Sunday, February 22, 2015

Gold Rush Museum

Yesterday was the Lunar New Year Celebration in Seattle's International District. It felt more like a spring fair, with temps in the 50's and beautiful clear skies. Once the festivities started to wind down and we found ourselves full of dumplings, a friend and I decided to stroll towards Pioneer Square in search of a refreshing beverage.

On our quest for a watering hole, we noticed a window with a stack of gold ingots and a large, sepia-toned photo of some gigantic sled dogs. We were surprised to discover a National Historic Park right here in Seattle- dedicated to the Klondike Gold Rush.

This little museum was free to explore and full of artifacts and informative displays relating to old-time Seattle and the brave souls who ventured north to the Yukon and surrounding areas in search of gold. The museum is presently located in the historic Cadillac Hotel, which has it own haunted history. There are park rangers on duty to answer questions, and they do activities with kids during the day as well. There are many interactive features within the displays that are meant to reconstruct the lifestyle on the trail to Alaska.

Perusing the sundries
A sepia "sougherdough" prospector 
A nugget of knowledge!

There was no singular feature as a "big draw" at this museum (the ingots were fake, upon closer inspection) but the photos, artifacts, and text displays explored many connections between the gold rush economy and today's Seattle. The founder of Nordstrom financed his first shoe store with his gold rush gains. One of my favorite Seattle clothing companies, Filson, was established as a rugged outfitter for the prospectors on their way north. Picture a person today, buying a suit at Nordstrom and a briefcase at Filson to take to work at Boeing, Microsoft, or Amazon, and not even realizing the connection to the past, as I almost didn't notice this great little museum on the way to a bar.

There is no doubt that Seattle is currently experiencing a population boom, but this is certainly not the first time. Between 1890 and 1900, the population of Seattle doubled to around 80,000. Between 2012 and 2013, the population increased 2.8%, to about 652,000. Things change, but then again, things stay the same.


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