Book Review: Outlaws: The Klondike Quest: A Photographic Essay, 1897­1899 (Pierre Berton) : WW

8/12/2001 • Klondike Gold Rush, Outlaws, Wild West Reviews

The Klondike Quest: A Photographic Essay, 1897­1899, by Pierre Berton, Boston Mills Press, Erin, Ontario, Canada (an affiliate of Stoddard Publishing Co.), 1997, $34.95.

One hundred years ago, Klondike fever was the hottest thing going in the North American West. It was on August 16, 1896, that George Carmack and two Indian friends discovered the nugget that led to the fabled gold rush in the Klondike region of Canada’s Yukon (see “Klondike Fever” in the August 1996 Wild West). But the outside world didn’t get the word until midsummer 1897, and the boats didn’t start pouring into Dawson City on the Klondike River until June 1898. By August 1899, Dawson was emptying fast as the men and women rushed for riches farther west–in Nome, Alaska Territory. “But in that brief period,” writes Pierre Berton, who was born in the Yukon, “thousands of men lived a lifetime.” And some women, too. Berton is the author of the widely celebrated Klondike (first published in 1958), and The Klondike Quest is the perfect companion volume. First printed in 1983, The Klondike Quest was republished to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Klondike rush. The story of the stampede is told well but shown even better. There are some 200 photographs nicely displayed. Berton certainly had a lot of photos to choose from. The rush may have been the most photographed event in 19th-century North America.