H.J. Goetzman Klondike Gold Rush photographs, 1897-1903

Overview of the Collection

Goetzman, H.J
H.J. Goetzman Klondike Gold Rush photographs
1897-1903 (inclusive)
86 black and white photographic prints (2 boxes) ; sizes vary
8 negatives (1 box) : glass plate
Collection Number
Klondike Gold Rush photographs taken by H.J. Goetzman or his studio, including scenes of the journey to the gold fields, life and events in Dawson and other settlements in the Yukon Territory
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2065431929
Fax: 2065431931
Access Restrictions

Entire collection can be viewed on the Libraries’ Digital Collections website. Permission of Visual Materials Curator required to view originals. Contact Special Collections for more information.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

H. J. Goetzman worked as a photographer in the Yukon from 1897 until 1904. He traveled to the Yukon via the Chilkoot Trail with his wife and Miss Edith Goetzman, a relative. Trained as a commercial photographer, Goetzman recorded the scenery, life and activity of the route to the gold fields through Alaska and Canada, Dyea, the Chilkoot Trail, White Pass Canyon, Bennett, Dawson, and the Klondike gold fields. He ran Goetzman's Photographic Studio in Dawson from 1898 to 1904. At the height of the gold rush he employed seven photographers.

In the winter of 1900-1901, Goetzman traveled to Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. He made the Dawson-Whitehorse leg of the trip, a distance of 329 miles each way, with his own dog team. In January 1901, he released a photo album with views of Wrangell, Alaska, the White Pass, down the Yukon River to Dawson, up the gold creeks to Eagle City, Alaska, and on to St. Michael and Nome. He also published a souvenir booklet in 1901 with 200 views reproduced as half-tones. In October of 1902, he photographed the upper Yukon River for the White Pass Company to use as advertising material.

Over the seven years he resided in Dawson, Goetzman moved his studio to several different locations, beginning in a tent and including the following: a studio on the second floor of the partially completed Monte Carlo building on First Avenue in 1900; later in 1900, the Victoria Building on the southeast corner of First Avenue and Second Street; and in 1903, he moved to 128 Second Avenue South. In 1904, Goetzman sold his studio, negatives, and photographic supply house to J. Morte and H. Craig and moved to San Francisco. Many negatives were lost as the result of water damage from a fire in April 1907.

Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

In 1896, the Klondike Gold Rush started in the Yukon Territory, Canada, with the discovery of gold in Bonanza Creek on the Klondike River. In the summer of 1897, miners arrived in San Francisco and Seattle from Alaska via two steamers, collectively carrying five thousand pounds of gold from the Klondike River in the Yukon Territory of Canada. Over the next two years thousands of prospectors rushed to reach the gold fields.

Though other more dangerous or dead-end routes were advertised by unscrupulous or ignorant entrepreneurs, ninety percent of the would-be miners arrived in the Yukon via either the Chilkoot Trail out of Dyea or the White Pass Trail out of Skagway. The Chilkoot turned out to be the most favorable, despite the steep rise of 900 feet to the summit in the last half mile. Miners had to relay a ton of supplies per person over the pass in order to gain clearance to enter Canada from the Northwest Mounted Police outpost on the other side. White Pass Trail, while slightly shorter and less steep, soon turned to a nearly impassable trail under the feet of thousands of men and horses. The trail became known as the Dead Horse Trail, in reference to the carcasses of 3000 pack animals that littered the route.

Once they arrived at Lake Bennett, the stampeders built or bought boats to float down the Yukon River to Dawson. As the first big wave of prospectors reached Dawson after the thaw in May 1898, most were disappointed as nearly all of the promising claims had been claimed by locals the year before. Many sold their outfits and left, but others stayed to work for other prospectors or in Dawson.

The gold rush transformed Dawson, which was originally a native summer fishing camp, into the "Paris of the North." The town was staked out by Joe Ladue and named after George M. Dawson, Director of the Geological Survey of Canada, who explored the region in 1887. By 1898, Dawson was the largest Canadian city west of Winnipeg with 40,000 residents. Elaborate hotels, theaters and dance halls were erected. It also included such amenities as telephone service, running water and steam heat.

With the news of gold in Nome, Alaska, people started to leave in large numbers; 8,000 people left Dawson in the summer of 1899 alone. By 1902, the population was less than 5,000. Eventually, major mining operations took over most of the Klondike gold fields in the years following the gold rush.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection contains photographs of the Klondike Gold Rush taken by H. J. Goetzman or his studio. They include scenes of the journey from Seattle to Dawson and the gold fields, mining operations, life and events in Dawson, and other settlements in the Yukon Territory.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

Photographic prints made from the glass plate negative originals are available for reference purposes. View the digital version of the collection.

Restrictions on Use

Reproductions in any form of prints owned by the University of Alaska must be obtained from the University of Alaska Libraries.

Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact the repository for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


The collection is divided into two parts: 32 photographs (glass plate negatives and original prints) owned by the University of Washington and copies of 51 photographs owned by the University of Alaska, included here for reference purposes only.

Acquisition Information

Source: Items 305.3, 305.9, 305.11, 305.16- 305.29 were purchased from Don Ulrich, 2002.

Copies of photographs from the University of Alaska Historical Library donated by Arch Roberston, 1961.

Processing Note

Processed by Amy E. Frost, 2005, and Megan Peacock, 2006.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

En Route to the Klondike Gold FieldsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder item
1/1 1 Spring 1898
1/1 2 undated
1/1 3
Boats and tents along the shore of Lake Bennett. (Goetzman 600)
Copyright on image attributed to M.H.Craig although likely Craig printed the photo from Goetzman original.
1/1 4 circa 1898
1/1 5
Dawson's Yukon River waterfront with boats on sandbar and tents, cabins and lumber lining shorelines (Goetzman 620)
Copyright on image attributed to M.H.Craig although likely Craig printed the photo from Goetzman original.
Spring 1898

Dawson, Yukon Territory, CanadaReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder item
1/2 6 November 21, 1899
1/2 7 undated
1/2 8a
Men on scows at Dawson waterfront
"W.B. Coppings and party arriving in Dawson with 5 scows and 100 tons of merchandise."
October 17, 1900
1/2 8b undated
1/2 9 1900
1/2 10 May 25, 1901
1/2 11 undated
1/2 12 undated
2/1 13
Arch decorated with Canadian and American flags to welcome the Earl of Minto (Goetzman 651)
"Dawson awaiting the arrival of the Governor General, Aug. 14."
August 14, 1900
1/2 14 May 2, 1902
1/2 15
Men inside a gambling house
"'The Last Turn' in The Exchange. May 31, 12 P.M. 1901."
May 31, 1901
1/2 16-17 undated

Klondike Gold Fields, Yukon Territory, CanadaReturn to Top

Mines, or mine locations, were often named in relation to the nearest major mine, such as above or below Discovery Mine, or above or below Bonanza mine. For example, No. 2 Ab (above) Bonanza or No. 5 B (below) Discovery.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder item
1/3 18 undated
1/3 19 undated
1/3 20 undated
1/3 21 undated
Alex McDonald’s Bonanza Mining Co. Ltd.
box-folder:oversize item
2/2 22 September, 1899
2/3 23 September, 1899
2/4 24 undated
Boulder Hill
Box/Folder item
1/4 25 undated
1/4 26 undated
1/4 27 undated
Last Chance
Box/Folder item
1/5 28 undated
1/5 29 undated
Gold Run
Box/Folder item
1/6 30
Miner on top of large pile of mining waste dumping bucket of dirt on pile (Goetzman 1906)
"The largest Dump in the Klondyke at Chute & Wills. No 12."
1/6 31 undated
1/6 32 undated

University of Alaska PhotographsReturn to Top

These photographs are for reference use only. Please contact the University of Alaska Libraries with any questions or concerns regarding these photographs.

Container(s) Description Dates
En Route to the Klondike Gold Rush
Box/Folder item
1/7 33
Tents along the shore of Lake Bennett (Goetzman 609)
Dyea to Dawson
Box/Folder item
1/7 34
Wooden buildings at Sheep Camp
June 1899
1/7 35
Men, women, and children with horse and sled in White Pass Canyon (Goetzman 117)
1/7 36
Looking towards Dyea from the summit of Chilkoot Pass
1/7 37
Men on the porch of a wooden building
"Bennett Club"
June, 1899
1/7 38
Men with horse-drawn carts and ferries at Whitehorse dock
circa July 1899
1/7 39
View of Whitehorse and ferries on the Lewes River
1/7 40
Men standing on the river bank with stacks of food (Goetzman 89)
"First grub delivered in Rampart during famin[e] of 1897."
1/7 41
Men panning for gold on the bank of the Yukon River at The Ramparts
1/7 42
Men and supplies on scows along a riverbank
Dawson, Yukon Territory, Canada
Box/Folder item
1/8 43
Three men on a sailboat at the waterfront (Goetzman 134)
"L.A. Nurnberg arriving in Dawson on Oct. 8."
1/8 43a
S.S. Nora arriving in Dawson with large line of people on ice next to ship
1/8 44
Eight men with pack animals on a scow at the waterfront (Goetzman 459)
"Leaving Dawson for the 'Koyukuk' (James E. Mitchell and party)."
May 21, 1900
1/8 45
Crowd of people meeting three steamers at the dock
"[First] Steamer of the season to arrive in Dawson...Mail and Passengers."
May 23, 1901
1/8 46
View of Dawson from hill across river
1/8 47
Wooden houses on a hillside (Goetzman 252)
"'Nob Hill' where the 400 Reside in Dawson."
The 400 were the upper class of Dawson.
1/8 48
Dogsled teams and men on a snowy street
"Peel River Indians Dog Teams in Dawson with Wild Meat."
1/8 49
Men and dogsled standing in front of Nugget Express (Goetzman 111)
"Express Leaving Dawson."
November 16, 1899
1/8 50
Men rocking the gold dust out of the ruins of the Monte Carlo Hotel (Goetzman 281)
".... Which burned to the ground Jan. 10, 1900."
1/8 51
People watching the McDonald Hotel burn
November 1, 1901
1/8 52
Dawson Cemetery
circa 1901
1/8 53
Dawson kindergarten class with their teacher
1/8 54
Store front of the California Market, with animal carcasses displayed
November 1, 1901
1/9 55
Five men behind a roulette table
"The last roll in Dawson."
May 24, 1901
1/9 56
Crowds watching a horse race (Goetzman 469)
"First Horse Race in Dawson."
May 24, 1900
1/9 57
Alaska Commercial Company float with people in costume
"We Were Here First" banner on the front of the float in front of the A.C. Co. building.
May 24, 1901
1/9 58
Men pulling a fire hose down a Dawson Street
1/9 59
A crowd gathered on a hill
"Mid-night on the mountain back of Dawson."
June 21, 1903
1/9 60
Display of produce by the Golden Gate Gardens for the Horticultural Fair (Goetzman 8)
September 1903
1/9 61
Botanical display for the Horticultural Fair (Goetzman 6)
September 1903
1/9 62
Belt made of gold nuggets
"[M]ade for Miss Rose Blumkin by Albert Mayer- Leading Jeweler."
September 12, 1899
1/9 63
Four men playing a game of curling
Sign in background reads "D.C.C. Championship Game, Tuesday 9th April, 1901 J.t. Lithgow vs. Colonel Rourke."
April 9, 1901
1/9 64
Four men behind curling equipment and trophy
circa 1901
1/9 65
Man standing next to printing press, probably in Dawson
1/9 66
Man with a litter of puppies in a stroller and two adult dogs, probably in Dawson
1/9 67
Northwest Mounted Policemen in uniform, probably in Dawson
1/9 68
Butler's Corner Grocery store
Other Towns and Settlements
Box/Folder item
1/10 69
Wooden buildings and tents at Grand Forks
September 1899
1/10 70
Ferry docked at Mayo City (Mayo) on the Stewart River
August 1903
1/10 71
Men standing and on horseback in front of a cabin
1/10 72
Two men and a woman in front of a restaurant, a grocery store and a barber shop
1/10 73
Group portrait in front of the Pack Train Inn, Geo. L. Rice & Co.
1/10 74
Men standing in a field in front of a house, probably harvesting vegetables
1/10 75
Men in suits, possibly placing posts in a field of stumps
In the Gold Fields
Box/Folder item
1/11 76
Miners standing on a gravity tram (Goetzman 108)
"Yukon Gold Fields, Ltd., London, Eng. Cars over hopper at head of gravity tram."
1/11 77
Mining operation at 8 below Lower Dominion (Goetzman 15.D)
1/11 78
Miners of Dominion Creek No. 21 B. Upper (Goetzman 418)
1/11 79
Mining operation at 34 below Upper Dominion (Goetzman 236)
1/11 80
Men and women standing in a mining pit
"A Clean Up on the Bonanza Creek Concession Co."
1/11 81
Miners and a woman in a mining shaft (Goetzman 315)
"E.H. Elwell and crew, 67 B Bonanza. "
1/11 82
Miners at Right Fork Eureka No. 7-8 mining operation (Goetzman 2004)
"Owned and Operated by F.E. Davison, A.E. Davison, Jack Ray, Dick Battle."
1/11 83
Mining operation at the bottom of hill with two log slides down the hill in the background
1/11 84
Miners at Happy Go Lucky Claim 101, Spruce Creek, Yukon
Vogee (photographer)

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Boats and boating--Yukon--Photographs
  • Curling--Yukon--Photographs
  • Gold miners--Alaska--Photographs
  • Gold miners--Yukon--Photographs
  • Gold mines and mining--Alaska--Photographs
  • Gold mines and mining--Yukon--Photographs
  • Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)

Geographical Names

  • Alaska--Photographs
  • Bonanza Creek (Yukon)--Photographs
  • Chilkoot Pass--Photographs
  • Dawson (Yukon)--Photographs
  • Dyea (Alaska)--Photographs
  • Grand Forks (Yukon)--Photographs
  • Mayo (Yukon)--Photographs
  • Stewart River (Yukon : River)--Photographs
  • Whitehorse (Yukon)--Photographs
  • Yukon River (Yukon and Alaska)--Photographs
  • Yukon--Photographs

Form or Genre Terms

  • Photographs