Category Archives: Alaska

Eskimo Gravesite

Eskimo GraveAn Eskimo grace in Nome, Alaska around 1890. Note the combination of traditional and modern European influenced practices. The grave consists of a hut or shelter built over a wooden coffin. The hut is made of improvised materials including planks and driftwood. Mounted on the grave is a Christian cross as well as poles holding two rifles. We can tell from this that the deceased was a Christian convert and likely an important wealthy man. Guns were expensive luxury goods for the Eskimo and essential to their survival. The fact that this man owned two rifles and that his family could afford to bury him with his guns, instead of passing them on to his children, suggests that his family was wealthy enough to spare the guns.

Gold Rush Era Hotel

Traveller's Rest Hotel

Old Gold Rush hotel in Ester Alaska

The Gold Rush brought a huge influx of people eager to find their fortune among the gold fields. Most found only financial ruin. The more enterprising among them started businesses to deprive the prospectors of their money. One such establishment was the Traveller’s Rest Hotel built in the town of Ester, Alaska which sprang up to service a gold mining camp. Despite its dilapidated condition, the scarcity of any accommodations other than temporary tents made hotels such as this one a magnet for the thousands of men who came to the gold fields.

A hand painted sign above the door proudly proclaims that this is the Traveller’s Rest Hotel, though the slant in the floor must have made it hard not to roll out of bed.

The gold rush town of Ester (now part of Fairbanks, Alaksa) sprang up from a mining camp established on Ester Creek when prospector Latham A. Jones discovered gold there in 1903. By 1907 it had a population of about 200 people and many services including a movie theater, numerous saloons, and a doctor. However the gold production soon declined and the population left as quickly as it had come.