SEATTLE — Quick, name the closest national park to Seattle. If you’re thinking Mount Rainier, you’d be wrong. The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park in Seattle’s Pioneer Square is the smallest national park and it’s closed, due to the U.S. government shutdown.
The park commemorates the Klondike Gold Rush in the Yukon Territory of Alaska in the late 1890s and houses an interpretive center and museum, located at Second Avenue South and South Jackson Street. The building once housed the historic Cadillac Hotel, which was severely damaged in the Nisqually earthquake on Feb. 28, 2001. The building, first built in 1889, was rehabilitated in 2005 and the park was opened and dedicated in June 2006.
According to a Seattle Times article, the Klondike stampede, which began in July 1897, was perhaps the single most dramatic event in Pacific Northwest history. It made Seattle a household word around the world, luring an estimated 30,000 Klondike-bound fortune seekers to these (Seattle) streets and transforming a frontier port into a booming metropolis.