Tag Archive > golden stairs

Klondike Mike and the Unfortunate Piano

In February, 1898 Mike Mahoney aka “Klondike Mike” made a deal with Hal Henry. He would escort the Sunny Samson Sister Sextette and their luggage over the Chilkoot Pass and down to Dawson city for $3000 plus a share of the musical group’s proceeds once they started performing in the Dawson Saloons. The six blonde and virtuous sisters were sure to be a huge smash in the rough Klondike frontier, where feminine charms were worth their weight in gold.

There was just one problem – the sisters insisted on bringing their accompaniment piano. Klondike Mike, a strapping Canadian farm boy and champion boxer turned stampeder, duly hoisted the entire piano onto his back and went step-by step up the Golden Stairs and into Klondike fame. Fortune eluded him, however, because the Canadian customs officer at the top of the pass, seeing the piano, asked what he was about. When he heard that 6 delicate, ill-equipt showgirls were coming his way, he was aghast (this was only his second day on duty – he had yet to see the sort of folks trying to get to Dawson). Certain they would die on the trail! He refused to let the party continue any further.

Fuming, Mike stormed back to Skagway and left the piano atop the pass, where eventually someone hauled it back down and sold it for a tidy profit.

Animation: Corrie Francis Parks
Banjo Pickin’ : Ranger Kyle Kaiser
“Saloon Piano Gem No. 1” by Black Keys Bob Stevenson
References: The Hougen Group – Yukon Nuggets and Klondike Mike: An Alaskan Odyssey By Merrill Denison

Interviews recorded at the top of Chilkoot Pass.

This is part of a series of animated postcards from Chilkoot Pass. Read more about the project here.  These mini-documentaries are rooted in reality, with live interviews and photos from the Chilkoot Trail providing a catalyst for my personal memories and playful reinterpretations of history. As an artist, this is about as fun as it gets!

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Boardwalk, settlers and tents

The first day was very long but so cool! When we walked on the boardwalk in some parts the water would come up onto the boardwalk. The first night we played settlers and when we finished there was 6 other tens right by ours and there were tents an inch away. 2nd day we saw 2 people who were trying to redo the goldrush. The golden stairs where long and we had to get up at 5 but we got up at 3!

The first day was very long but so cool! When we walked on the boardwalk in some parts the water would come up onto the boardwalk. The first night we played settlers and when we finished there was 6 other tents right by ours and there were tents an inch away. 2nd day we saw 2 people who were trying to redo the goldrush. The golden stairs were long and we had to get up at 5 but we got up at 3!

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Alton Family Expedition

Alton Family Expedition

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Don’t be so nervous next time

So far, the only bad parts were from Canyon to Pleasant, and then from Sheep to the rocky part of the stairs. Don't be so nervous next time, and most of all, DON'T FORGET YOUR PERMIT!

So far, the only bad parts were from Canyon to Pleasant, and then from Sheep to the rocky part of the stairs. Don’t be so nervous next time, and most of all, DON’T FORGET YOUR PERMIT!

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Gold Trail

Greetings from the Gold Trail aka the top of the world...

Greetings from the Gold Trail aka the top of the world…

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Mom, chocolate and hot tea

Hello!! So you just went up and over the Chilkoot Trail Golden Stairs!!! You are completely frozen but you are accomplished. You can't really write because your hands are frozen. It took five hours to get here and you still have to do four hours left, but its mostly flat or downhill. You are so strong! I'm proud of myself. Just keep thinking of Mom, chocolate and hot tea and you can do it! Be strong!!!! You can do anything.

Hello!! So you just went up and over the Chilkoot Trail Golden Stairs!!! You are completely frozen but you are accomplished. You can’t really write because your hands are frozen. It took five hours to get here and you still have to do four hours left, but its mostly flat or downhill. You are so strong! I’m proud of myself. Just keep thinking of Mom, chocolate and hot tea and you can do it! Be strong!!!! You can do anything.

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The line between

Rocks: every one of them is different, the path changes with each step, the struggle is to see the continued line between.

Rocks: every one of them is different, the path changes with each step, the struggle is to see the continued line between.

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Billy the goat

Dear Elin, It is so cold and steep. It's nice in the warming hut. Billy the goat was a story about a goat named Billy. Billy lived at the top of the pass. He took kid's packs and let them ride him.  The End.

Dear Elin,
It is so cold and steep. It’s nice in the warming hut. Billy the goat was a story about a goat named Billy. Billy lived at the top of the pass. He took kid’s packs and let them ride him.
The End.

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Sourdough Zombies

Back in 1898, thousands of men and women arrived in Skagway with gold fever. They were headed for the Klondike goldfields over the Chilkoot Pass. Around their necks, they carried packets of fermented dough to make bread on their long, cold journey. If they made it through their first year in the bitter North, they were dubbed “sourdoughs”, after the bread that kept them alive during the endless night of winter.

Animation: Corrie Francis Parks
Banjo Pickin’ : Ranger Kyle Kaiser
Interviews recorded at the top of Chilkoot Pass.

This is the first in a series of animated postcards from Chilkoot Pass. Read more about the project here.  These mini-documentaries are rooted in reality, with live interviews  and photos from the Chilkoot Trail as providing a catalyst for my personal memories and playful reinterpretations. As an artist, this is about as fun as it gets!

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Remember the UP!

Dear Layne, Remember the up. The joy of conquering the rocks, and the amazing beauty of God's creation. -Thank God I left the piano at home!

Dear Layne,
Remember the up. The joy of conquering the rocks, and the amazing beauty of God’s creation.
-Thank God I left the piano at home!

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