Alaska's lost Rocker mine
Arctic & Northern Mining
Dateline: January 19, 2024.
The story of what is now known as the Lost Rocker gold mine has been circulating for about 160 years now. In the articles reproduced below, dating from 1894 to 1912, you will see a lot of repetition, but also widely varying details in every aspect of the story.
The Gazette, St. Joseph, Missouri - Sunday, July 29, 1894
In the spring of 1876 two miners left Sitka on a prospecting expedition, taking a course to the southeast, with the intention of exploring the islands along their route, but more especially to reach the main land and make extensive search for placer diggings. Finding the islands barren of good results, they crossed Chatham Straits to the mainland, and pitched camp at the mouth of a large creek. To their experienced eyes the creek bed gave evidence of what they were in search of. It was strewn with quartz, and on "panning" the gravel "color" was found. They ascended the stream, and after two days' traveling over boulders and winding through underbrush they reached the head waters of the creek on the divide. Beyond and below a short distance in the basin lay a beautiful little lake, with a small stream emptying into it from the west and another flowing out to the north. They descended and camped on the margin of the lake. In the little stream putting into the lake they again found gold. After prospecting and panning the gravel, joy filled their breasts, for they had found a bonanza! The gravel yielded coarse gold the size of beans and a dollar or more to the pan. The lucky gold hunters lost no time in setting to work. One returned to the beach after the cached supplies, while the other partner set to work building a rocker. For a matter of two weeks they washed the golden sands and made
occasional trips to their cache on the beach, with no thought whatever of approaching danger, and no intimation of the horrible tragedy that was about to occur.
On the eventful day, at about noon, as they were leaving work to prepare
dinner, savages who had tracked the two lone miners from the beach into the mountains to murder and plunder, poured their fire from behind trees upon them. One was killed outright, but miraculously the other was untouched. Seeing his companion fall, and taking in the situation at a glance, he bounded into the timber. Fear lent Wings to the pursued, and he soon outdistanced his pursuers, who were unable to get in an effective shot while both were dodging throught the timber and underbrush. The pursued made direct for the cache and boat on the beach, and hastily loading up with the remainder of the provisions and effects he pulled out into the channel. He saw the Indians no more, and shaped his course, as he supposed, for Sitka, but not being acquainted with the channels, their intricate windings and ever changing courses led him astray. He was picked up by a gunboat on her way to the sound and landed in Port Townsend. In a belt which he wore around his walsts he had about $1,500 in coarse gold, his share of the work by the lake.
The miner returned to Sitka and told the tale of his murdered partner and the finding of the bonanza, and induced a party to go with him in search of it again. The party, several in number, set forth tn a smail schooner, with the miner for their guide. But through the many changes made in the course in tacking against head winds, and the winding courses that necessarily had to be taken with a schooner, the guide, as before, became lost. The crew began to doubt his story, and giving up all hope of finding the mouth of the creek that led to the goal, insisted upon a return. The guide persisted that he would surely find the place and insisted also that the search be continued, when the party became angry and threatened to hang him to the mast. The search was then abandoned.
A short time after their return to Sitka the miner, or hero of the "lost
rocker," as it was now termed, was taken sick and died, but to his attendant during his illness, Mike Powers, one of the pioneers of this camp, he confided the secret of how to find the rocker by the lake. The rich find in Silver Bow basin back of Juneau occurred soon after his death, and Powers was one who jolned in the stampede. Being a good prospector, and lucky, he secured valuable claims which demanded his attention, and delayed his search in the direction of the "lost rocker," and after a time he was about to undertake the trip when he was killed by a land slide in the basin; and thus died the only living white person who, unless by accident, could find the lake, the rocker, and the bleached bones of the unfortunate miner whom fell beside it.
To this day prospecting parties every spring go in search of it, and this summer a number are fitting out for the expedition. Big rewards have been offered to Indians to reveal the locality, but, through fear of being implicated in the murder or otherwise, they remain silent.
The Morning Call, San Francisco, California - Monday, February 18, 1895
Tacoma, Feb. 17. - If all indications are not at fault the famous Lost Rocker mine of Alaska has been found.
Y. E. Carpenter, editor of the Juneau News, who came down by the the last
steamer, tells a most interesting story of the discovery, loss and rediscovery of the
wonderful mineral treasure. He says Dr. William Mulcahy of Juneau, who has been one of the most persistant searchers for the lost location, feels confident that he has at last been successful in his search. In the spring he will go into the country where the mine is located, and is willing to stake his life that he will return with a horde of yellow nuggets.
To mining men all along the coast the story of the Lost Rocker mine is familiar. About twelve years ago two prospectors, in journeying through the region back of Wrangel, came upon a beautiful little lake, around which were all indications of gold.
They camped and proceeded to prospect along the shores. On a bar at the northern end they at length found the shining metal, and found it in such profusion as was never before seen in Alaska. The season was near its close, there were but a few hours of daylight during each twenty-four hours and the men were short of provisions, hence they worked with feverish haste to secure a large stake. Within two days they had taken out $50,000.
Then disaster fell upon them. While bending over his rocker one day hostile Indians crept up behind one of the prospectors and shot him. He fell forward into the water, carrying the rocker with him.
The other prospector, who had gone hunting, was returning when the tragedy occurred and witnessed it from the shelter of a clump of trees. As the Indians began to rifle the tent in search of the miner's store of golden nuggets he attempted to
make his escape. He was discovered and wounded in the fusillade that began as soon as he was seen. Nevertheless he escaped, and after weeks of hardships and suffering managed to reach Wrangel. In proof of his story he produced a belt full of nuggets that had been taken from the mine. Hardly had he reached the camp at Wrangel, however, when he became delirious from the effects of his wounds. The miners, among them Dr. Mulcahy, tenderly cared for him. He was never able to give an accurate description of the lake where the great treasure was located, but he raved about it constantly during his delirium. At length he died, carrying the secret of the mine's location with him.
Dr. Mulcahy has just returned from Wrangel, where he spent the summer
working on the great secret. He gained much information from a now aged Indian chief, who claimed to know something of the lake. He was willing to furnish the information for a certain number of blankets, which were to be forfeited in case the prospectors should fail to find the mine.
The offer was accepted by Dr. Mulcahy and a friend, and the two prospectors started on the quest. After diligent searching in almost every direction around Wrangel for six weeks the party returned without having made the discovery. The Indian chief was then requested to deliver up the blankets given him, which he promptly did, but afterward insisted upon another and more thorough search.
Dr. Mulcahy, still being confident that the lost lode could be found, once more started the prospectors out. They were gone about two months, during which time
they had to endure many hardships, but when the grubstake had almost given out and they were about to return home they came upon a beautiful sheet of water which answered to the description of the Lost Rocker. The surroundings of the lake were closely scrutinized, but their provisions were gone and they had no time to prospect. They came back and told of their discovery.
From the peculiar characteristics of a certain spot near the lake, which Dr. Mulcahy declines to reveal, he is confident that the newly discovered body of water is the veritable lake which many an Alaskan has longed to find. Whether or not the glittering nuggets of the legend are there remains to be disclosed.
As soon as spring opens the party will return to the lake and prospect the stream which enters it.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis, Missouri - Sunday, September 29, 1895
Special Correspondence Sunday Post-Dispatch.
NEW YORK, Sept. 26. - An expedition led by Hamilton Galt, "The Rambler," is about to start in search of "the Lost Rocker" gold mine in Alaska. This is a mine of almost fabulous wealth, whose discovery has been the dream of prospectors for many years,
but whose whereabouts are unknown to all but one person.
This person is Hamilton Galt, who is now in Washington, and will lead the expedition which has at last been organized. When he saw the Lost Rocker, or, "Lake of
the Golden Bar," as some people call it, there were $7,000,000 of gold shining in the
bright morning sun.
Standing on the brink of a high ledge, Hamilton Galt revelled in anticipation of enjoying the vast wealth which lay stretched out before him in rows on rows of nuggets, some of them larger than a man could carry, the bright virgin gold of which they were formed throwing back rays of the sun in a way to dazzle him.
A long time has passed since that time, and it is only now that Hamilton Galt is starting out to recover this vast treasure. During the intervening time he has never ceased to think about it. He knows the exact latitude and longitude of the spot, and
he says he could go there in a beeline if he had an airship, never doubting for a minute that the millions of gold are still there, guarded only by wild beasts and the fury of the elements, which hitherto have kept all adventurers at a distance.
Hamilton Galt is only now delayed by formalities at Washington in securing his rights to the lost Alaska mine. He says that the golden bar in the mysterious lake is only a sample of the mining possibilities of the surrounding country, and he expects when he returns with a report of what he has found that there will be a rush to
Alaska similar to the rush to California after the discovery at Sutter's Mill.
In anticipation of this, Hamilton Galt desires to put his rights of discovery beyond question, and when he starts for Alaska, as he expects do shortly, he will be armed with full legal authority to work the mine. He has also made arrangements for the preservation of his secret in case of his death.
The country through which he will pass is beset by many dangers and it is not impossible that the leader of the expedition might be killed by hostile Indians or meet his death in an encounter with wild beasts. In that event the secret of the whereabouts of such untold wealth will not go with him to the grave, for, when the expedition strikes out from civilization into the wilderness he will impart his knowledge
to a friend, together with a map showing the exact location of the glittering golden bar.
Mr. Galt, who is a descendant of an old Virginia family of James River County, Virginia, wil be backed financially by a company of wealthy Southern gentlemen
and capitalists. The expedition starts from Montreal, Canada, about Nov. 1, and proceeds over the Canadian Pacific Railroad to Ashcroft, British Columbia, which place will be made the base for the company's supplies.
The outfit of forty wagons and teams, forty teamsters, sixteen "rangers," two geologists and mining engineers, two cooks and Mr. Galt himself and a friend, an eminent mining expert, will winter at Ashcroft. The party starts from Ashcroft just as soon as traveling becomes practicable.
The route will be in a northwesterly direction, passing through the upper ramparts and striking the "flats" drained by the southern tributaries of the Yukon river. Mr. Galt estimates that it will take forty-five days of steady traveling, progressing twenty-five miles every twenty-four hours, to reach the lake. It is situated in a natural
basin formed by a circular formation of mountains, completely inclosing it, save for a narrow defile or canyon by which it is entered from the northwest.
In an interview with a Sunday Post-Dispatch correspondent a few days since, Mr. Galt said:
"I know the exact latitude and longitude of the lake. The only trouble of rediscovering it will be the dangers and difficulties to be overcome in traveling there. The way is iong, rough, dangerous and full of obstacles to be overcome ere we reach that
golden deposit we seek. The journey will be more difficult yet safer than when I made it with only two companions.
"The traveling will be necessarily slower. The horses or mules drawing the wagons will not be able to push forward so rapidly as men could proceed on foot. In many places we will have to pass through forests, and roads for the wagons to pass will have to be made in these. The "rangers," i.e., the hunters and providers, fighting men, in case we have trouble with Indians, will walk. Each one of these is a picked man.
"All are tried hunters and Indian fighters. They were recruited during the past summer by their leader, who is Charlie Mackenzie, a nephew of the discoverer of the Mackenzie river, and in honor of whom the river was named. All of these rangers furnish their own outfits, consisting of repeating rifles, a brace of revolvers and a knife. Their ammunition is furnished them, and enough ammunition will be taken to cope with any large band of hostiles that might be met, besides an ample supply for the
hunting of game to give the party fresh meat every day, if it can be found.
"There is plenty of game in this country during the spring months, and I anticipate no difficulty in being able to enjoy fresh meat every day. The elk are in
this country in considerable numbers, along in March to the latter part of April, when they move further North. Smaller deer and goats in the highlands and the upper ramparts are plentiful. Many bears are about there. We have the black and the brown bear, and there is the tremendous grizzly. He is found here larger but not so fierce as his California and Montana cousins, who have become fierce through being hunted by professional hunters and gentlemen sportsmen. The wild animals of the Yukon River country and the upper ramparts of British Columbia have been little hunted, consequently they are easier to approach and to kill. This is not a hunting or a sportsmen's party, so we will kill only game we may need to give us fresh meat, and for this ample game will be found.
Mr. Galt was asked if he was sure he could find the lake again, and whether he could proceed by the road he traveled before.
"I know the latitude and longitude, the exact latitude and longitude," he reiterated. "I could go there in an airship, if such a thing could be had. As for the route to be traveled by this expedition, it will not be the same as when Stanford, Ulrich and I stumbled on the lake. We will take a more direct road, and save several hundred miles, besides going through a better game country, a better country for water, more level, and easier to travel than the former way.
"As to our getting there and finding the lake and the bar, with its vast deposit of precious metal, let me once more assure you that knowing, as I do, the exact latitude and longitude, there is no chance of my failing to find them, with such an expedition as I am leading there.
"In case of my death on the route, I will give the secret of the latitude and longitude to Mr. F. R. Ake, the mining engineer, to whom I have referred. He is now residing at Newport News, Va., and is in the employ of the C. & O. R. Railway Company at that point. I will trust him with the secret, if I should become disabled or if anything seriously happens to such as sickness, or being wounded by hostiles, that would render my death imminent, or would so disable me, so that I, personally, would be unable to pro ceed.,
"This secret I will deposit with Mr. Ake before we leave Ashcroft, British Columbia. I will give him a map of the country, with the route I intend to follow traced upon it, and with a knowledge of the exact latitude and longitude, he cannot fail, as any one could not fail to find the Iake and the bar, when possessed of this information.
"The gold is there. I have seen it. The expedition is organized and ready to start, or will be just as soon as I can get the commission appointing me a United States Mining Agent, for which purpose I am now in Washington.
"There is going to be a rush to this new Eldorado,” said Mr. Galt. “We are going to see the old scenes of the Forty-niner's repeated. A horde of speculators and adventurers will be at my back. As soon as I open up this country with my expedition, others will follow. I want to make sure of this deposit of gold for myself and for those who are backing me financially, and so I go armed with powers from the Government to take possession and enter my claims to the Golden Bar before others can come in and get a slice of it.
"It has been hard work getting the expedition ready to move. The hardest has been getting the finances from the right kind of men. Many speculators have been after me. I have been bothered with all sorts of propositions. But I wanted reliable men behind me; men I could trust. Likewise I wished none but tried and true men in the party I was to lead. Now, everything is ready and we start from Montreal Nov. 1."
San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, California - Saturday, November 16, 1895
An expedition led by Hamilton Galt, "The Rambler," is about to start in
search of the Lost Rocker gold mine in Alaska. This is a mine of almost fabulous wealth, whose discovery has been the dream of prospectors for many years, but whose whereabouts is unknown to all but one person.
This person is Hamilton Galt, who is now in Washington and will lead the
expedition which has at last been organized. When he saw the Lost Rocker, or "Lake of the Golden Bar," as some people call it, there were $7,000,000 of gold shining in the bright morning sun.
A long time has passed since then and it is only now that Hamilton Galt is starting out to recover this vast treasure. Hamilton Galt will lead an expedition of at least sixty persons. The country through which he will pass is beset by many dangers and it is not impossible that the leader of the expedition might be killed by hostile Indians or meet his death in an encounter with wild beasts. In that event the secret of the whereabouts of such untold wealth will not go with him to the grave, for when the expedition strikes out from civilization into the wilderness he will impart his knowledge to a friend, together with a map showing the exact. location of the glittering golden bar.
The outfit of forty wagons and teams, forty teamsters, sixteen "rangers," two geologists and mining engineers, two cooks and Mr. Galt himself and a friend, an eminent mining expert, will winter at Ashcroft. The party starts from Ashcroft just as soon as traveling becomes practicable. The route will be in a northwesterly direction, passing through the upper ramparts and striking the "flats" drained by the southern tributaries of the Yukon river.
It was in August, 1894, that Galt, with Charles Ulrich and Walter Olsen Stanford, commonly called "Ole," left Spokane on a prospecting expedition.. They moved steadily north, and as they progressed discovered gold in small quantities. For seven weeks they prospected, progressing steadily northwest in the direction of Juneau, Alaska, and accumulated about $10,000 worth of gold dust.
In the eighth week they reached the St. Elias range, on the eastern slope, and it was here that they discovered the famous Lake of the Golden Bar. Here is Hamilton Galt's description of the discovery:
"Ole Stanford, good old prospector that he was, saw it first. It was about 9 o'clock in the morning. The sun was shining away to the southeast. But a few days later in that region it would not have been there to point out the resplendent treasure for us. But now its rays struck with a slanting flood upon the bar and scintillated in a thousand golden slivers directly across the water into our dazzled eyes.
"Simultaneously we all yelled. Even liquor-befogged Ulrich came in, with a deep baritone, in good time. Then we dropped our rifies and all together plunged into the water, making for the 'golden bar.' As I felt of the heft and noted the color I could see that it was almost pure gold. I estimated it to be worth at least $15 an ounce.
"While I was examining this find under my glass Ole had got ashore. He began to gather up nuggets and scoop up dust as fast as he could transfer the stuff from the ground to his pockets. But it remained for Ulrich to make the big strike of all our discoveries. He had landed about a rod below where Ole ahd I had left the water. In walking through the shallows toward shore he struck his foot against a sharp rock, as he thought. But as he lifted it out of the water there was disclosed a nugget of almost pure gold! I estimated its weight at fifty pounds, or not much less than that figure. Ole concurred with me in this estimate."
For forty days the three men worked and cached about $50,000 in gold, besides the two large nuggets found by Ulrich and Galt. It took a lot of time to move this treasure across the water, and many days were lost in killing game for food.
On October 23rd it was decided to stop further work and to start south for Wrangel. About 9 o'clock on that morning Galt, who was working with the "rocker" on the bar, fell into the water, and as he plunged in heard a rattling fusillade of shots. He swam to a niche in the cliff, where he hid and listened. He knew that Indians had attacked his companions. After a time he swam across to the camp. Not a vestige of it remained. There were only the smoking embers of the hut.
Galt, after wandering some time in a vain effort to trace his companions or the Indians who had made the attack; returned to the camp, which he again found empty and deserted. Then he struck out for civilization, carrying about $8000 of the gold in a belt.
He wandered for many weeks through that terrible winter, and it was only on March 27, 1885, that he reached the lonely cabin of Jim Edwards, twenty-five miles from Bonner's Ferry. Galt was exhausted from his hardships and stayed in the cabin until May, giving Edwards $2000 worth gold as a reward for his hospitality - New York World.
The Minneapolis Journal, Minneapolis, Minnesota - Saturday, September 4, 1897
The San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California - Thursday, September 29, 1898
JUNEAU, Alaska, Sept. 23. - The region around:the central location, Lake
Atlin, of the new placer diggings on Pine and other creeks is becoming one of unlooked-for possibilities. R. D. Knapp, the unique prospector who went in over the divide with only five hams, a towel and a cake of tar soap, ali of which have long ago been consumed, avers that he met a prospector named Jenks, who discovered and actually slept in the cabin of the "Lost Rocker" mine.
The "Lost Rocker" placer mine is one of the traditions of Alaska. It is fabulously rich. Men have hunted in vain for it for nearly twenty-eight years. There is an old miner and frontier practitioner here, Doc Mulcahy, who now keeps a beer saloon with kegs arrayed around the end of the place like the muzzles of the 12-inch guns off
Santiago de Cuba harbor, who has gone broke three times in trying to find it. Not an old miner in Alaska but has heard about it. Many more would have started out for it if they had known in what direction to take or make a trail. The story of the "Lost Rocker," reduced to daily newspaper length, is as follows: Not a mining State, Territory or district is there that has not had its "Lost Cabin," "Lost Mountain," "Lost Trail," or lost something-else mine. This is Alaska's and it is peculiarly Alaskan:
In the spring of 1874 two miners left Sitka on a prospecting expedition. They took a course to the southeast, intending to look at some creeks on the islands lying on their route before touching the mainland. They prospected the mouths of several creeks on Baranoff, Chichagoff and Admiralty islands, three of the largest islands in the Southeastern Alaska archipelago, and finding no indications worthy of further exploration there pulled down Chatham Straits and then across toward the mainland. There, being overtaken by a storm, they were driven ashore in their small boat at the mouth of a large creek. After having made camp in a protected nook, they looked about them. They noticed that the bed of the creek was strewn with quartz. Next morning they set to work panning out the gravel of the stream and were elated at finding it would pay. But as the gold was very fine they supposed that by following up the stream they would find it in coarser
Caching all their supplies except the small portion needed for a short trip into the Interior they started up the creek. Two days' travel over bowlders and through underbrush brought them to the crest of a divide. Below a short distance in a basin lay a beautiful little lake. A small stream was seen emptying into it from the
west and another stream flowing out of it to the north was its outlet. The prospectors descended and camped that night on the margin of the lake. Again they found gold. It was in the gravel of the feeder running in from the west. Here was their fortune. As they prospected this stream they found that every panful of gravel yielded half a spoonful of coarse gold, and some nuggets were found weighing as much as an ounce. The little stream was fed by glaciers and snow banks above. No time was lost in making a rocker and the two gold-hunters were soon rocking out a golden stream as grain flows out of a hopper.
They worked industriously for two weeks and must have had several hundred thousand dollars worth of dust and nuggets. Occasional trips were made to the cache at the
beach near the mouth of the creek for supplies without a single thought of danger.
At noon one day, as they were leaving work to prepare dinner, they were
fired upon by Indians. These Indians have always been thought to be either Sticks or Chilkats, the two fiercest tribes in Southeastern Alaska. The Sticks or Thinklets inhabit the interior from the Lake Teslin basin to the coast range of mountains. Apparently the
Indians were after the provisions and other supplies, and not the gold.
One of the miners was killed instantly. The other, uninjured, sprang into
the woods and was out of sight before a second volley could be fired. Cut off from the camp by the lake, he made haste to the canoe and remainder of the cache near the beach. He hastily re-embarked with a quantity of provisions, intending to go back to Sitka and return to the diggings with a large party. But he lost his bearings, as the sky in Alaska is often obscure by fogs for days at a time. Instead of pulling for Sitka he took a southerly course toward Victoria. He was picked up by a passing ship and finally landed at Port Townsend. He had about $1500 in nuggets in his pockets.
The next spring he returned to Sitka and made up a party to return with
him to the bonanza by the lake. At this point the story becomes slightly confused, for it is known to be a fact that a party did leave Victoria in the spring of 1875, in search of a lost Alaska mine. When the party arrived at a point below Taku Inlet, about where the settlement of Shuck is now located, the miner pointed it out as the place where he and his partner had landed and cached their stuff a year before.
Finding no big pay on the first creek, as the guide thought there was, the party became enraged and threatened to hang him to the main boom of the schooner, for quite an expedition had been fitted out. It seems that the miner and guide had not yet mentioned the bonanza by the lake for reasons of his own. Not fearing the gibbet after the threat he kept the secret to him-self, and the party sailed to Sitka empty handed.
Scarcely a season has since come that some prospector has not started out in hopes of finding the "Lost Rocker" mine. Rewards have been offered the natives up and down the coast to reveal the place, but probably through fear of being implicated and punished for the murder they profess to know nothing about it.
Jenks is said to have made a map of his trail to the place, so he may be certain of finding his way back. He is the only man who has introduced a cabin into the story. If he has found the place he has doubtless staked all the ground the law allows. He mysteriously describes the location as between Lake Teslin and Lake Atlin.
The Examiner, San Francisco, California - Wednesday, November 30, 1898.
(Special Dispatch to "The Examiner.")
VICTORIA (B. C.), November 29. - Dr. W. D. Kinsloe and T. H. James, Denver mining men, with Colonel Hughes of Rossland, form a trio of just-returned northerners now in Victoria, who illustrate In their recent experiences and present intentions the pertinacity with which miners will follow a will o' the wisp. These three men went into the upper Yukon country by Teslin lake and were right in line for the Atlin lake country when the rich discoveries were made there. About the same time, however, they heard the fantastic tale of the lost Rocker mine, the standard romance and dream of the northern miner, and preferred to stake their season's outfit and labor on the relocation of this phantom treasure to developing the claims they had staked on Pine creek, but if they did not find the Rocker they found something they had not looked for: an active volcano, as the sequel will tell.
The report they had had of the lost Rocker was obtained from one of those to whom the Indian hero of the legend originally communicated his secret at Juneau years
ago, and was in effect that this red man, far back in the mountains beyond Long lake, had discovered a rivulet whose banks washed gold in such quantity that he had taken $20,000 out in less than two days. He and his squaw were working it industriously when a white prospector joined them and soon became one of the family circle. As days wore on the Indian became suspicious that all was not right between his wife and their white guest, and one day becoming assured of the fact, he killed both. Then he fled to Juneau to surrender himself, but taking many thousands in dust with him in partial substantiation of his strange story. The provocation, according to his own tale, was so great that the authorities declined to detain the avenger of his honor, and shortly afterward he died, refusing for any consideration to revisit the scene of the crumbling of his domestic happiness. Before he died, however, he described minutely to his friends the location of the mine. The directions given proved more satisfactory to Jones, Hughes and Kinsloe than they had to 500 or more others who had preceded them over the same ground on the same quest.
The mine, according to the Indian's story, lay close against a great glacier at the foot of an old volcano, the route to it being along Surprise and Long lakes. The directions of the discoverer were to paddle around the base of the volcanic mountain, passing six creeks and ascend the seventh, where would be found the abandoned Rocker and much gold. The glacier, the extinct volcano and the succession of creeks were found as promised, and the passage up the seventh stream commenced. For three and a half
days they toiled upward until they came to where the creek forked, one branch leading
to the left and one to the right, inclining toward Surprise lake. As the latter bore nearer to the base of supplies, which were running short, it was chosen and followed some distance, bringing them eventually into the shadow of the glacier and the volcano, which they now saw to their vast surprise was enveloped in a crown of smoke.
Here the party spent three days prospecting, Hughes and Jones climbing the almost precipitous sides of the volcano and laughing at the protestations of their comrades and guides, who realized more clearly than they the danger to which they were exposed. Reaching the summit without misadventure they found the topography of the country to correspond exactly with the description given by the Indians, and thus encouraged they resumed the search, continuing it until the provisions were gone.
Although their discoveries were not remarkable, they are confident that the lost Rocker mine is neither a fable nor a fake. In every place in the locality where dirt was tried from five to twelve colors were obtained, while the prospects generally are so good that all three will hasten back as soon as spring unlocks tho gateways of the north. They will find that lost Rocker, they say, or perish, as many others have, in the attempt.
Whether it is the same fire mountain or not, Jones, Hughes and Kinslcoe cannot say, but certain it is that some supposedly extinct volcano in that locality has since they started out given signs of very great activity. The eruptions have been intermittent as yet, but as each has been more serious in character than its predecessor. The prospectors who had intended to winter on the near-by creeks and hillsides are flocking down to Atlin City, some fifty miles away, in dread and dismay.
The volcano is of more interest than appears on the surface, for only one other mountain in that vicinity has ever before been reported in eruption, and that on an insignificant scale. No name has yet been given to the active volcano, but the officials of Atlin are preparing for a trip of inspection and will christen it. It is said to be the second in a string of four mountains lying fifty miles due south of Lake Gladys, all of which are more than 14,000 feet high.
The first report that the old fire hill was in eruption was brought to Pine creek by prospectors who had camped on the foothills one night, when the mountain above them started to emit clouds of steam and ashes, while molten lava ran down the sides of the mountain in immense streams, and the hastily-abandoned camp was quickly obliterated. Since then a dozen different parties have reported seeing the mountain in eruption, and the officials at Atlin at last decided to make scientific study of the
phenomenon. They have secured the necessary scientific instruments and will start for the scene as soon as the snow is sufficiently set for shoeing.
The Weekly Star, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory - Saturday, May 2, 1903.
Will Search for Lost Mine.
A number of most prominent business men of Juneau, including the mayor, have organized a company to search for the Lost Rocker mine. Nearly every man in the north, has from time to time heard more or less of the "Lost Rocker," though most frequently in a jesting manner, and many that mention it have but a vague idea of the
It is said that in 1867 Captain Lewis, of the Hudson Bay company, while on a cruise with the steamer Otter, picked up a drifting boat in the vicinity of Taku harbor near Stocktate point. In the boat they found the almost lifeless body of Fred Culver, and a sack of gold. He was tenderly cared for and after recovering consciousness he told the captain his remarkable story.
He claimed to have been prospecting in the neighborhood with two partners, that they discovered very rich placer ground on some stream emptying into a beautiful bay or small lake. They made a rocker with which they rocked out a large amount of gold in a very short time, but while at work one day they were attacked by Indians, his two partners were killed and Culver was wounded. However he succeeded in getting a sack of their hidden gold dust, securing their boat and getting away without food or blankets.
He rowed out of the harbor, and though suffering from his wounds, he
managed to direct the course of the boat for several days, and then became unconscious, in which condition he remained until picked up by the Otter. He was taken below where he related his discovery and exhibited his sack of gold which naturally caused quite a little flurry, and many were anxious to go to the new find. Instead of remaining quiet until he recovered, Culver was induced to accompany a party who immediately outfitted and started back to the camp in the unknown north.
They soon found that Culver was in a much more feeble condition than they
realized when they started. His mind wandered and his memory forsook him. He seemed unable to collect his thoughts and could not direct them to the spot. Some of his companions became angry, and treated him in an unreasonable and heartless manner, even threatening his life. He was finally taken to Sitka where he soon after died, and the old camp and rocker has not up to the present time been found.
The Davenport Democrat and Leader, Davenport, Iowa - Friday, October 26, 1906.
Muskegon, Mich., Oct. 26. - Alaska's legendary gold mine, Lost Rocker,
with its old cabin, old rocker and grindstone, unknown to any human being since 1866, when it was lost to record by the accidental death of an Indian trapper, has been rediscovered
by Crate Campbell and George F. Scott, Muskegon adventurers, who left here for Alaskan fields two-score years ago. They had grown white-haired in their search for the treasure and only through losing their bearings and after suffering at death's door from cold and starvation did they stumble upon Lost Rocker. The mine is located on Douglas island, near Juneau. The find has been staked out and claimed by the Muskegon men and is expected to net them millions. Its gold when the mine was first discovered was the purest known and the name of Lost Rocker has been a coveted household word with gold hunters ever since.
Relatives had given the two men up for dead.
The Sun, Vancouver, British Columbia - Monday, August 26, 1912.
SEWARD, Alaska, Aug. 23. - Each year in Alaska there is the annual
pilgrimage in search of lost and hidden mines. On the coast it is always the "Lost Russian Mine" that gets the trip, and in the interior it is "The Lost Prospector" who finds the hidden wealth and then being short of grub leaves his find and makes his way to the town and through sickness or death is never able to return to the scene of his discovery.
Leaves the Map.
In both cases, however, a map carefully drawn is always left with a boon companion or partner, and this forms, along with the story of the richness of the strike, the basis for the efforts that are made to locate the lost ground ever after. In the Kuskokwim there is the "lost cabin find" that has caused so many stampedes; on the Yukon there is "The Lost Rocker" Mine, where a prospector rocked out a fortune and then built a raft and floated down the Kuskokwim and lost the poke in the waters of the river, and could never return to the scene of his find on account of his death.
On the Kenai Peninsula, there is the tales of the mines located by the
early Russian traders, who covered them up in order to keep the Great White Czar from stealing them. Then there are the mines that have been found by the Indians or natives and
who have confided in the Russian priests who have guarded the secret so well that it only annually leaks out through devious channels, and is handed to some prospector, together
with the inevitable map, and again the rush is on.
The lost mines of Alaska are as bad as the lost treasure of the islands of the South Seas. This year the lost mine sensation is being furnished by an outfit composed of Horace and Frank Huddlestone, George Lewis, Fred Oakes and Phil Ott. They have
outfitted in Fairbanks and will drop down the Yukon and then up the river from Tanana to the Porcupine as far as possible, and then on foot to the place where the map shows that the treasure is hidden. Oakes has a map that gives the latitude and longitude, and Lewis who is an engineer, will have the job of locating the gold.
No Record of Find.
The party is well equipped with a small steam boat, two poling boats and a year's supply of clothing and provisions, and are prepared to winter at the head waters of the Porcupine and spend next summer there if necessary. In all the history of Alaska
there is no record of any of the "Lost Mines" ever having been found, although the rich ground on the upper Kuskokwim was really located by a party who were out searching for the
Lost Cabin Mine, and while the ground was not as rich as the story that sent them on the trip, it made some of them comfortably wealthy.
And here we will leave the story of the "Lost Rocker" gold mine, perhaps to be taken up again some day when I hear where that map is!