Could Greta Thunberg be a time traveller sent from the future to save humanity from the unfolding climate crisis? A cadre of Twitter users seem to think so after the photograph of a young Klondike goldminer bearing a striking resemblance to the Swedish activist was discovered this week.
The now-viral 1898 image of three children operating a goldmine in Canada’s Yukon territory is part of a sprawling collection by the documentary photographer Eric Hegg. Near the end of the 19th century, the Swedish American captured some of the most iconic images of people hoping to make their fortunes in the rugged north.
The image was taken at Dominion Creek, a remote location in Canada near the border with Alaska.
It was taken during the Klondike Gold Rush between 1897 and 1901, which saw more than 100,000 people flock to the region, hoping to strike it rich.
One of the children looks eerily similar to the 16-year-old activist, famous for her Friday climate strikes, in both the intensity of her stare and long braided hair.
To those saying ‘How can she be in the past if she’s from the future?!?’ Obviously, as a time traveler, she can travel to ANY time period. She obviously tried to go back 120 years, didn’t work, and now she’s here. Obviously! tweeted the writer Jack Strange.
None of the children in the photograph are named, making it difficult to determine their identities. Only the date and location – Dominion Creek – are known. The image nonetheless captures the gritty reality many families faced as they searched frantically for gold.
Hegg himself dabbled in mining in addition to lugging heavy camera gear throughout the region, but never struck gold.
Archivists at the University of Washington in Seattle, however, are doubtful a photograph in their collection is evidence of a time-traveling Swede. Hegg’s collection was donated to the University of Washington more than 50 years ago – and the image has long been known to staff not for its resemblance to Thunberg – but for the fact it depicted such young children working a mining operation.
We’ve had about 15 to 20 requests just to talk about the photo, and we’re getting into almost the triple digits now, in terms of requests to use the photo, Lisa Oberg, an archivist at the university, told the CBC.
Ever since 1997, the university’s digitized collection has been available to search online, meaning facial recognition software might have mistakenly picked up the young miner’s face when searching for Thunberg, according to the guardian.