“There’s Gold up there, in them there hills!” An old miner might say, because on today on August 14th Gold was discovered in Canada’s Yukon Territory in 1896, and within the next year more than 30,000 people rushed to the area to look for gold.
George Carmack reportedly spots nuggets of gold in a creek bed. His lucky discovery sparks the last great gold rush in the American West.
It is not clear who discovered the gold: George Carmack or Skookum Jim, but the group agreed to let George Carmack appear as the official discoverer because they feared that mining authorities would be reluctant to recognize a claim made by an Indian.
Who was George Carmack?
George Washington Carmack was a Contra Costa County, California-born prospector in the Yukon. He was originally credited with registering Discovery Claim, the discovery of gold that set off the Klondike Gold Rush on August 16, 1896. Today, historians usually give the credit to his Canadian brother-in-law, Skookum Jim Mason.
Carmack’s mother died when he was 8 years old and his father when he was 11. His great-grandfather was Abraham Blystone. Carmack briefly served in the United States Marine Corps aboard the USS Wachusetts and in Alaska before deserting in California in 1882 when he was refused leave to visit his sick sister.
Carmack returned to Alaska in 1885 to engage in trading, fishing and trapping.
Carmack was not popular with other miners, who nicknamed him “Squaw Man” for his association with native people and “Lyin’ George” for his exaggerated claims. Nevertheless, he did find a coal deposit near what is today the village of Carmacks, Yukon which was named after him.
In August 1896, while fishing with his wife Kate at the mouth of the Klondike River when Skookum Jim, his nephew Dawson Charlie and another nephew found them another prospector Robert Henderson who had been mining gold on the Indian River, just south of the Klondike, suggested that he should try out Rabbit Creek, now Bonanza Creek, where the gold discovery was made.
The finding of gold made him wealthy and the Carmacks moved to a ranch near Modesto, California and lived with Carmack’s sister, Rose Watson.
Yet throughout his life George could not stop looking for gold. He worked several claims in California, on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada’s, and in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle. George was determined to find another mother lode and re-create the exciting moment of discovery he had experienced as a young man on Bonanza Creek. George died at age sixty-two, in 1922, while he was working a new claim. He is interred at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park.
As you explore this weekend on your own, remembering how gold was discovered in Canada today, as I wish a wonderful weekend.
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell