Wednesday, November 13, 2013


By Paty Jager

Caroline, thank you for having me on you blog during my tour.

As was the case in most gold rushes, the entrepreneurs who followed the thousands who rushed to get claims in the gold fields were the ones who walked away with money in their pockets. In the case of the Klondike rushes, there was more money to be made providing warm beds and meals along the nearly 600 miles from Skagway and Dyea to Dawson City and the 1300 miles from Dawson to St. Michael, on the eastern shore of Alaska.

From Dyea and Skagway going over Chillkoot and White Pass to Lakes Lindemann and Bennett there were small communities set up every twenty miles. The need for the stops every twenty miles had to do with the fact the men and women who came to seek their gold usually had barely enough money to get the provisions required by the Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) to enter the Yukon and couldn’t afford to hire a packer or purchase a horse to haul their goods. The NWMP required each person to have 1,000 to 1,200 pounds of provisions to cross the summits and enter into the Yukon. Most men were only able to carry fifty to one-hundred pounds at a time on their backs. This meant making, if they could carry one hundred pounds, ten trips on each twenty mile stretch. They would get up in the morning, pack their first one hundred pounds to the next stop, cache it with someone, then go back and get the next one as many times as it took to get all their provisions to the next stop.

Having to move back and forth so much made getting over the summit and down to the lakes a long process. Add to that, getting to the summit meant hiking from sea level at Dyea to the 3,500 summit at Chilkoot in fifteen miles. Chilkoot had stairs cut in the frozen snow the last 1500 feet. Skagway to the White Pass summit was 40 miles with not such a drastic climb but more harrowing conditions. White Pass had narrow rock ledges for the trail, deep crevices and switchback trails only wide enough for one man to pass, making the  hikers heading back down the trail have to find alternate routes.

The two trails had their advantages and disadvantages. But the one thing they both had were tent cities where a weary traveler could pay a $1 for a bunk where they could throw down their own bedding or use the same bedding thousands of other travelers used. A dollar also got them a hot meal. It wouldn’t be more than beans, soda bread, canned fruit, and possibly fresh game, but it was better than the hardtack and jerky they used for fuel while climbing.

The tent cities also had saloons, gambling tents, and even a tent or two of soiled doves. Thieves and swindlers lived in the cities preying on the gullible. Most of the gold seekers were men and women who had scraped together their money and sometimes even a town would go together and send several men to find gold to help. Even office workers caught gold fever and headed to the Klondike. All these naïve travelers made excellent marks for the people in the tent cities too lazy to pan for gold but willing to use knavery to get it from others.

Prices on the Skagway and Dyea side of the summits were double what a person paid in the lower forty-eight and on the Yukon side, they doubled the Skagway and Dyea prices. If the eager prospectors were smart they purchased their supplies in Seattle and San Francisco before heading by ship to Skagway and St. Michael.

A year’s outfit for one man purchased at the Alaska Commercial Company in Dawson in 1897 cost $550.25. This included food and clothing needed to stay alive.

In my newest release, LAYING CLAIM, Clara Bixbee arrives in Skagway, believing she can easily find a packer or guide to take her over Chilkoot Pass. She soon learns the journey may be more than she’d expected.


Jeremy Duncan commits to haul one last load of supplies across the great interior of the Yukon before heading home. But, he has to trade his pack animals for sled dogs and leave Skagway in the middle of a blizzard due to one strong-willed, business-minded beauty.

Determined to find her older brother, Clara Bixbee doesn't care how she gets across the pass, as long as she does, and soon. Hiring handsome pack guide Jeremy Duncan seems to be her best choice. Especially after she saves a young girl being beaten by the local gang leader and needs to escape Skagway fast.


Someone roughly shook Clara. She shoved her arms out of her sleeping bag and opened her eyes. The lanterns were glowing, backlighting the dark, furry head so close she could smell his sour breath.
“Get away from me!” she said loudly. Where is Jeremy? She shot a glance to the floor. His sleeping bag was empty.
“What have you done with Jeremy?” She sat up, forcing the body looming over her to have to back up.
“We decided you ain’t goin’ with him.”
She stared at the man in front of her. It was one of the first men they’d been introduced to. And one of the men who’d made her nervous the way he stared at her.
“You have no say over what I can and can’t do.” Inside her body quivered and her stomach squeezed with fear. Outside, she scowled and clenched her fists. Working at the warehouse, she’d learned to be strong on the outside no matter what she felt on the inside. Men always thought they could bully her.
Clara dropped her arm over the side of the cot and groped the floor for something to use as a weapon. Her trusty umbrella was packed in one of the sleds.
“It ain’t right for a young thing like you to be goin’ into the wilderness. You could get ate by a bear or worse.” The man nodded his head.
Several voices behind him agreed. She looked beyond the man in her space and spotted four more. Panic clamped her jaw shut. Jeremy, where are you?
Her hand found something long, round, and cold. She grasped it and pulled Jeremy’s rifle onto her lap. Before the man could move to take it from her, she swung the business end toward him.
“Back off!” She glared at all of them. “All of you. Get back.”
They all backed up, apologizing and glaring at the back of the man she held the rifle on.
“Where is Jeremy? Did you do something to him?” She quickly scanned the room. “Where’s Snooker Pete?” She clicked the pointy thing on the top of the rifle just like she’d watched Jeremy do when he prepared to shoot a rabbit on the trail.
“Don’t go shooting me. They’re both fine.” The bearded man’s eyes moved in his head like bubbles in a pot of boiling water.
Clara nodded to the others. “Bring Pete and Jeremy here, or in five minutes I’m going to shoot this man in the foot.” She let the end of the barrel drop enough to see the man’s big boot.
They others scattered out of the tent, leaving her with the rifle aimed at the man’s foot.
“There’s no reason to be so ornery,” the man said, his voice shaking.
“There was no reason for you to meddle in my life. That’s one thing I don’t take kindly to— men meddling in my affairs.” She glared at the man and hoped Jeremy arrived soon. She didn’t know how to keep the gun from firing.


Paty Jager, Author

With sixteen published books, three novellas, and an anthology, award-winning author, Paty Jager is never at a loss for story ideas and characters in her head. Her rural life in central and eastern Oregon, and interests in local history and the world around her, keeps the mystery and romance ideas flowing. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it. 

You can learn more about Paty at her blog;  her website; or on Facebook;!/paty.jager and twitter;  @patyjag.


This post is part of a week-long blog tour. I love to give and you could be the winner! I will be giving away an e-copy of my Christmas novella, Christmas Redemption, to one commenter at each blog stop where there are at least ten comments. You can find the blog tour hosts at my blog: or my website:

Thanks for stopping by!


Caroline Clemmons said...

Paty, welcome to the blog. I like the new photo which shows your nice smile. Interesting post, too. Best wishes for great sales with the new book.

Paty Jager said...

Caroline, Thank you for having me here during my blog tour!

Melissa Keir said...

It's amazing that men and women actually made the trip with all the things working against them. Very brave souls indeed.

daringzoey at

Paty Jager said...

Melissa, I agree! There was so much danger and unknown, it is remarkable anyone came back with gold and alive.

Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

Wow! And I thought moving to a self-sufficient farm was going to be challenging. That's nothing compared to what these men and women faced! Another great excerpt too. :)

Paty Jager said...

Genene, You're too funny! Thanks!

Susan Horsnell said...

Stronger men and women than me. I have the utmost admiration for people who can endure and grow from adversity like this. Great post, Paty

Paty Jager said...

That's so true, Susan. The people who not only moved westward but went north seeking gold, were tenacious and strong-willed. They had to be to survive. Thank you for stopping in.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Paty,
Great blog, very interesting. We had gold rushes here in Australia, and usually the storekeepers, inn keepers etc. made more money than the miners.



Paty Jager said...

Hi Margaret! I think that was the norm for any gold rush. the Merchants made the money. Thank you for stopping in!