Here are the facts...
What was it? The last great gold rush
It happened at the height of a recession (the Panic of 1896) that had hit the American economy hard and caused widespread unemployment.
Tens of thousands of people headed north to the Yukon Territory. Who were these folks? Ordinary people ready to risk everything and endure anything. Most had little or no experience mining. Some went just for the adventure.
Many died. Some found gold. Others made fortunes supplying, lodging and entertaining prospectors (i.e. it is easier to take the gold nuggets out of a prospector’s pockets than to dig it out of the earth). Most ended up broke.
Just getting into the interior of the Canadian wilderness to the gold fields was an arduous and risky adventure. The Canadian government required each man have 1 ton of supplies (enough for 1 year) in order to enter Canada. Otherwise the Mounted Police would turn them away at the border crossings (Note: This same policy holds today. The Canadian border agents will not allow you to enter Canada unless you can show that you have sufficient funds/resources to complete your journey). The prospectors had to haul all of their possessions (via backpacks, sled or barge) across the wilderness.
It was every man or woman for themselves…fighting to survive and strike it rich.
Writers and poets like Jack London (Call of the Wild) and Robert Service (The Cremation of Sam McGee) participated in the gold rush, wrote about their experiences, and attempted to capture the rugged spirit of bold gold prospectors and the Yukon Territory’s scenic natural beauty, which they shared with folks in the lower 48 and around the world.
Commercial gold mining is still a big industry in the Yukon Territory