As promised I wanted to focus a little on some of the Klondike dime novels. Sadly, though all of these publications are in the public domain, copies of them are very rare. Stories of the Arctic appear in many different novels and magazines like Beadles’ Boys’ Library for instance but aren’t readily available. Despite the lack of texts, we can still go on…

It is Nick Carter I want to look at first. He was one of the most popular dime novel characters ever, appearing in numerous titles and even going on to become a Pulp magazine and even a paperback hero in a series akin to The Executioner.

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In 1896 he started Nick Carter Weekly with at least the first four issues set in the Klondike, the authors unrecorded:

  1. The Gold mine case; or, How Chick’s son became a detective
  2. Trim’s race across the ice field; or, Hunting a criminal with a team of dogs
  3. Trim and the Swedish swindler; or, Bilk You’s career in Alaskan society
  4. Trim Among the Esquimaux; or, A Long Night in the Frozen North

Klondike Kit came after Carter in 1898. His name recalls another dime novel sat, Kit Carson. The novels were written by William Wallace Cook under the pseudonym of Hugh P. Rodman. Cook was so prolific he was

nicknamed “the man who deforested Canada.” He wrote about his dime novel days in The Fiction Factory (1912). He also wrote Vernian Science Fiction like Castaway at the Pole (1926), a satire of the Lost Land genre.

The publisher summed up the series thus:

“This is the latest library of the Klondike gold fields, will contain each week, a thrilling story of adventure in that land toward which every eye is now turned. Never since the first discovery of gold in California in 1849, has so much absorbing interest been taken in gold finds. The northern region of Alaska is now the Mecca of every gold seeker’s hope, and in no part of the whole world can there be found such a rich field for our talented author, Mr. Hugh P. Rodman, to work in. We can say, without a doubt, that no writer today, is better able to depict the Alaska scenes than Mr. Rodman, who has spent several years of his life in that country. The Klondike Kit Library will tell you all about it, and the same time entertain you with the very best stories of adventure ever written.”

  1. (May 28, 1898) Klondike Kit; or, A Freeze-Out in Chilkoot Pass.
  2. (June 4, 1898) Klondike Kit and His Girl Pard; or, Nugget Nell’s Fight for a Fortune.
  3. (June 11, 1898) Klondike Kit’s Lucky Nugget; or, The Lone Prospector of Lake Targish.
  4. (June 18, 1898) Klondike Kit’s Bonanza Strike; or, The Claim-Jumpers of Hootalinqua.
  5. (June 25, 1898) Klondike Kit’s Pay Streak; or, Snowed in at Forty-Mile.
  6. (July 2, 1898) Klondike Kit’s Mooseskin Bag; or, the Clean-up at No. 6.
  7. (July 9, 1898) Klondike Kit’s at the Black Hole; or, the Convict Hunt of Tananah.
  8. (July 16, 1898) Klondike Kit’s Chum; or, A Hot Strike on Vulture Hill.
  9. (July 23, 1898) Klondike Kit’s Quartz Ledge; or, Out with the Mounted Police.
  10. (July 30, 1898) Klondike Kit’s Grub Stake; or, A Full Hand at Five-Finger Rapids.
  11. (August 6, 1898) Klondike Kit’s Four-Footed Pard; or, Pay-Dirt at El Dorado.
  12. (August 13, 1898) Klondike Kit’s Lost Lead; or, A Fracas at Fort Get There.
  13. (August 20, 1898) Klondike Kit Down to Bed Rock; or, A Wonderful Find on the Happy-Go-Lucky.
  14. (October 1898) Klondike Kit’s Big Contract; or, Down the Yukon with Five Million.
  15. (November 1898) Klondike Kit at Copper River; or, The Argonauts of Anganak.
  16. (December 1898) Klondike Kit and Caribou Cal; or, Gold Thieves at the Treadwell.
  17. (January 1899) Klondike Kit’s Mascot; or, Barney Barnato, Jr.
  18. (February 1899) Klondike Kit’s Pacer Pocket; or, The Stampede to Stunner Creek.
  19. (March 1899) Klondike Kit’s Gold Brick; or, Country Rock at Kish Kish.

“This is the latest library of the Klondike gold fields, will contain each week, a thrilling story of adventure in that land toward which every eye is now turned. Never since the first discovery of gold in California in 1849, has so much absorbing interest been taken in gold finds. The northern region of Alaska is now the Mecca of every gold seeker’s hope, and in no part of the whole world can there be found such a rich field for our talented author, Mr. Hugh P. Rodman, to work in. We can say, without a doubt, that no writer today, is better able to depict the Alaska scenes than Mr. Rodman, who has spent several years of his life in that country. The Klondike Kit Library will tell you all about it, and the same time entertain you with the very best stories of adventure ever written.”

In spite of publishers’ promises of robust adventure and clean morals, the dime novels suffered the same criticism the Gothic novels endured before them and later Pulps and comic books would suffer after them. Seems some people just don’t like anything fun.

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