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H. J. Goetzman worked as a photographer in the Yukon from 1897 until
1904. He traveled to the Yukon via the Chilkoot Trail with his wife and Miss
Edith Goetzman, a relative. Trained as a commercial photographer, Goetzman
recorded the scenery, life and activity of the route to the gold fields through
Alaska and Canada, Dyea, the Chilkoot Trail, White Pass Canyon, Bennett,
Dawson, and the Klondike gold fields. He ran Goetzman's Photographic Studio in
Dawson from 1898 to 1904. At the height of the gold rush he employed seven
In the winter of 1900-1901, Goetzman traveled to Seattle, Portland
and San Francisco. He made the Dawson-Whitehorse leg of the trip, a distance of
329 miles each way, with his own dog team. In January 1901, he released a photo
album with views of Wrangell, Alaska, the White Pass, down the Yukon River to
Dawson, up the gold creeks to Eagle City, Alaska, and on to St. Michael and
Nome. He also published a souvenir booklet in 1901 with 200 views reproduced as
half-tones. In October of 1902, he photographed the upper Yukon River for the
White Pass Company to use as advertising material.
Over the seven years he resided in Dawson, Goetzman moved his studio
to several different locations, beginning in a tent and including the
following: a studio on the second floor of the partially completed Monte Carlo
building on First Avenue in 1900; later in 1900, the Victoria Building on the
southeast corner of First Avenue and Second Street; and in 1903, he moved to
128 Second Avenue South. In 1904, Goetzman sold his studio, negatives, and
photographic supply house to J. Morte and H. Craig and moved to San Francisco.
Many negatives were lost as the result of water damage from a fire in April
The collection contains photographs of the Klondike Gold Rush taken by
H. J. Goetzman or his studio. They include scenes of the journey from Seattle
to Dawson and the gold fields, mining operations, life and events in Dawson,
and other settlements in the Yukon Territory.
In 1896, the Klondike Gold Rush started in the Yukon Territory,
Canada, with the discovery of gold in Bonanza Creek on the Klondike River. In
the summer of 1897, miners arrived in San Francisco and Seattle from Alaska via
two steamers, collectively carrying five thousand pounds of gold from the
Klondike River in the Yukon Territory of Canada. Over the next two years
thousands of prospectors rushed to reach the gold fields.
Though other more dangerous or dead-end routes were advertised by
unscrupulous or ignorant entrepreneurs, ninety percent of the would-be miners
arrived in the Yukon via either the Chilkoot Trail out of Dyea or the White
Pass Trail out of Skagway. The Chilkoot turned out to be the most favorable,
despite the steep rise of 900 feet to the summit in the last half mile. Miners
had to relay a ton of supplies per person over the pass in order to gain
clearance to enter Canada from the Northwest Mounted Police outpost on the
other side. White Pass Trail, while slightly shorter and less steep, soon
turned to a nearly impassable trail under the feet of thousands of men and
horses. The trail became known as the Dead Horse Trail, in reference to the
carcasses of 3000 pack animals that littered the route.
Once they arrived at Lake Bennett, the stampeders built or bought
boats to float down the Yukon River to Dawson. As the first big wave of
prospectors reached Dawson after the thaw in May 1898, most were disappointed
as nearly all of the promising claims had been claimed by locals the year
before. Many sold their outfits and left, but others stayed to work for other
prospectors or in Dawson.
The gold rush transformed Dawson, which was originally a native summer
fishing camp, into the "Paris of the North." The town was staked out by Joe
Ladue and named after George M. Dawson, Director of the Geological Survey of
Canada, who explored the region in 1887. By 1898, Dawson was the largest
Canadian city west of Winnipeg with 40,000 residents. Elaborate hotels,
theaters and dance halls were erected. It also included such amenities as
telephone service, running water and steam heat.
With the news of gold in Nome, Alaska, people started to leave in
large numbers; 8,000 people left Dawson in the summer of 1899 alone. By 1902,
the population was less than 5,000. Eventually, major mining operations took
over most of the Klondike gold fields in the years following the gold rush.
Use of the Collection
Restrictions on Access :
Access to original photographs restricted. Entire collection available
on digital site. Permission of curator required for viewing. Contact Special
Collections for more information.
Glass plate negatives are not available for viewing.
Restrictions on Use :
Reproductions in any form of prints owned by the University of Alaska
must be obtained from the University of Alaska Libraries.
Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication.
Contact the repository for details.
The collection is divided into two parts: 32 photographs (glass plate
negatives and original prints) owned by the University of Washington and copies
of 51 photographs owned by the University of Alaska, included here for
reference purposes only.
Mines, or mine locations, were often named in relation to the
nearest major mine, such as above or below Discovery Mine, or above or below
Bonanza mine. For example, No. 2 Ab (above) Bonanza or No. 5 B (below)
18: View of mining operations at Hester
19: Mining operation at No. 38 Ab, Bonanza
20: Two men crossing a footbridge and a man
pulled by a team of horses
21: Man with dog-sled team pulling sled of
Alex McDonald’s Bonanza Mining
22: Men melting gold dust and casting gold
23: View of mining operation (Goetzman 676)
24: Miners loading carts, No. 2 Ab. Bonanza Creek
25: View of Boulder Hill and surrounding area (Goetzman
26: Miners at Boulder Hill Mine with piles of logs above
mine entrance (Goetzman 243)
27: Miners holding candles accompanied by a dog inside
mine (Goetzman 313)
28: Miners working at gravity tram at No. 3-4 (Goetzman
29: Miners in a mining shaft at No. 9 (Goetzman 337)
"Mining 40 feet under ground."
30: Miner on top of large pile of mining waste dumping
bucket of dirt on pile (Goetzman 1906)
"The largest Dump in the Klondyke at Chute & Wills. No