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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

Gold Fever and Disaster in the Great Klondike Stampede of 1897-98.

00:00 40:29
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In 1897, the United States was mired in the worst economic depression that the country had yet endured. When newspapers announced that gold was to be found in wildly enriching quantities at the Klondike River region of the Yukon, a mob of economically desperate Americans swarmed north.

Within weeks, tens of thousands of them were embarking towards some of the harshest terrain on the planet, in the middle of winter, woefully unprepared and with no experience at all in mining or mountaineering. It was a mass delusion that quickly proved deadly: avalanches, shipwrecks, starvation, murder.

Today’s guest is Brian Castner, author of STAMPEDE: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike. We discuss a number of characters who joined the Gold Rush, including Jack London, who would make his fortune but not in gold; Colonel Samuel Steele, who tried to save the stampeders from themselves; the notorious gangster Soapy Smith; goodtime girls; Skookum Jim; and the hotel entrepreneur Belinda Mulrooney. The unvarnished tale of this mass migration is always striking, revealing the amazing truth of what people will do for a chance to be rich.
May 06, 2021
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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