(logo bleeps)

- When gold was
discovered in the Klondike

in the late 1890s, it
changed Seattle forever.

It set off a stampede, Seattle
boomed, people grew rich.

But it had another effect.

The lust for gold
spurred an interest

in aerospace innovation, what?

(playful music)

It's true, gold
powered the dreams

of controlled flight innovation.

All eyes were on the
skies as people fantasized

about ways of getting
people and material

to the Klondike, and
getting gold back.

In the modern era
of the 1890s though,

flight seemed very possible,
and even necessary.

(upbeat music)

In late 1896, and
all throughout 1897,

people began seeing
cigar-shaped airships

in the night sky.

Many of them were illuminated.

They speculated that inventors
were working on airships,

or that they might even
be from another planet.

Soon they were seen all
over the West Coast.

It started in California,
near San Francisco.

Then they were seen
up in Washington,

Oregon, British Columbia.

We saw them in Seattle,
Tacoma, Spokane.

People thought that inventors

were finally solving the
problem of controlled flight,

creating maneuverable
airships or aircraft

that could carry them
where they wanted to go

whenever they
wanted to go there.

(upbeat music)

Prospectors, by law, had
to carry hundreds of pounds

of supplies all the way
to Alaska and the Klondike

just to get to the gold fields.

What a wonderful solution
an airship would be,

carrying these heavy loads.

The "New York Times"
egged on the idea

of aviation innovation.

Quote, "Suppose an airship

"to be now perfected
and practical.

"The riches of the Klondike
would lie patent to mankind.

"The difficulties of
reaching that lonely valley

"would vanish at once."

Inventors leaped
to the challenge.

Thomas Edison was interviewed,
talking about airships,

wireless communication,
even trips to Mars.

Hiram Stevens Maxim, the
inventor of the machine gun,

opened a shop in San
Francisco that he said

would build an airship
to the Klondike.

Inventors from
all over the world

announced that they
were building airships.

Germany, Canada, Ireland.

A woman named Eola Lee
was said to be planning

to sail an airship
to the Klondike

that was described as an
immense, aerial houseboat.

Alas, none of these
fantastical ideas

actually came to fruition.

The airship sightings ceased,

and no one came up
with a workable airship

for the Klondike.

In fact, a workable
airship didn't appear

until about 1900, when the
first German Zeppelin flew.

The only successful airship
launch for the Klondike

was a musical farce
called "The Air Ship".

It was a play that circulated

for about 10 years,
from 1897 on.

It told the story of an
airship and its inventor

heading to Dawson City to find
a glittering lake of gold.

It was crude by at least
15 beautiful women.

People in Seattle loved
it for its combination

of technological
innovation, music, and gold.

People are still energized
by that combination today.

Seattle has ever since embraced
tech, aviation, and money.

(playful music)