Sun, September 29, 2013

Gaming for Gold

The discovery of gold in the Klondike in the late nineteenth century set off not only a rush of prospectors to the North, but also a scramble by board game companies to capitalize on the gold craze. The image to the right is the game board of “Horsman’s Game of Klondike,” released in 1897 by E. L. Horsman and Maraquita Bangs of New York.
One of many such games produced in this era, Horsman’s promises “a game of surprises and divers [diverse?] dangers and success to the persevering.”
Note that the two primary routes to Dawson City—the Yukon River and the overland (i.e., Chilkoot Pass) route—are both available to players, though the numbering of the spaces begins at “1” at the mouth of the Yukon (perhaps prioritizing that particular corridor?).

You may notice that the makers of the game took a few liberties with—or outright ignored—geographic reality. Despite being a district of the Northwest Territories at the time, the Yukon is misidentified as “British Columbia.” Note also that Juneau appears to be a landlocked city with the ocean nowhere in sight!
Horsman’s and many other Alaska-Yukon-themed board games have been collected and preserved by the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks. Stay tuned to this blog…more games will be posted in the coming weeks…