Klondike Kate

Klondike Kate
Klondike Kate.

It’s unfortunate that the wikipedia article about Klondike Kate doesn’t go into her life in Oregon, seemingly dismissing it as the only option for a has-been rather than an active choice by a vivacious intelligent woman.

I admire her because she followed her dreams – when she was a dancer in Alaska, she made $30,000 at the age of 20. A fortune at that time! She didn’t let the fact that her lover borrowed all of her money and then left her for an actress ruin her life. Instead, it inspired her to explore, leaving Alaska for Seattle.

Klondike Kate made her way to Eastern Oregon, and fell in love with the prairie land, the sage brush, and the solitude. She bought land, and worked it. She was fascinated by interesting rocks, becoming one of the foremost rockhounds in Oregon, a state that has many rock admirers (growing up, I’d go thunder egg hunting with friends and their families). She would often work her land in old costumes, and continued to dance often. She married her 20 year old landowning neighbor when she was 39; she divorced him too, which had to take a lot of guts for a woman in the early 1900s. Eventually she moved into town (Bend) where Kate was an adamant supporter of the firemen. And she danced some more.

I have a book that has an article on her, so sometime in the next week, I’ll go update that Wikipedia section on a remarkable woman. She embodies a lot of what I associate with Oregonians in general – an ability to follow what you want to do, rather than what convention says you must do. Strength to survive hard times, and coming out ahead and stronger still.

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