Upon reaching the Yukon River, Nelson and Taylor informed local residents about the Chisana strike. The Dawson City community reacted enthusiastically and by June 6 several parties were already preparing to leave for the diggings. Excitement waned, however, when no other prospectors arrived to confirm the pair's report. 
For their part, Nelson and Taylor required no further inducement. Finishing their business, they returned to Bonanza Creek heavily laden with food and equipment. They also brought several friends, including James and Nelson's former partner, Fred Best. 
The group's arrival was timely, as James and Wales had very nearly exhausted their supplies.
James, Nelson, Wales, Taylor, Best, and their Dawson friends staked most of the property on Bonanza, Big Eldorado, and Little Eldorado Creeks. A rival, however, obtained one of the richer claims. At the time of James's strike, Carl Whitham was also prospecting around the mouth of Bonanza. One of the earliest on the scene, he acquired the second claim on Little Eldorado. 
Little Eldorado Creek was well suited for hand-mining methods, as its gravel was less than six feet thick and one hundred feet wide. Classic "poor man's diggings," such deposits required a minimal expense of equipment and labor to produce paying quantities of gold. 
As was the case in many placer areas, its gold was quite distinctive. Coarse and dark, it possessed a peculiar bronze-like cast, which miners attributed to a slight coating of iron oxide. Most particles were flat, indicating that they had originated in narrow seams, and ranged in value from one to ten cents. Nuggets worth from one to two dollars, however, were common, and larger ones were also occasionally found. One viewed by visiting Canadian geologist DeLorme D. Cairnes, for example, weighed a full eight ounces. 
Billy James and N. P. Nelson began sluicing Little Eldorado No. 1 on July 4, 1913. Assisted by Andy Taylor and former Dawson City bartender Tommy Doyle, the pair recovered nearly two hundred ounces in just two days. By August 2 they had already garnered $9,000, or an average of about $300 per day. 
While less productive than Little Eldorado No. 1, several other claims also yielded significant quantities of gold. Bonanza No. 6, for example, produced some four- and five-dollar pans, and even samples taken from Bonanza No. 3 averaged more than a dollar. 
Needing additional gear, Best returned to Dawson City about the middle of July. While there, he provided the local newspaper with a current description of the strike. Best related that both Bonanza and Little Eldorado were claimed "from end to end," and noted that when he left, stakers were also "planting poles on Coarse Money Gulch, Gold Run, Wilson, and other creeks in the immediate vicinity." 
Best's account electrified the Yukon, Alaska, and eventually much of the Pacific Northwest.  The Cordova Daily Alaskan, for example, proclaimed the strike as "the richest" since the Klondike, provoking defections which virtually emptied the Nizina gold camps and even briefly jeopardized the operation of Kennecott's copper complex. 
The Dawson Daily News confirmed the Cordova newspaper's story, adding that "at Blackburn and McCarthy none who could get away remained, . . . [T]his morning word came from Chitina that more than half the population of the town had left or would leave Monday for the Shushanna." 
Blackburn, McCarthy, and Chitina were not the only local communities affected. The find impacted Cordova as well.  The Daily Alaskan reported that public interest was intense and that scores of residents were preparing to go: "They are only awaiting further details as to the extent of the richness of the strike."  Many must have eventually left, for one witness claimed that after the departure of the northbound train, "you could fire a cannon down the main street . . . and not hit a soul." 
When news of the discovery reached the outside world, it soon elicited a similar response. As in the case of the Klondike find, Seattle was particularly affected.
The liner Northwestern was one of the first to leave for the north. Friends of the departing gold seekers thronged the dock and automobiles lined the pier for more than a block in each direction. The Seattle Times noted the excitement, reporting that the waterfront had not experienced such activity since the Klondike days. 
Vancouver's boosters soon began a campaign to wrest some of the traffic away from Seattle. Their "Progress Club" initiated a "Chisana Day," and offered free maps to all interested stampeders. It also began a subscription drive to pay for advertising Canadian routes and promoting the benefits of local outfitting. By early August, their efforts seemed to have been at least partially successful. Ticket agents reported "a tremendous inquiry" and speculated that "several hundred northerners will leave this city and Victoria before the end of the month." 
Like their counterparts in Vancouver, Whitehorse residents also promoted the Chisana district. They, however, championed their own route into the region.
Fairbanks boosters, of course, disputed the superiority of this Yukon passage. "The [White] River at best is only navigable to the head of the Donjek,"they cautioned, "and that point is 105 miles from the scene of the strike." While they admitted that Dawson City was closer to the strike than Fairbanks, they warned that goods shipped through Canada were subject to customs duty at the border. The Tanana River, in contrast, was an "all-American" route. 
Most interior residents viewed the Tanana as the logical route to the diggings. Healy Lake trader William H. Newton, for example, claimed that from Tanana Crossing to the Chisana the water was "so slack that the wind will blow a boat upstream." Newton warned, however, that swift water between Fairbanks and Tanana Crossing could inhibit travel: "The best way then would be to mush to Tanana Crossing, build a boat there, and pole to the near field." 
W. H. Merritt also believed it would be relatively easy to ascend the Tanana.  Hoping to capture some of the stampeders' business, Merritt tried to establish a trading post on the Chisana River. Although he chartered the 101-ton Dusty Diamond to transport his freight, he failed to get anywhere near the Chisana district. 
Large boats, however, continued trying to reach the goldfield. Most, including the Tana, the Shushana, the White Seal, the Martha Clow, the Florence S., and the Samson, failed to reach even the Nabesna River.  The Northern Navigation Company's steamer Reliance got a little further, attaining the mouth of the Chisana and establishing the townsite of Reliance City.  Only a few smaller craft went up the Chisana River. The Marathon and the Mabel probably ascended the furthest, reaching a spot about six miles below the mouth of Scotty Creek where they founded Gasoline City. 
Prospectors approached the Chisana from every possible direction. Most were poorly equipped and many lacked a clear concept of where they were headed. Consequently, many failed to arrive, and of those who did, few remained for more than a few days. 
The experiences related by Gus Lepart and Tony Grisko were fairly typical of those approaching from the north. According to Lepart, he and Grisko
For those coming from the south, the route up the Chitistone River was fast, but particularly risky. George Hazelet, who traversed it in mid-July 1913, described this so-called "goat trail" as
Ruben Lindblom, who passed that way with his brother Hugo about the same time as Hazelet, recorded another commonly encountered peril:
A government survey party, then employed in locating the international boundary between the United States and Canada, had the opportunity to observe many Chisana stampeders as they crossed Skolai Pass.
On his return to Seattle, survey chief Thomas Riggs, Jr. noted that his party had met one man
Canadian geologist Delorme D. Cairnes, who visited the Chisana district in late July, provided a similar account. He related meeting many stampeders "who had been three weeks on the way, wandering all over the country and living principally on gophers." 
Considering the above descriptions, it is not surprising that approximately a dozen stampeders perished trying to reach the goldfield. Most drowned crossing glacial torrents, but some undoubtedly died from exposure and a few may actually have starved to death. 
Even after reaching the diggings, provisions remained practically unprocurable. According to Ruben Lindblom, one party purchased
Neil Finnesand faced a similar situation. While the district's cheapest food cost $1.00 a pound, rice and sugar fetched $1.25 a cup.
Despite such hardships, several thousand stampeders reached the Chisana district between July and October 1913. Fletcher T. Hamshaw, for example, was one of the earliest arrivals. The well known mineral developer and his sixteen-man crew were prospecting for copper on the upper White River when they first heard news of the strike. An aggressive entrepreneur, Hamshaw used whatever means were necessary to acquire such potentially valuable ground, including employing members of his "former" crew to locate claims. 
Local prospectors objected to the practice, arguing that Hamshaw was attempting to monopolize the area by evading the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. Hamshaw, however, denied any wrongdoing:
Hamshaw initially staked the mouth of Bonanza Creek, but abandoned the site when he failed to locate any productive ground. Moving his outfit down Chathenda Creek, he next tried a bench claim where he was equally unsuccessful. Hamshaw also prospected Chavolda Creek, ground-sluicing near the mouth of Big Eldorado Creek. 
Most of Big Eldorado, however, was already taken. Billy James had located a discovery claim on the upper creek, while W. D. "Dud" McKinney and Anthony McGettigan had selected much of the rest. None of the three, however, actually mined Big Eldorado that first season. Leasing their claims to others, the trio worked more promising property on Bonanza Creek. 
By the middle of July, prospectors had selected virtually all available sites. Those arriving later either turned around at once, staked "wildcats," jumped someone else's claim, or continued into adjoining districts. Even those who obtained a favorable tract usually left immediately, returning later with a sufficiently large outfit to complete their assessments. 
George Hazelet and his two sons were typical late arrivals. Reaching Bonanza Creek on July 30, they found about 175 prospectors and signs of frenzied activity. Stakes were everywhere, not just along the creek but also far up the hillsides.  Hazelet puzzled over how to proceed. Before he had made a decision, however, one of his sons heard about some outlying property that was still available. Setting out late in the evening, the family visited the spot and eventually staked two wildcat claims on Chicken Creek, a tributary of Glacier Creek lying just over the divide from Little Eldorado. 
They began their required assessment work after only a few days' rest. On August 10 they completed a forty-five-foot-long ditch on Chicken No. 4, which Hazelet had located by power-of-attorney for Cordova Judge John Y. Ostrander. Two days later they finished a similar trench on Chicken No. 3. Neither claim, however, ever yielded any gold. 
Ruben Lindblom also located a claim. Reaching Chathenda Creek on July 31, he and a frenchman named Jacques explored the surrounding countryside:
The following day, Lindblom and his associates remained in camp
Disheartened by such reports, on August 2 the group decided to return to McCarthy.
While Lindblom's ground could legitimately be re-staked, recorded claims were supposed to be immune from seizure. Jealous prospectors, however, soon coveted those properties as well.
Predictably, one major dispute focused on James's holdings. On September 23, Dawson residents Hugh Brady and Henry Dubois sued the miner, claiming that an outdated grubstake agreement entitled them to a share of his discovery. Although they obtained an injunction that temporarily halted mining on his claims, the matter was ultimately settled out of court, and most of the property was returned to James. 
Frank Purdy, Fred Best's former partner in the Cassiar Roadhouse, occupied Dan Sutherland's fraction on Big Eldorado Creek and ignored all demands to leave.  Hoping to avoid violence, Sutherland, too, sought his recourse in the courts. A Cordova jury, however, inexplicably awarded the ground to Purdy. Sutherland appealed the decision and eventually prevailed, but it was January 1919 before he finally regained possession. 
Dud McKinney, seemingly less sophisticated than the others, employed a more traditional approach. When a claimjumper tried to take his property, he merely removed the offending party at gun-point. 
Last Updated: 21-Mar-2008