|Map of the Location of the Yukon Mine||5|
|Gold—The Search for It, Past and Present||9|
|Klondyke and California—1849-1897||9|
|The Geology of the Yukon||10|
|The "Mother Lode" and the Glacial Deposits||10|
|The Great Gold Discovery—How the First Authentic News Reached Us||13|
|The Gold Fever Spreading—The Stories of Some Miners||14|
|Millions of Gold Panned Out—Poor Yesterday—Rolling in Wealth To-day||16|
|Arrival of the Second Treasure Ship from the Klondyke||19|
|A Few of the Prizes Won||21|
|Some Grapes of Eschol Stories—Richer than Sinbad's Valley of Diamonds||22|
|The Stampede for the Gold—Thousands Join the Exodus||24|
|Where the Gold is Found—How It Is Reached and Mined||26|
|Some Large Nuggets—There Are More Where They Came From||29|
|Millions Upon Millions in Sight—William Stanley's Graphic Story||29|
|How to Get There—Choice of Two Routes||32|
|From San Francisco to the Mines—Ocean Route||34|
|Perils of the Trip—Encounters with Ice and Snow in the Passes||35|
|The Canadian Government's Attitude—An International Question||38|
|Dawson Not a Tough Town—The Civilization of a Mining Camp||39|
|Fears of Starvation—Danger of Going to the Mines Without Food Supply||41|
|Cost of Living in Dawson||43|
|The Climate and the Mosquitoes—Short Summer—Heat and Cold Contrasts||44|
|Capital Required by Miners—Some Things Indispensable in an Outfit||45|
|A Woman's Outfit||47|
|Valuable Expert Advice—A Mining Engineer's Warnings and Suggestions||47|
|The New York Journal Expedition to Klondyke||50|
|Sailors Get Gold Craze—Desert Their Ships in Alaskan Ports to Dig for Fortunes||50|
|Only Three Deaths in a Year—The Healthiest Region in the World Is the Klondyke||51|
|Canadian Mining Laws—Regulations Imposed by the Dominion Upon Placer Mining||52|
|Some Things Worth Knowing||55|
|Explanatory and Important||58|
THE SEARCH FOR IT PAST AND PRESENT.
Since the dawn of history man has attached to gold a value greater than that of any of the metals. Indeed, the value of every product of Mother Earth, of the fields, the forest or the mine has been fixed by its worth in gold. Hence the quest of gold has inspired mankind to acts of heroism, to a search for knowledge, and to a resignation to hardship and privation that have given to the explorer and prospector a character scarcely second to that of the heroes of the battlefield or the leaders of the world's senates. The history of the human race, even the record of the discovery of continents, is largely a history of the search for the yellow treasure in its hiding places in the earth or among the elements of Nature. Columbus' voyage, which gave to the world America, with its California and now its Klondyke, was but a search for gold. Chemistry is only the offspring of alchemy, and while adventurous spirits were daring the main, suffering the torments of the tropics and the gloom of the wilderness, the hut and the cave of the hermit—man's first laboratories—were the scene of other labors and privations, and all in the search for gold, gold, whether in the ground, the water or the air. But it has remained to our own day to witness this quest extended to the region of eternal snow and rewarded among the glacial mountains of the frozen North.
1849 AND 1897.
As we are inclined to measure everything by comparison the discoveries in the Klondyke region and the already world-wide excitement created thereby naturally recall the discovery of gold in California, the memorable year '49, and suggests a comparison of the facts and conditions existing in and surrounding the two regions and the development of their respective resources.
In '49 California was scarcely nearer to the civilization of the then [Pg 10]existing States of the Union than Klondyke is to-day. Though the climate of California, when reached, was salubrious in the extreme, the hardships of an overland trip of more than three thousand miles or the scarcely less trying voyage "around the Horn," were quite as apt to deter the "tenderfoot" from attempting to seek fortune among the Sierras as are the extreme cold and possible privations that must be considered by the gold-hunters among the Alaskan mountains. But there were brave spirits in '49, who, defying every danger, flocked to the promised land, and realized not only their wildest dreams of wealth, but laid the foundation of one of the proudest among our galaxy of States. The population of the country by the census of 1850, a year later, was but 20,000,000. If there were thousands among those 20,000,000 who poured into California in '49, how much greater the influx into the region of the Klondyke will be if the same ratio of enterprise and adventure characterizes the 70,000,000 Americans of the present day. The first news of the discovery of gold in California was months in getting to "the States," and it was even months later before the gold fever had become really epidemic in the East. With the telegraph and cable of to-day the news from the Yukon has already encircled the globe and quickened the pulse of mankind in every land and latitude.
There have been gold excitements at stated periods from the Eldorado of the Spaniards down to Johannisburg, but none that has arisen so suddenly and spread so rapidly as that created by the tidings from Klondyke. Nor would it seem that the future of this excitement can be even conjectured. And perhaps the reason for this may be found in the fact that instead of the fables of an Eldorado, the reports from the Yukon have been shewn to be authentic and trustworthy.
Under the caption "How the Gold Came to Klondyke Placers," Professor George Frederick Wright, of Oberlin College, author of "Man in the Glacial Period" and other geological works, has contributed to the New York Journal an interesting article in which he says:
"The discovery of gold in large quantities on the Yukon River is by no[Pg 11] means unexpected. Eleven years ago, the last word I heard as I left Juneau was the pledge of a returning tourist to meet his friend the next Summer and prospect in the Yukon region.
"The great mass of gold-bearing quartz at the Treadwell mine, near Juneau, was what might be expected, and at the same time what might be the limitation of the supply. For more than ten years that mine has furnished more than a million dollars of gold annually, but it is not like ordinary quartz mines. It is rather a great, isolated mass of quartz with gold disseminated all through it. While its worth is great, its length is limited.
"Little is known about the geology of the Yukon River, where the Klondyke mines have been found. Being placer mines, the gold may have been transported many miles. The means of transportation are both glaciers and rivers. The Klondyke region is on the north side of the St. Elias Alps. Alaska was never completely covered with glacial ice. The glaciers flowed both north and south from these summits. Dawson and Professor Russell both report well defined terminal moraines across the upper Yukon Valley. The source of the Klondyke gold, therefore, is from the South.
"Placer mines originate in the disintegration of gold-bearing quartz veins, or mass like that at Juneau. Under sub-aerial agencies these become dissolved. Then the glaciers transport the material as far as they go, when the floods of water carry it on still further. Gold, being heavier than the other materials associated with it, lodges in the crevasses or in the rough places at the bottom of the streams. So to speak, nature has stamped and "panned" the gravel first and prepared the way for man to finish the work. The amount of gold found in the placer mines is evidence not so much, perhaps, of a very rich vein as of the disintegration of a very large vein.
"The "mother lode" has been looked for in vain in California, and perhaps will be so in Alaska. But it exists somewhere up the streams on which the placer mines are found. The discovery of gold in glacial deposits far away from its native place is familiar to American geologists.
"I have encountered placer mines in glacial deposits near Aurora, in Southeastern Indiana; in Adams County, in Southern Ohio, and near Titusville, in Western Pennsylvania, where, I see, there is a new excitement. But in all these cases the gold had been brought several hundred miles by glacial ice from Canada or the region about Lake Superior. These gold mines were near the edge of the glacial region, where there had been much assorting action of both ice and water.
"It is evident, however, that in Alaska the transportation of the gold has not gone so far. The difficulties of this transportation into the Klondyke region and the shortness of the season will continue to be great drawbacks to working the mines. The pass north of Chilcoot is 7,000 feet above sea level and but a few miles back from the ocean. There is no possibility of a road[Pg 12] over it. But from Taku Inlet, near Juneau, readier access can be had. This route was followed by Schwatka and Mr. Hayes, of the United States Geological Survey, a few years ago, and has been partially surveyed with reference to a railroad line, and reported to be available. The only other way is by a river which is open to navigation only a short time each year and is a great way around.
"The general climatic conditions on the north side of the mountains are much better than those on the south side. On the south side the snowfall is enormous, but on the north side the air is dryer. Schwatka and Hayes went in the Summer down the Yukon Valley about to the Klondyke region, and from there struck off west, passing to the north of Mount St. Elias and down the Copper River. They had dry weather all the time, in which camping was pleasant, while Russell the same season was driven back by inclement weather from ascending St. Elias on the south side. It is therefore not impossible that explorations southwest of the present gold fields may be carried on with comparative ease. But at present that whole region is bare of means of subsistence.
"There is imminent danger that many will get in there before Winter with insufficient means and starve. An English missionary and his wife have been in that general region for many years, and report the people as being so near the verge of starvation that they do not dare both to Winter in the same village lest they should produce a famine. So they live in separate villages during the Winter. Eventually the reindeer which Sheldon Jackson is introducing into the lower Yukon region will be available both for transportation and food, being much superior to dogs in that they can procure their own food. But for the present every necessity must either be packed over the Chilcoot Pass or brought around by way of the Yukon.
"As to the ultimate yield of the mines or the prospect of finding more, we have nothing but conjecture to go upon. The geologists who have visited the region were not the ones who discovered the gold. What the prospectors have found points to more. The unexplored region is immense. The mountains to the south are young, having been elevated very much since the climax of the glacial period. With these discoveries and the success in introducing reindeer Alaska bids fair to support a population eventually of several millions. The United States must hold on to her treaty rights with Great Britain for the protection of our interests there. If England accomplishes her unreasonable designs she would shut us off from all communication with the Klondyke region except by way of the Yukon."
HOW THE FIRST AUTHENTIC NEWS REACHED US.
Placer mining had been going on at Circle City and the settlement of Forty Mile for some time, and news of the wonderful productiveness of the mines there had reached the United States, but the gold fever did not become pronounced until the arrival in San Francisco, on the 14th of July of this year, of the steamer Excelsior with forty miners and gold dust valued at over $500,000.
These forty miners were the first to bring the story of the almost fabulous richness of the new Klondyke mines near the Upper Yukon. One of these miners, J. C. Hestwood, who brought home $10,000 worth of gold as the result of two months' work, had this story to tell:
"Circle City and Forty Mile have suffered the usual fate of mining camps which have petered out, only these camps have not petered out. When gold was found in such astonishing quantities on the tributaries of the Klondyke the whole population of those camps moved bodily to the junction of the Klondyke and Yukon rivers, where Dawson City is established. This district, the richest placer country in the world, was discovered by an old hunter named McCormick, who has a squaw for a wife and several half-breed children. McCormick went up in the spring of 1896 to the mouth of the Klondyke to fish, as salmon weighing ninety pounds are caught where this stream meets the Yukon. The salmon didn't run as usual and McCormick, hearing from the Indians of rich placers nearby where gold could be washed out in a frying pan, started in to prospect.
"Near what is now Dawson City he struck very rich pay dirt in a side hill. As soon as news of his discovery spread men from Circle City and Forty Mile rushed in. The richest claims are in Bonanza Creek, which empties into the Klondyke three miles above Dawson City. There are three claims in that district, each 500 feet long, extending clear across the creek on which it is located. No one can file an additional claim until he has recorded his abandonment of his old claim.
"In the adjoining Bunker district there are 200 claims. The two districts have been well prospected, but further up the Klondike is much territory which has never been travelled over.
"Old miners declared that the north side of the Yukon was worthless, so no prospecting was done until McCormick started in. There is no claim-jumping, as the Canadian laws are rigid and well enforced. The rich pay dirt is only struck near bed rock and this generally lies from eighteen to twenty-five feet below the surface.
"The method of mining is to remove the surface mass, which is eighteen[Pg 14] inches thick, and then build a fire which burns all night. In the morning the gravel is shaved down about two feet. This is shovelled out, and another fire is built, and in this slow and laborious way the ground is removed to bedrock. This work can be carried on all winter, except when the mercury falls below 60 degrees.
"Dawson City is a booming town of about 3,000 inhabitants and is growing every week. Provisions were scarce and dear last winter, and all supplies are costly. An ordinary 75-cent pocket knife sells for $4, and shoes bring from $6 to $8. A dog-sledgeload of eggs was brought in last winter from Juneau. About half were spoiled, but the whole lot sold readily at $4 per dozen. Flour sold as high as $1 a pound."
Mr. Hestwood showed many small nuggets from the new Bonanza Creek district, where his mine is situated. The gold is the color of brass, and is worth $16 to $17 an ounce. It isn't as pure gold as found elsewhere on the Yukon.
THE STORIES OF SOME MINERS.
The stories of the returned miners, telegraphed from San Francisco all over the country and to the ends of the earth on the evening of the 14th of July, were what started the gold fever, and the craze to go in search of the precious metal that is now raging from one end of the country to the other. Soon after the arrival of the Excelsior, the half million dollars worth of yellow dust, which ranged in size from a hazelnut to fine bird-shot and kernels of sand, was poured out on the counter at Selby's smelting works on Montgomery street and then shovelled with copper scoops into the great melting pot. Those who saw the gold in one heap said no such spectacle had been seen since the days of '49, when miners used to come down from the placer districts and change their gold for $20 pieces.
The luckiest of these miners are Mr. and Mrs. T. S. Lippey, who left here in April, 1896. They brought back $60,000. They went in by way of Juneau over the divide, and Mrs. Lippey was the first woman to go over this trail. She is a small, wiry woman, with skin tanned to the color of sole leather. She seemed none the worse for the hardships of Yukon life. She is a good rifle shot, and brought with her the antlers of a moose which she had shot.
Hollinshead and Stewart, two miners, who had been at work for a year,[Pg 15] had 1,500 ounces, worth about $25,000. Other tenderfeet had done better, for in a few weeks some of them had cleaned up from $10,000 to $15,000. Several of the men had bought claims on time, paying a small sum down and agreeing to pay all the way from $10,000 to $25,000 in three to six months. Most of them cleaned up enough gold in a month to pay for their claims and still have a good sum left over.
When the men arrived in San Francisco they found the United States mint closed for the day, and so they carried their sacks of gold to the office of Selby's smelting works. They were weather-beaten and roughly dressed, but the spectators forgot their appearance when they began to produce sacks of gold dust ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 in value. Some of the sacks were regular buckskin bags, well made; others were of canvas, black and grimy from long handling with dirty fingers. As fast as the bags were weighed they were ripped open with a sharp knife and the contents were poured out on the broad counter. Then some of the miners produced from bundles and coat pockets glass fruit jars and jelly tumblers filled with gold dust and covered with writing paper, carefully secured with twine. It seems that the supply of gold bags ran out and this was the only way to bring the treasure down.
When all the gold dust was poured out it made a nice heap, on which the spectators gazed as though fascinated; but the smelting men calmly scraped it up and cast the yellow dust into a big pot, which was wheeled into the smelting room.
A letter from one of the officials of the Alaska Commercial Company, at Circle City, gives this account of the great rush to the new diggings:
"The excitement on the river is indescribable, and the output of the new Klondyke district is almost beyond belief. Men who had nothing last fall are now worth a fortune. One man has worked forty square feet of his claim and is going out with $40,000 in dust. One-quarter of the claims are now selling at from $15,000 to $50,000. The estimate of the district is given as thirteen square miles, with an average of $300,000 to the claim, while some are valued as high as $1,000,000 each. A number of claims have been purchased for large sums on a few months' credit, and the amount has been paid out of the ground before it became due.
"At Dawson sacks of gold dust are thrown under the counters in the stores for safekeeping. The peculiar part of it is that most of the locations were made by men who came in last year, old-timers not having had faith in the indications until the value of the region was assured, whereupon prices jumped so high that they could not get in. Some of the stories are so fabulous I am afraid to repeat them for fear of being suspected of the infection.
"There are other discoveries reported a little beyond and on the Stewart River, but these have not yet been verified."
POOR YESTERDAY—ROLLING IN WEALTH TO-DAY.
The San Francisco correspondent of the New York Sun, who saw the arrival of the Excelsior, sent to his paper by wire a graphic description of the sensation created. He said:
"San Francisco has not been stirred by any mining discovery since the opening up of the great bonanzas on the Comstock Lode in Nevada, nearly thirty years ago, as it has been by the stories of two score sun-tanned and hard-featured miners who have returned from the new Klondyke camp on the Yukon River in far Alaska.
These stories would have excited derision were it not that all these men were able to furnish ocular proof of their tales with pounds of yellow gold. Not one of the party went into this camp last Fall with anything more than his outfit and a few hundred dollars. Not one came out with less than $5,000, a dozen cleaned up from $10,000 to $20,000, while half a dozen averaged from $20,000 to $90,000. Scores of them left claims that they valued at $20,000 to $1,000,000, which are now being worked by their partners or by hired laborers. They are not boasters nor boomers. In fact, they are careful to warn any one about venturing into the Yukon country unless he is young, vigorous and brave, able to bear hardships, and has from $500 to $1,000 for outfit and current expenses after reaching the new gold fields. Perhaps it is these very conservative views which have made their talk take such powerful hold on the popular imagination.
All returned miners agree that the best way to reach the new gold fields is by way of Juneau. The journey is mainly by land over a snow-covered trail, down numerous streams and across lakes. The only very dangerous place is Chilicoot Pass, which is dreaded because of the sudden snowstorms that come up without warning and that have proved fatal to many adventurous miners. The distance is 650 miles, and it takes an average of twenty-five days to cover it.
Dawson City has now a population of nearly 3,000. It is beautifully situated on the banks of the Yukon near the mouth of the Klondyke River, and seems destined to become the mining centre of the Northwest territory. The people now live in shanties, each built of a few strips of weather boarding and canvas. There is a sawmill in operation day and night, but it cannot supply the demand for its products. Lumber sells at the mill for $150 per thousand, but when delivered at mines the price jumps to $450.
One of the peculiar features of the new camp is the lack of shooting, due to the fact that the Canadian Government does not permit men to carry firearms. Police disarm miners when they enter the district, so that there[Pg 17] is not any of the lawlessness and crime which marked early placer mining in California. There is much gambling, and play is high. An old miner, Alexander Orr, who spent eight Winters in Alaska, but will not return, said:
"Dawson is not like most of the large mining camps. It is not a tough town; murders are almost unknown. The miners are a quiet, peaceable kind of men, who have gone there to work and are willing that everybody else shall have an equal chance with themselves. A great deal of gambling is done in town, but serious quarrels are the exception. As a gambling town I think it is equal to any I have ever seen, and this, by the way, is always the test of a mining camp's prosperity. Stud poker is the usual game. They play $1 ante, and often bet $300 or $500 on the third card."
Orr sold out his claim for $20,000, and the men who bought it made the purchase money in four months. Perhaps the best idea of what has been done in the new camp can be gained from the following short interviews with returned miners:
William Kulju said: "I brought down just 1,000 ounces of dust and sold it to smelting works. I worked at Eldorado Creek, near Dawson, and was in that country about a year, and had a couple of dollars and a pack last Summer when I went in. I sold my claim for $25,000, part cash and the balance to be paid as it is taken out. Now, I am taking a trip to the old country—Finland—and am coming back next year."
Fred Lendeseen: "I went to Alaska two years ago, and when I left there six weeks ago I brought $13,000 in gold dust with me. I have had considerable experience in mining, and say without hesitation that Alaska is the richest country I have ever seen. I have interest in a claim near Dawson and am going back in the Spring."
Greg Stewart: "I had a partner and I sold out my interest for $45,000 and put my money back again at interest in mines. My partner had 1,500 ounces of dust, but it fell short four ounces on the way down. The dust will go over $17 an ounce, but we are all waiting for returns from the smelting works. I brought a few hundred ounces with me, but I get interest of 2 per cent. on short loans. I expect to return next Spring."
John Marks: "I brought $11,500 in gold dust with me, but I had to work for every bit of it. There is plenty of gold in Alaska—more, I believe, than the most sanguine imagine—but it cannot be obtained without great effort and endurance. The first thing for a poor man to do when he reaches the country is to begin prospecting. As snow is from two to five feet deep prospecting is not easy. Snow must first be shoveled away, and then a fire built on the ground to melt the ice. As the ground thaws the shaft must be sunk until bed rock is reached. The average prospector has to sink a great many shafts before he reaches anything worth his while. If gold is[Pg 18] found in sufficient quantities to pay for working, he may begin drifting from the shaft, and continue to do so as long as he finds enough gold to pay."
Albert Fox: "I and partner went into the district in 1895 and secured two claims. We sold one for $45,000. I brought 300 ounces, which netted $5,000. Everybody is at Dawson for the present. The district is apt to be overrun. I wouldn't advise anyone to go there this Fall, for people are liable to go hungry before spring. About 800 went over the summit from Juneau, 600 miles, so there may not be food enough for all."
Robert Kooks: "I've been four years in Alaska. I had a half interest in a claim on Eldorado Creek, and sold out to my partner for $12,000. I bought a half interest in a claim on the Bonanza, below the Discovery claim, and my share is worth easily $15,000. I brought $14,000 in gold dust, and shall return in the Spring, after rest and recreation."
J. B. Hollinshead: "I was in the diggings about two years, and brought out about 1,500 ounces, which I suppose will bring $17 an ounce. I'm not sure about going back, though I have a claim on Gold Bottom Creek, fifteen miles from Bonanza. It is less than a year since I located my claim. My dust will bring over $25,000."
M. S. Norcross: "I was sick and couldn't work, so I cooked for Mr. McNamee. Still I had a claim on the Bonanza, but didn't know what was in it, because I couldn't work it. I sold out last spring for $10,000 and was satisfied to get a chance to return to my home in Los Angeles."
Thomas Flack: "My dust will bring more than $6,000. I have an interest in two claims on the Eldorado. One partner sold out for $50,000 and another for $55,000. I had an offer of $50,000, but refused it just before I came out."
Thomas Cook: "It is a good country, but if there is a rush there's going to be a great deal of suffering. Over 2,000 men are there at present, and 2,000 more will be in before snow falls. I've been at placer mining for years in California and British Columbia, and the mines at Dawson are more extensive and beyond anything I ever saw. Last year I did very well at Dawson. I have a claim worth about the average, they say from $25,000 to $50,000, on Bear Creek, across the divide from the Bonanza."
Con Stamatin: "I was mining on shares with a partner. He's still there. We worked on Alexander McDonald's ground in Eldorado for forty-five days and took out $33,000. We got 50 per cent. and the other half went to McDonald. Then we divided our share, and I came away."
All miners unite in saying that the only fear for the coming winter is the lack of supplies. The Alaska Commercial Company promises, however, to send in all that is needed. Living is high now, as may be seen from these quotations of prices when the miners started for home: Flour, $12 per [Pg 19]hundredweight; (following are the prices per pound) moose ham, $1; caribou meat, 65 cents; beans, 10; rice, 25; sugar, 25; bacon, 40; potatoes, 25; turnips, 15; coffee, 50; dried fruits, 35; tea, $1; tobacco, $1.50; butter, a roll, $1.50; eggs, a dozen, $1.50; salmon, each, $1 to $1.50; canned fruits, 50 cents; canned meats, 75; liquors, per drink, 50; shovels, $2.50; picks, $5; coal oil, per gallon, $1; overalls, $1.50; underwear, per suit, $5 to $7.50; shoes, $5; rubber boots, $10 to $15.
Miners who have reached San Francisco do not act like people who have suddenly jumped from poverty to comparative wealth. They are level headed. They went to the best hotels, and they are living on the fat of the land, but they do not throw money away, and not one started in to paint the town red. They have worked so hard that they appreciate the value of money. What they delight in most are theatres and other amusements. They say no one knows how to enjoy these if he has not spent a year in Alaska. Three-quarters of the miners will return in the Spring when they are well rested."
When the first stories of the fruitfulness of the "Far Off Land" came to the ears of the children of Israel there were many doubters, but when those who had been sent to spy out the land came back later bearing great bunches of grapes there were none that doubted. So when the Excelsior arrived in San Francisco, on the 14th of July, many may have doubted the truth of the stories told of the richness of the new gold fields, but when, three days later, the Portland steamed into Seattle with gold to the value of over $1,000,000, brought from the region of the Upper Yukon, no one who saw with their own eyes the gold, and who heard with their own ears the tales of mineral riches unsurpassed, could doubt that on the banks of the Klondyke had been discovered the world's greatest gold fields. An eye witness of the scenes of the Portland's arrival thus tells the story in the New York Journal:
Gold in boxes, gold in bags, gold in blankets, fine gold and coarse gold, gold nuggets and gold dust, the yellow treasure of the Klondyke diggings, came from the far North.
A ton and a half of gold was a part of the load of the steamer Portland from St. Michael's, Alaska, and with the 3,000 pounds of gold were the [Pg 20]several owners, sixty-eight miners, some with $5,000, some with $10,000, some with $50,000, a few with $100,000 and over, but all with gold.
With the product of their work for a season in the new "diggings," the richest in surface gold ever discovered, these miners had made the long voyage from Dawson City, the new golden town, 1,895 miles down the Yukon to St. Michael's, and at St. Michael's had boarded the Portland with their treasure, bound for homeland and intent upon changing their dust and their nuggets into the minted, milled coin of their country.
On the voyage the gold was stored in the captain's state room. The little safe in the corner was packed full of bags of gold, and the remainder that the safe would not hold was placed in three boxes.
When the steamer came to the port the miners put their bags on their shoulders and walked down the gang plank in the presence of a vast throng of Seattle people assembled to see the great pile of treasure from the rich fields of the far North. A miner with only $5,000 in his bag easily carried his fortune. Twenty thousand dollars in two bags is a good load for any stalwart man, no matter if he has worked where the mercury falls to sixty degrees below zero. Two men used all their strength in carrying a strapped blanket, in which was about $50,000. The few with the big fortunes, $100,000 and over, had to hire help to get their precious possessions to a safe place of storage in Seattle.
The greater part of the ton and a half of gold was taken from the ground during three Winter months. Last Fall some green strangers, "tenderfeet," fresh from the comforts of civilization, were so absurd as to give no heed to the advice of the old miners. The pioneers of the Yukon mines, the men who know Circle City and Forty Mile Creek and all the surrounding country, said there was no use looking for gold "over yonder on the Klondyke." But the foolish strangers went "over yonder on the Klondyke." During the Fall the news reached the older diggings of the amazing discoveries of gold by these absurd tourists from the South, and from all the country round about came the rush to Klondyke.
When gold is waiting to be lifted out of the ground cold is not to be considered. During the dark Winter days the temperature, 30 or 40 degrees below zero, the quest for dust and nuggets was pursued continually. The product of the work of some of these Winter miners, defiant of the cold, is shown in the treasure brought to the United States by the Portland and the Excelsior.
The greatest fortune gained by any of the company of miners is the honeymoon treasure of Clarence Berry, of Fresno, Cal. He brought $135,000 in dust and nuggets. In 1890 young Berry went to the Yukon country, and for several years he prospected along Forty-Mile Creek and other placer fields without success. Last Summer he returned to California, married, and took[Pg 21] his bride with him to the North. Instead of remaining in Alaska he went over the boundary line into British possessions, and on the Klondyke he struck the richest pocket that was discovered. He said that the principal part of his $135,000 came from three hundred "box lengths." A "box length" is fifteen feet long and twelve feet wide. In one length he found a pocket of $10,000. In another length was a nugget weighing thirteen ounces, next to the largest found in the diggings. Mr. Berry deemed his fortune sufficient for the present, and is taking his bride to his home in Fresno, where, in the July temperature of 110 above, she may find compensation for the 58 below of January on the Yukon.
One of the foolish strangers who gave no consideration to the advice of the old miners is Frank Phiscater. Last Autumn he went from Borada, Mich., to Alaska and thence to Klondyke. He was one of the first to discover gold in the fabulously rich placers of the new El Dorado. He employed nine men and in three months' time took out from two claims $96,027. He still owns the claims, but having nearly $100,000 made in less than twelve months he deems himself entitled to a trip to Michigan.
THEY HAVE MADE THEIR PILE AND BROUGHT IT HOME.
|Clarence J. Berry||$135,000|
|F. G. H. Bowker||90,000|
|T. S. Lippy||60,000|
|K. B. Hollingshead||25,500|
|[Pg 22]Fred Lendesser||13,000|
|M. S. Norcross||10,000|
|J. O. Hestwood||5,000|
|Louis B. Rhoads||5,000|
RICHER THAN SINBAD'S VALLEY OF DIAMONDS.
Among the Portland's passengers was William Stanley, of Seattle, formerly a blacksmith, who went into the country two years ago last spring. He returned with $115,000 in gold nuggets and dust. His claim is on the Bonanza Creek, emptying into the Klondyke five miles above Dawson City, the headquarters of the camp. Clarence Berry, formerly a farmer of Fresno, Cal., brought back seven sacks, containing $135,000. Clarence Berry, of Los Angeles, went to the Yukon in 1894.
"My luck was bad for three years. Last fall I came out and married, and when I went back I heard of the Klondyke. I was early on the ground, locating, with other parties, three claims on Eldorado Creek. We struck it rich. That's all there is to tell.
"Last winter I took out $130,000 in thirty box lengths. Another time the second largest nugget ever found in the Yukon was taken out of my claim. It weighed thirteen ounces and was worth $213. I have known men to take out $1,000 a day from a drift claim. Of course the gold was found in pockets, and those finds, you can rest assured, were very scarce. I would not advise a man to take in an outfit that would cost less than $500.
"The country is wild, rough and full of hardships for those unused to the rigors of Arctic winter. If a man makes a fortune he is liable to earn it by severe hardships and sufferings, but then grit, perseverance and luck will probably reward hard work with a comfortable income for life."
Henry Anderson, a native of Sweden and well known on the Lound, sold a one-half interest in his claim on Eldorado Creek and has come back to Seattle with $45,000 spot cash, the proceeds of the sale. T. J. Kelly and son, of Tacoma, went in last year and made $10,000. The son is in charge of the claim and the father was among the Portland's passengers.
Frank Keller, of Los Angeles was one of the Portland's passengers. He went in last year, mined during the winter, and last year sold the claim for $35,000. William Sloat, formerly a dry-goods merchant, of Lanimo, B. C., sold his claim for $52,000, and, with the gold he took from the mine, came back on the Portland. Another man named Wilkenson, of the same city, sold his claim for $40,000. Frank Phiscater, of Baroda, Mich., returned with $96,000, the result of his labors in Miles. Capt. Strickland, of the Canadian mounted police, who is en route to Ottawa on official business, is among the arrivals. He says:
"When I left Dawson City about a month ago there were about 800 claims staked out and between 2,000 and 3,000 people. We can safely say that there was $1,500,000 in gold mined last winter. Wages in mines were $15 a day, and the sawmill paid laborers $10 a day with claims now staked, but will afford employment for about 5,000, I believe. If a man is strong and healthy and wants to work he can find employment at good wages. Several men worked on an interest, or what is termed a lay, and during the winter realized from $5,000 to $10,000. The mines are from 35 to 100 miles from Alaska boundary."
J. Kellar, who pronounced it the richest gold country in the world, said:
"It was 68 degrees below zero last winter, and the ground was frozen to the depth of forty feet. The snow doesn't fall to any great depth, three feet being the greatest, and that was light and fleecy frost. All the gold is taken out of gravel by thawing in the summer. There are nine months of winter. We left Dawson City on a river steamer on June 19, and were eight days reaching St. Michael's, 1,800 miles. The weather in Klondyke was warm and sultry, much warmer than it seemed, and mosquitos were in myriads. They are in the water one drinks. They give a man no rest day or night. I am satisfied to stay away from Klondyke, although I did well.
"It is a horrible country to live in, but it is extremely healthy. Every man is on his good behavior, and, for a mining country, has as good, orderly, law-abiding citizens as I ever saw. At present there is no prospecting going on, all men in the country being employed at $12 or $15 a day,[Pg 24] or are working on their own claims. There is a big country open to prospectors."
Tom Cochrane, a grocery clerk, staked one of the Klondyke miners with $300 worth of supplies eighteen months ago. His dividend received on the Portland was $41,000.
Victor Lord, a western Washington logger, spent four years in the Yukon. He made $10,000 last winter in six weeks on the Klondyke, working a claim on shares. He will return after spending the summer here. Alexander Menzie, of Arizona, was a miner before he went into the Klondyke this spring. He located two claims on Indian Creek, and after three weeks' work brought out $7,000. "I have mined for thirty years in California, Arizona and Nevada," he said to-night. "The Klondyke country is richer than any placer district in the world. I own two claims on Indian Creek and will return in the spring in time to sled over the mountains into Klondyke from Dyea."
Harry Olson received $60,000 for his interest in a claim on Eldorado. His wealth is in sacks, like that of the others. He is a California farmer, and left for his old home, from which he departed three years ago.
The miners left Dawson City June 19 and were seven days on the trip by steamer down the Yukon to St. Michael's. After another week's rest they sailed on July 3 on the steamship Portland.
Inspector Strickland says that complete order is maintained in the camp by the Canadian mounted police. Little disorder prevails, but this may have changed since the departure of the Portland party, as the Alaska Commercial Company sent 10,000 gallons of whiskey into the camp on June 1.
There is a great scarcity of lumber and the single sawmill is kept busy day and night supplying the camp with lumber. The camp is a typical specimen of the frontier mining village, without regular streets. It straggles up the Klondyke for three miles, and then the houses are found at intervals of a quarter of a mile.
THOUSANDS JOIN THE EXODUS.
To say that the news from the north brought by passengers of the Excelsior and confirmed by those of the Portland swept over the Pacific coast with the rapidity of a prairie fire would be to make use of an inadequate simile. In less than forty-eight hours hundreds were busy arranging their affairs so as to depart by the first steamer for the new Eldorado. On the[Pg 25] 18th of July, only four days after the arrival of the Excelsior, the offices of the Alaska Commercial Company in San Francisco were besieged by men, and even women, all anxious to secure a passage, and on the same day it was stated by an officer of the company that their steamers would not be able to carry one-tenth of those desirous of starting from that port alone. The same official estimated that before the end of the month the number of those who would set out from San Francisco would reach fully 5,000. Hundreds with means sufficient to buy tickets and outfits fairly tumbled over each other to secure these. Others sought capital by offering one-half their winnings to those who would stake them. Syndicates were speedily formed, "grub stakes" offered and parties of tens, twenties and even hundreds organized for the venture. The reported danger of famine, even the warnings of returned miners seemed to deter no one.
While such was the craze in San Francisco, the excitement was no less in Seattle, Tacoma, Portland and all along the Pacific coast. Nor did it end here. The same excitement swept Eastward and prevailed to a greater or less extent everywhere. The press of the county gave publicity to every scrap of news, corps of correspondents were organized and "hurried to the front," and even the "special artist on the spot" was not "left out in the cold," whatever he may suffer when he reaches a latitude where the mercury coquettes with the 80s. and 90s. below zero. All sorts of advertisements from all sorts of people, offering almost any terms and conditions to a backer, appeared, and, as we write, are still appearing in the daily papers. The one subject of conversation in the swell clubs, no less than on the street corners, is the news from Alaska, and the region of the Klondyke and the Yukon River have suddenly become as familiar geographical designations as Brooklyn or the Hudson.
Perhaps no more reliable authority could be given as to the great resources of the Klondyke and the excitement prevailing in and about that region than Capt. Francis Tuttle, commander of the revenue cutter Bear. Writing to a friend in New York from St. Michael's on the Yukon River, the Captain says:
"The days of '49 in California are a mere side show compared with the excitement in the Yukon country. Imagine my astonishment on reaching here yesterday to run across a man who, last September, was discharged as a deck hand from a steamer on Puget Sound. The fellow made his way into Alaska, worked seven months on the Klondyke and has now reached St. Michael's with $150,000 in gold. I could hardly believe my senses, but there was his gold, sure enough.
"As I write St. Michael's is full of miners awaiting an opportunity to get down to Puget Sound and to California. Nearly every other man of them has $50,000 worth of dust, and there is not a man here with less than [Pg 26]$15,000. The latter are referred to as 'poor fellows' who have been hard hit with bad luck, and it seems to be real sympathy that the more fortunate ones show for these $15,000 fellows.
"The deck hand, with his $150,000, had the largest amount of gold of any one in the crowd. The whole business is almost incredible, yet one must believe what he sees.
"It is enough to turn the mind of any person, and particularly when one learns with what comparative ease this gold is mined."
As we write several steamers having already departed from various Pacific ports, are on their way to the Yukon, all freighted to their fullest capacity with gold hunters, provisions and mining outfits. Others are following as rapidly as they can be outfitted, and scarcely a seaworthy craft available for the purpose can be found that has not already been brought into requisition.
This stream of humanity that has suddenly turned northward and is being constantly swollen as it proceeds on its way is made up of all classes of men and from every condition in life. The experienced and rugged miner is accompanied by the "tenderfoot." The soft-handed clerk falls in line with the tanned and strong-muscled out-of-door laborer. Even the professional man has abandoned his comfortable office for the miner's hut. The first steamer to leave numbered among her passengers the venerable poet of the Sierras, Joaquin Miller. Another steamer, sailing from Seattle on July 22, carried north ex-Governor McGraw, who for many years was president of the First National Bank, of Seattle; Governor of Washington for four years ending January last, and later a candidate for United States Senator to succeed W. S. Squire. Among his companions du voyage were General M. E. Carr, formerly Brigadier General of the State militia, and whose law practice is the largest in the State of Washington, and Captain A. J. Balliet, at one time Yale's greatest oarsman and football player, who also leaves a handsome law practice to seek gold on the Yukon.
HOW IT IS REACHED AND MINED.
Dr. William H. Dall, one of the curators of the National Museum, is familiar with the region of country in which the Klondyke gold fields are located, through having been on several geological expeditions to the region in Alaska adjoining the gold district, and says that in his opinion the reports from there probably are not exaggerated.
"When I was there," he says, "I did not find gold, but knew of it being[Pg 27] taken out in profitable quantities for fifteen years or more. It was first discovered there in 1866. In 1880, when I was up in that country, the first party of prospectors who have made mining profitable, started out. The gold is found on the various tributaries of the Yukon, and I have been within a comparatively short distance of the Klondyke fields. I made one trip to Circle City, just over the boundary of Canada.
"The gold bearing belt of Northwestern America contains all the gold fields and extends into that part of British Columbia known as the Northwestern Territory and Alaska. The Yukon really runs along in that belt for 500 or 600 miles. The bed of the main river is in the lowlands of the valley.
"The yellow metal is not found in paying quantity in the main river, but in the small streams which cut through the mountains on either side. These practically wash out the gold. The mud and mineral matter is carried into the main river, while the gold is left on the rough bottoms of these side streams. In most cases the gold lies at the bottom of thick gravel deposits. The gold is covered by frozen gravel in the Winter. During the Summer, until the snow is all melted, the surface is covered by muddy torrents. When the snow is all melted and the springs begin to freeze the streams dry up. At the approach of Winter, in order to get at the gold the miners find it necessary to dig into the gravel formation.
"Formerly they stripped the gravel off until they came to the gold. Now they sink a shaft to the bottom of the gravel and tunnel along underneath in the gold bearing layer. The way in which this is done is interesting, as it has to be carried on in cold weather, when everything is frozen.
"The miners build fires over the area where they wish to work and keep these lighted over that territory for the space of twenty-four hours. Then, at the expiration of this period, the gravel will be melted and softened to a depth of perhaps six inches. This is then taken off and other fires built until the gold-bearing layer is reached. When the shaft is down that far other fires are built at the bottom, against the sides of the layer, and tunnels made in this manner.
"Blasting would do no good, on account of the hard nature of the material, and would blow out just as out of a gun. The matter taken out containing the gold is piled up until Spring, when the torrents come down, and is panned and cradled by these. It is certainly very hard labor.
"I see many reasons why the gold fields should be particularly rich. The streams which cut through the mountains have probably done so for centuries, wearing them down several hundred feet and washing out the gold into the beds and gravel.
"It is a country in which it is very hard to find food, as there is practically no game. Before the whites went into the region there were not more than[Pg 28] 300 natives. They have hard work to support themselves, on account of the scarcity of game."
An interesting letter telling of the recent trip of the steamer Excelsior has been written by Captain J. F. Higgins, of the steamer, to a friend. He says:
"The word Klondyke means Deer River, and the stream is called the Reindeer River on the charts. It empties into the Yukon fifty miles above the Big River. The geographical position of the juncture is 76 degrees 10 minutes north latitude, 138 degrees 50 minutes west longitude. Bonanza Creek dumps into the Klondyke about two miles above the Yukon. Eldorado is a tributary of the Bonanza. There are numerous other creeks and tributaries, the main river being three hundred miles long.
"The gold so far has been taken from Bonanza and Eldorado, both well named, for the richness of the placers is truly marvellous. Eldorado, thirty miles long, is staked the whole length and as far as worked has paid.
"One of our passengers who is taking home $100,000 with him has worked one hundred feet of his ground and refused $200,000 for the remainder, and confidently expects to clean up $400,000 and more. He has in a bottle $212 from one pan of dirt. His pay dirt while being washed averaged $250 an hour to each man shovelling in. Two others of our miners who worked their own claim cleaned up $6,000 from one day's washing.
"There is about fifteen feet of dirt above bed rock, the pay streak averaging from four to six feet, which is tunnelled out while the ground is frozen. Of course, the ground taken out is thawed by building fires, and when the thaw comes and water rushes in they set their sluices and wash the dirt. Two of our fellows thought a small bird in the hand worth a large one in the bush, and sold their claims for $45,000, getting $4,500 down, the remainder to be paid in monthly instalments of $10,000 each. The purchasers had no more than $5,000 paid. They were twenty days thawing and getting out dirt. Then there was no water to sluice with, but one fellow made a rocker, and in ten days took out the $10,000 for the first instalment. So, tunnelling and rocking, they took out $40,000 before there was water to sluice with.
"Of course, these things read like the story of Aladdin, but fiction is not at all in it with facts at Klondyke. The ground located and prospected can be worked out in a few years, but there is an immense territory untouched, and the laboring man who can get there with one year's provisions will have a better chance to make a stake than in any other part of the world."
THERE ARE MORE WHERE THEY CAME FROM.
The largest nugget yet found was picked out by Burt Hudson on claim Six of the Bonanza, and is worth a little over $250. The next largest was found by J. Clements, and was worth $231. The last four pans Clements took out ran $2,000, or an average of $500 each, and one of them went $775. Bigger pockets have been struck in the Cariboo region and in California, but nowhere on earth have men picked up so much gold in so short a time. A young man named Beecher, came down afoot and by dog sledge, starting out early in March. He brought $12,000 to $15,000 with him. He was purser on the Weare last summer, and went in after the close of navigation in October or September. About Dec. 15 he got a chance to work a shift on shares, and in sixty days made his stake, which is about $40,000. He has purchased a claim or two. You will find more gold in circulation in Dawson than you ever saw in all your life. Saloons take in $3,000 to $4,000 each per night. Men who have been in all parts of the world where gold is mined say they never saw such quantities taken in so short a time.
The diggings around Circle City and in the older places are rich enough to satisfy any ordinary demand, but they have all, or nearly all, been temporarily left for the new fields. There are probably 250 men working in the mines outside Circle City, but there would have been 1,500 had not the new strike been made. Should the new field play out, which is a thing impossible, the older diggings would be returned to and with profit. However, the new finds are not going to play out. There is enough in sight to confirm the belief that these new diggings cannot be exhausted in ten years. Of course, comparatively little gold is being taken out now, for the streams are too high, but there is much that was drifted and piled up last winter that is not yet washed.
WILLIAM STANLEY'S GRAPHIC STORY.
The New York Journal prints this story of William Stanley: Stanley is one of the fortunate ones who returned from the Klondyke on the Portland. In addition to his present fortune he is interested with his son and two New Yorkers in claims which, he says, will yield $2,000,000. Stanley is a married man; he has a wife and several children. During his absence in the far North the family struggled to eke out an existence, for[Pg 30] everything that Stanley had went to pay his expenses to the gold fields. Stanley is well on in years. He was not accustomed to hardships; for years he conducted a little book store in an out-of-the-way business corner.
To-day people who used to help him by giving 10 to 15 cents cannot realize that he is wealthy. Here is his story:
"I went to the Yukon as a last resort. I was getting old and I had no money and I knew that I would never get any unless I took it out of the ground. It was a year ago last March that I left Seattle. I am free to confess that my family was at that time in destitute circumstances. I made for the Yukon. I had never before been there. I knew nothing of mining and nothing of the hardships of the country, and, in fact, was as great a "greeny" as ever set foot in the great gold country of the Northwest. My son, Samuel Stanley, went with me. He was as ignorant as his father.
"While we were on the steamship Alki, which took us to Dyea, we met two young men, Charles and George Worden. They were residents of Sackett's Harbor, N. Y., and had come West in search of gold. Their mother lives back in the old home, so they informed me. We became very intimate with the Wordens. They knew little, if anything, about the country, and one day in conservation one of us suggested that we form a company and do our work on the syndicate plan, each man to share and share alike. We wandered through the Yukon districts for several months and were getting discouraged, because there seemed to be nothing for us. We met other men who were getting rich, but we grew poorer as the days came and went. Once we had about concluded to go back.
"It was in the latter part of last September that we befriended a man who gave us a tip as to the riches of the Klondyke. We were willing to believe anything, and made for the Klondyke at once. At that time we were en route for Forty Mile Creek. We were then at Sixty Mile.
"The first thing we did when we reached the Klondyke was to spend a little time at the mouth of the stream. We were there just twenty-four hours when the little steamer Ellis arrived with 150 excited miners aboard. They had just heard the good news, and on their arrival they made a rush for the richest spots on Bonanza and Eldorado creeks.
"We went to Eldorado Creek and made locations on what were called Claims Twenty-five, Twenty-six, Fifty-three and Fifty-four. I think it was in October that we made our locations. We worked Claims Twenty-five and Twenty-six, and were very soon satisfied that we had a fine thing, and went to work to make preparations for a long winter of experiences and hardships. We got all we wanted before spring. Every man put in his time sinking prospect holes in the gulch.
"I tell the simple truth when I say that within three months we took from the two claims the sum of $112,000. A remarkable thing about our findings[Pg 31] is that in taking this enormous sum we drift up and down stream, nor did we cross-cut the pay streaks.
"Of course, we may be wrong, but this is the way we are figuring, and we are so certain that what we say is true that we would not sell out for a million. In our judgment, based on close figuring, there are in the two claims we worked, and Claims No. 53 and No. 54, $1,000 to the lineal foot. I say that in four claims, we have at the very least $2,000,000, which can be taken out without any great work.
"I want to say that I believe there is gold in every creek in Alaska. Certainly on the Klondyke the claims are not spotted. One seems to be as good as another. It's gold, gold, gold all over. It's yards wide and yards deep. I say so, because I have been there and have the gold to show for it. All you have to do is to run a hole down, and there you find plenty of gold dust. I would say that our pans on the Eldorado claims will average $3, some go as high as $150, and, believe me, when I say that, in five pans, I have taken out as high as $750 and sometimes more. I did not pick the pans, but simply put them against my breast and scooped the dirt off the bed rock.
"Of course, the majority of those on the Klondyke have done much figuring as to the amount of gold the Klondyke will yield. Many times we fellows figured on the prospects of the Eldorado. I would not hesitate much about guaranteeing $21,000,000, and should not be surprised a bit if $25,000,000, or even $30,000,000, was taken out.
"Some people will tell you that the Klondyke is a marvel, and there will never be a discovery in Alaska which will compare with it. I don't believe it. I think that there will be a number of new creeks discovered that will make wonderful yields. Why, Bear Gulch is just like Eldorado. Bear Gulch has a double bed rock. Many do not know it, but it's a fact, and miners who are acquainted with it will tell you the same thing.
"The bed rocks are three feet apart. In the lower bed the gold is as black as a black cat, and in the upper bed, the gold is as bright as any you ever saw. We own No. 10 claim, below Discovery, on Bear Gulch, and also Nos. 20 and 21 on Last Chance Gulch, above Discovery. We prospected for three miles on Last Chance Gulch, and could not tell the best place to locate the Discovery claim. The man making a discovery of the creek is entitled by law to stake a claim and take an adjoining one, or, in other words, two claims; so you see he wants to get in a good location on the creek or gulch. Hunker Gulch is highly looked to. I think it will prove another great district, and some good strikes have also been made on Dominion Creek. Indian Creek is also becoming famous.
"What are we doing with all the money we take out?
"Well, we paid $45,000 spot cash for a half interest in Claim 32, Eldorado.[Pg 32] We also loaned $5,000 each to four parties on Eldorado Creek, taking mortgages on their claims, so you see we are well secured.
"No, I do not want any better security for my money than Eldorado claims, thank you. I only wish I had a mortgage on the whole creek.
"We had a great deal of trouble in securing labor in prospecting our properties. Old miners would not work for any price. We could occasionally rope in a greenhorn and get him to work for a few days at $15 a day. Six or eight miners worked on shares for us about six weeks, and we settled. It developed that they had earned in that length of time $5,300 each. That was pretty good pay, wasn't it? We paid one old miner $12 for three hours' work and offered to continue him at that rate, but he would not have it, and he went out to hunt a claim of his own. My son, Samuel, and Charles Worden are in charge of our interests in Alaska. George Worden and I came out, and we will go back in March and relieve them. Then they will come out for a spell. George goes from here to his home in New York State to make his mother comfortable.
"I am an American by birth, but of Irish parents. I formerly lived in Western Kansas, but my claim there was not quite as good as the one I staked out on the Eldorado Creek."
CHOICE OF TWO ROUTES.
There are two routes either of which can be taken to the Klondyke. The best but the most expensive is by steamer from Seattle to St. Michael's, and then by river boat up the Yukon 1,700 miles to Dawson City. By this route it takes thirty-five to forty days, and the fare is $180. The steamers permit only 150 pounds of baggage for each passenger. Two steamers that will leave before the river is closed by ice cannot carry more than 150 passengers each. The other route is by land by way of Juneau. The passenger goes from Seattle to Juneau. There at this season all packs must be carried on the back or on mules. When snow falls sledges can be used and the trip can be made much more easily. The distance is 650 miles. This trip is thus described:
"Leaving Juneau you go to Dyea by way of Lime Canal, and from there to Lake Lindermann, thirty miles on foot, or portage, as we call it. The lake[Pg 33] gives you a ride of five or six miles, and then follows another long journey overland to the headwaters of Lake Bennett, which is twenty-eight miles long. On foot you go again for several miles, and then the caribou crossing of the river furnishes transportation for four miles to Tagish Lake, where another twenty-one-mile boat ride may be had.
"This is followed by a weary stretch of mountainous country, and then Marsh or Mud Lake is reached. You get another boat ride of twenty-four miles, and then go down the creek for twenty-seven miles to Miles Canon and to White Horse Rapids.
"This is one of the most dangerous places on the entire route, and should be avoided by all strangers. The stream is full of sunken rocks and runs with the speed of a mile race. Passing White Horse Rapids the journey is down the river for thirty miles to Lake Labarge, where thirty-one miles of navigable water is found. Another short portage and Lous River is reached, where you have a 200-mile journey, which brings you to Fort Selkirk.
"At this point Polly and Lous rivers come together, forming the Yukon. From that point on is practically smooth sailing, though the stranger must be exceedingly careful."
For some time past a number of local and English companies have been studying the lay of the land between Chilkat and Circle City with a view to establishing a quicker, and more practicable way of transportation to the gold fields along the Yukon. Goodall, Perkins & Co., of New York have made a thorough investigation of the matter, and Capt. Chas. M. Goodall of that firm says:
"The rich find in the Klondyke district will probably result in some better means of transportation, though the roughness of the country and the limited open season will not justify anybody in building a railroad for any distance. Recently we sent several hundred sheep and cattle to Juneau, and from there to the head of navigation by the steamer Alki. Mr. Dalton, who discovered the trail across the country from the Chilkat River to Fort Selkirk, is taking live stock to the mines. His route lies from the head of navigation through Chilkoot Pass and along the trail, which is over prairie several hundred miles, to the Yukon River, near Fort Selkirk. At this time of year the prairie is clear and bunch grass grows on it in abundance.
"I believe this will ultimately be the popular route. People could go over it in wagons, as the prairie is level. Stations could be established, as was done on our plains in '49. It would be easy to go down the Yukon in boats from where Dalton's trail strikes it to Dawson City and other mining camps.
"The plan to build a traction road over Chilkoot Pass from Dyea, the head of navigation after leaving Juneau, to Lake Linderman, is not a good business proposition. It has been talked of, and the rest of the plan is to have[Pg 34] steamers to ply from Lake Linderman through the other lakes to the Yukon. But to do this two portages would have to be made on account of the falls in the river, and these would be enormously expensive.
"A British company has had in contemplation for some time the construction of a railroad from the head of navigation on Taku Inlet, near Juneau, to Teslin, or Aklene Lake, and thence down some small rivers to the Yukon and the mines. Even by this route there would be need of portages. The natural way to take in freight, unless the hurry be great, is by St. Michael and up the Yukon. To establish even a wagon road over Dalton's Trail on the prairie, a railroad over the divide from Dyea to Lake Linderman, or a railroad as planned by the English company, concessions would have to be secured from the British Government."
|To St. Michael's||2,850|
|To Circle City||4,350|
|To Forty Mile||4,600|
|To Juneau (by steamer)||1,680|
|Juneau to Chilkat||80|
|Juneau to Dyea||100|
|Juneau to head of navigation||106|
|Juneau to summit of Chilcoot Pass||114|
|Juneau to head of Lake Linderman||123|
|Juneau to foot of Lake Linderman||127|
|Juneau to head of Lake Bennet||128|
|Juneau to foot of Takish Lake||173|
|Juneau to head of Lake Marsh||178|
|Juneau to head of canyon||223|
|Juneau to head of White Horse Rapids||225|
|[Pg 35]Juneau to Tahkeena River||240|
|Juneau to head of Lake Lebarge||256|
|Juneau to foot of Lake Lebarge||284|
|Juneau to Hotalinqua River||318|
|Juneau to Big Salmon River||349|
|Juneau to Little Salmon River||385|
|Juneau to Five Fingers Rapids||444|
|Juneau to Rink Rapids||450|
|Juneau to White River||599|
|Juneau to Stewart River||609|
|Juneau to Sixty-Mile Post||629|
|Juneau to Lawson City||678|
|Juneau to Forty-Mile Post||728|
|Juneau to Circle City||898|
|Forty-Mile to diggings at Miller Creek||70|
|Circle City to diggings at Birch Creek||50|
|Klondyke to diggings||5|
ENCOUNTERS WITH THE ICE AND SNOW IN THE PASSES TO THE UPPER YUKON.
A letter, written to the San Francisco Examiner by Edgar A. Mizner, gives a graphic picture of life in the Klondyke region and the hardships and perils that the miner may expect to meet and undergo. He is at present the agent of the Alaska Commercial Company there. He set out from Seattle for the Yukon in March last. He had had mining experience before, having been frozen in one Winter on the Pend d'Oreille. Mizner Mountain, over against the Kootenai country, is named for him, his prospecting pick being the first to find pay ore there.
From a camp on the ice of Lake Bennett he wrote on May 6:
"It is nearly two months since I left you, and if I have not forgotten you altogether it's not the fault of the trip, for surely it's the devil's own. The man who wants the Yukon gold should know what he is going to tackle before he starts. If there is an easy part of the trip I haven't struck it yet.
"Eight of us made the trip from Juneau to Dyea, 100 miles, on the little steam launch Alert. The steamer Mexico reached Dyea the same morning with 423 men. As she drew so much water she had to stay about three miles off shore and land her passengers and freight as best she might in more or less inaccessible places on the rocky shores.
"Then up came the twenty-two-foot tide and many poor fellows saw their entire outfits swept into the sea. The tide runs there like the Fundy race. At Dyea there were but two houses, a store and, of course, a saloon. So when we landed on the beach and got out on the snow and ice we had to "rustle" for ourselves. We have kept on "rustling" for ourselves from that on.
"We camped the first night at Dyea. It is a most enjoyable thing, this making camp in the snow. First you must shovel down from three to six feet to find a solid crust. Then you must go out in the snow up to your neck to find branches with which to make a bed, and then comes the hunt for a dead tree for firewood. Dinner is cooked on a small sheetiron stove.
"Always keep an eye on the 'grub,' especially the bacon, for the dogs are like so many ravenous wolves, and it is not considered just the proper thing to be left without anything to eat in this frostbitten land. At night it is necessary to tie up the sacks of bacon in the trees or build trestles for them. But to the trip.
"The second day we went up Dyea canon. It is only three miles long, but seems fully thirty. This is true of all distances in this country. About one hundred pounds is about all a man wants to pull in this canon, as the way is steep and the ice slippery. So camps must be made short distances apart, as you have to go over the trail several times in bringing up your outfit. Remember, an ordinary outfit weighs from 500 to 800 pounds, and some of them much more.
"But the summit of Chilcoot Pass—that's the place that puts the yellow fear into many a man's heart. Some took one look at it, sold their outfits for what they would bring and turned back. This pass is over the ridge which skirts the coast. It is only about 1,200 feet from base to top, but it is almost straight up and down—a sheer steep of snow and ice. There is a blizzard blowing there most of the time, and when it is at its height, no man may cross. For days at a time the summit is impassable. An enterprising man named Burns has rigged a windlass and cable there, and with this he hoists up some freight at a cent a pound. The rest is carried over on the backs of Indians. We were detained ten days waiting our turn to have our outfits carried over and for favoring weather.
"After going about three miles up a dark canon a whirling snow storm struck us. But having risen at such an unconscionable hour we would not turn back. Our pride was near the end of us. I hope I may never [Pg 37]experience such another day. The air was so filled with snow that at times it was impossible to see ten feet. It was all we could do to keep our feet against the wind which howled down the mountain. My beard became a mass of ice.
"The trail was soon obliterated and we were lost. But we stumbled on and by a rare chance we came upon the handle of a shovel which marked our cache. There was nothing to do but fight our way back to camp. The storm did not abate in the slightest. In fact, it raged for four long days. It was nearly dark when with knocking knees we got back to camp, more dead than alive.
"The next day ten men made up a party to go on the same trip back for their outfits. The day after that they were found huddled in a hole dug in a drift eating raw bacon. After another day of rest we put masts on our sleds, rigged sails and came across Lake Linderman and over Linderman Portage. We are now camped on the head of Lake Bennet."
Another letter written by Mr. Mizner from Forty Mile City, as late as June 12th, is quite as interesting. He says:
"The trip was an interesting one, but very dangerous. Many men lost their boats and everything they had, and there are rumors of men having been drowned. Shortly after leaving Lake Laborge we came upon a party who had just rescued two young fellows from rocks in the middle of the rapids. They could not save their outfit or their demolished boat, and all they had went down the river with the rushing flood. One of the young men had everything but his shirt stripped from him by the swirl. We took him in charge and landed him at Klondyke.
"The big canyon between Mud Lake and Lake Laborge is a grand and impressive place. The river above is a quarter of a mile wide, but in the canyon it narrows to fifty feet. The walls rise on either side, sheer and smooth, full seventy-five feet. Down rushes the water with a frightful roar, rolling the waves at least ten feet high. Like everybody else, we went down ahead to take a look before shooting these rapids. From the cliff view the task seems impossible, but there is no other way, and shoot you must. So, with Wilson at the oars to hold her straight, I took the steering paddle, and we made for the mouth of the gorge.
"It was all over in about thirty seconds. We were through in safety, but it was the most hair-raising thirty seconds I ever experienced. There was quite enough thrill in it for a lifetime. Over the terrifying roar of the water we could faintly hear the cheer put up by the undecided hundred or more men who lined the cliffs above us. Up came the ice-cold water against us in tubfuls. We were wet through. So was everything else in the boat, and the boat itself half full of water. But we were soon bailed and dried—and safe.
"Then we went on to the White House Rapids, and here we let our[Pg 38] boat through with long ropes. Two days later we shot the Five Finger Rapids and the Rink Rapids without any trouble. The last four days of the trip we fixed up our stove in the boat, and only went ashore twice for wood. The mosquitoes on the shore are numbered by the million and are fierce as bull terriers, but in the middle of the river they troubled us but little.
"The sun sinks out of sight now about 10.30 p. m., and comes up again about 3 a. m. About midnight, however, it is almost as light as noonday. There is no night. At Dawson there is a little sawmill and rough houses going up in all directions, but for the most part it is a city of tents. On the shore of the river are hundreds of boats, and others are getting in every day.
"The Klondyke has not been one particle overrated. I have seen gold measured by the bucketful. Just think of a man taking $800 out of one pan of dirt. Mrs. Wilson panned out $154 out of one pan in one of the mines I am to take charge of. This, without doubt, is the richest gold strike the world has ever known.
"Of course all the claims in the Klondyke district are taken up now, and there are hundreds of men who own claims valued from $50,000 to $1,000,000. But with all these men in the country many miles of new ground will be prospected, and from the lay of the country I think other gold fields are certain to be located."
AN INTERNATIONAL QUESTION AS TO MINER'S RIGHTS.
The fact that the Klondyke placer diggings, as thus far prospected and developed, are well east of the 141st meridian, which forms the boundary line between Alaska and the Dominion of Canada has attracted no little attention among our northern neighbors, and many contradictory reports as to what attitude the Ottawa Government will assume as to the rights of miners who are not British subjects, have come to us. That the Canadian Government has the right to prohibit all but British subjects from working these diggings cannot be questioned. But, as the New York Sun puts it, it would be preposterous to suppose that the Dominion would really attempt to exercise its right of exclusion. Gold fields all over the world are open to miners without regard to nationality. Canadians to-day are free to[Pg 39] work in the Yukon diggings on our side of the boundary. The Dominion will do well enough in collecting its revenues and customs duties on the new industry, and on the collateral industries certain to spring up among the population that will flock there. Already it has a customs officer for the district.
American miners have rushed in large numbers from Forty-mile Creek and other points to the new Klondyke, Bonanza Creek, Eldorado Creek, or other regions, and they have staked out their claims. The Dominion would have its hands full in dispossessing these men, and there would be plenty of reason for retaliation on our part. We do, it is true, exclude Chinese immigration, but it would be dangerous for the Dominion to put Mongolians and Americans on the same footing in an exclusion policy.
American miners who have written to the Department of State asking protection for their Klondyke claims have no reason to worry; and, in fact, it maybe surmised that their anxieties, rather than any indications given by the Ottawa Government, are the source of the absurd rumor of exclusion.
THE CIVILIZATION OF A MINING CAMP.
Ladue, who is a veteran prospector, and has seen all the tough mining camps on the Pacific coast, gives this interesting description of the new city of Dawson, which promises to have 30,000 inhabitants before Spring:
"It may be said with absolute truth that Dawson City is one of the most moral towns of its kind in the world. There is little or no quarreling and no brawls of any kind, though there is considerable drinking and gambling. Every man carries a pistol if he wishes to, yet it is a rare occurrence when one is displayed. The principal sport with mining men is found around the gambling table. There they gather after nightfall, and play until the late hours in the morning. They have some big games, too. It sometimes costs as much as $50 to draw a card. A game with $2,000 as stakes is an ordinary event. But with all of that there has not been decided trouble. If a man is fussy and quarrelsome he is quietly told to get out of the game, and that is the end of it.
"Many people have an idea that Dawson City is completely isolated and can communicate with the outside world only once in every twelve months. That is a big mistake, however. Circle City, only a few miles away, has a[Pg 40] mail once each month, and there we have our mail addressed. It is true the cost is pretty high, $1 a letter and two for a paper; yet by that expenditure of money we are able to keep in direct communication with our friends on the outside.
"In the way of public institutions our camp is at present without any, but by next season we will have a church, a music hall, a schoolhouse and a hospital. The last institution will be under direct control of the Sisters of Mercy, who have already been stationed for a long time at Circle City and Forty-Mile Camp.
"Nearly a score of children were in Dawson City when I left, so I donated a lot and $100 for a school. No one can buy anything on credit in Dawson. It is spot cash for every one, and payment is always gold dust. Very few have any regular money."
All experts estimate that the minimum supply of provisions which a man should take to Klondyke is 1,000 pounds, though several say they wouldn't venture in without at least one ton, as the season over the Juneau route closes up by September 15. The rush promises to be unprecedented, and a large number of prospectors, after being landed at Juneau, will find it impossible to get their supplies transported. Like all other great mining rushes, this promises to be full of disappointments.
A new route to the Klondyke will be opened next spring. It is overland from Juneau to Fort Selkirk, on the Yukon, and is entirely by land. Captain Goodall, of the Pacific Coast Steamship Company, inspected it this Summer, and reported it practicable. It is about 700 miles long, and it crosses the divide over Chilkat Pass, which is lower and more easily crossed than the Chilkoot Pass. No lakes or rivers are on the route, but the trail runs over a high level prairie. Old Pioneer Dalton, after whom the trail is named, is now driving a band of sheep on the trail to Dawson City, where he expects to arrive in August, with fresh meat for the miners. This Dalton trail is well adapted for driving stock, but for men the tramp is too long.
"Dawson is not like most of the mining camps. It is not a 'tough' town. Murders are almost unknown.
"The miners are a quiet and peaceable kind of men, who have gone there to work, and are willing that everybody else shall have an equal chance with themselves. A great deal of gambling is done in the town, but serious quarrels are an exception. As a gambling town I think it is equal to any that I have ever seen; and this, by the way, is always the test of a mining camp's prosperity. Stud poker is the usual game. They play $100 and oftentimes $200 or $500 on the third card."
L. B. Roads said: "I am located on claim 21, above the discovery on Bonanza Creek. I did exceedingly well up there. I was among the fortunate ones, as I cleared about $40,000, but brought only $5,000 with me. I[Pg 41] was the first man to get to bed rock gravel and to discover that it was lined with gold dust and nuggets. The rock was seamed and cut in V-shaped streaks, caused, it is supposed by glacial action. In those seams I found a clay that was exceedingly rich. In fact, there was a stratum of pay gravel four feet thick upon the rock, which was lined with gold, particularly in these channels or streaks. The rock was about sixteen feet from the surface. The discovery made the camp. It was made on October 23, 1896, and as soon as the news spread everybody rushed to the diggings from Circle City, Forty-Mile, and from every other camp in the district.
"Some of the saloons here take in $300 per day in dust and nuggets. Beer is fifty cents per drink. I have quit drinking. Logs are worth $30 per 1,000, and lumber $150 per 1,000. Most people live in tents, but cabins are being put up rapidly.
"We have the most orderly mining community in the world. There is no thief, no claim jumping, no cheating or swindling in the many gambling houses. The greenhorn gets an honest game and every man's hand is above-board. If any funny work is attempted we run the offender out."
If twenty or thirty thousand go to the mining camp, as now seems probable, starvation will result, as it will be absolutely impossible to feed more than ten thousand people with the supplies that are now on the way. In another season boats can be built and arrangements made for laying down an unlimited supply of food, but now the Alaska Commercial Company has only three vessels, while the other two lines only run to Juneau. Yukon river steamers are sent up in small sections and put together on the river. They draw only three or four feet of water, but with even this light draught they often become stranded on the sand bars in the upper waters of the Yukon. By the Juneau waters it is impossible to carry in any large quantity of provisions, as every pound of supplies must be carried on Indian's backs over Chilkoot Pass and by frequent portages that separate the lakes and streams on this overland route. After Sept. 15 this Juneau route is impassible to all except Indians, because of fierce storms which only Indians and experienced travellers can face.
The Alaska Commercial Company is very fearful that starvation will occur in the new camp this winter. President Louis Sloss said to-day that[Pg 42] his company would do the best it could to feed those who rushed into the Klondyke, but he said that probably it would be impossible to get in more than 3,200 tons of food before ice closed the Yukon River. The company has 500 tons on the way to St. Michael's, but the river usually freezes over about the middle of September. They have only three boats, as one of the best boats was wrecked last spring. The supply will not suffice for more than the number of people already at the mining camp; so, if 20,000 or 30,000 should rush in, carrying only a small supply of food, the stores will be compelled to limit sales to each purchaser, and those not able to find work will starve.
Joe Ladue, who owns the town site of Dawson City, emphasized Mr. Sloss's warning. He said no one had any idea of the amount of food required by hearty men doing hard manual work in extreme cold weather. He said the suffering was keen last winter because the men could not secure a variety of food, which their systems craved. The transportation companies sent large amounts of whiskey, which found no great sale. Then they rushed in stoves, picks, shovels and other hardware, but the last thing they seemed to think of delivering was food, which was needed more than anything else. Especially the men needed such things as evaporated potatoes, which relieve the solid diet of bacon and beans; but it will be hopeless to try to land any of these luxuries, or even dried fruits, which are indispensable.
A returned New Yorker said:
"'The only thing I fear is a famine the coming winter. The united efforts of the Alaska Commercial Company and the North American Transportation and Trading Company cannot transport over 4,500 tons of freight up the river this season, and not until next February can stuff be freighted over from Dyea, Juneau and other points down along the southern coast. There was great suffering last winter, and, though no one starved, food rates and rates for everything in the supply line were beyond belief. Flour was $120 a hundred weight at one time and beef from $1 to $2 a pound. Moose hams sold for about $30, or $2 per pound. Ordinary shovels for digging brought $17 and $18 apiece, and other stuff of that kind could not be obtained.
"'Wages, however, were proportional; $2 per hour was common wages, and even now in these long days a man can command $1.50 per hour up here, or from $15 to $20 per day. The river steamers cannot keep crews this summer, for all run away to the mines as soon as they get in that region. Indians are all the help that can be kept, and even they are doing something in the line of locating claims.
"'The man who goes in this winter over the Chilkat and Chilkoot Passes, or the man who goes in this summer by this steamboat route, should take in two years' grub. I understand that steamboat companies[Pg 43] will not carry grub or merchandise for any man, and that they are making a flat passenger rate of $150 for any port from Seattle to Dawson. This means that they will get several thousand people in there this season, and if they do not get enough grub in, grub will be high. Not less than 1,000 newcomers came over this spring and how many will come by boat we can only conjecture.'"
THE ONLY CHEAP THING IS ICE AND FRESH AIR.
Laborers, it is asserted, are paid as high as $15 a day, but the advice is given that no man can afford to go to the new camp without from $500 to $1,000 with which to support himself and insure the possibility of returning in case of adversity.
Living, of course, comes high. The region produces little or no fruit or vegetables. The meat of the caribou and the moose is sometimes scarce, and there are seasons when no salmon can be obtained.
Here is a list of prices that prevailed in Dawson City when the miners started away:
|Flour, per 100 lbs||$12.00|
|Moose ham, per lb||1.00|
|Caribou meat, per lb||65|
|Beans, per lb||10|
|Rice, per lb||25|
|Sugar, per lb||25|
|Bacon, per lb||40|
|Butter, per roll||1.50|
|Eggs, per doz||1.50|
|Better eggs, per doz||2.00|
|Salmon, each||$1.00 to 1.50|
|Potatoes, per lb||25|
|Turnips, per lb||15|
|Tea, per lb||1.00|
|Coffee, per lb||50|
|Dried fruits, per lb||35|
|[Pg 44]Canned fruits||50|
|Tobacco, per lb||1.50|
|Liquors, per drink||50|
|Coal oil, per gal||1.00|
|Underwear, per suit||$5.00 to 7.50|
|Rubber boots||$10 to 15.00|
Based on supply and demand the above quoted prices may vary several hundred per cent. on some articles at any time.
SHORT SUMMER—HEAT AND COLD CONTRASTS.
There is a short, hot Summer of less than four months, with practically no Spring or Autumn. The ice begins to break up in the rivers about May 25, and navigation commences on the Yukon about the first week in June. It begins to get very cool by the latter part of September, and is almost Winter weather by the 1st of October. The winter is very cold and dry, with not more than three feet of snow. There is only about three inches of rainfall during the winter and not more than a foot or ten inches the whole year around.
It is a country in which it is very hard to find food, as there is practically no game. Before the whites went into the region there were not more than 300 natives. They had hard work to support themselves on account of the scarcity of game.
The thermometer sometimes goes down to 68 degrees below zero in January and February. The cold, however, is not so intense as may be imagined, and 68 degrees there could not be compared with the same here. The dress is mostly of furs in the Winter, that used by the natives, and unless there is a sharp wind blowing one may keep fairly comfortable.
After this there is scarcely a let up before the middle of the following March. Just before reaching Lake Linderman the famous Chilcoot Pass is encountered, and woe to the traveller who is caught in one of the snow storms, which spring up with the suddenness of an April shower and rage for days. They are frozen simoons. Nature has provided at the pass a protection against these terrific outbreaks in the shape of an immense overhanging rock. At the top of the pass it was the custom in former years for the Indians to corral the wild sheep and goats, which were to be found in large numbers in all the surrounding mountains. The species now is practically extinct.
This route, by the way of Juneau, is a fine trip of 1,000 miles or so. For an individual it is more costly, but for a party it is cheaper.
At the head of Lake Linderman is a saw mill, where prospectors are permitted to prepare the lumber for the boats necessary to complete the journey to the camp.
This work generally consumes five or six days, but if the prospector is in a hurry he can purchase a boat, the average price being $80. Then he floats on and on for hundreds of miles and finally reaches the gold and the miners and the Arctic circle.
SOME THINGS INDISPENSABLE IN AN OUTFIT.
Mr. William Van Stooten, the mining engineer and metallurgist, gives his views in the New York Herald as to the necessary outfit required by miners contemplating a trip to the Klondyke diggings. He says:
"I should place the minimum amount at $600. It would not be safe to start out with less. But you had better make it a thousand if possible, for with the present rush it is likely that prices will be trebled or even quadrupled. Even the Indians will charge more for their assistance. Still, if a man is stranded on the way he will probably find it easy to make a living almost anywhere in the gold bearing portion of the Yukon basin. He can earn $10 or $15 a day digging the ground for men with good claims. And with the rise in prices these wages may also go up. Bear in mind, however, that the price of living must increase in proportion."
"What would you consider the proper outfit for a miner in starting out?"
"Well, the matter of clothing must be left to individual taste, needs and means. But the miners usually adopt the native costume. The boots, usually made by the Coast Indians, are of several varieties. The water boot is of seal and walrus skin, while the dry weather or winter boot is of all varieties of styles and material. The more expensive have fur trimmed legs, elaborately designed. They cost from $2 to $5 a pair. Trousers are often made of Siberian fawn skin and the skin of the marmot, or ground squirrel. The parka, or upper garment, is usually of marmot skins, trimmed with wolverine around the hood and lower edge, the long hair from the sides of the wolverine being used for the hood. This hair is sometimes five or six inches in length, and is useful in protecting the face of the wearer. Good, warm flannels can be worn under the parka, and the whole outfit will weigh less than the ordinary clothes worn in a country where the weather gets down to zero. The parka is almost cold proof. But it is expensive, ranging in price from $25 to $100. Blankets and fur robes are used for bedding. Lynx skins make the best robes. Good ones cost $100. But cheaper robes can be made of the skins of bear, mink, red fox and the Arctic hare. The skins of the latter animal make warm socks to be worn with the skin boots.
Dress is only one item. Every miner must take his own food with him. Here is a list of provisions made out by an expert as sufficient to last a man for one month:—
Twenty pounds of flour, with baking powder; twelve pounds of bacon, six pounds of beans, five pounds of desiccated vegetables, four pounds of butter, five pounds of sugar, four cans of milk, one pound of tea, three pounds of coffee, two pounds of salt, five pounds of corn meal, pepper, mustard.
The following utensils would not be too many:—
One frying pan, one water kettle, one Yukon stove, one bean pot, two plates, one drinking cup, one teapot, one knife and fork, one large and one small cooking pan.
The following tools are necessary for boat building:
One jack plane, one whipsaw, one hand saw, one rip saw, one draw knife, one axe, one hatchet, one pocket knife, six pounds assorted nails, three pounds oakum, three pounds of pitch, fifty feet of five-eighths rope.
Other necessaries would be a tent, a rubber blanket, mosquito netting and matches. It is also desirable to take along a small, well filled medicine chest, a rifle, a trout line and a pair of snow glasses to provide against snow blindness.
The entire outfit can be obtained in Juneau, where one can be sure of getting just what is needed, without any extra weight, which is a matter of great importance, as many hard portages are to be encountered on the trip. Hitherto prices in Juneau have been reasonable. Of course one cannot say what may be the result of the present rush in the way of raising prices."
A woman who has "been there," says that in the matter of dress a woman going to the mines should take two pairs of extra heavy all-wool blankets, one small pillow, one fur robe, one warm shawl, one fur coat, easy fitting; three warm woollen dresses, with comfortable bodices and skirts knee length flannel-lined preferable; three pairs of knickers or bloomers to match the dresses, three suits of heavy all-wool underwear, three warm flannel night dresses, four pairs of knitted woollen stockings, one pair of rubber boots, three gingham aprons that reach from neck to knees, small roll of flannel for insoles, wrapping the feet and bandages; a sewing kit, such toilet articles as are absolutely necessary, including some skin unguent to protect the face from the icy cold, two light blouses or shirt waists for Summer wear, one oilskin blanket to wrap her effects in, to be secured at Juneau or St. Michaels; one fur cape, two pairs of fur gloves, two pairs of surseal moccasins, two pairs of muclucs—wet weather moccasins.
She wears what she pleases en route to Juneau or St. Michaels, and when she makes her start for the diggings she lays aside every civilized travelling garb, including shoes and stays, until she comes out. Instead of carrying the fur robe, fur coat and rubber boots along, she can get them on entering Alaska, but the experienced ones say take them along.
The natives make a fur coat, with hood attached, called a "parka," but it is clumsy for a white woman to wear who has been accustomed to fitted garments. Leggings and shoes are not so safe nor desirable as the moccasins. A trunk is not the thing to transport baggage in. It is much better in a pack, with the oilskin cover well tied on. The things to add that are useful, but not absolutely necessary, are chocolate, coffee and the smaller light luxuries.
A MINING ENGINEER'S WARNINGS AND SUGGESTIONS.
The New York Herald is authority for the statement that few persons in the mining world are more intimately acquainted with all its features than Mr. William Van Stooten, mining engineer and metallurgist. Besides being President of the South American Developing Company, which works the gold mines of Ecuador, he has relations with all the great gold mines of the world. To Mr. Van Stooten it appears that the gold discoveries in the Klondyke regions are the most important that have ever been made.
"Of course," he says, "there is a tendency to exaggeration in these matters which must always be discounted. It is well to bear in mind that the author of Munchausen was what was known in his day as a mining adventurer. Herr Rapp was a German who went over to England to develop the copper mines there. The nature of his business may have stimulated his imagination to the marvellous flights of that bit of fiction. But after making all possible allowances for exaggeration there is an obvious residuum of truth in the reports that come from the Yukon basin. And that residuum indicates something more extraordinary than anything recalled by a backward glance at the facts of 'forty-nine.'
"No such specifically large amounts of gold were taken out by individuals during any similar period of California gold hunting. Two months of work in the water has realized more than any six months heretofore known in the history of gold mining. We know that Ladue, the Alaska trader, has actually taken in fabulous wealth in the natural course of his business.
"We had long been aware that there was gold in the Yukon basin, but the total output for the last ten years before the Klondyke developments amounted to not more than a million dollars' worth at the utmost. Now, within two months, five millions have been taken out of the Klondyke regions. It took the first eight months of work in California to pan out that amount under infinitely more favorable conditions of climate and weather. That is a straw worth noting.
"There are just two ways at present, each of which has its advantages and its disadvantages. You may go by way of the Pacific Ocean and the Yukon River. From Seattle to St. Michael's takes two weeks. In the right season it takes two weeks more to sail up the Yukon from St. Michael's to Circle City. As the waters along the way are very shallow only flat-bottom side-wheelers can accomplish the voyage. Above Circle City the waters become too shallow even for this sort of craft. It is three hundred miles from Circle City to the scene of the latest discoveries. These hundred miles can only be covered by walking. Dog sleds draw all the necessary munitions. Reindeer, as well as dogs, have been tried successfully, and probably the deer will eventually supersede the canines.
"The other route, by way of Juneau, involves a tramp of seven hundred miles to the Klondyke. But in the warm season it is possible to traverse a large part of the distance in canoes through the congeries of lakes, all connected by more or less navigable streams."
"When would you advise prospective gold diggers to start by either St. Michael's or Juneau?"
"Under all circumstances they should wait until the approach of next spring. It is too late in the season to think of going now. It is true that the distance from Juneau to the Klondyke can be made in sleds and [Pg 49]snowshoes. But if the voyagers arrive on the spot after the middle of September they will find it entirely impossible to do any prospecting. The creeks are frozen and covered with snow. No clew to the presence of gold can be found. Now, even if the diggers arrive in June it may take them weeks or months to locate a desirable claim. But, once located, they can continue their work even in the depth of winter. Great fires are built around the claim, which are kept continually burning. Thus the ground is thawed out for digging during the winter months and is made ready for the reappearance of the sun and the inflowing of the waters. Then the dirt can be treated in pans or long toms. Owing to these peculiar difficulties it is likely that the place will continue one for poor man's mining and will be not be monopolized by capital."
"You advise people to wait until Spring. But don't you think the cream of the claims will be skimmed next year?"
"Not at all. One hundred thousand people might disperse themselves in the Yukon gold-bearing grounds and hardly know of the presence of neighbors. There may be other diggings over this vast area quite as good as the Klondyke diggings. As in all the gold mining regions, diggings everywhere vary considerably in value. It is not improbable even that the late comers will take up the abandoned washings of the earlier men and do well with them. This frequently happened in California. As settlements grow up and the facilities for comfortable living and effective work increase, it is possible that gold may be found in places where it was never dreamed of. There is no doubt that eventually a number of valuable ledges will be found, but the bulk of the gold will come from placers. This is nature's process for concentrating gold from the quartz ledges. You know, however, what is the natural course of development in newly discovered gold fields?"
"Well, here it is. First come the men with pans to gather in the riches that lie on the surface. It is possible for an active man to wash out a cubic yard, or 100 pounds of pay dirt in a day.
"Next follow associations of miners using 'Long Toms' and cradles.
"The third stage takes the form of hydraulic mining, by means of water brought from long distances.
"Fourth, and last, comes quartz mining under ground.
"This is the sequence that has always occurred. But it may take years before the final stage is reached in the Yukon, owing to the difficulties already pointed out."
The New York Journal, in keeping with its usual liberality and enterprise, has sent out a large expedition at its own expense. The Journal says:
"To investigate the riches of the Yukon gold fields and to tell the tale of Nature and human nature in the new ophir of the far North for the Journal, a company of five distinguished writers have been sent to the gold fields. Edward H. Hamilton, chief of the Journal bureau, is admirably equipped for his task. His writings have given him a high repute and his letters will discover to the world the life at Klondyke, as well as tell the sordid tale of the gains of the diggers. Charles Gregory Yale is one of the prominent mining experts of the West. For several years he has been statistician of the Mint at San Francisco and assistant in the California State Mining Bureau. He is a facile writer, having had a long experience as editor of the "Mining and Scientific Press," of San Francisco. Edward J. Livernash is a lawyer and journalist, a careful investigator and an able descriptive writer. Joaquin Miller, the gray poet of the Sierras, will sing for the Journal a new song of the St. Elias Alps. Mrs. Norman Brough, known to readers by her pen name, "Helen Dare," will have the opportunity to write of a woman's experience digging gold in the placers and housekeeping in a sunless land, with the thermometer at 60 below zero."
DESERT THEIR SHIPS IN ALASKAN PORTS TO DIG FOR FORTUNES.
The gold fever has struck the hardy mariner at last, and desertions are numerous from ships up north.
Shippers expect soon to hear of craft being tied up in Alaskan ports just as they were in San Francisco harbor in '49, when crews deserted wholesale to dig gold in the rich placers.
When the steamship Pueblo arrived, Capt. Debney reported that the mates of the Al-ki and the Topeka had both left their ships in Juneau. Other steamer captains before they left recently said they would be lucky if they managed to keep enough men to work ship after they reached the northern ports.
Capt. Debney says that when the Portland reached St. Michael's on her last trip up one of the firemen, who had made friends with some of the miners aboard, handed in his resignation and asked for a ticket up the Yukon.
It was refused him on the ground that he was a deserter. He twice offered money without avail. The miners held the ship for twelve hours.
At the expiration of that time the company put up a notice that the Portland would start on her return trip at a certain hour. The miners held a meeting and appointed a committee of twelve to wait on the company's agent. The committee filed into the agent's office, where each man drew a revolver and laid it on the agent's table. They demanded that a ticket be given the fireman at once, and the agent complied. The fireman went with the party up the Yukon.
Capt. Debney reports that the Queen, which sailed from Puget Sound several days ago, passed the American port officials all right, but when the vessel reached Victoria the customs officials decided that she was overloaded and took fifteen of the miners ashore. They are now stopping at the Victoria Hotel at the expense of the Pacific Steamship Company, and will be sent north on a later vessel.
Capt. Debney has received a letter from his son, who is agent for the Alaska Commercial Company at Dawson. He reports that there are now at Dawson thirty-five saloons, one theatre, eight dance houses, three general stores, five bakeries, five restaurants, two barber shops, one candy maker and three laundries.
THE HEALTHIEST REGION IN THE WORLD IS THE KLONDYKE.
F. G. Bowker, of Dawson, says there was nobody there to die until less than a year ago, and that since then there have been but three deaths in that whole district as far as is known.
Of the three deaths one occurred just before the steamer Excelsior left Dawson. A man who had just sold his claim for $12,000 passed away in his bunk with his head resting on the sack of coin which represented the success of his search for wealth.
In the graveyard at Forty Mile, which has served for all that section for[Pg 52] some years past, there are only thirty or forty graves. Few die within reach of settlements without medical aid and spiritual advice.
There are missions of several Protestant denominations, as well as Russian and Roman Catholic missions, at frequent intervals throughout the country. Funerals are not as ostentatious as in the civilized world, but everything that is necessary is reverentially done by rough but kindly miners.
The tale about confiscation of dead men's effects by friends and neighbors is branded as a malicious lie.
It is one of the unwritten laws of the Yukon that these shall be turned over to the Government and disposed of according to statute laws.
REGULATIONS IMPOSED BY THE DOMINION UPON PLACER MINING.
As the Klondyke diggings, as thus far developed and staked, are upon Canadian territory it is important to bear in mind the regulations imposed by the Dominion Government on placer mining. They are as follows:
"Bar diggings" shall mean any part of a river over which the water extends when the water is in its flooded state and which is not covered at low water. "Mines on benches" shall be known as bench diggings, and shall for the purpose of defining the size of such claims be excepted from dry diggings. "Dry diggings" shall mean any mine over which a river never extends. "Miner" shall mean a male or female over the age of eighteen, but not under that age. "Claims" shall mean the personal right of property in a placer mine or diggings during the time for which the grant of such mine or diggings is made. "Legal post" shall mean a stake standing not less than four feet above the ground and squared on four sides for at least one foot from the top. "Close season" shall mean the period of the year during which placer mining is generally suspended. The period to be fixed by the gold commissioner in whose district the claim is situated. "Locality" shall mean the territory along a river (tributary of the Yukon) and its affluents. "Mineral" shall include all minerals whatsoever other than coal.
1. Bar diggings. A strip of land 100 feet wide at highwater mark and thence extending along the river to its lowest water level.
2. The sides of a claim for bar diggings shall be two parallel lines run[Pg 53] as nearly as possible at right angles to the stream, and shall be marked by four legal posts, one at each end of the claim at or about high water mark; also one at each end of the claim at or about the edge of the water. One of the posts shall be legibly marked with the name of the miner and the date upon which the claim is staked.
3. Dry diggings shall be 100 feet square and shall have placed at each of its four corners a legal post, upon one of which shall be legibly marked the name of the miner and the date upon which the claim was staked.
4. Creek and river claims shall be 500 feet long, measured in the direction of the mineral course of the stream, and shall extend in width from base to base of the hill or bench on each side, but when the hills or benches are less than 100 feet apart the claim may be 100 feet in depth. The sides of a claim shall be two parallel lines run as nearly as possible at right angles to the stream. The sides shall be marked with legal posts at or about the edge of the water and at the rear boundary of the claim. One of the legal posts at the stream shall be legibly marked with the name of the miner and the date upon which the claim was staked.
5. Bench claims shall be 100 feet square.
6. In defining the size of claims they shall be measured horizontally, irrespective of inequalities on the surface of the ground.
7. If any person or persons shall discover a new mine and such discovery shall be established to the satisfaction of the gold commissioner, a claim for the bar diggings 750 feet in length may be granted. A new stratum of auriferous earth or gravel situated in a locality where the claims are abandoned shall for this purpose be deemed a new mine, although the same locality shall have previously been worked at a different level.
8. The forms of application for a grant for placer mining and the grant of the same shall be according to those made, provided or supplied by the gold commissioner.
9. A claim shall be recorded with the gold commissioner in whose district it is situated within three days after the location thereof if it is located within ten miles of the commissioner's office. One day extra shall be allowed for making such record for every additional ten miles and fraction thereof.
10. In the event of the absence of the gold commissioner from his office for entry a claim may be granted by any person whom he may appoint to perform his duties in his absence.
11. Entry shall not be granted for a claim which has not been staked by the applicant in person in the manner specified in these resolutions. An affidavit that the claim was staked out by the applicant shall be embodied in the application.
12. An entry free of $15 shall be charged the first year and an annual fee of $100 for each of the following years:
13. After recording a claim the removal of any post by the holder thereof or any person acting in his behalf for the purpose of changing the boundaries of his claim shall act as a forfeiture of the claim.
14. The entry of every holder for a grant for placer mining must be renewed and his receipt relinquished and replaced every year, the entry fee being paid each year.
15. No miner shall receive a grant for more than one mining claim in the same locality, but the same miner may hold any number of claims by purchase and any number of miners may unite to work their claims in common on such terms as they may arrange, provided such agreement be registered with the gold commissioner and a fee of $5 paid for each registration.
16. Any miner or miners may sell, mortgage or dispose of his or their claims provided such disposal be registered with and a fee of $5 paid to the gold commissioner, who shall thereupon give the assignee a certificate of his title.
17. Every miner shall during the continuance of his grant have the exclusive right of entry upon his own claim for the miner-like working thereof and the construction of a residence thereon, and shall be entitled exclusively to all the proceeds realized therefrom, but he shall have no surface rights therein, and the gold commissioner may grant to the holders of adjacent claims such rights of entry thereon as may be absolutely necessary for the working of their claims upon such terms as may to him seem reasonable. He may also grant permits to miners to cut timber thereon for their own use upon payment of the dues prescribed by the regulations in that behalf.
18. Every miner shall be entitled to the use of so much of the water naturally flowing through or past his claim and not already lawfully appropriated, as shall in the opinion of the gold commissioner be necessary for the working thereof, and shall be entitled to drain his own claim free of charge.
19. A claim shall be deemed to be abandoned and open to occupation and entry by any person when the same shall have remained unworked on working days by the grantee thereof or by some person in his behalf for the space of seventy-two hours unless sickness or other reasonable cause may be shown to the satisfaction of the gold commissioner, or unless the grantee is absent on leave given by the commissioner, and the gold commissioner, upon obtaining evidence satisfactory to himself that this provision is not being complied with, may cancel the entry given for a claim.
20. If the land upon which a claim has been located is not the property of the Crown it will be necessary for the person who applies for entry to furnish proof that he has acquired from the owner of the land the surface right before entry can be granted.
21. If the occupier of the lands has not received a patent thereof the[Pg 55] purchase money of the surface rights must be paid to the Crown and a patent of the surface rights will issue to the party who acquired the mining rights. The money so collected will either be refunded to the occupier of the land when he is entitled to a patent there or will be credited to him on account of payment of land.
22. When the party obtaining the mining rights cannot make an arrangement with the owner thereof for the acquisition of the surface rights it shall be lawful for him to give notice to the owner or his agents or the occupier to appoint an arbitrator to act with another arbitrator named by him in order to award the amount of compensation to which the owner or occupier shall be entitled.
Some of the miners who have recently returned from the mines say that those who wait until the Spring before going to Alaska will make a mistake, as there is room on the Yukon and around Dawson City for 5,000 miners. During the Winter months they can occupy themselves taking out the frozen earth, and thus have it ready for washing in the Summer.
The most trustworthy estimates agree that over $5,000,000, in nuggets and gold dust has been the value of the output of the Alaska mines during the year.
It is estimated by many that in the mines already being worked on the Klondyke alone there is over $50,000,000 worth of gold in sight, and that this will all be mined in a year.
A new field, rich in gold, and that has not yet been worked, has been discovered near the mouth of the Tananar River, which is a tributary of the Yukon, and is the second largest river in Alaska.
There is hardly any darkness in Alaska in the Summer season. One can see to read at 10 o'clock at night and at 2 in the morning.
Both the Chilkoot and White Passes are practically on the boundary [Pg 56]between the United States and Canadian territories. They are in the same latitude and are only twenty or thirty miles apart. After reaching the head of navigation, the Juneau parties bound for the Yukon turn west through the mountains by Chilkoot Pass. If they used the White Pass they would turn east and circumvent the mountain on the east side. The White Pass has not been utilized by mining parties, the Chilkoot being the usual route, and the Chilkat Pass, further north, being used to a much less extent.
There is no abatement of the Klondyke fever in Seattle, and it appears to be extending all over the Northwest. Hundreds are being liberally grubstaked and experienced miners are in active demand. From $500 to $600 is given them and they share half their finds.
The first mining company to file articles of incorporation is the Alaska and Yukon Exploration and Trading Company, Limited. The capital stock is $200,000, fully subscribed.
Every claim within miles of the Klondyke is taken up, and nearly 5,000 people are at the new diggings. Those who got in late have gone further to the northeast of the Klondyke, looking for new locations, and the matter of hunting gold in Alaska has resolved itself into a proposition of finding a mother lode and new pockets.
There is an enormous demand for miners' outfits in Seattle and in San Francisco, and the outfitters' employees are working night and day.
It is believed that it will take all the steamers and idle sailing vessels on the Pacific coast, from San Francisco to Seattle, to carry the gold-seekers now preparing to start for the new Eldorado of the Northwest, and thousands will be forced reluctantly to wait until next spring, owing to lack of transportation facilities.
The steamship people are amazed at the number of "tenderfeet" who have been struck by the craze. There has never been anything equal to it, they say, and the end is not yet. The cashier of the Alaska Company says that if they had sufficient boats on hand there would be, in his opinion, at least 20,000 people go up the Yukon this fall. There are not enough provisions now in Dawson to feed those already there, and only a limited supply can be transported there before the winter blockade begins.
An outfitting firm in Seattle received a cablegram from London, England, asking if 5,000 men could be outfitted there.
The Alaskan and British American gold field fever has struck Texas. Reports from many places indicate preparations for a rush to the Northwest. Inquiries are being made at every railroad office concerning routes and rates of transportation.
A pinch of gold dust pays for a drink in Dawson City. As the barkeeper takes the pinch out of the miner's bag barkeepers with broad thumbs receive the highest wages.
Perhaps the most interesting reading in the Milling Record is the letters written by men in the Klondyke to friends in Juneau. Here is one from "Casey" Moran:
Dawson, March 20, 1897.
"Friend George: Don't pay any attention to what any one says, but come in at your earliest opportunity. My God! It is appalling to hear the truth, but nevertheless the world has never produced its equal before. Well, come. That's all. Your friend."CASEY."
If you don't start for the Pacific coast for the mines before the 1st of September, do not start until the 15th of next April.
May, June and July are the months in which work with pan and cradle can be done. During the rest of the year king frost reigns.
The Klondyke mean temperature is: Spring, 14 degrees above zero; Summer. 59 above zero: Autumn, 17 above zero; Winter, 30 below zero. There are, of course, extremes above and below these figures.
To hold a claim three months' work annually must be done on it. In default of this the land reverts to the Government.
The laws of Canada are severe on claim jumpers and on those who interfere with the rights of legitimate claimants.
The Mining News Publishing Company was formed for the purpose of furnishing reliable information regarding the Alaska gold fields to all who may be interested.
This book, "All About the Klondyke," is the first of a series to be issued as fast as news is received and mines are developed.
Reliable correspondents, now in the mines, will keep us informed regarding all matters of interest, and everything of importance that is published anywhere regarding mining or the Alaska gold field will be verified and published for the benefit of our patrons.
Bogus companies and fraudulent syndicates will be investigated and, when necessary, exposed and warning given to the public regarding them.
There are already in the field more than one "syndicate" or "company"' formed by impecunious and irresponsible persons whose object is to sell shares in mines, or stock in enterprises, that promise to carry men to the mines and to furnish them with outfits and claims on payment of certain specified sums.
The standing and character of all companies and syndicates should be carefully investigated before any one intrusts money to them.
The exodus to the mines must cease in August owing to the impossibility of reaching the gold fields during the Alaskan cold season, and after August no one will sail for Alaskan ports until about the 15th of April next.
There is, therefore, plenty of time for intending prospectors and miners to inform themselves thoroughly regarding everything necessary to know about the mines, routes of travel, outfit, etc., and for investors, who are not going to the mines, to satisfy themselves regarding the reliability of the mining companies that are and will be advertising their alluring and seductive money-making schemes.
There are some companies, now formed and forming, that agree to furnish outfit, transportation and food to those who will contract to mine on shares when they reach the mines. There are others that offer opportunity to individuals and to clubs of men—ten or more—who will subscribe from $600 to $1,000, to benefit in one-half of the profits, and who agree to have a substitute sent to represent the individual or club subscribers. These are legitimate and reliable and much profit may come to those who invest with them.
The Mining News Publishing Company has no financial or other interest or connection with any mining Company or Syndicate and is, therefore, in a position to give unbiased and reliable advice regarding any of them. Its[Pg 59] purpose—besides the publishing of news to protect, warn and advise the public.
We will furnish any one with the prospectus of companies that are safe and solvent, and that we know to be worthy and financially strong. Ten cents in stamps should be sent when inquiring for such a prospectus, either of a Mining Company selling shares, or of a grub-stake or outfitting syndicate.
Correspondents who desire confidential advice regarding any company or syndicate will receive the best information at our command. A fee of $1 will be charged for answering such letters.
Improvements in means of transportation, routes and trails to the mines will go on from time to time. Changes in cost of provisions and mining supplies, and in modes of mining will take place. Regarding all this we shall be promptly informed and will, at all times, be in possession of the latest information.
Questions regarding routes, cost of outfit, transportation, or regarding any other matter connected with mining or the mines, will be answered by letter, written by experienced miners in our employ here, for a fee of $1 enclosed with each query.
Address "The Mining News Publishing Company, 60 Liberty Street, New York."