Tag Archives: gold

Classic Books on Alaska

Six non-fiction books briefly noted in the inaugural issue of Alaskan History Magazine, presented here with links to their digital versions, free to read online, where available.

The Ascent of Denali (Mount McKinley), by Hudson Stuck (1918)

Ascent of DenaliHudson Stuck, an Episcopal Archdeacon, organized, financed and co-led the first expedition to successfully climb the South Peak of Mt. McKinley (Denali). With co-leader Harry Karstens (later the first Superintendent of Mt. McKinley Nat’l Park), and four native youths, Stuck departed Nenana on March 17, 1913 and reached the summit of McKinley on June 7, 1913. Walter Harper, a native Alaskan, reached the summit first. Illustrated with Stuck’s photos from the journey and published in 1918 by Charles Scribner’s Sons, “The Ascent of Denali” is Stuck’s fascinating account of that pioneering expedition.

 Project Gutenberg Edition


A Woman Who Went to Alaska, by May Kellogg Sullivan (1902)

Woman Who Went to Alaska“Two trips, covering a period of eighteen months and a distance of over twelve thousand miles were made practically alone. Neither home nor children claimed my attention. No good reason, I thought, stood in the way of my going to Alaska…”

With these words the plucky and determined May Kellogg Sullivan opens her book, recounting her extensive travels to Yukon and Alaskan gold camps and beyond, seeking adventure and her fortune,  at a time when few women ventured anywhere alone. Published in 1902 by James H. Earle & Co.

Project Gutenberg Edition


Golden Alaska, An Up-to-Date Guide, by Ernest Ingersoll (1897)

Golden Alaska

Subtitled “a complete account to date of the Yukon Valley; its history, geography, mineral and other resources, opportunities and means of access.” 

The Dial, a literary journal of the time, noted in their July 1, 1897 issue that Ingersoll’s book was “a timely publication just issued,” citing the author as “a well-known writer of books of travel,” and noting the book was “well printed and contains numerous half-tone reproductions from photographs of Alaskan scenery.” Published in 1897 by Rand, McNalley & Co. 

Project Gutenberg Edition


The Alaska Railroad 1914-1964, Bernardine Prince (1964)

The Alaska Railroad 1914-1964Bernadine LeMay Prince, who joined the U.S. Government-run 470-mile Alaska Railroad company in 1948, worked with seven Alaska Railroad managers. In the early 1960’s she used her almost 20+ years of experience and knowledge of the railroad to compile a remarkable two-volume photographic record of the construction and growth of the Alaska Railroad.

Utilizing photos from the Alaska Engineering Commission’s photographers, among others, she traced the railroad’s history from it’s beginnings in 1914 through decades of sometimes difficult change, to the earthquake of March, 1964. Included are over 2,100 b&w photographs and line drawings. Published by Ken Wray’s Print Shop, Anchorage, 1964.

Not available in digital format. 


Compilation of Narratives of Exploration in Alaska (1900)

Collected RepostsBy the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, United States Congress, 1900. An important gathering of reports by Frederick Schwatka, Ivan Petrof, W.R. Abercrombie, Henry T. Allen, and many others, comprising the records of expansion of non-natives’ knowledge of the territory. Assembled to facilitate a review of territory covered, and the possibilities of opening all American routes to the interior of Alaska. 

“Henry Allen in his report of the reconnaissance of Copper River and Tanana River valleys states that the Indians drew a number of maps. The one he reproduces …. shows the route to Cook Inlet via Suchitno river.” Sixteen reports with 27 folding maps and 33 b/w plates. U.S. Gov’t. Printing Office, 1900. 

Google Books Edition


Old Yukon Tales-Trails-Trials, James Wickersham (1938)

Old Yukon Tales-Trails-TrialsTerritorial judge James Wickersham describes his career as a pioneer attorney, judge, and later as a congressional representative, assigned to a district extending over 300,000 square miles. He made the first recorded attempt of Mt. Denali in 1903; the summit he attempted is now known as Wickersham’s Wall. 

Once seated as a congressional delegate for the District of Alaska, beginning his term in 1909, Wickersham orchestrated changes to Alaska’s relationship with the federal government, in passage of the Second Organic Act in 1912, establishing Alaska officially as a United States territory with a legislature. Wickersham would go on to serve several more terms as Alaska’s delegate to Congress, his last term running from 1931-1933. Published by Washington Law Book Co., 1938.

Not available in digital format.



 

The Kink in the North Fork

From the Nov-Dec issue of Alaskan History Magazine:

The Kink 1

“Oblique photo looking north, channel that was blasted is in lower left quadrant. Entrance and exit of old river channel seen above and below a portion of ridge.” [USGS 1996]

The North Fork River is a major tributary of the Fortymile River in the eastern Interior of Alaska, flowing through the remote country north of the community of Chicken. Originally, the southeasterly path of the North Fork River was interrupted by a rock ridge 100 feet thick at the base and over 100 feet high. This rock ridge caused a two-and-three-quarter-mile oxbow meander to the west. In the U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin No. 2125, titled Gold Placers of the Historical Fortymile River Region, Alaska (USGS 1996), on page 21, is this description of a singular leftover from the gold rush era (note that dates differ in accounts):

The Kink 2

The Kink on the North Fork of the Fortymile River: “Oblique aerial looking west showing the artificial channel and the 2 3//4 mile meander that was bypassed.” [USGS 1996]

“Approximately 20 miles up the North Fork from its confluence with the South Fork is a curious point on the map called The Kink. It is a very recently unnatural abandoned meander of the river. It was created in 1900 when an English-backed company blasted away a 100-foot-high bedrock ridge. The blast changed the course of the river and laid bare the 2 3/4-mile-long abandoned river bed meander. The original width of the cut-off was only about 16 feet, and at first only a small quantity of water flowed through it, but after a few hours the main body rushed through and soon worked out a channel over 39 feet wide (Prindle, 1905). The company had determined that the newly exposed gravels contained gold valued at approximately $9.00 per cubic yard so they were intent on mining them. In 1901 while an attempt was being made to mine the gravels with horses and scoops, a rock slide occurred that covered the gravels after which the company abandoned the area (Scott, 1990).”

The Kink was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.