1898 Yukon Nuggets
The Klondike Nugget
The first newspaper to hit the streets in Dawson City was the Klondike Nugget. Actually, the first edition didn't hit the streets at all. Instead it was nailed to a telephone pole.
Gene Allen was the fiesty editor of the Klondike Nugget. In Seattle, he and his partner Zack Hickman decided there was gold to be made by publishing a newspaper in the wild frontier town called Dawson City.
In 1898, they bought a printing press, loaded it on a boat to Skagway and hauled the thing over the Chilkoot Pass. At Lake Bennett, Allen heard of competition so he went on alone to Dawson leaving Hackman to follow with the press.
On May 17, Gene Allen tacked a hand-written news sheet onto a pole in downtown Dawson...the first edition of the Nugget. It carried whatever outside news Allen could get from newcomers. But more importantly, it ran stories from Dawson and the surrounding gold fields. It started as a weekly, became a daily, and 18 months later it went bust.
Allen wrote about politics, religion, business and the social life of the bustling city. He loved reporting on court proceedings and the work of the Northwest Mounted Police. So-and-so got 50 days on the woodpile for drunken brawling, and he deserved more...wrote Allen.
Dawson's only reason for being was gold. In one edition, Allen reported on a group of kids he watched as they gathered sawdust and rubbish which had been swept out of a local saloon and put it in a large washpail filled with water. Then they began panning the debris. When finished, they had panned out nearly seven dollars in gold nuggets.
Allen, in his Nugget, reported on the shaninigans of the local rich and the problems of the poor. It lasted 18 months. The good ground was staked, and most of the men who could only work for wages left for the goldfields in Alaska. As Dawson's population dwindled, the Nugget fell on hard times.
In February of 1900 Allen was bankrupt. He picked up stakes and headed for Alaska.
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin.