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The Minneapolis journal. (Minneapolis, Minn.) 1888-1939, September 12, 1903, Image 11

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045366/1903-09-12/ed-1/seq-11/

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Some Impressions of the Country and Its He-
sources Received on a Recent Visit.
I
Tour of the Senate Senatorial Committee and the Reasons Which
Prompted the UndertakingFirst Stage of the Journey Thru the
West Coast of Arohipelago From Seattle to Skagway.
BATtTRDAY ETEHtHG,,
%'
TOTEM POLE AT KETCHIKAN.
When Secretary Seward purchased
Alaska from Russia in 1867 for $7,200,000
the anti-expansionists of that period ridi
culed the transaction as a piece of su
preme folly and the public generally
agreed that he had bought nothing in par
ticular except a few fur seals and a vast
expanse of Icebergs and glaciers.
The commerce of Alaska for the year
ending June 30, 1903, amounted to over
$21,000,000, not including the gold out
put, which would add nearly $5,000,000
more.' It is officially stated that since
Alaska became American territory it has
exported furs, fish and gold in about equal
values to the amount of $150,000,000, while
investments of American capital In Alaska
have reached $25,000,000. To this should
be added considerable sums employed in
furnishing transportation to Alaska The
same official authority estimates the ag
gregate shipments of merchandise to
IT
IS
T "
ELL, what do you
think about it, any
way? Is Alaska
any good?"
I have met with
that question in sub
stantially that form
.. from a gi*eat many
Alaska from the United States during the
same period at $100,000,000. It takes
something more than, a few seals and ice
bergs to develop a c6mmerce of such di
mensions. That this is "only the small
beginning of what is to follow in the not
far distant future is my firm belief. ,
I do not wish to be misunderstood.
Alaska at the present time does not offer
the opportunities to poor men which
should attract them in large numbers.
There are no "diggings" like the bea,ch
sands at Nome, where men with only a
shovel and a pan can wash out a mod
erate fortune in a few days. Such re
markably rich deposits of gbld may be
found again, capable of being worked in
the same primitive and inexpensive way,
fj*? generally well in
formed people since
I returned, a few
days ago, from a
somewhat extended
journey thru Alaska,
occupying over two
months, and covering
a. distance of 10,000 miles A gieat deal has
been written about Alaska, especially
since the sensational gold discoveries of
UPPER DECK OF THE DOLPHINSAILING THE INSIDE PASSAGE.
recent years. Perhaps I cannot add much
that is new, but I can give an answer to
the above question, acocrdlng to my own
Judgment.
t In a nutshell, thenand prefatory to a
jierie* of artleJea,,.flr*t descriptive 61- my
trip and then dealing in particular with
various importnt interests and questions
pertaining to Alaskamy observation and
Inquiry have Impressed me with the belief
That Alaska is a wonderfully rich coun
try
Rich in minerals,
Rich in timber,
Rich In agricultural possibilities,
Rich in its fisheries,
And that it will in the not far distant
future support in thrift and comfort a
larger population than has ever inhabited
the Scandinavian countries of northern
Europe, which in some respects it re
sembles, and with which it is often com
pared.
but there are no such chances for the
poor man in sight now.
LAST
H '
/ J?!K'
,i
winter when matters of legisla
tion affecting Alaska were under,
consideration by the senate commit
tee on territories the members 6f that
committee felt considerably embarrassed
by their lack of accurate and reliable in
formation as to the real needs of that
district. No member of the committee
had ever Been Alaska. Advice was prof
fered on various subjects from various
sources, not all of which, the. committee
felt, could be relied upon as valuable or
disinterested. The conclusion could not
be evaded that the proper thing for the
committee to do was to send a delegation
of its own members to Alaska during the
summer vacation to study the district
politically and commercially and from
every other standpoint. Senator Bever
ldge, chairman of the committee, selected
as such subcommittee Senator W. P. Dil
lingham of "Vermont, ohairman of the sub
committee Senator H. E. Burnham of
New Hampshire, Senator Knute Nelson
of Minnesota, and Senator Thomas W.
Patterson of Colorado, the latter as the
representative of the democratic minor
ity I was fortunate enough to secure,
thru the kindness of Senator Beveridge,
permission to accompany this senatorial
subcommittee on their tour of investiga
tion The party was in the charge of
Colonel D M. Ransdall, sergeant-at-arms
of the United States senate. Other mem
bers of the party were Secretaries A. C.
Johnson of Denver and J, F. Hayes of
Indianapolis I was extremely fortunate,
too. In having for my traveling com
panion as far as Dawson, * George A.
Brackett, who is so well known and so
highly esteemed at home In Minneapolis,
and whose name, I find, is held in equally
high regard thruout Alaska. He was re
turning to look after Important mining
interests of his own in Atlin, on the
Canadian side.
T
HE committee assembled at Seattle
June 25. The business men of
Seattle, whose prosperity has been
built largely out of the Alaskan trade, were
not slow to appreciate the importance of
this official visit, and tendered a ban
quet to the committee. This hospitality
was declined, but in its stead the busi
ness men were asked to come before the
committee and gl\e information concern
ing Alaska and make suggestions as to
what congress could do to pi'omote its
welfare. The Seattle Chamber of Com
merce responded and representatives of
that body brought up for consideration
at that meeting pretty nearly e%ery ques
tion of importance that arose in the sub
sequent weeks of thoro inquiryamend
ments to the mining laws and particularly
the abolition of the power of attorney in
locating mining claims the question of
a delegate in congress and of a territorial
form of government, the preservation of
the fisheries, better mail facilities, and
the great need of wagon roadsthese and
other matters affecting the development
of the district were discussed by men
compelled by their business connections
to be familiar with the situation in Alaska.
JUNEAU '
A
S
SEE
N
,
N
WINTER-
r t, i - p
present difficulties of access to the great
er part of that country.
A turn on deck and thru the cabin of
this speedy and comfortable boat sug
gests the title of one. of Mr. Besant'$
booksthere are "AH Sorts and Conditions'
of Men" thereand women, too. Indeed,
women seem to predominate and an ex
planation is found in the fact that it is
OF
^
I
T WAS nearly 9 o'clock in the evening
of June 28, when Captain Hunter gave
the order to "cast loose" and the Dol
phin drifted slowly out from the slip at
Seattle and turned her prow toward Skag
way. After the last "good-byes" had
been shouted from ship to shore and from
shore to ship and the handkerchiefs had
ceased to wave farewell, my interest cen
tered upon the ship's company. Night
was falling and there was little oppor
tunity then to see and enjoy further the
scenic beauties of that great inland water
which is already beginning to attract the
larger part of the commerce of our Pacific
coast. The marvelous growth of the ship
ping with our own coast, with Alaska and
with the orient which is centering, in
Puget Sound ports is an interesting
theme of itself, but it is not a part of
this story. We are bound for Alaska and
And a, ship load goiiygr the same) way. It
is an interesting company. The first ques
tion you will have to answer with respect
to yourself when you start to Alaska, is
whether you have ever been "inside."
You will presently discover that ' inslde"
and "outside" are the 'common designa
tions of one's movements to or from Alas
ka. Those who are going-to the interior
of Alaska are "going inside" and those
who leave that country are going "out-
side." And the term is not inapt. Here
in the states we think of Alaska as a long
way off, and the use of the words in-
side," and "outside" with respect to it is
unconscious testimony on the part- of the
citizens of Alaska to the remoteness and
THE DOLPHIN, THE ALASKA STEAMSHIP COMPANY'S FLYER.
a custom for men in Alaska and the Klon
dike whose business requires that they
stay "inside" in the winter to send their
wives "outside" during that season. The
women are now leturning to their hus
bands. The rush had already gone in, on
the earlier boats, but there are among
the company some who have struck it
rich and mining being practically at a
standstill in Alaska in winter, they choose
to spend their winters in southern Cali
fornia or New York where there are
plenty of opportunities to spend the thou
sands which their sluice boxes yield in
summer. There are some engaged in
legitimate branches of business in Alaska
and some not so engaged. We are many
miles from Alaska's most southerly cape,
but it not too soon to scent the Alaskan
atmosphere and the opportunities afforded
on board an Alaska-bound steamer to get
irvon the ground floor of a mining deal
are not to be despised on account of their
infrequency or for lack of the brilliant
prospects that are offered. - "**" *
OF
course we take the inside passage,
and the next morning finds us in
British waters between the main
land and Vancouver island, a piece of land
about one-third a* big as England her
self, broken off the west coast of British
America and rich.in timber, minerals and
fruitful valleys, with a climate not unlike
that of the mother country, which held on
to this island as well as the. adjacent
mainland'as a crown colony long after
the organization, of the Dominion of
Canada.
kquiet ae an inland lake and one may give 1 lively aa -we came in sigh^of its imposing
the ocean stretches of the archipelago
between Puget's sound and the Lynn
canal are destined tq constitute one of
the most frequented suftimer play grounds
of the world, as they'certainly are one of
the most charming. VWhat a delightful
place for a holiday cruise in yacht or
launch, where quiet coves or land-locked
harbors may be founfl for every night's
anchorage where game abounds on the
islands and the waters teem with life
of every kind, from the trout of the moun
tain streams to the sociable porpoise and
the spouting whale. And not only is
there the oharm of soenery, such as our
continent nowhere else affords, and the
opportunity for rare sport with rod and
gun, but the hospitable and friendly na
tive Indians, in their picturesque villages,
are a source of unfailing interest. This
archipelago is the land of the totem pole,
whose grotesque and often hideous carv
ings argue strongly for, the Asiatic origin
of a people who are fcapidly disappear
ing before the march of western civiliza
tion. If their Asiatic $rigin may not be
safely asserted, it must at least be con
ceded that in their handicrafts of weaving
and carving their arts appear to have
been much influenced by contact with the
Japanese somewhere and at some time.
CAPTAIN
JOURNAL.
TOUR OF THE ARCHIPELAGO OF ALASKA, THE GUKAN RIVER
himself over to full enjoyment of the
ever-changing and ever-charming pano
rama of sea and mountain, of crags and
peaks and softly wooded slopes, of vege
tation at the water's edge, dense and
tropical in Its luxuriance, suddenly cut off
for a space where a rigid stream of ice
and snow, heading*tip among the moun
tain tops, fiOJs the* passes between and
comes down almost to^ the water's edge
such cohtrasts does, Nature delight in
that she plants her fairest flowers at the
feet of her dead glaciers. Sometimes the
water passes widen.
church towers, its extensive fish can
nery, its saw mills, its school and hospital
buildings, its stores and comfortable look
ing dwellings, and recalled the fact that
this was the work of one man working
alone and beginning with a tribe of In
dians who were so low in the human scale
that they had once been accused of can
nibalism. Father Duncan, as he is called,
can hardly be spoken of as a typethere
are no others like him. As the ship
touched the dock in the early morning, a
few native men, who had been attracted
by the boat's whistle, came forward bow
ing and trying to make themselves under
stood in broken Englishand when an
Alaska Indian breaks up the English lan
guage his habit of gutturals and aspirates
knocks it into little bits. One of them was
sent forward to notify Father Duncan of
our arrival, while we followed after, and
met him as he came bustling out of his
house apologizing for the apparently in
hospitable reception, on the score of no an
ticipation of a senatorial visit. A short,
stocky man, round faced and ruddy mer
ry-eyed and having under his round black
hat a fringe of thin white hair beard full
and snowy nervous and quick in move
ment, modest in every reference to his
work, but pleased to have others interest
themselves in itthese are some of the
recollections I have of this remarkable
man as he led us to the schoolhouse, to
the church, to the girls' school, the hos
pital, the salmon cannery, the saw mill,
and repeatedly assured us that the Io
diajls "had bum it alL
vto several miles, and
again they contract to a few hundred feet
of narrow gorge where the deep, green
waters of the sea boil and foam and dash
along the nearby r rocky shores as the
tide rushes in or out.
At such times th'e skill of the nav
igator is put to the test, especially under
the present deplorable and. almost criminal
neglect of this coast by the lighthouse
service of both the" United States end
the dominion governments. Of this some
thing may be said tater, but while tha
dominion government has certainly acted
more, liberally, as well as more wisely,
than our own government in this respect,
there is pressing need of great improve
ment all along these, now much-traveled
waterways. 1l~\f$' -"" ' '
iHE inside passajje is said tq re
semble eery " much the waters
along the'-wSSsf coast or Nor
way, whose, * tjofflW have begun to
attract tour&>* $p& w own country
by their wild ana Jugged grandeur, and
it seems to me friat when- their attrac
tions become khowifc for*what they are
T
C. E. PEABODY, president
of the Alaska Steamship company,
fully appreciating" the importance
to Alaska of affording thp senatorial com
mittee every facility for prosecuting their
work, gave, instructions niat the Dolphin
should run on this trip tojsuit the conveni
ence of the senators. Tttis made it possi
ble for us, after touching in the night at
Ketchikan, the first port ptentry in Alas
ka, to returnsomewhat $n of our course
early on the morning jrf- the third day
out,'to Metlakahtla, ffieinsost "prosperous
and successful -IndianJ community in
America. The story "of jlMs community
has been told in part th 'ttewspapera and
magazines, and naturallyidur interest was
t
It is just ab6ut an even thousand miles
from Seattle to Skaguay, and all the way
practically the route lies among the
islands which guard the western coast
like pickets of the line, their lofty moun
tain peaks often obscured by the clouds
or glistening white as the sunlight falls
upon their snowy summits. The channels
are deep, the waters green and dark and
wonderfully phosphorescent at night, but
StsWizh
Idwej
Annette- Islalfnl "at
Amerbs&L'SM^Qt, flutofrt ^oast^ftrchi
pelagof It this,is InSfanttife "In Alaska,
surely, it was. suggested, the natives have
little to complain of. But a view of what
has been accomplished at Metlakahtla
served later to heighten the contrast be
tween what our government has done, or,
rather, has not done, for the natives of
Alaska, and what it might have done and
done profitably, viewing the matter purely
from the commercial standpoint.
But Father Duncan and his Indians
MINNESOTA
$9SMBE2t 12, 1903.
furnish the material for a good story by
themselves, the telling of which must be
left for another chapterfor we have only
just entered Alaskan waters and Skaguay,'
our ship's destination, is 300 miles away.
Practically two-thirds of this beautiful
archipelago, it should be understood, be
longs to Canada. If we had known in
1845 what we know now about its re
sources of minerals and timber alone,
perhaps we would have stood by our
bluff of "fifty-four, forty or fight,"
and the whole coast from Puget sound to
the Portland canal, where the Russian
boundary of Alaska had been fixed in
1824 would have been under the stars and
stripes.
LEAVINGvisit,
Metlakahtla after a two
hours' we returned to Ketchi
kan, the first white man's town
reached in Alaskan territory. It is a new
and thriving little city of 1,000 people,
incorporated and commencing to take on
the airs of municipal life in the form of
public waterworks and a municipal elec
tric light plant. Built largely on piles
along the waters' edge it looks like a town
on stilts, the buildings on* the water front
and those further up the mountainside
having difficulty to find a level place big
enough for the four corners of a small
foundation and compelled, while resting
one side on the ground, to support the
other in air, perched above the steep de
cline on long upright timbers. Ketchikan
exists because of important mining opera
tions and prospects in that region and be
cause of salmon-canneries-) in that vicinity
and boasts a busy lumber mill, at whose
back door stands an immense forest of
spruce, cedar, fir and hemlock. Ketchikan,
like Atlantic City, has a board walk, but
here it penetrates the forest along the
banks of a rushing mountain stream and
leads to the falls which are to furnish
light and power. It sticks in my recollec
tion because if afforded the first oppor
tunity to see what the forests of these
islands are, back from the shore line, how
gigantic the timber and how dense the
growth while the undergrowth in its dank
and tangled luxuriance suggests nothing
so much as the semi-tropical vegetable
growth of the Florida swamps, and this
on mountain slopes whose summits are
capped with perpetual snow. But the
climate is out of keeping with the latitude.
On the same meridian with Fort York,
where the Nelson river flows into Hudson
bay, and with north central Labrador, the
thermometer rarely reaches zero at
Ketchikan and the mean temperature is
about that of Washington, D. C. The
Japan current which sweeps along the
south side of the Aleutian chain, the south
shore of the mainland and impinges on
this archipelago keeps all the harbors on
its course open in winter as well as in
summer and produces in this part (of
Alaska a climate which led ex-Governor
Swineford, who is a resident of Ketchi
kan, to say that if he were a resident of
any state east of the mountains he would
come here to spend his winters in prefer
ence to Florida.
on
l tb?S ? end f the
THEt
same evening, July 1, we touched
a Wrangell, at the mouth of the
Sutkine river. Once a Rusiasn post,
then leased to Great Britain for the benefit
of the Hudson Bay company, which lease
cuts a figure in the pending Alaskan
boundary arbitration, afterwards a lively
camp when the Caasiar mines were dis
covered and active still later when efforts
were made to reach the Klondike by the
Stikine route, Wrangell occupies a pic
turesque location and tourists will always
remember it for its curious totem poles.
Here was established the first military
post when Alaska became a possession of
the United States in 1867.
THEo
next morning, July 2. brought us
t Juneau, the principal city of
southeastern Alaska, and the cen
ter of an important mining region. It is
on the mainland and back of it is the
celebrated Silver Bow basin, while across
*&*?*
MNCOUVfW
AVB*T
the channel on Douglass Island, is the
great Treadwell mine, which, taken to
gether with the Mexican and the Ready
Bullion properties, operated in connection
with it, is probably the largest quartz
mining plant in the world. Upwards of
1,200 men are employed here working two
shifts a day. The output is about 5,000
tons of ore a day, which is crushed under
880 stamps. The total product of the
property since it began to be operated is /
variously estimated at from $12,000,000 to
$20,000,000more than enough, at any
rate, to pay the purchase price of th9 \
whole district of Alaska. This great *
property has its romance, too. The story
is that the Treadwell mine was forced
upon a San Francisco builder, John
Treadwell, in 1881, to satisfy a loan of
$150. The ore ranges in value from $2 50
to $6 or $7 a ton. The expense of treat
ment is only about $1.35 a ton, so that
the profits are very large, even on this
comparatively low grade ore. The situa
tion, right on the shore of the sea, makes
the ciost of operating much lighter than
I t would otherwise- be. The comnany ^4$-
makes excellent provision for its men* in -
the way of reading-rooms, bathhouses,
bowling allevs and billiard-rooms and lec
ture and amusement halls and hospital
accommodations. Only two holidays,
Christmas and Fourth of July, are recog
nized in the mines, the work being car
ried on day and night on all other days.
Juneau, which it should be borne in
mind, is across the narrow channel, is
the center of a region in which there are
6,000 men, including the Treadwell em
ployes, engaged in mining and prospect
ing. New strikes and the transfer of
what are known as the Nowall properties
for $3,000,000 to the Treadwell people,
insuring economical and profitable oper
ation, have combined with other things
to give Juneau something of a boom.
Juneau is an incorporated town' of about
2,000 people, thrifty, attractive in ap
pearance and situation and has promise
of growth and stability. * It takes its
name from Joseph Juneau, a prospector
who won the confidence of the Indians
and learned from them where they got
their gold ornaments. They took him to
what is now known as Silver Bow basin,
and then requiring that he should be
come a tribesman and preserve their se
cret, it was with great difficulty that ha
escaped to Sitka to report his great find.
Late in the evening we approached what
looked first like a small forest fire, but
which we afterwards discovered to be
mosquito smudges around the tents of the
men engaged in clearing the ground for
the new military post at Haines Mission.
The government is preparing here a four
company post which is to be the principal
military station in Alaska. It's location
is doubtless determined by the boundary
dispute, Haines being a point from which
troops could be moved promptly to the
disputed territory if necessary. As evi
dence of the fact that clearing the ground
and improving a farm in that part of
Alaska is a serious business, it cost the
government $195 an acre to clear the
ground for the post. The conditions were
average and it is probable that the con
tractor made very little if anything on
the job.
When we awoke on the morning of July
3, the Dolphin lay at the dock in Skaguay
at the foot of the celebrated White Pass,
over whose rugged and icy heights thou
sands of pilgrims to the Klondike Mecca,
both men and women, struggled and
toiled, during the winter of 1897-8. But
that is reserved for another chapter. 'TC-
J. S. McLain,' ,
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