the fastest routes to the gold fields were through Alaska, the Klondike Gold Rush also transformed this district, forcing the resolution of the Canada-Alaska boundary dispute.

Main Events

Nansen's Fram expedition

The Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen set out from Christiania, Norway, aboard the Fram in an attempt to reach the geographical North Pole by drifting in pack ice. On 9 October 1893, at about 79°N, the Fram entered the ice - which its specially designed hull successfully withstood - but drifted so slowly it did not reach 80°N until March 1894. When it passed 84°N on 14 March the following year, Nansen left the ship in an attempt to march on the Pole, while the Fram drifted as far as 85°55′N, before finally emerging from the ice in June 1896.

Nansen's march for the Pole

The Norwegian explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen left the Fram with a team of dogs and sledges and made for the North Pole. After several attempts, during which they constantly fought the southerly drift of the ice, they ultimately achieved a record Farthest North latitude of 86°13.6'N on 7 April, before being forced to retreat to Franz Josef Land.

Klondike Gold Rush

American and Tagish prospectors discovered gold on the banks of Rabbit Creek (now Bonanza Creek), one of the tributaries of the Klondike River, in the Yukon district of Canada's North-West Territories. When the news became widely known the following year, some 100,000 people attempted to reach the goldfields, mostly traveling via Alaska.

Sverdrup Islands discovered

The Norwegian explorer Otto Sverdrup, set off on his second expedition with the Fram - he was also on Nansen's 1893-1896 expedition - in an attempt to circumnavigate Greenland. Unable to make it through Nares Strait, he spent three winters on Ellesmere Island from where he discovered what became known as the Sverdrup Islands. Claiming all three islands for Norway, he set off a sovereignty dispute with Canada which lasted until 1930.

Yukon Territory

In response to the influx of miners due to the Klondike Gold Rush, the Dominion of Canada separated the District of Yukon in the North-West Territories, creating the Yukon Territory.

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