First Week At Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park in Skagway, Alaska

Hi everyone! My name is Rory Ornelas and I will be interning at Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park up here in Skagway, Alaska. I’m originally from Austin, Texas, so the weather has been something to get used to. It’s been around 40 degrees most days, and the wind definitely makes it seem colder. Despite this, the scenery has been absolutely beautiful. Mountains that touch the clouds, almost endless forests, and a beautiful ocean view make this place worth staying.

I’ve been hired as an Education and Interpretation Intern here at the park. It essentially means that I will be working on educating park visitors on the history of the Klondike Gold Rush and showing them around the historic town buildings as evidence of times long ago.

The history of the Klondike Gold Rush is fairly simple. 4 people traveled up through Alaska and found gold in what is now known as Dawson City. The history and stories we tell mainly pertain to the journey that the gold rush stampeders went through, the trails they chose and the difficulties they faced. I am currently reading about two women, Mary Hitchcock and Edith van Buren, who made their way up to Dawson City in the most unusual way possible. They were very high society and couldn’t bear to part with their luxury, so they genuinely packed away a lot of their belongings and brought it with them. Some of the things she brought included a giant tent that could be said to fit several blocks, pigeons, a parrot, fine silver, as well as a collapsible two lane bowling alley.

That’s part of my duties too, to research the history of the Klondike Gold Rush and in the future, write programs and talks about topics of my choosing to share to the public. I know that as of right now, I will be expected to perform programs on the basic story of the gold rush.

I will also be given the opportunity to shadow those from different areas within the park to explore all the potential careers to be had. That’s the part I’m looking forward to the most, since I’m unknowledgeable on what jobs are available within the National Park Service.

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