Gold Fever

Gold Fever

278 pages, 84 illustrations. 1997.
Author: R.M. Dickey
Editor: Art Petersen
Publisher: Klondike Research

Paperback, ISBN: 0-9657938-0-X , $24.95 – IN STOCK

Hardback, ISBN 0-9657938-1-8 – OUT OF PRINT

Rev. Dickey was an Irish/Canadian Presbyterian missionary who was sent north in 1897 with the great stampede of gold seekers to the Klondike gold fields in the Yukon Territory. In retirement, Rev. Dickey spent five years developing a narrative of his experiences in the Alaskan and Canadian north during the great rush for gold. Through Part I of his two-part narrative, Rev. Dickey takes us from Seattle to Skagway. Arriving at the onset of winter, there we reside during early lawless days in the frontier environment molded by the notorious gangster Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith. Part I concludes with one of the best summaries of that period on record, including the death of Smith in a shoot-out with Frank Reid and the ensuing aftermath. Part II of the book takes us up the White Pass Trail to Lake Bennett, down 500 miles of Yukon River to Dawson, and finally to Eldorado in the Klondike gold fields. As the author penned for an Author’s Note to his manuscript in 1947, “I have taken the series of short stories that I wrote years ago, my diary, newspaper clippings, and remembered incidents and experiences from boat and trail and camp. With these as warp and woof, I have attempted to weave a story that presents a true picture of life in Skagway and in the Yukon….” The manuscript resided in the closets of family members for 42 years and then underwent 5 years of editorial transcription, conferral with family members, documentation where possible, and polish. The book includes over three score of Rev. Dickey’s ninety-nine “magic lantern slides,” which he used to illustrate lectures on the Klondike from 1900 to about 1913. Also included are many historical photographs from Northwest archives.

An ample forward by editor Art Petersen sets the scene, another by eminent Canadian J. King Gordon (son of Canadian novelist Ralph Connor), penned in 1949, frames the story, and an editor’s afterword renders a history of the manuscript and an assessment of the author. Publication of the Dickey manuscript is intended as a service to the humanities, primarily its discipline of history, but it is also the result of a desire to share a good story that is often compelling, moral (without being moralistic), and humorous–and to register an appropriate mark of respect for Rev. Dickey, a remarkable man.