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News from the Klondike, June 16, 1899

Klondike Gold Rush

The Province (Vancouver, British Columbia) - June 16, 1899

    The first man to reach Vancouver this season with a sack of gold dust from Dawson is Harry Morton, of Victoria, well-known throughout Canada as an old-time lacrosse enthusiast and expert. Mr. Morton left Dawson on May 31st on the Columbia, the second steamer to attempt the river journey this season and after an adventuresome journey he reached Skagway six days ago and came down on the Cutch, which arrived at 5 o'clock this morning.

    He brought with him as a souvenir of his winter's stay in Dawson a large sack of dust, the value of which will be known to one of the city banks before he leaves for his home in Victoria. He also brought down a bag containing about two pounds of nuggets varying in size from a small pea to about four ounces. These he will distribute among his friends of whom he has a host on the coast.

    Mr. Morton while in the city is the guest of "Archie" McNaughton, also a famous exponent of Canada's national game. He was seen at Mr. McNaughton's house this morning by a Province reporter to whom he talked for an hour of the wonderful harvest that the gold-laden creeks of the Klondike will this year yield to those who have toiled in them through the long winter months.


    "This little bag," he began, pointing at his large sack, "does not by a long chalk represent the product of the claims in which I have the good fortune to be interested. I merely brought it down as a sample of what will follow later on.

    "But you were asking about the total yield of gold that will come out this season. I don't know anything about "official" or "expert" estimates but before coming out I made a round of all the principal creeks and figured up the thing for myself. I predict and I know my figures are not far wrong, that between eighteen and
                                                      TWENTY MILLION
dollars worth of gold will be sent down this season. The claims were never worked as they were this winter and many of the hill and bench claims have turned out suprisingly rich. Dominion creek between the two discoveries has done perhaps better than any creek in the camp, although the older creeks have not yielded any less than in the past two seasons. Sulphur creek looks remarkably well and there have been some very rich strikes made there.


    "This winter has been productive of some surprise parties, one of which has made good fortunes for a few Swedes who went in penniless. The owner of a well-known claim on Eldorado gave them "lays" on a portion of his claim that he considered to be worked out. The industrious Swedes set to work and before many days struck a stunning pay streak which has netted them a very large sum of money. The washings from three hours' work in one day showed $11,000 and on several other occasions this record was equalled if not surpassed.

    "There are many other instances of despised and rejected claims proving to contain treasure that made them rank among the most valuable claims in the camp. Especially is this true of some of the hillside claims, some of which were sold out by the original locators at ridiculously low figures.


    "Although Dawson City has experienced several very serious fires, the prices of labor and of provisions seems to remain about stationary with a tendency to go lower. Laborers received $1.00 and $1.50 per hour ail through the winter and next season the general average will not be more than one dollar per hour for a day of 10 hours. People down here seem to have an idea that Dawson is in ashes and that lumber is fetching its weight in gold. This conception is a most erroneous one as the people who sent in a shipload of lumber per the Dirigo will discover to their cost. The day after the last fire lumber sold at exactly the same figures as on the day previous, viz: rough lumber $150 per 1,000 feet and $50 more for the dressed article. The prices will remain at this figure and no fires will make any difference.


    "I left the last day in May and on that date a great many of the miners were preparing to come out with their piles. The only obstacle at present is the unpredecented lowness of the water in the river. Old-timers say that it is fully two feet lower than it his ever been known to be at this time of the year. There has been very little snow in the Yukon this winter and
                                                      THOUSANDS OF TONS
of supplies are being sent in by way of St. Michael which will never reach Dawson this year. The water will remain very low all the season and a small percentage only of the steamers will be able to make the trip.

    "I left on the Columbia, six days after the Flora, which was the first boat to get out this season. The Columbia draws barely three feet and we got as far as Lebarge without any difficulty. At this point the pilots deemed it unsafe to try to get any further. Two of us then walked to the head of the White Horse rapids and brought back the Angeline which took all the passengers down to Miles' canyon where there was an ice jam five miles in length. As there appeared to be very little prospect of getting through in less than a week, I walked 126 miles to Bennett and reached Skagway in time to catch the Cutch.

    "We were talking of prices a few moments ago," continued Mr. Morton, "and that reminds me of the prices at which hay is quoted there. All through the winter months and in fact up to the time I left hay was worth $500 a ton.

    "And it was a common thing to see men buying hay and oats at 25 cents a pound in the stores. The first man who takes in a cargo of hay will make a fortune on it for imported hay is infinitely better than the home-made article. Provisions went up very slightly after the fire but hay was always high and justified the remark often heard in Dawson that it costs much more to feed a horse than a man."


    Speaking of the facilities for summer transportation on river steamers Mr. Morton paid a high compliment to the Canadian Development company's fleet with which Maitland Kersey is prominently identified. Their boats were the best, he said, and the crews and pilots on them were far ahead of anything else on the river. The boats were furnished with the Turner steam steering gear, patented in Vancouver and which have proved to be the very thing needed for navigation in shallow treacherous waters.


    "I want to say before you go," continued Mr, Morton, "that if any cause for complaint ever existed about the gold commissioner's office, there is certainly none now. Mr. Ed Senkier has been a great success and he is very popular with the miners. Both he and Mr. Pattullo have worked hard to discharge their duties satisfactorily and they have succeeded."

    In addition to being largely interested in several claims on different creeks, Mr. Morton is the manager of the mill owned by Joseph Boyle, late of Woodstock, Ont. Mr. Boyle has been in the Yukon for several seasons and has been one of the most successful; he recently bought out the mining and timber interests of Slavin the Australian prize fighter, who will soon leave the country for good.

    Mr. Morton will spend several weeks in Victoria and will then return with Mrs. Morton, as he expects to be a resident in Dawson for at least three or four years more.

    Frederick Buckle, of London, Eng., is a guest at the Metropole where he is recuperating after an unfortunate experience while on a prospecting trip in the north. Mr. Buckle and his party were attempting to make their way from Lake Bennett to Tagish on a scow, when at a particularly dangerous spot the scow upset, precipitating the party into the water and losing all their supplies. On the same day and at the same spot a scowload of sheep upset and two men were drowned. Mr. Buckle came down on the Cutch and as soon as he has recovered and has secured a fresh outfit he purposes going north again.

    The following items are from the Klondike Nugget of May 24th and May 20th:

    At last the long-looked for first steamer has arrived, loaded down to the guards with passengers and 12 tons of oranges, lemons, apples, onions and other vegetables and fruit. It surprises no one that the spunky little Flora, of the B. L. & K. N. Co. should be the first to break through the ice between here and the foot of Lebarge and breast her way here ahead of everything but a couple of canoes.

    The Flora brought in 30 sacks of mail, a portion of it dated May 1st.

    The first men to arrive from above after the opening of the river, were two from Indian river, who reached here on Saturday morning. They report Bedrock City deserted, and prospecting on the lower river practically abandoned.

    The practicability of blasting frozen muck as a mining device seems to have been successfully established by Chas. Anderson, who has been employing the method on Nos. 30 and 32 Eldorado for some time. The popular theory had been that powder would "blow out."

    Sidewalks two, three and more feet in the air, will, in time, prove to have been established upon the correct grade to allow of the proper graveling of the townsite; at present there are numerous inconveniences resulting from the change. To numerous buildings one must needs go down from one ton three steps to enter. The altitude noticeable along by the N. A. T. & T. Co. stores to the mills, than further towards the centre of the town, though along by the postoffice, the land office and the stores between, most of them will be seen to have been built flat on the ground, and may be inconvenienced when the new grade shall have been established at that point.

    The first party of men to reach Dawson entirely by water from Lake Lebarge was one headed by Joe Junood, a sour dough of '95, who went outside last summer. They beached their boat near the barracks at 10 o'clock Tuesday morning and were at once surrounded by a group of admirers, "I left for the inside on April 15th," said Joe. "This boat was built in nine hours after we got the lumber and was hauled by our party over the ice of Marsh and Lebarge lakes. At the foot of the latter we found open water and rode all the way thence to Dawson. Eighteen miles above Selkirk we encountered a large field of ice."

    The clean-up this year will be much larger than last year.

    Last year the ice went out on May 5th; the year before on the 14th, and the year before that on the 17th; the same date as this year.

W. P. Allen Arrives at Seattle With a Sack of Gold, June 16, 1899

    Seattle, Wn., June 16. - The first news from Dawson and the interior of Alaska received since travel over the trail closed, about six weeks ago, reached here yesterday.

    A revised estimate of the losses incurred in the big fire on April 26th places the total amount at half a million, about one half the amount previously estimated.

    Gilbert Anderson, of Lacrosse, Wis., has reached the city after a most exciting trip from the Copper river country through the dead of winter. He brings news of the safety of a large party of miners who started over the divide into the Tanana country and were believed to have been lost. Anderson says one or two of the party were frozen in the mountains, but the majority are building boats on the Forty Mile river to continue their journey. He does not give the names of those who perished.

    Joe Juneau, one of the pioneers of the Yukon, after whom the town of Juneau is named, died at Dawson on May 13th of pheumonia. He made and lost several fortunes in Alaska.

    William P. Allan, who left Dawson on May 25th, arrived in Seattle yesterday morning. He reports that the steamer Flora got up the Yukon from Dawson, and the steamer Gleaner made a successful round trip to Atlin. Both vessels narrowly escaped being wrecked.

    Allen brings $40,000 in gold, and says 100 miners will be here on the City of Seattle with $500,000. The clean-up at Dawson commenced May 1st and was promising better than the most expectant looked for.

    A great many mining accidents are reported from Dawson. The air in the deep mining shaft is very bad, and the warm weather has caused a number of disastrous cave-ins. Among the deaths reported are: Frank Julberti, crushed by a cave-in on Magnet gulch; L. Avrie, St. Louis, suffocated in the shaft of the Gold Run claim; a German miner named Hecht, suffocated on a claim near the Cliff house; E. A. Simpson, New Brunswick, from scurvy. Two men were drowned trying to cross the Yukon on unsafe ice.

    Among the men seriously injured in mining accidents are Edward McCormick, John Johnson, Cesarra Pusatta, Andrew Nelson and Sandy Roberts.

    The death of two miners in the Tanana mountains from freezing was reported at Dawson by Gilbert Anderson, of Wisconsin. He brings news of the safety of a large party that crossed from the Copper river country and were believed to have been lost. They are building boats on Forty-Mile to continue the trip to Dawson,

    William Bennett, a brewery man, killed Arnold Bremner, of Seattle, with a bottle during a quarrel at Dawson.

    Joe Juneau, who founded and named the town of Juneau, Alaska, died suddenly at Dawson in May. He was at work on a rich claim trying to make his fifth fortune. He has spent four others in the last 20 years.

    Colonel Steele, of the Northwest mounted police, has discovered evidence of an organized band of highwaymen who intended to attack gold trains bound from Dawson, and escape with the treasure to the American side. He has been unable to locate the band, who are hiding in the hills, but has detailed police to go to the heads of the various creeks, to furnish armed guards to all miners desiring to bring out treasure.

    Mounted police camps have been established on the creeks to collect the crown royalty of 10 per cent.

    The steamer Willie Irving had her wheel crushed, and the New York was thrown on the beach by ice. Great fear is felt for the safety of many boats tied up on the lower Yukon. Those that wintered above Dawson escaped without difficulty. The opening of the river was celebrated with much spirit.

    United States Consul McCook is still having trouble with the Dawson newspapers, and has several libel suits pending. Col. McCook writes to a friend here that troubles have driven him to drink, and that he thinks of resigning. The American miners will petition for removal.

    News comes from Circle City that the miners recently voted on the question of establishing local government to replace the provisional military rule now enforced by United States troops. The proposition was defeated by a good majority.

    The steamers of the Alaska Commercial company on the Yukon this year will burn coal. Several thousand tons of good coal taken from a newly discovered mine on Nation river, have been stowed in bunkers on the Yukon. The work of developing the coal property is progresing rapidly, and enormous deposits have been found.

    Dawson is to have a system of drainage this year. Several hundred men were working during May digging ditches to carry off surface water.

    J. H. Gannon, who has a wife now in Dawson, is reported there to have another in Victoria, in indigent circumstances. Gannon started for Seattle, on an alleged business trip, and shortly after he left there came a letter signed "Your loving wife," and begging for money. The wife at Dawson opened it and turned the matter over to the mounted police.

    All long-term prisoners now confined in Yukon stockades will be sent to the New Westminster penitentiary on the first boat down the river. The police gaols are rapidly filling up, and there is no other relief.