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Bearfoot Guides Tell How The Klondike Gold Rush Spawned A Number Of Board Games

1898 travelers to Alaska were looking for gold.
Exaggerated ideas of gold mining in Alaska.
The Dawson Gold Fields actually produced gold -- as shown here. 

Board games were popular during the Klondike Gold Rush. 

At the turn of the 20th century, most board games were quasi-educational (including Monopoly, which has turned out to be an enduringly popular anti-monopoly cautionary game about the evils of amassing things.) Monopoly was invented in 1903.

Here are two board games from about the same era, involving the Alaska Gold Rush.

The top game shows the very real peril of crossing the Gulf Of Alaska by small boat. When the Gold Rush began in the late 1890's, warehoused ships were brought back into commission and sent up north, loaded with prospectors. Many of them were lost. The top map shows the Kenai Peninsula, and the coast near what are now the towns of Valdez and Cordova.

The Klondike gold rush game purported to show the area of the Alaska-Canada Gold Rush. It was a Pin-the-Tail-On-the-Donkey sort of game, involving blindfolds and hand-held darts.

Although there actually was gold in the "Gold Fields" near Dawson, there wasn't any on the lower left, in the Copper River Valley, due to the fact that the valley had once been a large inland lake, and was scrubbed clean of just about everything but sand when the lake broke through an ice dam 10,000 years ago and headed out to sea. Somebody drew a little blue line, in ink, on the original game, showing the Chilkoot Trail in Canada, and the miners and horses that trudged up that trail.

The shipwreck board game is on display at the Fairbanks Community Museum. The Dawson Gold Fields game was glued to a dining room table in a Denali Park hotel restaurant on the Parks Highway.

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  1. Board games has been around since the old times. People used to play various kinds of unique board games. These historical board game displays must be interesting to see.



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