In 1896, when gold was discovered in the Klondike River, thousands of men quit their jobs, left their families, and headed north. A handful got rich. Most returned empty-handed. Some were never seen again.
Tent towns grew up overnight in Skagway and Dyea, where the men rested and stocked up for their journey inland. Skagway founder William Moore woke up one day to find 10,000 gold hunters camped on his doorstep, each one seeking equipment and supplies to last a year.
Over the fall and winter of 1897-98, more than 100,000 men attempted the arduous 600-mile hike up the White Pass and Chilkoot Trails. Less than a third ever reached Dawson City. Most turned back midway through the rigorous trek.
Many of the hearty souls who actually reached the goldfields also were forced to turn back, because most of the good claims had already been taken.
At Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, you can tour the historic districts of Skagway and Dyea, which date to the gold rush. Hike the 33-mile Chilkoot Trail, forged by Tlingit traders. The view from the Golden Stairs is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.