Although he didn’t strike it rich prospecting, Hielscher did manage to make a living thanks to the gold rush. Even as his time in Alaska was drawing to a close, Hielscher remained unsure if the time away from his wife and children was really worth the sacrifice.
"it is 12 years this month that I first left home for alaska
did it pay would it have been better
that we never would have heard from this country…"
- John Hielscher, January 15, 1910
Hielscher’s journey is unique, but he was still one of the thousands of people who gave up everything in the hopes that they would find gold in the Klondike. Reading his letters and going through the collections for this project opened my eyes to the different ways that the gold rush influenced the lives of people in the 1890s and beyond. Learning about Hielscher’s experience made me realize the reach of the gold rush for people from all walks of life
There are stories between each line
and when Leah, the boys and I come this winter
and if anyone cares to hear them, I will tell them,
so goodby, will see you this winter.
- John Hielscher, September 1, 1912
The primary information on this page came from examining the objects in the collections firsthand. All of John Hielscher's quotes have been pulled from his letters verbatim. Additional information about the Chilkoot Trail came from Archie Satterfield’s Chilkoot Pass: A Hiker’s Historical Guide to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (Alaska Northwest Books, 1973).
Stories Between Each Line
was created by Kate Rosendale
as the Artist-in-Residence for the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park - Seattle Unit. Thanks to Tarin, Kelsey, Brooke, Julie and everyone at the park and the university for all of their help and support throughout the process!