The Nature of Gold: An Environmental History of the Klondike Gold Rush

Overview

In this first environmental history of the gold rush, Kathryn Morse describes how the miners got to the Klondike, the mining technologies they employed, and the complex networks by which they obtained food, clothing, and tools. She looks at the political and economic debates surrounding the valuation of gold and the emerging industrial economy that exploited its extraction in Alaska, and explores the ways in which a web of connections among America's transportation, supply, and marketing industries linked miners ...
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Overview

In this first environmental history of the gold rush, Kathryn Morse describes how the miners got to the Klondike, the mining technologies they employed, and the complex networks by which they obtained food, clothing, and tools. She looks at the political and economic debates surrounding the valuation of gold and the emerging industrial economy that exploited its extraction in Alaska, and explores the ways in which a web of connections among America's transportation, supply, and marketing industries linked miners to other industrial and agricultural laborers across the country. The profound economic and cultural transformations that supported the Alaska-Yukon gold rush ultimately reverberate to modern times.

The story Morse tells is often narrated through the diaries and letters of the miners themselves. The daunting challenges of traveling, working, and surviving in the raw wilderness are illustrated not only by the miners' compelling accounts but by newspaper reports and advertisements. Seattle played a key role as "gateway to the Klondike." A public relations campaign lured potential miners to the West and local businesses seized the opportunity to make large profits while thousands of gold seekers streamed through Seattle.

The drama of the miners' journeys north, their trials along the gold creeks, and their encounters with an extreme climate will appeal not only to scholars of the western environment and of late-19th-century industrialism, but to readers interested in reliving the vivid adventure of the West's last great gold rush.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Morse (history, Middlebury Coll.) uses the diaries and letters of the miners themselves to offer an environmental perspective on the Klondike Gold Rush. The politics and society of the 1890s, a period Mark Twain called the Gilded Age, defined the value of gold. As a result, the industrial world's emphasis on money and speed influenced how the miners, linked to this world by transportation and supply systems, worked in the Klondike. While the miners had to deal with a harsh, cold environment, their mining activities in turn affected their surroundings, destroying forests, riparian zones, and water supplies. As evidenced by the gold rush, Morse argues successfully that the relationship between nature and humanity is complicated, not just a story of humankind's control of nature. Recommended for libraries with environmental and Western history collections.-Patricia Ann Owens, Wabash Valley Coll., Mt. Carmel, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780295983295
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2003
  • Series: Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books
  • Pages: 290
  • Sales rank: 1,242,523
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction: On the Chilkoot 3
1 The Culture of Gold 16
2 The Nature of the Journey 40
3 The Culture of the Journey 67
4 The Nature of Gold Mining 89
5 The Culture of Gold Mining 115
6 The Nature & Culture of Food 138
7 The Nature & Culture of Seattle 116
Conclusion: Nature, Culture, and Value 191
Notes 203
Selected Bibliography 255
Index 275
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