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Determining the Facts


Document 1: "Special Klondike Edition,"
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 13, 1897.

[Graphic] Document 1 with link to higher quality document.
(Reprinted with permission, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Transcript of article on left side of front page:

All Big Steamboat Lines but One
Have Headquarters in This City.
THAT ALONE TELLS SEATTLES STORY.
How the Rush Trade of 1897 Was Handled
by the Merchants of the Gateway City.
SEATTLE AS SEEN BY TRAVELERS
FROM THE EAST

Seattle is the best point in the world in which to secure an outfit for Alaska or the Klondike country. It is not a mushroom, milk-and-water town with only crude frontier ways: not a bit of it: it is a city of from 65,000 to 70,000 population, with big brick and stone business blocks and mercantile establishments that would be a credit to Chicago, New York, or Boston: it has paved streets, an unrivaled system of street cars--electric and cable--electric lights, several transcontinental railroads and a harbor unequaled in America.

Look at the map. Get the location of Seattle firmly fixed in your mind's eye. Seattle is the natural point for Alaskan travelers to reach. It is the terminal point for three great transcontinental lines: The Northern Pacific, Great Northern and Canadian Pacific, the latter being through the Seattle & International railroad. It connects indirectly with the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, the Denver & Rio Grande, the Southern Pacific, the Union Pacific and all other railroads operating the United States or Canada. In fact if you are coming West en route to the Klondike, go to your railroad, ask for a through ticket to Seattle, and the railroads will do the rest--they will land you in the Gateway City, safe and sound, in just a few days. But why should you come to Seattle?

THESE ARE THE REASONS
*Seattle is the greatest city on Puget Sound, commercially, numerically and socially.
*Seattle is headquarters for nine out of ten of all steamboat companies going to Alaska or the Klondike.
*Seattle has taken care of the Alaska trade for years, has absorbed it from greater cities, and her merchants are educated to the real needs of the miner.
*Seattle merchants are honest, as proven during the big rush of this year, and carry the greatest variety of Klondike goods found anywhere.
*Seattle is the natural gateway to the Klondike, over 8,000 Klondike miners and prospectors having left this city for the Northwest gold fields in Seattle steamboats during 1897, nearly all of whom bought their outfits here and expended thereby $2,500,000.
*Further--You should come to Seattle because it will pay to do so.

Jealous of Seattle's greatness and of the fact that this city has become the starting point for Alaska and the Klondike, rival cities will attempt to deceive you. As you come West you will be supplied with misleading and often untrue printed matter announcing that some other city sells goods cheaper, has larger stocks, that Seattle is overcrowded and so forth. Heed it not. The Post-Intelligencer stakes its reputation with the American public when it says: "Come to Seattle; you will be well satisfied with your [unreadable] and treatment, have no trouble in getting your supplies and save money besides."

Transcript of article on right side of front page:

Thousands Coming to the Gateway
to Prepare for the Spring Trip.
ADVICE TO PROSPECTORS GOING NORTH
Why Seattle Merchants Are Better Equipped for Handling the Trade Than Any Others.
SOMETHING OF OUR COMMERCIAL IMPORTANCE

It has been estimated that from 10,000 to 20,000 persons, who desire to go to Alaska next spring, will spend the winter in Seattle; already fully 5000 are here. Their idea is to reside in Seattle during the winter, thus enabling them to meet men experienced in Alaska mining, who make their headquarters in Seattle, and gain knowledge by personal association: to get posted on the different sections of the Arctic region, and to become familiar with the locality offering the greatest possible chances for new discoveries: learn all about routes, the necessary outfit and above all to be on hand ready at any moment to take advantage of the earliest opportunity in February or March to start for the North. Thus, they meet...get acquainted with opportunities, have ample time to secure a perfect outfit when there are no unusual crowds, and by being in advance of the great rush when spring opens are enabled to get into Alaska or the Klondike cheaply and quickly and with well-informed ideas of what they desire to do and exactly where to go when they get there.

The Post-Intelligencer would therefore offer this advice to prospective Klondike miners:

1. As soon as you have made your financial arrangements--if you can possibly afford it--come to Seattle, whether it be October, November, December or January. The expenses of living here are naught as compared with the advantages to be derived.

2. Do not purchase your outfit until after you reach Seattle. If you are in doubt as to the best place in which to outfit before you arrive, depend upon it your mind will be at ease on that point after you have been living here for a few days and have compared Seattle goods, Seattle markets and Seattle prices with those of other cities.

3. As near as possible complete all of your financial arrangements before coming to the [Puget] Sound. Have your funds properly deposited subject to your order, either in your home bank or in a bank in Seattle. Do not go into the gold fields without enough money for use in case of necessity.

4. While in Seattle you can suit your own convenience about a place of residence. You can live at hotels...or you can secure rooms by the month with board or without. There are numerous good restaurants of all grades in the city and any number of good boarding houses. The expense of hotels is 50 cents to $1.50 for rooms alone, and hotels board from $1.00 to $3.50 per day. Good single rooms can be secured in lodging houses from $5 a month and up. A really comfortable room in the business district can be secured for $10 a month and upwards. Board is as cheap here as in any city in the west.

5. Do not wait until the last moment before purchasing your outfit. Get it in part or complete as soon after your arrival in Seattle as you have determined that what you wish....You will find that goods going into Alaska need special packing in order to protect them from rain or frost, and that Seattle merchants, by reason of their long experience in shipping outfits to Alaska, can give you an expert service in this regard that you can get nowhere else.

6. By remaining in Seattle several weeks you will find time to see the different steamships running to Alaska, as they make Seattle their headquarters, and thus determine what accommodations you desire and which vessel would satisfy you in regard to sailing date and destination.

7. The goods suitable to be shipped to the Klondike can only be secured in cities accustomed to the Arctic trade. All of Seattle's Klondike goods are manufactured especially for that trade, even her meats being especially cured and her butter packed particularly for that climate. You can find heavy woolen goods in the East; but you can only find Klondike goods in Seattle, where the trade has learned the needs of the Arctic residents. Besides, if you buy in the East, the freight alone to the Pacific will be nearly as much as the outfit here.

Questions for Document 1

1. Describe the sketch on the front page and explain how it fits in with the headline.

2. What aspect of Seattle does the first article seem to stress the most? Why?

3. What does the second article claim would be the benefits of wintering in Seattle? Why else might the article encourage prospectors to come to Seattle months before they might be able to leave for the gold fields?

4. Do you think the articles represent straight news or boosterism? Explain your answer.

5. What are your impressions of Seattle based on the Post-Intelligencer special edition?

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