In August, 1896, gold was discovered in northwestern Canada, in a creek feeding the Klondike River, itself a tributary of the Yukon River. Almost a year later, "68 rich men" stepped off a ship in Seattle with "a ton of gold" from the Klondike region. Thus began the gold rush of 1897-1898. Seattle became the most important staging area for the rush, or stampede, an event commemorated by the Seattle unit of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.
Some 70,000 of the roughly 100,000 "Stampeders" who would start for the gold fields passed through Seattle, buying supplies and frequenting the city's hotels, saloons, and gambling dens while awaiting transportation via ship to the north. Seattle boomed; between July, 1897 and March, 1898 - the peak months of the gold rush - receipts of Seattle merchants totaled $25 million, up from only $325,000 in all of 1896. Seattle was on its way to becoming the leading city of the Pacific Northwest, tripling its population from the time of the gold rush to 240,000 by 1910.
The Seattle unit of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (another unit is in Skagway, Alaska) depicts the colorful Seattle story through exhibits, films, maps, and interpretation by National Park Service Rangers. Located in the city's historic Pioneer Square area, the Park occupies a building that was once a hotel catering to hopeful fortune seekers of the late 1890s.