|At the height of the gold rush boom, most
of Dawson's population was American-born. For those now living so far from
home, getting to the gold fields may have seemed easy compared to getting
their mail. Both the Canadian and the U.S. government were caught off guard
by the speed and volume of the stampede. During the summer, mail could
be carried by boat along the Yukon from St. Michael's, Alaska, but winter
mail was brought up from Skagway, across the pass and into Dawson by dog
sled. First class mail had the best chance of getting through, especially
during winter months. Everything else was left for summer steamships.
Citizens occasionally hired individual carriers
to carry the mail during the winter, but they were not always reliable.
In April 1898, word reached Dawson that one carrier had used the letters
he was hired to transport to "kindle his camp fires."
For those who remained in the Klondike,
gold fever dimmed, but it never disappeared. In 1899, rumors of a massive
strike on the western Alaskan coast near Cape Nome
flooded Dawson. Thousands picked up and traveled west. Those who missed
their chance in Nome had other opportunities as strikes were made over
the next few years across the Alaskan territory.