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Comments (12) Posted 06.09.13 | PERMALINK | PRINT

John Foster

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album


This photo album, which is being featured by Heritage Auctions in Dallas, TX for their June 22 and 23, 2013 “Legends of the Wild West Signature Auction,” is purported to be the finest documentary photo album of Yukon (or Klondike) Gold Rush photographic images that the auction house has ever had. That’s impressive, and worthy of a closer look. Between the years of 1896 and 1899, over 100,000 prospectors flooded the region in what many then called “the Last Great Gold Rush.” Books and movies have told of the mass hysteria that hit the region during that time. Writer Jack London (1876 - 1916) was there, whose Yukon experiences inspired his two books Call of the Wild and White Fang. By the time it was all over, very few struck it rich, with only about 4,000 prospectors finding any gold at all. The photographs show well the haves, and the have-nots. That’s the way it was during the gold rush. If you struck it rich, you bought more land and had others work the claim for you.

If you look at the faces, which I have given you as close ups, you will see that life in the Yukon was grim. It took the best a man or woman could be to survive, and then some. Faces, for the most part, showed confidence and resilience, an occasional half-smile if you look closely. From time-to-time, you will see that there were moments of humanity — the camaraderie of friends, a restaurant for hot food, a festival with elks. 

The album belonged to a Patterson Billups, who moved from Seattle to the Klondike in May 1898 to work as a surveyor on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad. He remained in the area until 1910, working as a surveyor for several mining companies.

The leather album features 40 large-format 9.5" x 7.5" photos, featuring just one per page. It includes images by various well-known Alaska photographers of the day, including Walter Strand, Draper & Co., Frank Nowell, and Case & Draper.

All images courtesy and © the Consigner and Heritage Auctions.


Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album

Alaska Yukon Gold Rush Era Photo Album
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Comments (12)   |   JUMP TO MOST RECENT COMMENT >>

The photos of the military men and civilians sitting on porch steps were taken in 1907 when the US Army was called in from Chilkoot Barracks at Haines to "control" a miner's strike at the Treadwell Mine complex on Douglas Island. It was a peaceable strike - the miners stopped working until the company would guarantee that the remains of all miners killed on the job would receive a decent burial and an attempt be made to notify their next of kin. Many of the miners were from Europe so this would not be a cheap or easy thing for the company to accomplish.

However, after a couple of weeks the company decided to grant the miner's wishes (idle miners make the company no money). This was called the "Burial Strike."

The photo above and the photo below the military ones are both of Juneau. Nice photos but beyond my budget.

06.09.13 at 02:36

Special collections

06.09.13 at 06:30

a large selection of representative images

06.09.13 at 06:32

this album should really be inspected in person to be fully appreciated. Goog job

06.09.13 at 07:04

this documentary photo is fantastic and a joy to watch

06.09.13 at 07:07

These photos are exceptional both in their subject matter and their artistry

06.09.13 at 07:09

This documentary photo adequately gives the idea of a great adventure

06.09.13 at 07:11

these photos are great enough that it adequately gives a great idea. I found it more than adequate and honest as well as lively

06.09.13 at 07:14

watching these photos are worth,and evidently there were many interesting stories

06.09.13 at 07:17

a unique photo album and a deep love for Yukon that rings loud in this album. A treasure

06.09.13 at 07:18

That’s impressive

06.09.13 at 07:23

Hard time for the miners? What was stripped was the land from the native Alaskans and their way of life, though that started long before this. Land bought and sold though it was ill-gotten gains.

06.13.13 at 07:49


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Foster and his wife, Teenuh, have been longtime collectors of self-taught art and vernacular photography. Their collection of anonymous, found snapshots has toured the country for five years and has been featured in Harper’s, Newsweek Online and others.
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