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Klondy Nelson (Oct. 1,1897 – Nov. 19, 1987)
With her name derived from the Klondike, perhaps it would be destiny that Klondy Nelson grow to live a life of adventure in Alaska.  Nelson’s Daughter of the Gold Rush excerpt in Mergler’s compilation reveals a time in Klondy’s life when she was a new mother and had traveled aboard a vessel navigating the Yukon River with her husband Frank Dufresne.  Being able to access Nelson’s memoir Daughter of the Gold Rush as well as some biographic information, I was able to speculate on her internal psychological connection to that of the Alaskan landscape. 
Klondy Fishing 1914-1917
Nelson Personal Collection
From her memoir I learned that she and her mother moved to Alaska to join her father, a gold prospector, when she was 5 years old.  Klondy’s family moved to around to follow her transient father’s search for gold.  The locations where they lived during Klondy’s childhood were:  Ophir Creek, Council, Nome.  Two similarities among these locations were, rural communities and water a predominant element of the locations.  Water found in forms of rivers, streams, creeks, and the Bering Sea.  Klondy married Frank Dufresne, a man whose occupation often took him traveling.  It is Klondy mirrored her mother’s life, moving from place to place to be with a man she loved and often waiting for his return.                           
The waterways, animals, and the people who live in the rural and remote settlements of the Yukon River’s proximity are defining elements in Nelson’s landscapes.  Aboard the Beaver, Nelson would sit in the wheelhouse “watching the ever-changing panorama of nature along the Yukon’s banks.’(1)  Nelson’s landscapes breathe senses of visualization and emotion, “It took us two whole days to grope through the of the Yukon mouth, but at last I could smell the sea, and notice the milky-green expanse of open water curving into gray nothingness.’(2) 
Klondy and Mother, Council, AK, 1902
Nelson Personal Collection
Another example of the visual and emotional description tied to landscape is where Klondy sees Nome for the first time:  “From my father’s letters, I’d expected a magic city whose streets were paved with gold, shining in the sun like a fairy story, but all I could see was a flat gray stretch of sand with little shacks like packing boxes scattered helter-skelter along it, and an ugly blanket of soft-coal smoke hanging low over everything.  I was so disappointed I felt like crying, but I didn’t want Mother to know.’(3)  You can sense her letdown in the landscape which she paints, as often sensed in her depictions of Nome and negative emotions associated with her father.  Many other positive and eloquent descriptions are portrayed, in Klondy’s adulthood, in other locals, “The inverted mud huts of the mirage rested on the roofs of the real huts, shimmering in the orange dawn.’(4)    
Daughter of the Gold Rush Book Cover
1st ed. Kuller Cover 

From her writings, I feel that Klondy Nelson had a strong connection to Alaska.  Growing, living, and having firsthand travel adventures throughout Alaska, allowed Klondy to create vivid and realistic landscapes in her writings.  Emotionally, Klondy was a no nonsense woman whose life revolved around adventure, love, and family.  With her nomadic-romantic essence, Nelson captures many of Alaska’s diverse landscapes through her writing.   

(1) Wayne Mergler, Last New Land: Stories of Alaska Past and Present (Anchorage: Alaska Northwest, 1996), 211.     
(2)Nelson, Klondy, and Corey Ford. Daughter of the Goldrush. 1st. New York: Random House, 1958. 140. eBook. 
< https://www.archive.org/details/daughterofthegol000352mbp>.
(3)Nelson, Klondy, and Corey Ford. Daughter of the Goldrush. 1st. New York: Random House, 1958. 8. eBook. 
< https://www.archive.org/details/daughterofthegol000352mbp>.
(4)Nelson, Klondy, and Corey Ford. Daughter of the Goldrush. 1st. New York: Random House, 1958. 144. eBook. 
< https://www.archive.org/details/daughterofthegol000352mbp>.
All images taken from Daughter of the Gold Rush, First edition.  Nelson’s personal collection.  Book cover artist unknown.  

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