A Tale of Gold
If you want to know about the Alaskan Gold Rush and digging for gold, this is the book to read. Written for young adult readers, it tells the story of James Erikson, fourteen and suddenly an orphan, who watches a boat return from the gold fields and sees men toss gold nuggets to the crowd. They lie all over the ground in Alaska, so men told him, he could just pick them up. Gold fever strikes and not just for James. He leaves San Francisco on one of the gold boats destined for Alaska, along with so many others. In fact he’s lucky to get there alive as everyone is profiteering and the ships are dangerously overloaded. The boat takes the gold-seeking stampeders as far as Skagway, and then the fun begins. To get to the gold fields the stampeders have to cross the Rockies in early winter, wait for the spring ice break, then go down a river and cross a lake. The Canadian Mounties insist that they go properly equipped and provisioned, with a ton of goods. James has to pack it all, bit by bit, like most of the other stampeders, haul it over the mountain passes, and then build a boat. Finally in Alaska James meets Tip, who is not what he seems, and they become partners. But it’s still a fight to get a claim and avoid the profiteers, thieves and con men who have followed the stampeders and cheat, overcharge, and steal from them.
It is these details which make the book so absorbing. The author has done her research and the arduous journey made by the gold-seekers is retold in gory detail. Definitely a book for reluctant boy readers, if they could get the copy back from their sisters. Ages 9-12.