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Cole, T.M., 1983

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Bibliographic Reference

Cole, T.M., 1983, A history of the Nome gold rush: The poor man's paradise: University of Washington, Seattle, Ph.D. dissertation, 267 p.

Abstract

News that gold had been found on the Klondike in 1896 touched off a massive movement of gold hunters who spread throughout the north to search for strikes of their own. One prospecting party found gold in 1898 on the Seward Peninsula in the Council City District, about one thousand miles west of the Klondike. This strike attracted hundreds of prospectors to the area, and in the fall of 1898 a far richer strike was made by Jafet Lindeberg, Eric Lindblom, and John Brynteson, near a place called Cape Nome. Besides the 'three lucky Swedes,' many other Scandinavians were among the first locators in the Nome region, a fact which caused resentment among the Council City miners, who thought that the 'Swedes' were aliens and had no rights to stake claims. The U.S. Army troops stationed in Northwest Alaska did their best to keep the peace and to preserve the rights of the original locators, while a claim jumping mania swept across the region. This was the situation which Alexander McKenzie exploited, when the corrupt District court arrived in Nome the following year. In 1899 a crisis was avoided when rich pockets of gold were discovered in the sands of the beach, where any poor man with a shovel could dig out a fortune. The 'golden sands' sparked a rush in 1900 nearly equal to that of the Klondike. About 20,000 people landed on the beach in the early summer of 1900. The makeshift 'consent' government of the city of Nome could not provide adequate sanitation or other essential services, and the U.S. Army assumed control of the town. The ease with which a 'Nomer' could get to the new El Dorado lured many ill-equipped people to Nome, who were soon absolutely destitute. Hundreds of men had to be rescued by the U.S. Army in the fall of 1900, and the population of Nome disappeared as rapidly in September 1900, as it had appeared three months before.

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