Seattle Sparked the Yukon Gold Rush




SS Excelsior leaves for the Yukon, 1897 Courtesy Wikimedia Commons


After the 1893 world-wide depression brought commerce to a halt, Seattle took off in 1897 when the steamer Portland struggled into port, her decks filled with prospectors guarding their sacks of gold. Soon headlines and flyers proclaimed the news around the globe that Yukon gold was there for the taking along the Klondike River.  The mad dash to claim the nuggets really  lasted not much more than a year.

The headlong rush to the Yukon came shortly after a depression where many who had found work again felt trapped in office, factory, or low-paying retail jobs. Eager hordes grabbed the chance to set off for the real frontier, the  vast Canadian wilderness that offered the bold an opportunity to earn their fortunes.

My father, Hans Pederson, a risk taking Danish immigrant, joined the exodus. “He was among the first to answer the call of the North when the manhood of the world stampeded toward the arctic and the sparkle of gold,” notes his obituary. He and a partner soon crammed themselves aboard a ship and joined the throng of prospectors who washed up on Alaskan shores like flotsam on the tides.

He didn’t stay long enough to make his fortune. He returned to Seattle, became a builder, and grew along with the city until the next depression in 1929 ended contracting along with everything else.

Northwest Immigrant Ancestors

A Danish couple that I met blogging have become good friends—in fact, my Danish  family. All you blogging travelers could learn much about Danish life, history, and European art, from (Maria is also an expert on baby care). Her husband, describes a wealth of family history. I wish I had the treasure trove of old photos that both of them have preserved.

My father, Hans Pederson, emigrated from Denmark to Seattle in 1860. Many unanswered questions remain from the research I’ve done on his life. At least until Henry joined me in the search. A genealogist, Henry found several articles about my pioneer father, well known in Denmark, and also my mother, in Danish newspapers. Next he looked into

Two pages are posted above from Henry’s recent 42-page blog documenting Hans Pederson’s family history from 1840 to 1949 in both Danish and English. I’m technically challenged and have problems with translation. But you can see from these pages what detailed histories you can find if you develop an interest in ancestry and genealogy.


Maine to Seattle Sewer Solutions


Swedish Road Sign

I started a municipal minutes business when I moved to Maine during a recession — an education in city planning. The Sewer District became my favorite meeting. Environmentalists, quick to criticize the board, had never actually faced the challenge of keeping a town clean. Sewer District reps, who had, claimed “We’re the real environmentalists. We do what’s possible.”

You have to think of people in the context of their times. I write about my father, Hans Pederson, a Danish immigrant who became a major early 20th century Seattle contractor. Back in 1910, the city leveled its steep hills to expand its downtown waterfront. No longer did sewage and water flow downhill only to turn back and shoot up like geysers under the advancing tide. New sewer and water lines created outfalls to Elliott Bay — a boon that followed the advent of flush toilets. The solution fit the times.

Some say that in 1910 the plumber Thomas Crapper invented the flush toilet, known as “The Waterfall Waste Remover.” Others believe that his name can only rightly be associated with the function for which it is used. A convoluted trail of patents and folklore connect Crapper’s plumbing company with the Waterfall Waste Remover.

The truth may never be known.

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