Use the Activities
Putting It All Together
The following activities will help students understand not only how the Klondike Gold Rush affected Seattle, but also how important events may have altered the economic and social fabric of their own community.
Activity 1: Should I Stay, or Should I Go?
Divide students into groups of four and have each member select one of the following characters:
*Veteran miner (sourdough): The sourdough had struck it rich once and although he knows firsthand of the hard work, patience, and luck needed to strike gold, he also knows that he has the know-how to chance a second trip that might bring him more wealth and riches.
*Widow: In a society that limits opportunities available to women, she must decide whether to open a business in Seattle or go north alone.
*Merchant: He will go anywhere to make a profit. He is looking for the location that will give him the greatest return for his money.
*Farmer: A farmer from Iowa has sold his farm so that he, his wife, and two small children can improve their fortunes. While a knowledgeable outdoorsman, he has never mined for gold.
Ask each group member to decide how his or her character would answer the question, "Should I go, or not go to the Klondike gold fields?" Have students list the reasons for their decision and then share their thoughts with the rest of the class. Then poll students to find out how many of them think they would have chosen to go to the Klondike if they had been alive at the time. Complete the activity by having students discuss how people of today might respond to news of a gold strike.
Activity 2: Opportunity Knocks
Working in small groups, have students look through old newspapers and files in their local library or historical society archives to find an event that brought dramatic economic and/or social change to their town or region. Possibilities include the coming of the railroad, the start of a major business or industry, immigration, a major war, or some other event. Students should try to find out how people reacted to the event, as well as how the community's physical appearance changed, if at all. If possible, students may want to interview people who witnessed the event they chose. Finally, have students research whether or not any buildings or monuments related to the event still exist. If so, have them collect or take photographs of the building and describe how it is related to their event. Groups can present their findings in a written or oral report.