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Atlin, British Columbia in the 1930s

A Guide to Atlin, British Columbia

    I often see what little value many people place on their family's history, and today I have the pleasure of showing you the other side of that coin. A collection of photos shot on a cruise and land tour of Alaska and neighbouring regions in the 1930s has now found its way into the museums and archives of communities shown in them, thanks to the efforts of the photographer's nephew, and I was given permission to post these photos that were shot in Atlin (the originals will soon be in the Atlin Museum).

    In researching some background information to put the images into their proper context, I've discovered that the photographer, Miss Eva Cayot, was a particularly progressive woman. She was born in the gold mining town of La Porte, California on December 26, 1888. She attended what is now California State University San Francisco and became a teacher, and in June 1949 was appointed Superintendent of Schools for Plumas County, California, a position that she won in subsequent elections and held for many years. She loved to travel, and sometime in the 1930s went on a cruise to Alaska and shot these photographs. After her death in January, 1985, the photo collection was passed on to her nephew, Jan Cayot. In June 2005, Jan and his wife Linda went on an Alaska cruise themselves and began distributing the photos to the communities.

    On this lengthy journey (probably about 3 weeks), Miss Cayot visited Victoria, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Taku Glacier, Juneau, Atlin, Whitehorse and Sitka. In 2003 I found a 16mm film of a small portion of a tour similar to the one that Miss Cayot was likely on, though it didn't vist Atlin - many images from that film and interpretive comments are posted at RailsNorth.com. The image below, showing a very similar itinerary, is taken from one of my cruise brochures, this one a nicely illustrated 69-page document published by Criswell Travel Service in Los Angeles in 1930.

Click on each image to enlarge it.

Atlin from the north end of town.
The water delivery wagon.
A placer gold mine "dump". Gravel was taken out of the shaft during the winter when there was no water to wash it, and piled up in these dumps until Spring.
A hydraulic gold mining operation. This huge hose was used to wash away the non-gold-bearing overburden, then to wash the gold-bearing gravel into sluice boxes to extract the gold.
The Indian cemetery at the south end of town.
The view of the community from Atlin Lake, out past First Island.
The lumber mill.