Women pulling sled loaded with provisions through the muddy streets of Skagway, Alaska in 1898.
Photo courtesy of David Sundman
The fair sex was not exempt from "gold fever" - one out of ten stampeders was a woman. Journalist Annie Hall Strong offered some advice for women headed to the Klondike. Her article, "Hints to Women," first appeared in the December 31, 1897, edition of the Skaguay News and was reprinted in newspapers around the country. She wrote that "women have made up their minds to go to the Klondike, so there is no use trying to discourage them." Speaking for the female stampeders, Strong boasted that "when our fathers, husbands and brothers decided to go, so did we, and our wills are strong and courage unfailing. We will not be drawbacks nor hindrances, and they won't have to return on our account." Strong herself had been one of those who contracted what she termed "acute Klondicitis." She arrived in Skagway in the late summer of 1897.
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."