On August 16, 1896, prospectors discovered gold on the banks of Bonanza Creek, in the Klondike region of what is now Yukon Territory, Canada. In just six months, more than 100,000 hopeful Canadians and immigrants tried to reach these lucrative gold fields in what became known as the Klondike Gold Rush.
 
The Klondike was an incredibly difficult area to reach and even more difficult to mine. The region could only be accessed by icy passes through rugged mountains, and the rapids of the Yukon River. The trek to the gold fields was so treacherous that the government of Canada forced all prospective miners to have at least a year’s worth of food and other supplies before entering the region. (These supplies could weigh as much as a ton, forcing prospectors to make many trips to the gold fields and back.) Once in the Klondike, prospectors had to contend with frozen streams and permafrost—making mining nearly impossible.
 
Although gold was abundant and continues to be mined in the region, few prospectors became rich in the Klondike Gold Rush. By the turn of the century, people would dismiss an unpopular idea with the phrase “Oh, go to the Klondike!”
abundant
Adjective

in large amounts.

access
Noun

ability to use.

bank
Noun

a slope of land adjoining a body of water, or a large elevated area of the sea floor.

contend
Verb

to sincerely assert.

discover
Verb

to learn or understand something for the first time.

dismiss
Verb

to reject.

gold
Noun

valuable chemical element with the symbol Au.

gold field
Noun

geographic area where gold is mined.

government
Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

immigrant
Noun

person who moves to a new country or region.

lucrative
Adjective

profitable or money-making.

mine
Verb

to extract minerals from the Earth.

mountain
Noun

landmass that forms as tectonic plates interact with each other.

Noun

gap or break in rugged terrain, such as a mountain ridge.

Noun

permanently frozen layer of the Earth's surface.

prospector
Noun

person who searches or mines land for precious metals.

Noun

areas of fast-flowing water in a river or stream that is making a slight descent.

Noun

any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

rugged
Adjective

having an irregular or jagged surface.

Noun

body of flowing water.

ton
Noun

unit of weight that equals 2,000 pounds.

treacherous
Adjective

very dangerous.

trek
Noun

journey, especially across difficult terrain.

Yukon River
Noun

(3,187 kilometers/1,980 miles) river in western Canada and the U.S. state of Alaska, draining into the Bering Sea.

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