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A Day in the Life of a Gold Rush Prospector Visiting a Seattle Museum

Learning about the history of a town doesn’t always appeal to the residents or even visitors.  However, when you have an interesting history paired with a unique museum it is easy to have fun while learning.  Take the time to visit the Seattle division of the Klondike Gold Rush museum. It is an interactive experience that is completely different than a typical museum visit.

A Little History

Seattle was once used as the fueling depot for those that were trying to get to Canada, specifically Yukon.  During the gold rush, prospectors were flocking to be a part of that moment in history. Seattle was in a perfect spot to help them on their way as they traveled.

 

While the history is interesting the museum presents it in a way that is very captivating.  This can help bring the stories to life and really get the imagination going on what life was like during this time in the 1890s.  The museum helps visitors follow the lives of five people who became Klondike prospectors.

 

Their stories build the foundation for the rest of the museum’s exhibits showing how life was and what problems they encountered during this time.  These stories are presented with interactive exhibits what even have sound effects. Making it feel much more realistic and interesting to experience compared to reading a simple historical fact about a time period.  

 

During the gold rush, more than one hundred thousand people tried to get to the Klondike River where they had a chance to find gold.  Barely thirty thousand people actually make it to the Yukon Territory.

The First Park

The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park started in 1976.  The Seattle division was not opened until three years later in 1979.  After opening the first Seattle division park revisions were made and the building was moved.  However, it has always been located in Pioneer Square.

 

This park is interesting because it extended toward Alaska where there is another park located.  Over eight-hundred thousand people visit the Gold Rush National Historical Park each year where under one-hundred thousand are visiting the Seattle division.  

 

Seattle was home to many people making a living off support the prospectors trying to get to Alaska.  They needed a way to get horses, other modes of transportation, and many supplies to last the long trek.  The number of supplies recommended for someone to survive this trip was a literal ton.

 

A person would need around four hundred pounds of flours, at least one-hundred and fifty pounds of bacon, over one hundred pounds of beans, at least seventy-five pounds of dried fruit, and twenty-five pounds of sugar, potatoes, and oats.  Many opted to get a whopping ten pounds of coffee, as well.

 

Now the park is open to visitors that want to learn more about the cities history with the Gold Rush.  Many people travel to the park to visit the interactive museum. Cruise ships often make a stop to allow passengers to visit the park as they travel to Skagway and further.  

Cadillac Hotel

The Cadillac Hotel is the home to the Seattle division historic building.  This building was once a hotel that could have housed the many prospectors that were traveling to find gold.  It allowed them a place to rest while they made their necessary purchases and arrangements to being traveling again.

 

The town had to rebuild after what was known as the Great Seattle Fire.  The Cadillac Hotel was one of the first buildings rebuilt after the fire devastated the town.  Once again the building took a lot of damage in an earthquake in 2001. Although it was able to be rebuilt to be the visitor center in 2006.

 

Planning a Visit

Unlike some destinations that pull in many visitors a year, there is no need to spend multiple days at the museum.  The museum is able to showcase a lot of information in a short amount of time to allow for a pleasant afternoon of learning without dragging out the experience.  Many people spend about an hour exploring the museum and watching the films that are available.

 

For those that like to spend more time learning there are two floors of exhibits to visit.  There are even junior ranger programs to help children learn more about the cities history. Some may even want to participate in the walking tour that is held in Pioneer Square.  Many people like to come during the summer months when there are gold panning events.

 

As visitors approach the museum they will see a sculpture of eighty gold bars sitting in the front entry.  These gold bars represent what one ton of gold would look like. While many visitors question if the gold is real, it is not.  That large of an amount of gold would be worth almost forty-million dollars. While beautiful to look at, that would be a little too pricey to be sitting in the entryway of a museum.  

Free Visit

One of the best aspects of this park is that it is free.  There is no entrance fee so anyone and everyone can come to visit at any time that the park is open.  Those that work in the park are excited to share the information they know and they love to see interested visitors come through the doors.

 

For the comfort of guests, there are two bathrooms in the visitors center.  There is one located on each floor. For anyone looking to spend a little money, there is a gift shop to visit.  It is the Seattle’s National Park Store where souvenirs of the visit can be found. While there are not food option in the museum there are plenty of food and coffee shops within walking distance.   

 

A visit to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park is much different than many museum visits.  While there is plenty of information to learn and exhibits to explore it does not solely focus on the cut and dry information.  It helps people connect to the residents of Seattle during that time by following the lives of five people that would have experienced the gold rush.  Making it an interactive museum experience that is a crowd pleaser.