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On the Banks of the Yukon Far Away

by Johanna M. Blume, Eiteljorg assistant curator | May 11, 2015


On my log cabin home beside the Yukon / Old aurora throws her bright and brilliant ray. / Thro’ her beams I see the snow clad mountains gleaming, / On the banks of the Yukon far away.

—Lyrics from On the Banks of the Yukon Far Away, 1910, words and music by Martin T. Chester

To Klondyke we’ve paid our fare / Our golden slippers we soon will wear / We’ll live on pig and polar bear /  And gather the nuggets we know are there.

—Lyrics from To Klondyke We’ve Paid Our Fare, 1897, words and music by H. J. Dunham

The allure of gold has captured the imagination of dreamers and adventurers throughout time. Gold rushes like the Klondike not only drew prospectors and speculators to the goldfields, they also inspired many creative works that influenced popular culture at the time, including novels, plays, songs, and even board games. Some of these works were created by people with firsthand knowledge of the gold rush, others by people who had never set foot in the Klondike region. The gold fields of the Far North figured prominently in the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, the 1909 World’s Fair held in Seattle, Washington. These creative endeavors allowed people from all over the world to vicariously experience the excitement and adventure of life in the Klondike.
Klondike March of the Gold MinersThe Chilkoot March
 











Sheet Music Covers
Loan courtesy of Greg and Petra Martin.

The Klondike Gold Rush inspired many composers. Alfred Roncovieri, who wrote The Chilkoot March, actually spent time in the Klondike gold camps.

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_MG_6022

The Klondike Game, 1896–1902
Parker Bros.
Loan courtesy of the University of Alaska Museum of the North
Photography by Hadley Fruits

The famous game company Parker Brothers created and marketed this board game during the peak years of the Yukon-Klondike gold rush. The game play mimicked the actual journey to and from Dawson City, and the player who collected the most gold nuggets by the end of the game won.

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