Over a thousand women crossed over the Chilkoot or White Pass trail between 1896 and 1900. Women went into the Klondike with male relatives and on their own. Some who traveled alone signed on to cook and clean for groups of men in return for help in moving their provisions across the passes and down the Yukon River.
The presence of women along the trails was noted in the letters and diaries of male stampeders. In at least one instance, their presence encouraged one man to continue on. In a letter to his wife, Kitty, Fred Dewey wrote, "It is a big day's work to haul 100 pounds a distance of four miles. There are three women alone on the trail and they are taking their own stuff in. I would be ashamed to back down before difficulties that those women surmount."
These are the stories women whose lives were caught up in the Klondike Gold Rush in very different ways.
Belinda Mulrooney on the Chilkoot Pass courtesy of the Alaska State Library, Winter and Pond, photographers, PCA 87-682
Harriett Pullen courtesy of the Library of Congress
Kate Carmack courtesy of the Yukon Archives
Mary Hitchcock & Edith Van Buren posing aboard ship with their dogs, Queen and Ivan courtesy of Special Collections Division, University of Washington, Hitchcock 1899, 9069
Ethel Berry from of "Two Women on the Klondike," by Mary Hitchcock, 1899