August 16, 1896: George Carmack finds gold in the Yukon
Whether people are singing about it or flaunting it, gold makes the world go round. In the 1800s, everyone was on the hunt for gold. One Washington native kicked off the Gold Rush in North America with his discovery.
Return of the Carmack
Born in Seattle, George Carmack had a rough childhood. His mother passed away when he was eight, and his father perished three years later. Despite this, Carmack went through his youth with the help of his sister Rose. Following a stint with the United States Marine Corps, he moved to Alaska to make money fishing. His love for fishing landed him his first wife Kate, who he married in 1887. Four years later, they welcomed their daughter Graphie Grace. While his love life was blooming, he wasn’t making friends with the miners in town. His friendship with the natives in the area drew some criticism.
Going for the gold
On August 16, 1896, George and Kate were on their typical fishing trip in the Yukon. This venture also brought Kate’s brother Skookum Jim and George’s cousin Dawson Charlie along for the ride. Everything was going well until George noticed something unusual. A few gold nuggets were seen in the distance near Discovery Claim. George claimed the discovery of gold, which made him filthy rich. It also caused him to divorce Kate and marry Marguerite P. Laimee back in Washington. Upon his death in 1922, he left behind a vast fortune towards Marguerite. George’s discovery also spawned the Klondike Gold Rush, which had 100,000 people searching for gold. After three years, however, the rush was classified a complete dud.
Was it actually someone else?
While many give George credit, others have handed it to Skookum Jim. “In an unpublished source, I found that George Carmack himself even said this, telling youngsters back in California that Jim found the gold, in the same way, Jim told the story, that he happened upon it in a stream, right after shooting a moose,” writer Deb Vanasse told The Globe and Mail. In the end, people rocking gold chains don’t care who found it. They’re just glad they’re looking fly on the red carpet.