There are natural places where ships traveling on a river or the sea could safely tie up and people and supplies could get off. When people arrived they needed flat areas to set up their tents, leave their belongings and start their search for gold. And what happens next?
Compare how different newspapers record the creation of their town.
How do they describe how the town was started? How was it organized? What were some of the first steps? What words tell the point of view of the writers?
The discovery of gold at Cape Nome in late 1898 started a great rush to the area. By the summer of 1899 gold-seekers realized that the gold was mixed into the sand along the Bering Sea. The growing number of miners, combined with a lack of legal authority and "an air of lawlessness" made it very important to officially create a town. The Nome Charter marks what might officially be called the beginning of Nome.
Read the fourteen page legal document that outlines the boundaries, government and organization for the new town.
What does the handwritten statement on theback page mean? Who wrote the document? According to the charter, how was the original committee selected? Who had the power and authority to enforce laws?
Challenge: The history of Nome remained colorful and lawless for a number of years despite efforts to create a system of government. Try to find out more about the history of Nome. What events lead to the Charter being written in July of 1899? What famous people helped Nome become a livable town?
It was very common for a town to spring up quickly when gold was discovered in the area. The town was able to provide a place to get supplies, share news, and be entertained. If the first discoveries were not rich enough to establish working mines, the gold-seekers moved on. The boom town was no longer needed and disappeared. But some towns survived after the gold was mined. Why?
Look at a photograph was taken about one year after the Nome City Charter was drafted.
Describe what you see? What do you expect Nome to have, but do not see in the picture?
Read the letter from E.B. McCowan to Governor Brady. Mr. McCowan provides clues to the importance of the Nome area.
What are some of the reasons he gives for thinking Nome will become a major town? Was he right? Why do you think McCowan wrote to the Governor?
Nome's Charter was created as a desperate attempt to control a lawless situation. Let's look at the creation of another town by reading official documents and newspaper articles.
Locate the town of Teller on a map.
What do you notice about its location? Do you think it is a good location for a town? Is Teller an important town today?
Read the newspaper article about the founder of Teller, T. G. Wilson.
What reasons does the he give for the establishment of the town?
Read the Bylaws of the Teller Association.
What is the purpose of the Teller Association? How are the Bylaws of Teller different from the Charter for Nome.
Read the newspaper article: "The Eskimos First Christmas Tree". T. G. Wilson in Snoqualmie, WA writes the article years after the event.How reliable do you think this article is? How did they get a Christmas Tree in Teller? Look at the Christmas Tree Program, December 25, 1901. Compare the newspaper article with the program. Together they tell an interesting story about one event in the lives of the people of Teller.
Was the Christmas Tree program a success? What makes you think so? Notice the advertisements on the program. What do you learn about life in an Alaskan town from this article and program?