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Tons of Gold !!

by Murray Lundberg


      A common misconception about the history of the interior of Alaska and the Yukon is that there was virtually no knowledge of, or interest in the area by people Outside until July 1897, when the Excelsior and Portland arrived at San Francisco and Seattle respectively. This fallacy continues to be fostered by writers who express surprise that ships were on their way to Alaska with full loads only 24 hours after the Portland's arrival.

      However, "Klondyke" was a well-known name among members of the mining fraternity long before the arrival of the treasure ships, and advertisements such as the one to the left had been appearing in West Coast newspapers for some time. On July 14, the day the passengers from the Excelsior unloaded their $500,000 in gold, the ad to the left, from The Seattle Daily Times, stated that "Now is the time to go to the rich KLONDYKE country, where according to last reports, gold is as plentiful as sawdust ..."

      However, although word had been slowly spreading about the discoveries in the Klondike, and despite advertisements like this, there was a great deal of scepticism until the arrival of the ships. The day before the arrival of the Excelsior, the same newspaper had reported that:

"Steamer Alki came in from Alaska at 12:30 o'clock this afternoon. She brought the latest Juneau papers and with them the news from the great Klondyke gold district is assuming a more definite form. But the statements are growing more extravagant and hard to believe with every mail from the interior..."
      The following passenger lists are taken from The Examiner (San Francisco) of July 15, The Seattle Daily Times of July 18, and The Daily Colonist (Victoria) of July 18, with details added and errors corrected from the books listed below in "References...". There are fewer names on any of the lists than there were stated to be on either boat (30 on the Excelsior, and 68 on the Portland), there are discrepancies in the spelling of several names, and the amount of gold carried by each passenger varies widely in some cases.


Excelsior

      Operated by the Alaska Commercial Company, in command of Captain J. F. Higgins. She arrived at San Francisco on July 14, 1897. The 30 passengers on board were carrying about $500,000 in gold.
  • Alaska Commercial Company: $250,000
  • Anderson, Bernard: $14,000
  • Berry, Clarence J. (former fruit farmer, Fresno): $130,000
  • Berry, Mrs. Ethel D. (nee Bush)
  • Bowker, F. G. H.: $40-90,000
  • Bowker, Mrs.
  • Clements, James J. (Los Angeles, CA): $50,000
  • Cook, Thomas: $10,000
  • Flack, Thomas: $5-6,000
  • Fox, Albert (Talbot?): $5,100
  • Galbraith, Albert: $15,000
  • Hestwood, J. O.: $5,000
  • Hollingshead, J. B.: $25,500
  • Keller, Frank (Los Angeles): $35,000
  • Krook, Robert: $14,000
  • Kulju, William (Finland): $17,000
  • Ladue, Joseph: $10,000
  • Lendessen (Lendeseen?), Fred: $13,000
  • Lippy, Thomas S. (YMCA physical trainer, Seattle): $43-65,000
  • MacArthur, Dougall: $15-25,000
  • MacArthur, Neil: $15-25,000
  • McMann, James: $15,000
  • Marks, John: $11,500
  • Norcross, M. S.: $10,000
  • Orr, Alexander: $11,500
  • Price, Fred (former laundryman, Seattle): $5-15,000
  • Rhodes (Rhoads?), Louis B.: $5,000
  • Sloss, M. C. (Alaska Commercial Company director)
  • Stamatin, Con: $8,250
  • Stewart, Greg: $5,000

    Portland

          Operated by the North American Trading & Transportation Company, in command of Captain William Kidston. She arrived at Seattle's Schwabacher Dock at about 6:00 AM on July 17, 1897. The 68 passengers on board, 40 of them miners, carried about $1,000,000 in gold. A total of $177,500 "in small amounts" had been deposited with the ship's purser.
  • Anderson, C. and Mrs.
  • Anderson, Charlie (former labourer in Sweden): $45,000
  • Anderson, Henry (Chicago): $65,000
  • Anderson, Nils: $112,000
  • Bellinger, F.
  • Bergeoin, Joseph (former logger, Seattle): $14-15,000
  • Blake, R. H.: in non-mining business in Yukon
  • Block, Miss P.
  • Boucher, J. E. (Wisconsin): $6,000
  • Branan, C. A. (18 years old, Seattle): $3,000
  • Coteland, P.: brought out "not much"
  • Coylies (or Cazlais), James (Montana): $17-20,000
  • Desroche, J.
  • Dore, H. (former logger, Puget Sound): $3,000
  • Engel, P. C. (NWMP Sergeant): brought out "good money"
  • Eucher (or Amcher), Cash (Switzerland): $8,000
  • Fairborn, J. E.
  • Finstean, O.
  • Fobler, F.
  • Gage, Mrs. Eli A. (husband is NAT&T manager)
  • Granthier, H.
  • Gray, A.
  • Hall, M.
  • Hatterman (Hillerman?), J.J.: $12-15,000
  • Hayne, M. H. E. (NWMP Sergeant): brought out "good money"
  • Hickey, Michael (Great Barrington, Mass.): $60,000
  • Horne, Jack (former prizefighter, Tacoma): $6,000
  • Jenkins, H. N. (NWMP Constable): brought out "good money"
  • Johnson, J.
  • Kelly, Michael (former police officer, Seattle)
  • Kelly, T. J. (California): $10-17,000
  • Lord, Victor (Olympia, WA): $10,000
  • Loveland, C. H.
  • McKenzie, A.
  • McNulty, Ira (San Francisco): $21,000
  • Mellor, Miss Mary Elizabeth (Superintendent of Indian Training School at Unalaska)
  • Mercer, M. N. (Shelton, Mason County): $16,000
  • Meyer, C. E.
  • Moffatt, J.
  • Moran, Thomas (Montreal): $20,000
  • Morden, Jack (Chicago): at least $20,000
  • Newbrook, E. (NWMP Corporal): brought out "good money"
  • Olsen, H.
  • Phiscator, Frank (Baroda, MI or Gallen, IN): $50-96,000
  • Pickett, B. E.: at least $20,000
  • Protean, Henry (Mount Vernon, WA): $3,000
  • Reinken, Miss A.
  • Reinken, Miss D.
  • Ricotte, W. E. (Montreal): $23,000
  • Silverlock, C.
  • Sims, W.
  • Sloan, William (former drygoods merchant, Nanaimo, BC): $52,000
  • Stanley, William (former bookseller, Seattle): $90-115,000
  • Strickland, (NWMP Inspector): between $4,000 - $130,000 depending on report
  • Strickland, Mrs.
  • Suvoroff, Miss S.
  • Telford, E. (NWMP Constable): brought out "good money"
  • Tichnor, F.
  • Tutikoff, Miss P.
  • Wilkinson, John (Nanaimo, BC): $25-40,000
  • Worden, Charles (Jefferson County, NY): $15-20,000

    Within hours, the Klondike Gold Rush was on!!

    The Examiner, July 17, 1897


    References & Further Reading:

  • Berton, Pierre, Klondike (or Klondike Fever)
  • Harris, A.C., Alaska and the Klondike Gold Fields (Chicago: Monroe, 1897)

    ©1997-2008 by Murray Lundberg: Use for other than research purposes must be approved by the author.

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