During the Klondike Gold Rush, boomtowns popped up on the edges of "the Last Frontier." In Southeast Alaska, Skagway and Dyea became important ports on the route to the gold fields.
These were lawless communities swarming with gold hungry stampeders. Sam Steele of the North-West Mounted Police described early Skagway as "little better than a hell on earth" and "about the roughest place in the world."
In May of 1899 the United States Army sent Buffalo Soldiers, the black soldiers of Company L of the 24th Infantry, to Dyea, Alaska Territory. The Klondike Gold Rush had brought hordes of gold rushers up the Lynn Canal to the tiny ports at Dyea and Skagway. The two lawless boomtowns sprang out of nowhere, and the Army sent troops to bring order.
The Army had formed segregated regiments of black soldiers, most of them former slaves in 1866, after the Civil War. Through the rest of the century these regiments, including the 24th, served in the American West, building towns, fighting Indians, protecting roads and railroads.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park was established on June 30, 1976.