The most recommended gold rush books

Who picked these books? Meet our 6 experts.

6 authors created a book list connected to the gold rush, and here are their favorite gold rush books.
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Book cover of The Spell of the Yukon

Dorris Heffron Author Of City Wolves: Historical Fiction

From my list on the adventurers of The Klondike Gold Rush.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a novelist all my adult life. My first three books are novels about teenagers, regarded as pioneers in the genre of Young Adult fiction. My inspiration has always been real people, events, and places. Animals, especially dogs have always been part of my life. I turned to adult fiction because I felt the need to write about the full cast of life. City Wolves was inspired, if not driven by my first Malamute, Yukon Sally. With the research she led me to do into wolves, sled dogs, the history of women veterinarians, the real people who were part of the Klondike Gold Rush, I found some marvellous biographies, histories, biological studies, and poetry.

Dorris' book list on the adventurers of The Klondike Gold Rush

Dorris Heffron Why did Dorris love this book?

Robert Service became a bank clerk in the Klondike Gold Rush. But that was to support his life as a poet.

At one time he lived and wrote in a log cabin now standing across the road from the house in Dawson City where Pierre Berton grew up. Pierre Berton was born long after Robert Service, but the poems of Robert Service have been popular for generations.

They portray the life and characters of the Yukon around the time of the gold rush. Pierre Berton gave many public performances reciting the whole of Service’s The Shooting of Dan McGrew. No one could do it better. I joined others rising to our feet in applause and whistles.

There is a Malamute Saloon named after a line in that famous poem which I took my Yukon Sally to in Dawson City. My photo of that brings tears to my eyes.    

By Robert Service,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Spell of the Yukon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Robert Service wrote in the golden years of the Klondike -- of the rough and ready men, and women just as tough. No-one in Robert's world (real or imagined) minced words or had any self-consciousness about them. It was live and let live and sometimes kill or be killed. Reading his poems transports us back to that frozen place in nature when it was literally every man and every woman for him/herself, yet Robert conveys to us not only a sensitivity (in his poem extolling the simple light switch -- something quite novel in those times, especially in the Klondike),…


Book cover of Bo at Ballard Creek

Dianna Dorisi Winget Author Of A Million Ways Home

From my list on for kids in tough family situations.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been book obsessed since I was nine years old and always seemed to gravitate toward realistic stories about animals—especially dogs—and kids facing tough times. So when I became an author, those were naturally the same type of stories I wanted to write. So far I’ve penned seven middle-grade novels. All the books in this list provided inspiration to my own writing in one way or the other and helped me to become a more compassionate and empathetic storyteller. I hope you find the same joy and inspiration when you read them. 

Dianna's book list on for kids in tough family situations

Dianna Dorisi Winget Why did Dianna love this book?

I first discovered this little gem of a book while researching a historical fiction novel of my own. Set in the 1920s, it’s about a little orphan girl named Bo who's being raised by two rough and tumble gold miners—both men. It’s a fun and exciting adventure story, while at the same time providing an insightful and authentic look at life after the famous Alaska gold rush. A perfect read for ages 8-12. 

By Kirkpatrick Hill, LeUyen Pham (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bo at Ballard Creek as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

It's the 1920s, and Bo was headed for an Alaska orphanage when she won the hearts of two tough gold miners who set out to raise her, enthusiastically helped by all the kind people of the nearby Eskimo village.
Bo learns Eskimo along with English, helps in the cookshack, learns to polka, and rides along with Big Annie and her dog team. There's always some kind of excitement: Bo sees her first airplane, has a run-in with a bear, and meets a mysterious lost little boy.
Bo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill is an unforgettable story of a little…


Book cover of The Klondike Stampede

Mark Mitten Author Of Sipping Whiskey in a Shallow Grave

From my list on the Old West from people who lived in the Old West.

Why am I passionate about this?

Born in Texas, raised in Colorado, I’ve always had one foot in the working cowboy world and the other in the Rocky Mountains. I’m a member of the Western Writers of America, and I’ve summited all 54 fourteen-thousand foot peaks in Colorado. For a number of years, I worked with horses at a therapeutic riding center, as a barn manager. After that, I worked as an equine veterinary assistant, driving around with the vet in a pickup truck to doctor horses. Following that, I pursued the arts. Over the years, I’ve recorded and performed western/folk music (find me on Bandcamp), acted in western films (check my YouTube channel), and written western novels (Sunbury Press/Milford House).

Mark's book list on the Old West from people who lived in the Old West

Mark Mitten Why did Mark love this book?

This is the go-to book to learn about the Klondike Gold Rush. Tappan Adney was a journalist sent by a magazine to chronicle what was going on, and he did a good job. In 1897, he took a steamship to Skagway, then made the long trek into Canada over Chilkoot Pass, to Dawson, and on to the Klondike River. Because Adney was a trained newswriter, it doesn’t have quite the warmth of a personal diary, but there’s all kinds of good stuff. Especially, detailed descriptions of the hard journey on foot, daily disillusionment of the average stampeder, descriptions of gold mining techniques, Yukon era saloons, claim jump squabbles, and the common struggle for a decent meal, when supplies have run low.

By Tappan Adney,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Klondike Stampede as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…


Book cover of Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush

Frances Backhouse Author Of Women of the Klondike

From my list on the Klondike Gold Rush.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in the Klondike gold rush was sparked by a Canadian history course I took as an undergrad. Nearly all the accounts I read then relegated female participants to the sidelines and implied that most were of dubious moral character, but I suspected there was more to the story than that. I started digging and, unlike many Klondikers, I struck gold. Since then I’ve made numerous visits to the Yukon and Alaska, hiked the Chilkoot Trail twice and spent three months as Writer in Residence at Berton House in Dawson City (where I worked on my third gold rush book, Children of the Klondike). Today, I’m still captivated by this colorful, character-rich historic event.

Frances' book list on the Klondike Gold Rush

Frances Backhouse Why did Frances love this book?

Pierre Berton’s Klondike, published in 1958, was the first comprehensive account of the Klondike gold rush and quickly became a bestseller. But look for the 1972 revised edition, which added a lengthy preface, a listing of major characters (there are a lot to keep track of!), more maps, and an expanded main text. Not only is Berton a master storyteller, but he was also intimately acquainted with this history. Born in 1920, he was the son of a Klondike stampeder and a teacher who arrived in Dawson as things were settling down. Berton spent his early years growing up amidst the vestiges of the gold rush and maintained a strong connection to the north all his life.

By Pierre Berton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Klondike as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the building of the railroad and the settlement of the plains, the North West was opening up. The Klondike stampede was a wild interlude in the epic story of western development, and here are its dramatic tales of hardship, heroism, and villainy. We meet Soapy Smith, dictator of Skagway; Swiftwater Bill Gates, who bathed in champagne; Silent Sam Bonnifield, who lost and won back a hotel in a poker game; and Roddy Connors, who danced away a fortune at a dollar a dance. We meet dance-hall queens, paupers turned millionaires, missionaries and entrepreneurs, and legendary Mounties such as Sam…


Book cover of Nowhere Else to Go But Dyea

Rebekah Lyn Author Of Summer Storms

From Rebekah's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Lover of history Explorer Deep-thinker Kind-hearted Honest

Rebekah's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Rebekah Lyn Why did Rebekah love this book?

I discovered this treasure in the Skaguay News Depot & Books while on a cruise this summer.

I wanted to support local artists in all our port calls, so when I came across this story written by a local author about an ex-con moving into a cabin outside Skagway, Alaska, I was intrigued. The main character, Henry Stillwater, works his way into the heart of the town and of the reader as he stumbles into situations that end up improving the lives of those around him.

I enjoyed the laid-back pace of this novel and the relationships that develop, reminding us that a little kindness can go a long way.

By Nita Nettleton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nowhere Else to Go But Dyea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Henry Stillwater was once a big shot in the world of finance, until he went to prison. Now he is out and has been given a ticket north to a new life on the edge of the wilderness in the tiny old gold rush settlement of Dyea (pronounced Di-eee) near Skagway, Alaska.

It doesn't take long for the residents to figure out who their new neighbor is, and what to make of him. Henry falls right in with a new gang of cronies and their peculiar loves and misdeeds, but it s not what you think, and he will have…


Book cover of I Shall Be Near to You

Mary Volmer Author Of Reliance, Illinois

From my list on badass 19th century American women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I don’t write about well-behaved women. I prefer rebels and outcasts, women who, by choice or circumstance, live outside of social norms. 19th-century American history is full of such women—if you know where to look. Hint: not in most public-school textbooks. They’re found, instead, in archives and libraries, in old newspapers and journals, in family letters and autobiographies. The characters in my most recent novel, Reliance, Illinois, were inspired by badass 19th-century women, such as Victoria Woodhull, Mary Livermore, and Olympia Brown. Each of the novels in the list below were inspired by or based on audacious women. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!  

Mary's book list on badass 19th century American women

Mary Volmer Why did Mary love this book?

You’ve just been married when civil war breaks out and your husband goes off to fight. What do you do? Remain at home, waiting? Rosette cuts her hair, dons men’s clothing, and goes off to fight alongside her husband. If this sounds far-fetched, you’ll be intrigued to discover that the novel is based on a firsthand account, which the author discovered on the shelves of a university library while in search of something else entirely.

I’d come across a handful of true accounts of women dressed as men while researching my own gold rush novel. I didn’t know, until I read McCabe’s novel, that hundreds of women had fought as men during the American Civil War. If that’s not badass, then I don’t know what is.

By Erin Lindsay McCabe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Shall Be Near to You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An extraordinary novel about a strong-willed woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight beside her husband in the Civil War.

Rosetta doesn't want her new husband, Jeremiah, to enlist, but he joins up, hoping to make enough money that they'll be able to afford their own farm someday. When Jeremiah leaves, Rosetta decides her true place is by his side, no matter what that means, and follows him into war.

Rich with historical details and inspired by the many women who fought in the Civil War while disguised as men, I Shall Be Near To You…


Book cover of The Klondike Gold Rush: Photographs from 1896-1899

Frances Backhouse Author Of Women of the Klondike

From my list on the Klondike Gold Rush.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in the Klondike gold rush was sparked by a Canadian history course I took as an undergrad. Nearly all the accounts I read then relegated female participants to the sidelines and implied that most were of dubious moral character, but I suspected there was more to the story than that. I started digging and, unlike many Klondikers, I struck gold. Since then I’ve made numerous visits to the Yukon and Alaska, hiked the Chilkoot Trail twice and spent three months as Writer in Residence at Berton House in Dawson City (where I worked on my third gold rush book, Children of the Klondike). Today, I’m still captivated by this colorful, character-rich historic event.

Frances' book list on the Klondike Gold Rush

Frances Backhouse Why did Frances love this book?

Although photography was in its infancy at the time of the Klondike gold rush, the event’s high-profile nature attracted many intrepid photographers, both amateurs and professionals. Graham Wilson’s carefully curated collection of 125 historical photos showcases their talents and offers a unique glimpse into the past. These are pictures to savor, as you study the faces, take in the landscapes and scrutinize the details of everything from clothing to mining equipment.

By Graham B. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Klondike Gold Rush as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Catch gold fever with this comprehensive collection of archival photographs. This is the mother lode of the north - a stunning record of the last great gold rush. With 125 extraordinary images along with fascinating anecdotes and personal accounts, this book reveals the arduous journey north, the frontier towns and the struggles of toiling in the gold fields. Readers will encounter intriguing characters as they experience the adventure of a lifetime. From conmen and prospectors to dog sleds and sluic-boxes, these images are a bonanza of gold rush history. This was the Official Book of the 1998 Klondike Gold Rush…


Book cover of Circles in a Forest

Justin Fox Author Of The Cape Raider

From my list on South Africa’s landscape and beauty.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a South African travel writer and novelist with a particular passion for the sublime landscape, wildlife, oceans, and wilderness of our corner of Africa. Growing up in Cape Town, I have spent the last 25 years travelling around the subcontinent writing and photographing for travel and wildlife magazines, and writing books about the landscape and its people. My two latest novels are set in the Cape, and although they are World War II adventure stories, they are also celebrations of our unique coastline, maritime culture, and the oceans that wash our shores. All my writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, ends up being a love letter to the landscape.

Justin's book list on South Africa’s landscape and beauty

Justin Fox Why did Justin love this book?

This novel is set in the beautiful, moody rainforests of South Africa’s Garden Route and captures the period of gold rush, ivory hunting, and logging at the end of the 19th century. The hero, Saul Barnard, is increasingly disturbed by the destruction of the ancient forest by miners, hunters, and woodcutters, and develops a relationship with one of the region’s reclusive elephants. It’s a novel that not only celebrates this wild corner of South Africa, but is an implicit cry for its conservation. I have spent time camping and hiking in those forests and have developed a love for their leafy embrace.

By Dalene Matthee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Circles in a Forest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born and bred into the tawny magnificence of Africa, Saul would fight to save the vanishing world of his inheritance. Home of the wild elephants and the fiercely independent families of woodcutters, the Knysna forest is under threat from the exploitative greed of the timber merchants, and the ruthless plundering of the ivory hunters. Saul Barnard is a man with a self imposed mission to halt the wanton destruction. For years he has protected the forest from intruders, finding a strange mystical kinship with the spirit of Old Foot, the indomitable and majestic elephant. Then when the word goes round…