American Elephants


Chilcut Pass, Alaska, 1897 by The Elephant's Child
February 14, 2021, 5:24 pm
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , ,
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Seattle was a city famously built on seven hills. Some of them vanished when the city was built, and some are still around. When it snows, and it doesn’t often, Seattle as a whole seems unable to drive, chaos erupts on the streets and freeways, and the hills become impassible. It has mostly stopped snowing, a little light rain, but we have a good 7-8 inches of snow. The trees are covered, traffic non-existent, and it’s beautiful out. Our groceries, which were to be delivered today will not arrive, though we have been invited to come to the store to get them. (If we could come to the store we wouldn’t have ordered delivery!) We have plenty of food, but a dire shortage of sandwich bread.

It’s undoubtedly the hills that make the Seattle area’s snow such a mess. Too many people unaccustomed to driving in the snow. Seattle, on Puget Sound, was a natural harbor from the stormy Pacific. Populated largely by Indian villages and intrepid Nordic fishermen, it was not much of a city until July of 1897, when two ships steamed into Seattle and San Francisco respectively. laden with Klondike gold.

Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Steward, had purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 for $22 million or about 2 cents an acre, which was promptly disdained as “Seward’s Folly”. We had already had the California Gold Rush when gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, near Sacramento in 1848. That brought some 300,000 people to California.

In July of 1897, Seattle’s Post Intelligencer’s headlines trumpeted “Gold, Gold, Gold! and unleashed a hundred thousand “stampeders” heading for “Seward’s Folly.” Seattle merchants quickly developed packages of the “correct” clothing for Alaska and the “needed equipment” and the gold rush was on. Seattle became the port for ships leaving for the gold fields in the Yukon. After the California gold rush, people were anxious for the chance to make a fortune, and ready to risk everything. Fortunes were made and lost, lives were lost. Here’s a quick story of “The Last Great Gold Rush” from History.com. Fascinating story. Most of us in the lower 48 don’t know all that much about Alaska. But it was that last great gold rush that made Seattle a city.


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