|Cheechako (standard:adventure, 6463 words)|
|Author: drksideofthemoon||Added: Jul 26 2007||Views/Reads: 1716/1020||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|A man searches for riches in the gold fields of the Klondike.|
drksideofthemoon© 2006 While this story is fictional, the facts surrounding this story are true. On August 16th, 1896 gold was discovered at Bonanza Creek by three men, George Carmacks, Skookum Jim, and Tagish Charlie. Most of the world was oblivious to the gold strike until the steamship Excelsior docked in San Francisco on July 15th, 1897. On board were miners and a half million dollars in gold. Three days later a crowd of five thousand greeted the arrival of sixty-eight miners on the steamship Portland in Seattle. Also on board was a million dollars in gold from the Klondike. The rush was on. It is said that over one hundred thousand stampeders headed for the gold fields and only thirty thousand completed the journey. Cheechako was a Chinook word to describe newcomers. In the Klondike it was used to describe a person who hadn't spent a full winter in the Yukon. I had journeyed north from Seattle to the Klondike as soon as I heard the whisperings of gold being discovered. I arrived in Dyea in January of eighteen-hundred and ninety-eight. All of my fellow passengers had the same dream. Pull that damned bitch called Gold from the ground, fill my pockets with her and return a rich man. She had held me in her grip, she was like a sickness. I was like a drunk following her siren's song. I had sold everything I had and left my life behind. I had been told that miners were being met at the Canadian border and weren't being allowed to cross unless they had a years worth of supplies. I was glad that I had purchased most everything that I would need in Seattle and paid the cost of having it transported on the ship that brought me north. Merchants in Dyea and Skagway were charging ten times and more what the goods had sold for in Seattle. There were men in Skagway that would transport goods up over the White Pass by horse and pack mule. I lacked the necessary funds, so like most; I hauled my supplies up over the Chilkoot Trail. Fifty-three trips I made up and down that stairway to Hell. A solid string of men, and yes, even some women snaked their way up that grueling trail. I heard stories of men falling and taking hours to get back in the line. No one wanted to stop and let someone in the line for fear of stopping and not having the energy to start again. It was mind-numbing and back-breaking, one step after another, and each step was up. There was no respite, no flat areas to catch one's breath. Just one more step, moving ever higher up the side of the mountain with the weight of the pack tearing at my shoulders. I paid what little money I had left to a brawling, boozing woman, Two-Gun Tessie to stand guard over my stash at the top of the trail. She guarded my goods, and the goods of many other would be gold miners with an eagle eye and a shotgun in her hand and a pistol on her hip. Tess had a lusty laugh and bawdy sense of humor. From what I saw of her, she could out-drink, out-fight, and out-shoot most of the men in the Klondike. I lost track of her once we set sail on Lake Bennett. I never did know what became of her. I lost count of the number of days I climbed that murderous trail. I spent both night and day following the back of the man directly in front of me until the top of the trail was breeched. How I cursed that bitch named Gold with every step I took. I screamed in agony for my release from her. I had sworn no oath, nor had I signed any pledge, but still, she held me like none other. She came to me in my dreams, making promises I knew she would not keep. I swore each time before I reached the top, that once back at the bottom I would find passage back south and leave that cursed land behind. Each time, when I got to the bottom I would be back in the grip of gold-lust, and I would load my pack once again and make my way back up that chain of human misery. There would be no rest for the seekers of Satan's Horde. The supplies still had to be hauled overland to Lake Bennett. Two thousand pounds of goods to be moved from the summit of the Chilkoot to the shores of Lake Bennett, and a detachment of the Northwest Mounted Police at the border to ensure each man had the required ton of supplies. There were a stern looking lot, those men with their scarlet tunics and Stetson hats. There were thousands of men like myself and scarcely a Click here to read the rest of this story (553 more lines)
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