Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
History and museums
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is a United States National Historical Park commemorating the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1890s. The gold rush was in the Yukon Territory, and this park comprises staging areas for the trek there, and routes leading in its direction. The park consists of four units: three in the Municipality of Skagway Borough, Alaska and a fourth in the Pioneer Square National Historic District in Seattle, Washington.
The story of the Klondike Gold Rush can only be appreciated by looking on both sides of the Canada–United States border. National historic sites in Whitehorse and Dawson City, Yukon, as well as in British Columbia, complete the story. In 1998, Klondike Gold Rush NHP joined with Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site, Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site, and other Parks Canada sites to form the Klondike Gold Rush International Historical Park.
The Skagway unit protects much of downtown Skagway including 15 restored historic buildings. The visitor center in Skagway is located in the historic White Pass and Yukon Route railroad depot building at 2nd and Broadway.
From the visitor center, visitors to the park can experience the history of Skagway and the gold rush by participating in ranger led walking tours or by watching the park movie.
The park also preserves portions of the White Pass Trail and the Chilkoot Trail, which leaves from the historic townsite of Dyea, Alaska and runs to Bennett Lake, from which prospectors could raft to Dawson City, Yukon.
The historic townsite of Dyea is also part of the historical park. The trail center in Skagway is operated by both the National Park Service and Parks Canada and has information regarding current traveling conditions along the Chilkoot Trail. A permit is required to hike the 33-mile historic trail.
An integral part of the park is the Visitor's Center in Seattle, Washington, in the Pioneer Square National Historic District. It functions as an interpretive center and museum, and also has information on how to visit the Skagway unit of the park. It opened June 2, 1979, and was located in the Union Trust Annex (built 1902), across Main Street from Occidental Park.
The Seattle unit is now located in an 1889 building, the Cadillac Hotel at 319 Second Avenue South. The Cadillac Hotel building was a major point of outfitting and departure during the gold rush stampede. Severely damaged in the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, it was rehabilitated 2004–2005 as home to the Seattle Unit of the park, and was opened and dedicated 26 June 2006. The National Park Travelers Club held its 2014 convention at Klondike Gold Rush.
In 1969, the US and Canadian governments jointly declared their intention to make Chilkoot Trail a component of a Klondike Gold Rush International Historic Park. The US portion was eventually established in 1976 as part of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.
The Canadian portion of the trail became Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site, one of several sites in the national park system associated with the Klondike. But it wasn't until the centennial of the gold rush, in 1998, that the dream of an international park was realized, when Klondike Gold Rush NHP and Chilkoot Trail NHS joined to form Klondike Gold Rush International Historical Park. Their previous legal names were retained, while the new name reflected co-operative management between the two park services, and the formalization of relations which had in fact been going on for years.
Beyond this, the International Historical Park includes Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site, in Dawson City, Yukon, which includes some 16 significant buildings. In addition, "The Thirty Mile" section of the Yukon River, a national heritage river from Lake Laberge to the Teslin River, is a unit of the international park.