old log cabin next to the chilkoot trail close to lake bennett alaska yukon
gold hunters

Why should prospectors listen to their wives?

Thomas Lippy had a claim high on Eldorado Creek where he had been finding some fine gold. His wife wanted to live in a cabin, so she asked him to move down the creek, where timber was much better. He didn't want to leave his claim but finally he agreed and traded his claim for presumably poor claim number sixteen. He sunk fourteen shafts to the bedrock and found nothing, but what he found in the fifteenth shaft was beyond his wildest dreams.

Tom S. Lippy was an instructor at Seattle Y.M.C.A. but because of an injury he lost his job and decided to go to Klondike with his wife Salome in 1896. They joined the early rush and reached Klondike one month after George Carmack's spectacular discovery on Rabbit Creek, latter called Bonanza. When the Lippys arrived in the area Bonanza was all staked but the roulette wheel was still spinning around on Eldorado Creek. Tom staked pretty poor claim high on the creek but his wife, the first white woman in the area, was trying to persuade him to move down the creek and build a cabin there. Claims Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen and Seventeen was staked by Scotsmen from Nanaimo in British Columbia, but Sixteen and Seventeen soon became abandoned by them. A guy who re-staked claim number sixteen induced Tom Lippy to make the bargain because Lippy's claim adjoined that of a friend.

Most incredible claim of Eldorado Creek

Tom started sinking shafts to the bedrock. After sinking several shafts and failing to find any trace of gold he made an offer to sell the claim for $40, but no one wanted to purchase the claim at any price. Broke Lippy decided to dig the fifteenth hole. This time he punctured exactly into the rich pay-streak. His claim Sixteen produced for them $1,530,000 (which is now, according to CPI, around $45,100,000).

On July 25, 1898, the Lippys arrived in San Francisco aboard the Excelsior, the first ship to reach the lower United States from the Klondike and all newspapers screamed "Gold! Gold! Gold!" in their headlines.

A philanthropist Thomas Lippy

Returning to Seattle Lippy proceeded to do good with his suddenly acquired wealth. Among the contributions he has made is the freeing of the Seattle Y.M.C.A. from all financial troubles. He has also built and endowed a hospital, given much money to the Methodist church and other institutions. He also set up a free hospital for miners in Dawson City, Yukon and sent "a library of 1000 volumes" to Skagway, Alaska.

He and his wife went on a worldwide tour, before building a lavishly decorated 15-room house in Seattle. Lippy has also bought several of the best business blocks in Seattle and sold his holdings on the Yukon in 1903.

Tom Lippy was the Port Commissioner of the Port of Seattle from 1918 to 1921 and died in 1931 at the age of 71. Salome Lippy died in 1938.

sources: Ethel Anderson Becker, Klondike '98; Alan Grainger The Klondike Chest; Pierre Berton The Klondike Fever The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rush, Los Angeles Herald, Number 132, 8 February 1904 Wealthy Klondiker Here T. S. Lippy Made His Money in Alaska and Is Doing Good With It, wikipedia, Los Angeles Herald, Number 132, 8 February 1904 Millionaire beaten Thugs Bind Thomas S. Lippy and Rob Him. 
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