Going to Klondyke: An Amusing and Instructive Game


The Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 was one of the largest gold frenzies in history. Tens of thousands of prospectors from around the world streamed north to Alaska and the Yukon in a feverish search for fortune. This game, “Going to Klondyke,” was created in 1897 on the basis of news reports about the large initial gold strikes in the Yukon and in anticipation of the coming rush. The game was highlighted in the New York Journal on December 12, 1897. It was produced by the Klondyke Game Company of San Francisco, possibly for sale to the many prospectors who would pass through the port of San Francisco on their way to Alaska and the Yukon. The game tapped into the many myths surrounding the gold rush as well as the political realities in the Far North. The area of the game map covered parts of three countries: the Yukon in Canada (listed here as British Northwest Territories, as the Yukon Territory was established only in 1898, largely as a consequence of the Klondike Gold Rush), the U.S. territory of  Alaska, and Russian Siberia. The rules of the game were simple and are highlighted in a box below the map. Players were to be blindfolded, turned around a few times, and then directed to place a pin on the map. If they struck a gold nugget or landed within a “claim” circle in the United States (Alaska), they could win the full amount listed on the nugget or within the circle. If they did this in Canada, a 20 percent portion had to be taken out of the player’s winnings, presumably to cover higher Canadian taxes. If their pin landed in Siberia, players lost everything to the government, as the Russian state presumably took all the proceeds of mineral discoveries there. The bulls-eye of the map was Dawson City, near the major gold strike along the Klondike River in the Yukon, from which all the circles on the map emanated. The game map also highlights cities, rivers, mountain ranges, bodies of water, and contains scattered images of prospectors, Eskimos, caribou, bears, seals, penguins (mistakenly), and forests.

Last updated: January 27, 2016