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.
Alaska Commercial Company: $250,000
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.
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
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
Anderson, C. and Mrs.
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
Anderson, Charlie (former labourer in Sweden): $45,000
Anderson, Henry (Chicago): $65,000
Anderson, Nils: $112,000
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
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.
Gage, Mrs. Eli A. (husband is NAT&T manager)
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"
Kelly, Michael (former police officer, Seattle)
Kelly, T. J. (California): $10-17,000
Lord, Victor (Olympia, WA): $10,000
Loveland, C. H.
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.
Moran, Thomas (Montreal): $20,000
Morden, Jack (Chicago): at least $20,000
Newbrook, E. (NWMP Corporal): brought out "good money"
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
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
Suvoroff, Miss S.
Telford, E. (NWMP Constable): brought out "good money"
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.