To most of us, the Klondike gold rush is a multi-image photograph of grizzled men climbing the steep snow covered slopes of the Chilkoot Pass, of unshaven men mired in the muck digging for gold, of poorly clad men roaming the streets of a shack town named Dawson City looking for their elusive dream. But that's just part of the story.
A picture seldom seen of the Klondike is that of a stately woman tidily clothed in a long flowing back dress, a white kerchief around her neck, a broad brimmed hat tilted ever so slightly to the left. She is standing in front of the Grand Forks hotel beside Eldorado, one of the richest creeks in the Klondike valley.
Belinda Mulroney built this hotel in 1897, ran it for a year and sold it for 24 thousand dollars. Enough to buy two claims on famed Bonanza Creek. Enough to make her fortune and more in the gold fields of the Klondike where only men were supposedly smart enough or tough enough to excel in the search for Klondike gold.
Belinda Mulroney arrived in Dawson City in 1897 from Pennsylvania. By 1899 she had three claims in the Klondike valley. One, called 39 above, produced 19 thousand dollars in one cleanup in the summer of '99. That year she had 12 men working for her on her claims.
But gold mining wasn't Ms. Mulroney's only business venture. With money from her claims, she built the Fairview Hotel, a three story building complete with dining room, office, bar and electric lights.
In 1898, there was a shortage of fresh drinking water in Dawson. Belinda Mulroney setup and ran a company called Hygenia Water, a bottled water company well ahead of its time.
A Dawson city newspaper during that tumultuous time in Yukon history summed up the attitude of this Belinda Mulroney. She was quoted as saying "I like mining and have only hired a foreman because it looks better to have it said that a man is running the mine. But the truth is, I look after the management myself".
A CKRW Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin