Glossary of Terms
Unique to the Klondike/Yukon Goldrush (1898), and the Alaska Goldrush (1899)
by: Jack L. McSherry, III
Burning a hole - The process of digging down to paydirt, which tends to be in a layer just
                        above the bedrock. A fire is built on the permafrost, and as the ground thaws
                        it is removed, followed by building another fire. This continues until the desired
                        depth is achieved.
 
Cheechako - A person on their first trip to Alaska, or the Yukon. Or a person who is in Alaska, or
                   the Yukon, for less than a year. Primarily  used as a word meaning
                    novice or "green-horn."
 
Golden stairs - Another name for the Chilkoot Pass, along the trail from Dyea, Alaska to Lake
                      Bennett, British Columbia. The pass at one time during the 1898 goldrush actually
                      had ice steps cut into the mountain.
 
Outside - Anywhere but Alaska and the gold regions of the Yukon.
 
Pay-dirt -  The dirt, gravel, and gold dug from a mine prior to being washed to remove the gold.
 
Siwash - An Indian word for Native. (Said to be derogatory)
 
Skookum - An Indian word meaning strong.
 
Sluice - A man made wooden channel, having ribs or slats on the bottom. Water is diverted through
            the sluice, and pay-dirt shoveld in. The gold is caught in the slats, and the dirt and gravel is
            washed away.
 
Sourdough - A person haveing been on more than one trip to Alaska, or the Yukon. A person that
                    has been in Alaska, or the Yukon, for more than one year. A person that is consdered
                    a seasoned expert.

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