The tramp becomes a prospector in the Alaskan gold rush, struggles against hunger, meets other prospectors, and falls in love with a girl in a dance hall.
Men hike across the snowy Chilkoot Pass. The lone prospector (Charles Chaplin) is followed by a bear. During a storm he takes shelter in a cabin, but Black Larsen (Tom Murray) is a wanted criminal and tries to throw him out. Jim McKay (Mack Swain) comes in and starts eating. Larsen and McKay fight over the rifle while the prospector tries to keep out of the way. Days later the three are very hungry. Larsen loses and has to brave the storm. Two men try to capture him, but he kills them. The prospector boils a shoe for dinner. Larsen discovers the claim of McKay.
In the cabin McKay sees him as a chicken, and the prospector hides the butcher knife. McKay shoots at the chicken but then realizes he is a person. The prospector buries the rifle but gets it when McKay picks up an ax. They struggle over the gun. The prospector shoots a bear, and later they part.
McKay finds Larsen on his claim. Larsen knocks out McKay but is killed by an avalanche. The prospector goes to a dance hall and sees pretty Georgia (Georgia Hale), who is bored. She rejects Jack Cameron (Malcolm Waite) and dances with the prospector, who tries to hold up his pants. Cameron and the prospector fight.
The prospector goes to the cabin of Hank Curtis (Henry Bergman) and lets him save him. Curtis lets him stay in the cabin when he leaves. Georgia and three women throw snowballs, and the prospector is hit. Georgia finds her photo under his pillow. The prospector's shoe catches on fire. Georgia suggests they come to dinner. The prospector leaps for joy and destroys his pillow. He works shoveling snow.
On New Year's Eve the prospector sets the table, but only a mule comes in. He imagines women there and dances with two rolls on forks. Georgia kisses him, but he is asleep. Georgia celebrates the new year at the dance hall with Cameron. She takes him to have fun with the tramp. She sees the table, but he is not there. Cameron forces her to kiss him.
McKay has lost his memory and asks the recorder where his mountain of gold is. At the dance hall the prospector gets a kind note from Georgia. McKay demands that the prospector take him to his cabin. They find it, drink, and fall asleep. A storm blows the cabin to the edge of a cliff, where it teeters. They gradually discover it is precarious and manage to crawl out. McKay finds his claim, and they become rich.
On a boat the press photographs the prospector, but Georgia fears he is a stowaway and says she will pay his fare. Then she learns he is a millionaire, and they kiss.
This comedy shows what people will endure in their greed
for gold. The gentleness of the humble tramp wins the girl after
she is disgusted with a man who tries to force himself on her.