The town was founded by Joseph Ladue and then named in 1897 after a Canadian geologist George Dawson explored and mapped the region ten years before. It was the Yukon's capital from 1898 to 1952 when the capitol was moved to Whitehorse.
Dawson City first started as a summer fishing camp for the Han people. But when the mining boom began it quickly turning into a boom-town known as Dawson City. This sudden shift caused by the boom made the Han people relocate downstream shortly after. Not long after, in 1896, the Klondike Gold Rush began. Dawson City was modern in it's day, having a telephone service, running water, and steam heat. Elaborate hotels, theatres, and dance halls were erected in short order.
When the boom ended in 1899 (Ya, not very long!) 8,000 people left Dawson City. Many continued their quest for gold and left for Nome, Alaska. Even more left to start other lives somewhere else. Shortly after, gold mining slowed down in Dawson City.
Well, that's a little sneak peak into Dawson City around the gold mining boom. If you want to read The Snowflake and find out how Ellen survives in Dawson alone, then I suggest you pick up this book sometime soon! It was a very enjoyable read!