Monkton hiker to talk about historic gold rush journey

VERGENNES — Ivor Hughes of Monkton, an ardent hiker and backpacker, will present “The Klondike Gold Rush — A Nostalgic Journey to Retrace the Prospectors’ Footsteps” at the Bixby Memorial Library in Vergennes on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m.

Nothing stirred people more in the 1800s than the cry of “gold strike” and when the newspaper headlines in 1897 reported a new strike in the Klondike, the race was on. It was reported that by the time it was all done some 100,000 prospectors had set out for this remote area of the Yukon Territory in the northern reaches of Canada to try their luck.

This stampede drew prospectors from all walks of life, not only from across North America but also from Europe. Many of these stampeders had no idea what they were in for, never mind them not having any idea of how to prospect for gold. First, many had to make their way to the West Coast to either Seattle or Vancouver and then book a passage on one of the many usually overloaded and marginally seaworthy ships to sail the 1,000 miles up the coast to Skagway.

From there the going became really tough as they had to hike over the mountains by way of the Chilkoot Pass with all their gear, invariably during the winter. Once over the mountains they would camp and wait for the ice to go out of the lakes and rivers using the time to build boats or rafts. Then in late spring they would brave the river rapids and weather, sailing and floating the remaining 500 miles north down the Yukon River until they arrived in the Klondike and Dawson City.

Hughes retraced the steps that the prospectors took on this historic trail. His presentation follows the route from Seattle up the coast of British Columbia and Alaska to Skagway. From there he hiked and backpacked the Chilkoot Trail. This presentation includes not only the spectacular wild scenery of the North West but also historic photographs and accounts of the gold rush hysteria.  

Hughes is a retired engineer who was employed at Goodrich Aerospace in Vergennes and is the author of the award-winning book “Before We Went Wireless.” For additional information on this and other programs in the Bixby Library’s Third Thursday series contact the library at (802) 877-2211. All Third Thursday events are free and open to the public.


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Addison County Independent