A Brief Description of the Great Gold Regions in the Northwest Territories and Alaska
Founder of Dawson City, N.W.T.
Explorer, Miner and Prospector
The extraordinary excitement arising from the reports of the discovery of Gold in the Klondyke region in the great Canadian Northwest is not surprising to one who, through personal residence and practical experience, is thoroughly conversant with the locality.
Having recently returned for a temporary stay, after a somewhat successful experience, I have received applications for information in numbers so great that it far exceeds my ability and the time at my disposal to make direct replies.
I have therefore arranged with the American Technical Book Co., 45 Vesey Street, New York City, for the issue of this brief description, preparatory to the publication of my larger book, "Klondyke Facts," a book of 224 pages, with illustrations and maps, in which will be found a vast fund of practical information, statistics, and all particulars sought for by those who intend emigrating to this wonderful country.
It is well-nigh impossible to tell the truth of these recent discoveries of gold, but while I can only briefly describe the territory in this small work, it shall be my endeavor to give the intending prospector, in the large work above mentioned, as many facts as possible, and these may thoroughly be relied upon, as from one who has lived continuously in those regions since 1882.
* * * * *
Klondyke! The word and place that has startled the civilized world is to-day a series of thriving mining camps on the Yukon River and its tributaries in the Canadian Northwest Territories.
Prior to August 24, 1896, this section of the country had never been heard of. It was on this day that a man named Henderson discovered the first gold.
On the first day of the following month the writer commenced erecting the first house in this region and called the place Dawson City, now the central point of the mining camps.
Dawson City is now the most important point in the new mining regions. Its population in June, 1897; exceeded 4,000; by June next it cannot be less than 25,000. It has a saw-mill, stores, churches, of the Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist and Roman Catholic denominations. It is the headquarters of the Canadian Northwest Mounted Police, and perfect law and order is maintained.
It is at Dawson City that the prospector files his claims with the Government Gold Commissioner, in the recording offices.
Dawson City faces on one of the banks of the Yukon River, and now occupies about a mile of the bank. It is at the junction of the Klondyke River with the Yukon River. It is here where the most valuable mining claims are being operated on a scale of profit that the world has hitherto never known. The entire country surrounding is teeming with mineral wealth.
Copper, silver and coal can be found in large quantities, but little or no attention is now being paid to these valuable minerals, as every one is engaged in gold-hunting and working the extraordinary placer mining claims already located.
The entire section is given up to placer mining. Very few claims had been filed for quartz mining. The fields of gold will not be exhausted in the near future. No man can tell what the end will be. From January to April, 1897, about $4,000,000 were taken out of the few placer claims then being worked. This was done in a territory not exceeding forty square miles. All these claims are located on Klondyke River and the little tributaries emptying into it, and the districts are known as Big Bonanza, Gold Bottom and Honker.
I have asked old and experienced miners at Dawson City who mined through California in Bonanza days, and some who mined in Australia, what they thought of the Klondyke region, and their reply has invariably been, "The world never saw so vast and rich a find of gold as we are working now."
Dawson City is destined to be the greatest mining camp in the history of mining operations.
There is a great popular error in reference to the climate of the gold regions. Many reports have appeared in the newspapers which are misleading. It has been even stated that the cold is excessive almost throughout the year. This is entirely a mis-statement.
I have found I have suffered more from winter cold in Northern New York than I ever did in Alaska or the Canadian Northwest.
I have chopped wood in my shirt-sleeves in front of my door at Dawson City when the thermometer was 70 degrees below zero, and I suffered no inconvenience. We account for this from the fact that the air is very dry. It is a fact that you do not feel this low temperature as much as you would 15 below zero in the East.
We usually have about three feet of snow in winter and it is as dry as sawdust.
As we have no winter thaws no crust forms on the snow, therefore we travel from the various points that may be necessary with snowshoes. These may be purchased from the Indians in the vicinity of Dawson City at from $5.00 to $10.00 per pair according to the quality.
The winter days are very short. In this region there are only two hours from sunrise to sunset. The sun rises and sets away in the south but there is no pitch darkness.
The twilight lasts all night and the Northern Lights are very common. Then in summer it is exactly the other way. The day there in July is about twenty hours long. The sun rising and setting in the north. A great deal has been said about the short seasons, but as a matter of fact a miner can work 12 months in the year when in that region.
Spring opens about May 1st and the ice commences to break up about that time. The Yukon River is generally clear of ice about May 15. The best part of the miner's work commences then and lasts till about October 1st.
The winter commences in October but the miner keeps on working through the winter. The rainy season commences in the latter part of August and lasts two or three weeks.
A fall of two feet of snow is considered heavy.
There is a wide difference in the quantity of snow that accumulates on the coast and the ranges in the interior where the principal mining claims are located.
While the fall of snow on the coast is heavy the depth of snow as far down as the Yukon, Stewart and Klondyke rivers is inconsiderable.
In my new work on this territory entitled "Klondyke Facts" I deal more largely on the climate of this region.
There are still good diggings at Circle City in Alaska, but nearly all the miners have left for Klondyke, not being satisfied with the pay dirt which they were working. I know at least 20 good claims in Circle City.
Fort Cudahy, or as it is sometimes called Forty Mile Creek, is now practically exhausted as a mining camp, and the miners have left for other diggings.
There will undoubtedly be new and valuable diggings discovered very quickly along this region as it is certain that this enormous territory is rich in gold-bearing districts.
The entire country is teeming with mineral wealth.
When mining operations commence on coal it will be specially valuable for steamers on the various rivers and greatly assist transportation facilities.
In the next few years there will certainly be recorded the most marvellous discoveries in this territory, usually thought to be only a land of snow and ice and fit only to be classed with the Arctic regions.
It is marvellous to state that for some years past we have been finding gold in occasional places in this territory, but from the poverty of the people no effort was made to prospect among the places reported.
It is my belief that the greatest finds of gold will be made in this territory. It is safe to say that not 2 per cent. of all the gold discovered so far has been on United States soil.
The great mass of the work has been done on the Northwest territory, which is under the Canadian Government.
It is possible however that further discoveries will be made on American soil, but it is my opinion that the most valuable discoveries will be further east and south of the present claims, and would advise prospectors to work east and south of Klondyke.
THE YUKON RIVER AND ITS TRIBUTARIES.
"What the Amazon is to South America, the Mississippi to the central portion of the United States, the Yukon is to Alaska. It is a great inland highway, which will make it possible for the explorer to penetrate the mysterious fastnesses of that still unknown region. The Yukon has its source in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia and the Coast Range Mountains in southeastern Alaska, about 125 miles from the city of Juneau, which is the present metropolis of Alaska. But it is only known as the Yukon River at the point where the Pelly River, the branch that heads in British Columbia, meets with the Lewes River, which heads in southeastern Alaska. This point of confluence is at Fort Selkirk, in the Northwest Territory, about 125 miles south-east of the Klondyke. The Yukon proper is 2,044 miles in length. From Fort Selkirk it flows north-west 400 miles, just touching the Arctic circle; thence southward for a distance of 1,600 miles, where it empties into Behring Sea. It drains more than 600,000 square miles of territory, and discharges one-third more water into Behring Sea than does the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico. At its mouth it is sixty miles wide. About 1,500 miles inland it widens out from one to ten miles. A thousand islands send the channel in as many different directions. Only natives who are thoroughly familiar with the river are entrusted with the piloting of boats up the stream during the season of low water. Even at the season of high water it is still so shallow as not to be navigable anywhere by seagoing vessels, but only by flat-bottomed boats with a carrying capacity of four to five hundred tons. The draft of steamers on the Yukon should not exceed three and a half feet.
"The Yukon district, which is within the jurisdiction of the Canadian Government and in which the bulk of the gold has been found, has a total area, approximately, of 192,000 square miles, of which 150,768 square miles are included in the watershed of the Yukon. Illustrating this, so that it may appeal with definiteness to the reader, it may be said that this territory is greater by 71,100 square miles than the area of Great Britain, and is nearly three times that of all the New England States combined.
"A further fact must be borne in mind. The Yukon River is absolutely closed to navigation during the winter months. In the winter the frost-king asserts his dominion and locks up all approaches with impenetrable ice, and the summer is of the briefest. It endures only for twelve to fourteen weeks, from about the first of June to the middle of September. Then an unending panorama of extraordinary picturesqueness is unfolded to the voyager. The banks are fringed with flowers, carpeted with the all-pervading moss or tundra. Birds countless in numbers and of infinite variety in plumage, sing out a welcome from every treetop. Pitch your tent where you will in midsummer, a bed of roses, a clump of poppies and a bunch of bluebells will adorn your camping. But high above this paradise of almost tropical exuberance giant glaciers sleep in the summit of the mountain wall, which rises up from a bed of roses. By September everything is changed. The bed of roses has disappeared before the icy breath of the winter king, which sends the thermometer down sometimes to seventy degrees below freezing point. The birds fly to the southland and the bear to his sleeping chamber in the mountains. Every stream becomes a sheet of ice, mountain and valley alike are covered with snow till the following May.
"That part of the basin of the Yukon in which gold in greater or less quantities has actually been found lies partly in Alaska and partly in British territory. It covers an area of some 50,000 square miles. But so far the infinitely richest spot lies some one hundred miles east of the American boundary, in the region drained by the Klondyke and its tributaries. This is some three hundred miles by river from Circle City.
"We have described some of the beauties of the Yukon basin in the summer season, but this radiant picture has its obverse side.
"Horseflies, gnats and mosquitoes add to the joys of living throughout the entire length of the Yukon valley. The horsefly is larger and more poignantly assertive than the insect which we know by that name. In dressing or undressing, it has a pleasant habit of detecting any bare spot in the body and biting out a piece of flesh, leaving a wound which a few days later looks like an incipient boil. Schwatka reports that one of his party, so bitten was completely disabled for a week. 'At the moment of infliction.' he adds, 'it was hard to believe that one was not disabled for life.'
"The mosquitoes according to the same authority are equally distressing. They are especially fond of cattle, but without any reciprocity of affection. 'According to the general terms of the survival of the fittest and the growth of muscles most used to the detriment of others,' says the lieutenant in an unusual burst of humor, 'a band of cattle inhabiting this district, in the far future, would be all tail and no body, unless the mosquitoes should experience a change of numbers.'"
I am indebted to Wm. Ogilvie, Esq., for the following valuable information relative to The Yukon District.
"The Yukon District comprises, speaking generally, that part of the Northwest Territories lying west of the water shed of the Mackenzie River; most of it is drained by the Yukon River and its tributaries. It covers a distance of about 650 miles along the river from the coast range of mountains.
"In 1848 Campbell established Fort Selkirk at the confluence of the Pelly and Lewes Rivers; it was plundered and destroyed in 1852 by the Coast Indians, and only the ruins now exist of what was at one time the most important post of the Hudson's Bay Company to the west of the Rocky Mountains in the far north. In 1869 the Hudson's Bay Company's officer was expelled from Fort Yukon by the United States Government, they haying ascertained by astronomical observations that the post was not located in British territory. The officer thereupon ascended the Porcupine to a point which was supposed to be within British jurisdiction, where he established Rampart House; but in 1890 Mr. J.H. Turner of the United States Coast Survey found it to be 20 miles within the lines of the United States. Consequently in 1891 the post was moved 20 miles further up the river to be within British territory.
"The next people to enter the country for trading purposes were Messrs. Harper and McQuestion. They have been trading in the country since 1873 and have occupied numerous posts all along the river, the greater number of which have been abandoned. Mr. Harper is now located as a trader at Fort Selkirk, with Mr. Joseph Ladue under the firm name of Harper & Ladue, and Mr. McQuestion is in the employ of the Alaska Commercial Company at Circle City, which is the distributing point for the vast regions surrounding Birch Creek, Alaska. In 1882 a number of miners entered the Yukon country by the Taiya Pass; it is still the only route used to any extent by the miners, and is shorter than the other passes though not the lowest. In 1883 Lieutenant Schwatka crossed this same pass and descended the Lewes and Yukon Rivers to the ocean.
"The explorers found that in proximity to the boundary line there existed extensive and valuable placer gold mines, in which even then as many as three hundred miners were at work. Mr. Ogilvie determined, by a series of lunar observations, the point at which the Yukon River is intersected by the 141st meridian, and marked the same on the ground. He also determined and marked the point at which the western affluent of the Yukon, known as Forty Mile Creek, is crossed by the same meridian line, that point being situated at a distance of about twenty-three miles from the mouth of the creek. This survey proved that the place which had been selected as the most convenient, owing to the physical conformation of the region, from which to distribute the supplies imported for the various mining camps, and from which to conduct the other business incident to the mining operations—a place situate at the confluence of the Forty Mile Creek and the Yukon, and to which the name of Fort Cudahy has been given—is well within Canadian territory. The greater proportion of the mines then being worked Mr. Ogilvie found to be on the Canadian side of the international boundary line, but he reported the existence of some mining fields to the south, the exact position of which with respect to the boundary he did not have the opportunity to fix.
"The number of persons engaged in mining in the locality mentioned has steadily increased year by year since the date of Mr. Ogilvie's survey, and it is estimated that at the commencement of the past season not less than one thousand men were so employed. Incident to this mineral development there must follow a corresponding growth in the volume of business of all descriptions, particularly the importation of dutiable goods, and the occupation of tracts of the public lands for mining purposes which according to the mining regulations are subject to the payment of certain prescribed dues and charges. The Alaska Commercial Company, for many years subsequent to the retirement of the Hudson's Bay Company, had a practical monopoly of the trade of the Yukon, carrying into the country and delivering at various points along the river, without regard to the international boundary line or the customs laws and regulations of Canada, such articles of commerce as were required for the prosecution of the fur trade and latterly of placer mining, these being the only two existing industries. With the discovery of gold, however, came the organization of a competing company known as the North American Transportation and Trading Company, having its headquarters in Chicago and its chief trading and distributing post at Cudahy. This company has been engaged in this trade for over three years, and during the past season despatched two ocean steamers from San Francisco to St. Michael, at the mouth of the Yukon, the merchandise from which was, at the last mentioned point, transhipped into river steamers and carried to points inland, but chiefly to the company's distributing centre within Canadian territory. Importations of considerable value, consisting of the immediately requisite supplies of the miners, and their tools, also reach the Canadian portion of the Yukon District from Juneau, in the United States, by way of the Taiya Inlet, the mountain passes, and the chain of waterways leading therefrom to Cudahy. Upon none of these importations had any duty been collected, except a sum of $3,248.80 paid to Inspector Constantine in 1894, by the North American Transportation and Trading Company and others, and it is safe to conclude, especially when it is remembered that the country produces none of the articles consumed within it except fresh meat, that a large revenue was being lost to the public exchequer under the then existing conditions.
"For the purpose of ascertaining officially and authoritatively the condition of affairs to which the correspondence referred to in the next preceding paragraph relates, the Honorable the President of the Privy Council, during the spring of 1894, despatched Inspector Charles Constantine, of the Northwest Mounted Police Force, accompanied by Sergeant Brown, to Fort Cudahy and the mining camps in its vicinity. The report made by Mr. Constantine on his return, established the substantial accuracy of the representations already referred to. The value of the total output of gold for the season of 1894 he estimated at $300,000.
"The facts recited clearly establish—first, that the time had arrived when it became the duty of the Government of Canada to make more efficient provision for the maintenance of order, the enforcement of the laws, and the administration of justice in the Yukon country, especially in that section of it in which placer mining for gold is being prosecuted upon such an extensive scale, situated near to the boundary separating the Northwest Territories from the possessions of the United States in Alaska; and, second, that while such measures as were necessary to that end were called for in the interests of humanity, and particularly for the security and safety of the lives and property of the Canadian subjects of Her Majesty resident in that country who are engaged in legitimate business pursuits, it was evident that the revenue justly due to the Government of Canada, under its customs, excise and land laws, and which would go a long way to pay the expenses of government, was being lost for the want of adequate machinery for its collection.
"Accordingly in June last a detachment of twenty members of the Mounted Police Force including officers was detailed for service in that portion of the Northwest Territories. The officer in command, in addition to the magisterial and other duties he is required to perform by virtue of his office and under instructions from the Department of Mounted Police, was duly authorized to represent where necessary, and until other arrangements can be made, all the departments of the government having interests in that region. Particularly he is authorized to perform the duties of Dominion lands agent, collector of customs, and collector of inland revenue. At the same time instructions were given Mr. William Ogilvie, the surveyor referred to as having, with Dr. Dawson, been entrusted with the conduct of the first government expedition to the Yukon, to proceed again to that district for the purpose of continuing and extending the work of determining the 141st meridian, of laying out building lots and mining claims, and generally of performing such duties as may be entrusted to him from time to time. Mr. Ogilvie's qualifications as a surveyor, and his previous experience as explorer of this section of the Northwest, peculiarly fit him for the task.
[Footnote 1: The detachment was made up as follows:—Inspector C. Constantine, Officer Commanding Yukon Detachment N.W.M. Police; Inspector, D.A.E. Strickland; Assistant Surgeon, A.E. Wills; 2 Staff Sergeants; 2 Corporals; 13 Constables.]
"As it appears quite certain, from the report made by Mr. Ogilvie on his return to Ottawa, in 1889, and from the report of Mr. Constantine, that the operations of the miners are being conducted upon streams which have their sources in the United States Territory of Alaska, and flow into Canada on their way to join the Yukon, and as doubtless some of the placer diggings under development are situated on the United States side of the boundary it is highly desirable, both for the purpose of settling definitely to which country any land occupied for mining or other purposes actually belongs, and in order that the jurisdiction of the courts and officers of the United States and Canada, for both civil and criminal purposes, may be established, that the determination of the 141st meridian west of Greenwich from the point of its intersection with the Yukon, as marked by Mr. Ogilvie in 1887-88, for a considerable distance south of the river, and possibly also for some distance to the north, should be proceeded with at once. Mr. Ogilvie's instructions require him to go on with the survey with all convenient speed, but in order that this work may be effective for the accomplishment of the object in view the co-operation of the Government of the United States is necessary. Correspondence is in progress through the proper authorities with a view to obtaining this co-operation. It may be mentioned that a United States surveyor has also determined the points at which the Yukon River and Forty Mile Creek are intersected by the 141st meridian."
ROUTES, DISTANCES, AND TRANSPORTATION.
After considerable experience I have decided that the best route for a man to take to the gold regions is from Seattle, Washington, to Juneau, Alaska, and then to Dawson City, by the pass and waterways, and I will therefore describe this route more in detail than any of the others.
I am devoting a special chapter to the outfit for travellers, and will therefore deal in this chapter with the route only.
The traveller having paid his fare to Seattle should on arrival there have not less than $500. This is the minimum sum necessary to pay his fare from Seattle to Juneau, purchase his outfit and supplies for one year and pay his necessary expenses in the gold region for that length of time.
I think it deplorable that so many are starting at this time for the gold-fields. I do not recommend starting before March 15. I will return at that time to my claims on the Klondyke, if it were wise to go sooner, I should certainly go.
The reason March 15 is best is that the season is better then. If a man has only, say, $500 and wants to do his own packing over the Taiya Pass, it gives him time to do it by starting March 15, as he will then be in Juneau April 1st. I fear a great deal of hardship for those who started out so as to reach Juneau for winter travel.
Of course while I say $500 is sufficient to go to Dawson City, a man should take $1,000 or even more if possible as he will have many opportunities to invest the surplus.
While prices will undoubtedly advance at Dawson City owing to the large influx of people, I do not think the advance will be excessive. It has never been the policy of the two trading companies to take advantage of the miners.
The traveller having arrived in Juneau from Seattle, a journey of 725 miles by water, immediately purchases his complete outfit as described in another chapter. He then loses no time in leaving Juneau for Dyea, taking a small steamboat which runs regularly to this port via the Lynn Canal. Dyea has recently been made a customs port of entry and the head of navigation this side of the Taiya Pass. The distance between Juneau and Dyea is about one hundred miles.
From Dyea, which is the timber-line, he packs his outfit to the foot of the Taiya Pass—the length of which to the summit is about 15 miles. He must now carry his outfit up the Pass, which he generally does in two or more trips according to the weight of his outfit, unless he is able to hire Indians or mules; but so far there are very few Indians to be hired and still fewer mules.
He now starts for Lake Lindeman from the head of the Pass, a distance of eight miles—the distance from Dyea to Lake Lindeman being 31 miles.
At Lake Lindeman he commences to make his boat, for which he has brought the proper supplies in his outfit, with the exception of the timber, which he finds at Lake Lindeman. He spends one week at Lake Lindeman making his boat and getting ready for the long trip down the waterways to Dawson City, the heart of the Klondyke region. The trip through Lake Lindeman is short, the lake being only five miles long. At the foot of the lake he must portage to Lake Bennet, the portage however being very short, less than a mile.
Lake Bennet is 28 miles long, while going through this lake the traveller crosses the boundary between British Columbia and the Northwest Territory.
After going down Lake Bennet the traveller comes to Caribou Crossing—about four miles long, which takes him to Lake Tagish, twenty miles in length. After leaving Tagish he finds himself in Mud or Marsh Lake, 24 miles long, then into the Lynx River, on which he continues for 27 miles till he comes to Miles Canyon, five-eighths of a mile long.
Immediately on leaving Miles Canyon he has three miles of what is called bad river work, which, while not hazardous, is dangerous from the swift current and from being very rocky. Great care has to be taken in going down this part of the river.
He now finds himself in White Horse Canyon the rapids of which are three-eighths of a mile in length and one of the most dangerous places on the trip, a man is here guarded by a sign, "Keep a good lookout."
No stranger or novice should try to run the White Horse Rapids alone in a boat. He should let his boat drop down the river guided by a rope with which he has provided himself in his outfit and which should be 150 feet long. It would be better if the traveller should portage here, the miners having constructed a portage road on the west side and put down roller-ways in some places on which they roll their boats over. They have also made some windlasses with which they haul their boat up the hill till they are at the foot of the canyon. The White Horse Canyon is very rocky and dangerous and the current extremely swift.
After leaving the White Horse Canyon he goes down the river to the head of Lake Labarge, a distance of 14 miles. He can sit down and steer with the current, as he is going down the stream all the way. It is for this reason that in returning from the diggings he should take another route, of which he will get full particulars before leaving Dawson; therefore I do not take the time to give a full description of the return trip via the Yukon to St. Michael. He now goes through Lake Labarge—for 31 miles—till he strikes the Lewes River, this taking him down to Hootalinqua. He is now in the Lewes River which takes him for 25 miles to Big Salmon River and from Big Salmon River 45 miles to Little Salmon River—the current all this time taking him down at the rate of five miles an hour. Of course in the canyons it is very much swifter.
The Little Salmon River takes him to Five Finger Rapids, a distance of one hundred and twenty miles. In the Five Finger Rapids the voyage should be made on the right side of the river, going with the current. These rapids are considered safe by careful management, but the novice will already have had sufficient experience in guiding his boat before reaching them.
From Five Finger Rapids the traveller goes six miles below, down the Lewes, to the Rink Rapids. On going through the Rink Rapids, he continues on the Lewes River to Fort Selkirk, the trading post of Harper and Ladue, where the Pelly and Lewes, at their junction, form the headwaters of the Yukon. You are now at the head of the Yukon River, and the worst part of your trip is over.
You now commence to go down the Yukon, and after a trip of ninety-eight miles, you are in the White River. You keep on the White River for ten miles, to the Stewart River, and then twenty-five miles to Fort Ogilvie. You are now only forty miles from Dawson City.
Your journey is now almost ended. After a forty-mile trip on the Yukon, you arrive at Dawson City, where the Klondyke empties in the Yukon.
All through this trip you have been going through a mountainous country, the trees there being pine, a small amount of spruce, cottonwood and birch. You have not seen much game, if any, as it is growing scarce along that line of river, and very hard to find. The traveller had therefore better make preparation to depend on the provisions he has brought with him. If he has stopped to fish, he may have been successful in catching whitefish, grayling and lake trout, along the lakes and rivers.
The total journey from Seattle to Dawson City has taken about two months. In connection with this trip from Juneau to Dawson City, it is perhaps better to give the reader the benefit of the trip of Mr. William Stewart, who writes from Lake Lindeman, May 31st, 1897, as follows:—
"We arrived here at the south end of the lake last night by boat. We have had an awful time of it. The Taiya Pass is not a pass at all, but a climb right over the mountains. We left Juneau on Thursday, the twentieth, on a little boat smaller than the ferry at Ottawa. There were over sixty aboard, all in one room about ten by fourteen. There was baggage piled up in one end so that the floor-space was only about eight by eight. We went aboard about three o'clock in the afternoon and went ashore at Dyea at seven o'clock Friday night. We got the Indians to pack all our stuff up to the summit, but about fifty pounds each; I had forty-eight pounds and my gun.
"We left Dyea, an Indian village, Sunday, but only got up the river one mile. We towed all the stuff up the river seven miles, and then packed it to Sheep Camp. We reached Sheep Camp about seven o'clock at night, on the Queen's Birthday. A beautiful time we had, I can tell you, climbing hills with fifty pounds on our backs. It would not be so bad if we could strap it on rightly.
"We left Sheep Camp next morning at four o'clock, and reached the summit at half-past seven. It was an awful climb—an angle of about fifty-five degrees. We could keep our hands touching the trail all the way up. It was blowing and snowing up there. We paid off the Indians, and got some sleighs and sleighed the stuff down the hill. This hill goes down pretty swift, and then drops at an angle of fifty-five degrees for about forty feet, and we had to rough-lock our sleighs and let them go. There was an awful fog, and we could not see where we were going. Some fellows helped us down with the first load, or there would have been nothing left of us. When we let a sleigh go from the top it jumps about fifty feet clear, and comes down in pieces. We loaded up the sleighs with some of our stuff, about two hundred and twenty-five pounds each, and started across the lakes. The trail was awful, and we waded through water and slush two and three feet deep. We got to the mouth of the canyon at about eight o'clock at night, done out. We left there that night, and pushed on again until morning. We got to the bottom of an awful hill, and packed all our stuff from there to the hill above the lake. We had about two and a half miles over hills, in snow and slush. I carried about five hundred pounds over that part of the trail. We had to get dogs to bring the stuff down from the summit to the head of the canyon.
"We worked two days bringing the stuff over from the canyon to the hill above the lake. Saturday we worked all day packing down the hill to the lake, and came here on a scow. We were out yesterday morning cutting down trees to build a boat. The timber is small, and I don't think we can get more than four-inch stuff. It rained all afternoon, and we couldn't do anything. There are about fifty boats of all sorts on Lake Bennet, which is about half a mile from here. I have long rubber boots up to the hips, and I did not have them on coming from the summit down, but I have worn them ever since.
"We met Barwell and Lewis, of Ottawa, to-day. They were out looking for knees for their boats. They left Ottawa six weeks ago, and have not got any farther than we have. There was a little saw-mill going here, and they have their lumber sawn. We have it that warm some days here that you would fairly roast, and the next day you would be looking for your overcoat. Everybody here seems to be taking in enough food to do them a couple of years.
"We are now in Canadian territory, after we passed the summit. I will have to catch somebody going through to Dyea to give him this letter, but I don't know how long before I can get any one going through. This is the last you will hear from me until I get down to the Klondyke."
Mr. Stewart adds: "I wrote this in the tent at 11 o'clock at night during twilight."
If you take this trip in winter, however, you have to purchase a sled at Juneau, and sled it over the frozen waterways to Dawson City.
For the benefit of my readers in Canada and for parties leaving for the great Northwest Territory for the gold fields, I take pleasure in quoting the following description of a Canadian route:—
"Canadians should awaken to the fact that they have emphatically 'the inside track' to their own gold fields, a route not half the distance, largely covered by railways and steamboats, with supply stations at convenient intervals all the way. By this route the gold-fields can be reached in two months or six weeks, and the cost of travel is ridiculously cheap—nearly anybody can afford to go even now, and by the spring it should be fitted out for the accommodation of any amount of traffic.
"The details of the information in the following article are given by Mr. A.H.H. Heming, the artist who accompanied Mr. Whitney in his journey towards the Barren Lands, and the data may be accepted as correct, as they were secured from the Hudson Bay officials.
"The details of the inland Canadian route, briefly, are as follows: By C.P.R. to Calgary, and thence north by rail to Edmonton; from there by stage to Athabasca Landing, 40 miles; then, there is a continuous waterway for canoe travel to Fort Macpherson, at the mouth of the Mackenzie River, from which point the Peel River lies southward to the gold region. The exact figures are as follows:
MILES. Edmonton to Athabasca Landing 40 To Port McMurray 240 Fort Chippewyan 185 Smith Landing 102 Fort Smith 16 Fort Resolution 194 Fort Providence 168 Fort Simpson 161 Fort Wrigley 136 Fort Norman 184 Fort Good Hope 174 Fort Macpherson 282 ——- Total 1882
"There are only two portages on this route of any size—that from Edmonton to Athabasca Landing, over which there is a stage and wagon line, and at Smith Landing, sixteen miles, over which the Hudson Bay Company has a tramway. There are four or five other portages of a few hundred yards, but with these exceptions there is a fine "down grade" water route all the way. It is the old Hudson Bay trunk line to the north that has been in use for nearly a century. Wherever there is a lake or a long stretch of deep water river navigation the company has small freight steamers which ply back and forward during the summer between the portage points or shallows. With comparatively little expenditure the company or the Government can improve the facilities along the line so that any amount of freight or any number of passengers can be taken into the gold region at less than half the time and cost that it takes Americans to reach it from Port St. Michael, at the mouth of the Yukon to the Klondyke, exclusive of the steamer trip of 2500 miles from Seattle to Port St. Michael.
"Canadians can leave here on a Monday at 11.15 A.M., and reach Edmonton on Friday at 7 P.M. From that point, a party of three men with a canoe, should reach Fort Macpherson easily in from 50 to 60 days, provided they are able-bodied young fellows with experience in that sort of travel. They will need to take canoes from here, unless they propose to hire Indians with large birch bark canoes to carry them. Birch bark canoes can be secured of any size up to the big ones manned by ten Indians that carry three tons. But birch barks are not reliable unless Indians are taken along to doctor them, and keep them from getting water-logged. The Hudson Bay Company will also contract to take freight northward on their steamers until the close of navigation. Travellers to the gold mines leaving now would probably reach Fort Macpherson before navigation closed.
"The letter from Rev. Mr. Stringer, the missionary, published in the Spectator on July 2, shows that the ice had only commenced to run in the Peel River, which is the water route south-east from Fort Macpherson into the gold region, on September 30 last year.
"Any Canadians who are anxious to get into the Klondyke ahead of the Americans can leave between now and August 1, reach Fort Macpherson, and if winter comes on they can exchange their canoes for dog trains, and reach the Klondyke without half the difficulty that would be experienced on the Alaska route. The great advantage of the inland route is that it is an organized line of communication. Travellers need not carry any more food than will take them from one Hudson Bay post to the next, and then there is abundance of fish and wild fowl en route. They can also be in touch with such civilization as prevails up there, can always get assistance at the posts, and will have some place to stay should they fall sick or meet with an accident. If they are lucky enough to make their pile in the Klondyke, they can come back by the dog sled route during the winter. (There is one winter mail to Fort Macpherson in winter.) Dogs for teams can be purchased at nearly any of the line of Hudson Bay posts that form a chain of road-houses on the trip.
"Parties travelling alone will not need to employ guides until they get near Fort Macpherson, and from there on to the Klondyke, as the rest of the route from Edmonton is so well defined, having been travelled for years, that no guides are required.
"You don't need a couple of thousand dollars to start for Klondyke to-morrow by the Edmonton route. All you need is a good constitution, some experience in boating and camping, and about $150. Suppose a party of three decide to start. First they will need to purchase a canoe, about $35 or less; first-class ticket from Hamilton to Edmonton, $71.40; second class, ditto, $40.90; cost of food at Edmonton for three men for two months (should consist of pork, flour, tea and baking-powder), $35; freight on canoe to Edmonton, $23. Total for three men from Hamilton to Fort Macpherson, provided they travel second-class on the C.P.R. will be $218.70. These figures are furnished by Mr. Heming, who has been over the route 400 miles north of Edmonton, and got the rest of his data from the Hudson Bay officials.
"If three men chip in $150 each they would have a margin of over $200 for purchasing their tools and for transport from Fort Macpherson to the Klondyke. This is how it may be done on the cheap, though Mr. Heming considers it ample for any party starting this summer. Prices will likely rise on the route when the rush begins. If the Hudson Bay people are alive to their interests they will forward a large amount of supplies for Fort Macpherson immediately and make it the base of supplies for the Klondyke during the coming winter.
"Parties should consist of three men each, as that is the crew of a canoe. It will take 600 pounds of food to carry three men over the route. Passengers on the C.P.R. are entitled to carry 600 pounds of baggage. The paddling is all down stream, except when they turn south up Peel River, and sails should be taken, as there is often a favorable wind for days.
"There are large scows on the line, manned by ten men each and known as 'sturgeon heads.' They are like canal boats, but are punted along and are used by the Hudson Bay people for taking forward supplies to the forts.
The return trip to the United States is usually made by the Yukon steamers from Dawson City direct to St. Michael via the Yukon and Anvik River, thence by ocean steamer from St. Michael to San Francisco."
The following letter is interesting to the prospector as showing the difficulties to overcome up the Taiya Pass to Lake Lindeman.
Winnipeg, July 27, 1897.
A letter has been received from George McLeod, one of the members of the Winnipeg party of gold hunters that left here recently for the Yukon. He wrote from Lake Lindeman under date of July 4, and states that the party expected to leave on the journey from the river a week later. They had a fine boat, with a freight capacity of two tons about completed. The real work of the expedition started when the small steamer which conveyed the party from Juneau arrived at Dyea. The men had to transfer their goods to a lighter one mile from shore, each man looking after his own packages. After getting everything ashore the party was organized for ascent of the mountain pass, which at the hardest point is 3,000 feet above sea level. McLeod and his chum, to save time and money too, engaged 35 Indians to pack their supplies over the mountains, but they had to carry their own bedding and grub to keep them on the road. It is fifteen miles to the summit of the pass and the party made twelve miles the first day, going into camp at night tired from climbing over rocks, stumps, logs and hills, working through rivers and creeks and pushing their way through brush. At the end of twelve miles they thought they had gone fifty. On the second day out they began to scale the summit of the mountain. Hill after hill confronted them, each one being steeper than the last. There was snow on the top of the mountain, and rain was falling, and this added greatly to the difficulties of the ascent. In many places the men had to crawl on their hands and knees, so precipitous was the mountain side. Time after time the men would slip back several inches, but they recovered themselves and went at it again.
Finally, the summit was gained, McLeod being the first of the party to reach the top. After resting and changing their clothes the descent was commenced. McLeod and his chums purchased sleighs, on which they loaded their goods and hauled for five miles. This was extremely laborious work, and the men were so used up working in the scorching sun that they were compelled to work at nights and sleep during the day. Two days after the descent began the sleighs were abandoned, and the men packed the goods for three miles and a half. They were fortunate in securing the services of a man who had two horses to convey the goods to Lake Lindeman.
McLeod says the worry in getting over the pass is terrible, and he has no desire to repeat the experience. He advises all who go in to have their goods packed all the way from Dyea to Lake Lindeman. It costs 17 or 18 cents per pound for packing.
McLeod expected that Klondyke would not be reached before July 25.
I think it specially valuable for the reader to give him the approximate distances to Fort Cudahy, which is below Dawson City via the various routes.
This table of distances has been prepared by Mr. James Ogilvie, and I also give a number of his notes which will be of great value to the traveller when making the trip from Juneau to Dawson City.
APPROXIMATE DISTANCES TO FORT CUDAHY.
VIA ST. MICHAEL. Miles. San Francisco to Dutch Harbor 2,400 Seattle or Victoria to Dutch Harbor 2,000 Dutch Harbor to St. Michael 750 St. Michael to Cudahy 1,600
VIA TAIYA PASS. Victoria to Taiya 1,000 Taiya to Cudahy 650
VIA STIKINE RIVER. Victoria to Wrangell 750 Wrangell to Telegraph Creek 150 Telegraph Creek to Teslin Lake 150 Teslin Lake to Cudahy 650
DISTANCES FROM HEAD OF TAIYA INLET.
Miles Head of canoe navigation, Taiya River 5.90 Forks of Taiya River 8.38 Summit of Taiya Pass 14.76 Landing at Lake Lindeman 23.06 Foot of Lake Lindeman 27.49 Head of Lake Bennet 28.09 Boundary line B.C. and N.W.T. (Lat 60 deg.) 38.09 Foot of Lake Bennet 53.85 Foot of Caribou Crossing (Lake Nares) 56.44 Foot of Tagish Lake 73.25 Head of Marsh Lake 78.15 Foot of Marsh Lake 97.21 Head of Miles Canon 122.94 Foot of Miles Canon 123.56 Head of White Horse Rapids 124.95 Foot of White Horse Rapids 125.33 Tahkeena River 139.92 Head of Lake Labarge 153.07 Foot of Lake Labarge 184.22 Teslintoo River 215.88 Big Salmon River 249.33 Little Salmon River 285.54 Five Finger Rapids 344.83 Pelly River 403.29 White River 499.11 Stewart River 508.91 Sixty-Mile Creek 530.41 Dawson City—The Principal Mining Town 575.70 Fort Reliance 582.20 Forty-Mile River 627.08 Boundary Line. 667.43
"Another route is now being explored between Telegraph Creek and Teslin Lake and will soon be opened. Telegraph Creek is the head of steamer navigation on the Stikine River and is about 150 miles from Teslin Lake. The Yukon is navigable for steamers from its mouth to Teslin Lake, a distance of 2,300 miles. A road is being located by the Dominion Government. A grant of $2,000 has been made by the province of British Columbia for opening it.
"J. Dalton, a trader, has used a route overland from Chilkat Inlet to Fort Selkirk. Going up the Chilkat and Klaheela Rivers, he crosses the divide to the Tahkeena River and continues northward over a fairly open country practicable for horses. The distance from the sea to Fort Selkirk is 350 miles.
"Last summer a Juneau butcher sent 40 head of cattle to Cudahy. G. Bounds, the man in charge, crossed the divide over the Chilkat Pass, followed the shore of Lake Arkell and, keeping to the east of Dalton's trail, reached the Yukon just below the Rink Rapids. Here the cattle were slaughtered and the meat floated down on a raft to Cudahy, where it retailed at $1 a pound.
"It is proposed to establish a winter road somewhere across the country travelled over by Dalton and Bounds. The Yukon cannot be followed, the ice being too much broken, so that any winter road will have to be overland. A thorough exploration is now being made of all the passes at the head of Lynn Canal and of the upper waters of the Yukon. In a few months it is expected that the best routes for reaching the district from Lynn Canal will be definitely known.
"It is said by those familiar with the locality that the storms which rage in the upper altitudes of the coast range during the greater part of the time, from October to March, are terrific. A man caught in one of them runs the risk of losing his life, unless he can reach shelter in a short time. During the summer there is nearly always a wind blowing from the sea up Chatham Strait and Lynn Canal, which lie in almost a straight line with each other, and at the head of Lynn Canal are Chilkat and Chilkoot Inlets. The distance from the coast down these channels to the open sea is about 380 miles. The mountains on each side of the water confine the currents of air, and deflect inclined currents in the direction of the axis of the channel, so that there is nearly always a strong wind blowing up the channel. Coming from the sea, this wind is heavily charged with moisture, which is precipitated when the air currents strike the mountains, and the fall of rain and snow is consequently very heavy.
"In Chilkat Inlet there is not much shelter from the south wind, which renders it unsafe for ships calling there. Capt. Hunter told me he would rather visit any other part of the coast than Chilkat.
"To carry the survey from the island across to Chilkoot Inlet I had to get up on the mountains north of Haines mission, and from there could see both inlets. Owing to the bad weather I could get no observation for azimuth, and had to produce the survey from Pyramid Island to Taiya Inlet by reading the angles of deflection between the courses. At Taiya Inlet I got my first observation, and deduced the azimuths of my courses up to that point. Taiya Inlet has evidently been the valley of a glacier; its sides are steep and smooth from glacial action; and this, with the wind almost constantly blowing landward, renders getting upon the shore difficult. Some long sights were therefore necessary. The survey was made up to the head of the Inlet on the 2d of June. Preparations were then commenced for taking the supplies and instruments over the coast range of mountains to the head of Lake Lindeman on the Lewes River. Commander Newell kindly aided me in making arrangements with the Indians, and did all he could to induce them to be reasonable in their demands. This, however, neither he nor any one else could accomplish. They refused to carry to the lake for less than $20 per hundred pounds, and as they had learned that the expedition was an English one, the second chief of the Chilkoot Indians recalled some memories of an old quarrel which the tribe had with the English many years ago, in which an uncle of his was killed, and he thought we should pay for the loss of his uncle by being charged an exorbitant price for our packing, of which he had the sole control. Commander Newell told him I had a permit from the Great Father at Washington to pass through his country safely, that he would see that I did so, and if the Indians interfered with me they would be punished for doing so. After much talk they consented to carry our stuff to the summit of the mountain for $10 per hundred pounds. This is about two-thirds of the whole distance, includes all the climbing and all the woods, and is by far the most difficult part of the way.
"On the 6th of June 120 Indians, men, women and children, started for the summit. I sent two of my party with them to see the goods delivered at the place agreed upon. Each carrier when given a pack also got a ticket, on which was inscribed the contents of the pack, its weight, and the amount the individual was to get for carrying it. They were made to understand that they had to produce these tickets on delivering their packs, but were not told for what reason. As each pack was delivered one of my men receipted the ticket and returned it. The Indians did not seem to understand the import of this; a few of them pretended to have lost their tickets; and as they could not get paid without them, my assistant, who had duplicates of every ticket, furnished them with receipted copies, after examining their packs.
"While they were packing to the summit I was producing the survey, and I met them on their return at the foot of the canon, about eight miles from the coast, where I paid them. They came to the camp in the early morning before I was up, and for about two hours there was quite a hubbub. When paying them I tried to get their names, but very few of them would give any Indian name, nearly all, after a little reflection, giving some common English name. My list contained little else than Jack, Tom, Joe, Charlie, &c. some of which were duplicated three and four times. I then found why some of them had pretended to lose their tickets at the summit. Three or four who had thus acted presented themselves twice for payment, producing first the receipted ticket, afterwards the one they claimed to have lost, demanding pay for both. They were much taken aback when they found that their duplicity had been discovered.
"These Indians are perfectly heartless. They will not render even the smallest aid to each other without payment; and if not to each other, much less to a white man. I got one of them, whom I had previously assisted with his pack, to take me and two of my party over a small creek in his canoe. After putting us across he asked for money, and I gave him half a dollar. Another man stepped up and demanded pay, stating that the canoe was his. To see what the result would be, I gave to him the same amount as to the first. Immediately there were three or four more claimants for the canoe. I dismissed them with a blessing, and made up my mind that I would wade the next creek.
"While paying them I was a little apprehensive of trouble, for they insisted on crowding into my tent, and for myself and the four men who were with me to have attempted to eject them would have been to invite trouble. I am strongly of the opinion that these Indians would have been much more difficult to deal with if they had not known that Commander Newell remained in the inlet to see that I got through without accident.
"While making the survey from the head of tide water I took the azimuths and altitudes of several of the highest peaks around the head of the inlet, in order to locate them, and obtain an idea of the general height of the peaks in the coast range. As it does not appear to have been done before, I have taken the opportunity of naming all the peaks, the positions of which I fixed in the above way. The names and altitudes appear on my map.
"While going up from the head of canoe navigation on the Taiya River I took the angles of elevation of each station from the preceding one. I would have done this from tide water up, but found many of the courses so short and with so little increase in height that with the instrument I had it was inappreciable. From these angles I have computed the height of the summit of the Taiya Pass, above the head of canoe navigation, as it appeared to me in June, 1887, and find it to be 3,378 feet. What depth of snow there was I cannot say. The head of canoe navigation I estimate at about 120 feet above tide water. Dr. Dawson gives it as 124 feet.
[Footnote 2: The distance from the head of Taiya Inlet to the summit of the pass is 15 miles, and the whole length of the pass to Lake Lindeman is 23 miles. Messrs. Healy and Wilson, dealers in general merchandise and miners' supplies at Taiya, have a train of pack horses carrying freight from the head of Lynn Canal to the summit. They hope to be able to take freight through to Lake Lindeman with their horses during the present season.]
"I determined the descent from the summit to Lake Lindeman by carrying the aneroid from the lake to the summit and back again, the interval of time from start to return being about eight hours. Taking the mean of the readings at the lake, start and return, and the single reading at the summit, the height of the summit above the lake was found to be 1,237 feet. While making the survey from the summit down to the lake I took the angles of depression of each station from the preceding one, and from these angles I deduced the difference of height, which I found to be 1,354 feet, or 117 feet more than that found by the aneroid. This is quite a large difference; but when we consider the altitude of the place, the sudden changes of temperature, and the atmospheric conditions, it is not more than one might expect.
"While at Juneau I heard reports of a low pass from the head of Chilkoot Inlet to the head waters of Lewes River. During the time I was at the head of Taiya Inlet I made inquiries regarding it, and found that there was such a pass, but could learn nothing definite about it from either whites or Indians. As Capt. Moore, who accompanied me, was very anxious to go through it, and as the reports of the Taiya Pass indicated that no wagon road or railroad could ever be built through it, while the new pass appeared, from what little knowledge I could get of it, to be much lower and possibly feasible for a wagon road, I determined to send the captain by that way, if I could get an Indian to accompany him. This, I found, would be difficult to do. None of the Chilkoots appeared to know anything of the pass, and I concluded that they wished to keep its existence and condition a secret. The Tagish, or Stick Indians, as the interior Indians are locally called, are afraid to do anything in opposition to the wishes of the Chilkoots; so it was difficult to get any of them to join Capt. Moore; but after much talk and encouragement from the whites around, one of them named "Jim" was induced to go. He had been through this pass before, and proved reliable and useful. The information obtained from Capt. Moore's exploration I have incorporated in my plan of the survey from Taiya Inlet, but it is not as complete as I would have liked. I have named this pass "White Pass," in honor of the late Hon. Thos. White, Minister of the Interior, under whose authority the expedition was organized. Commencing at Taiya Inlet, about two miles south of its north end, it follows up the valley, of the Shkagway River to its source, and thence down the valley of another river which Capt. Moore reported to empty into the Takone or Windy Arm of Bove Lake (Schwatka). Dr. Dawson says this stream empties into Taku Arm, and in that event Capt. Moore is mistaken. Capt. Moore did not go all the way through to the lake, but assumed from reports he heard from the miners and others that the stream flowed into Windy Arm, and this also was the idea of the Indian "Jim" from what I could gather from his remarks in broken English and Chinook. Capt. Moore estimates the distance from tide water to the summit at about 18 miles, and from the summit to the lake at about 22 to 23 miles. He reports the pass as thickly timbered all the way through.
"The timber line on the south side of the Taiya Pass, as determined by barometer reading, is about 2,300 feet above the sea, while on the north side it is about 1,000 feet below the summit. This large difference is due, I think, to the different conditions in the two places. On the south side the valley is narrow and deep, and the sun cannot produce its full effect. The snow also is much deeper there, owing to the quantity which drifts in from the surrounding mountains. On the north side the surface is sloping, and more exposed to the sun's rays. On the south side the timber is of the class peculiar to the coast, and on the north that peculiar to the interior. The latter would grow at a greater altitude than the coast timber. It is possible that the summit of White Pass is not higher than the timber line on the north of the Taiya Pass, or about 2,500 feet above tide water, and it is possibly even lower than this, as the timber in a valley such as the White Pass would hardly live at the same altitude as on the open slope on the north side.
"Capt. Moore has had considerable experience in building roads in mountainous countries. He considers that this would be an easy route for a wagon road compared with some roads he has seen in British Columbia. Assuming his distances to be correct, and the height of the pass to be probably about correctly indicated, the grades would not be very steep, and a railroad could easily be carried through if necessary.
"After completing the survey down to the lake, I set about getting my baggage down too. Of all the Indians who came to the summit with packs, only four or five could be induced to remain and pack down to the lake, although I was paying them at the rate of $4 per hundred pounds. After one trip down only two men remained, and they only in hopes of stealing something. One of them appropriated a pair of boots, and was much surprised to find that he had to pay for them on being settled with. I could not blame them much for not caring to work, as the weather was very disagreeable—it rained or snowed almost continuously. After the Indians left I tried to get down the stuff with the aid of my own men, but it was slavish and unhealthy labor, and after the first trip one of them was laid up with what appeared to be inflammatory rheumatism. The first time the party crossed, the sun was shining brightly, and this brought on snow blindness, the pain of which only those who have suffered from this complaint can realize. I had two sleds with me which were made in Juneau specially for the work of getting over the mountains and down the lakes on the ice. With these I succeeded in bringing about a ton and a-half to the lakes, but found that the time it would take to get all down in this way would seriously interfere with the programme arranged with Dr. Dawson, to say nothing of the suffering of the men and myself, and the liability to sickness which protracted physical exertion under such uncomfortable conditions and continued suffering from snow blindness expose us to. I had with me a white man who lived at the head of the inlet with a Tagish Indian woman. This man had a good deal of influence with the Tagish tribe, of whom the greater number were then in the neighborhood where he resided, trying to get some odd jobs of work, and I sent him to the head of the inlet to try and induce the Tagish Indians to undertake the transportation, offering them $5 per hundred pounds. In the meantime Capt. Moore and the Indian "Jim" had rejoined me. I had their assistance for a day or two, and "Jim's" presence aided indirectly in inducing the Indians to come to my relief.
"The Tagish are little more than slaves to the more powerful coast tribes, and are in constant dread of offending them in any way. One of the privileges which the coast tribes claim is the exclusive right to all work on the coast or in its vicinity, and the Tagish are afraid to dispute this claim. When my white man asked the Tagish to come over and pack they objected on the grounds mentioned. After considerable ridicule of their cowardice, and explanation of the fact that they had the exclusive right to all work in their own country, the country on the side of the north side of the coast range being admitted by the coast Indians to belong to the Tagish tribe just as the coast tribes had the privilege of doing all the work on the coast side of the mountains, and that one of their number was already working with me unmolested, and likely to continue so, nine of them came over, and in fear and trembling began to pack down to the lake. After they were at work for a few days some of the Chilkoots came out and also started to work. Soon I had quite a number at work and was getting my stuff down quite fast. But this good fortune was not to continue. Owing to the prevailing wet, cold weather on the mountains, and the difficulty of getting through the soft wet snow, the Indians soon began to quit work for a day or two at a time, and to gamble with one another for the wages already earned. Many of them wanted to be paid in full, but this I positively refused, knowing that to do so was to have them all apply for their earnings and leave me until necessity compelled them to go to work again. I once for all made them distinctly understand that I would not pay any of them until the whole of the stuff was down. As many of them had already earned from twelve to fifteen dollars each, to lose which was a serious matter to them, they reluctantly resumed work and kept at it until all was delivered. This done, I paid them off, and set about getting my outfit across the lake, which I did with my own party and the two Peterborough canoes which I had with me.
"These two canoes travelled about 3,000 miles by rail and about 1,000 miles by steamship before being brought into service. They did considerable work on Chilkoot and Tagish Inlets, and were then packed over to the head of Lewes River (Lake Lindeman), from where they were used in making the survey of Lewes and Yukon Rivers. In this work they made about 650 landings. They were then transported on sleighs from the boundary on the Yukon to navigable water on the Porcupine.
"In the spring of 1888 they descended the latter river, heavily loaded, and through much rough water, to the mouth of Bell's River, and up it to McDougall's Pass. They were then carried over the pass to Poplar River and were used in going down the latter to Peel River, and thence up Mackenzie River 1,400 miles; or, exclusive of railway and ship carriage, they were carried about 170 miles and did about 2,500 miles of work for the expedition, making in all about 1,700 landings in no easy manner and going through some very bad water. I left them at Fort Chipewyan in fairly good condition, and, with a little painting, they would go through the same ordeal again.
"After getting all my outfit over to the foot of Lake Lindeman I set some of the party to pack it to the head of Lake Bennet.
"I employed the rest of the party in looking for timber to build a boat to carry my outfit of provisions and implements down the river to the vicinity of the international boundary, a distance of about 700 miles. It took several days to find a tree large enough to make plank for the boat I wanted, as the timber around the upper end of the lake is small and scrubby. My boat was finished on the evening of the 11th of July, and on the 12th I started a portion of the party to load it and go ahead with it and the outfit to the canon. They had instructions to examine the canon and, if necessary, to carry a part of the outfit past it—in any case, enough to support the party back to the coast should accident necessitate such procedure. With the rest of the party I started to carry on the survey, which may now be said to have fairly started ahead on the lakes. This proved tedious work, on account of the stormy weather.
"In the summer months there is nearly always a wind blowing in from the coast; it blows down the lakes and produces quite a heavy swell. This would not prevent the canoes going with the decks on, but, as we had to land every mile or so, the rollers breaking on the generally flat beach proved very troublesome. On this account I found I could not average more than ten miles per day on the lakes, little more than half of what could be done on the river.
"The survey was completed to the canon on the 20th of July. There I found the party with the large boat had arrived on the 18th, having carried a part of the supplies past the canon, and were awaiting my arrival to run through it with the rest in the boat. Before doing so, however, I made an examination of the canon. The rapids below it, particularly the last rapid of the series (called the White Horse by the miners), I found would not be safe to run. I sent two men through the canon in one of the canoes to await the arrival of the boat, and to be ready in case of an accident to pick us up. Every man in the party was supplied with a life-preserver, so that should a casualty occur we would all have floated. Those in the canoe got through all right; but they would not have liked to repeat the trip. They said the canoe jumped about a great deal more than they thought it would, and I had the same experience when going through in the boat.
"The passage through is made in about three minutes, or at the rate of about 12-1/2 miles an hour. If the boat is kept clear of the sides there is not much danger in high water; but in low water there is a rock in the middle of the channel, near the upper end of the canon, that renders the passage more difficult. I did not see this rock myself, but got my information from some miners I met in the interior, who described it as being about 150 yards down from the head and a little to the west of the middle of the channel. In low water it barely projects above the surface. When I passed through there was no indication of it, either from the bank above or from the boat.
"The distance from the head to the foot of the canon is five-eighths of a mile. There is a basin about midway in it about 150 yards in diameter. This basin is circular in form, with steep sloping sides about 100 feet high. The lower part of the canon is much rougher to run through than the upper part, the fall being apparently much greater. The sides are generally perpendicular, about 80 to 100 feet high, and consist of basalt, in some places showing hexagonal columns.
"The White Horse Rapids are about three-eighths of a mile long. They are the most dangerous rapids on the river, and are never run through in boats except by accident. They are confined by low basaltic banks, which, at the foot, suddenly close in and make the channel about 30 yards wide. It is here the danger lies, as there is a sudden drop and the water rashes through at a tremendous rate, leaping and seething like a cataract. The miners have constructed a portage road on the west side, and put down rollways in some places on which to shove their boats over. They have also made some windlasses with which to haul their boats up hill, notably one at the foot of the canon. This roadway and windlasses must have cost them many hours of hard labor. Should it ever be necessary, a tramway could be built past the canon on the east side with no great difficulty. With the exception of the Five Finger Rapids these appear to be the only serious rapids on the whole length of the river.
"Five Finger Rapids are formed by several islands standing in the channel and backing up the water so much as to raise it about a foot, causing a swell below for a few yards. The islands are composed of conglomerate rock, similar to the cliffs on each side of the river, whence one would infer that there has been a fall here in past ages. For about two miles below the rapids there is a pretty swift current, but not enough to prevent the ascent of a steamboat of moderate power, and the rapids themselves I do not think would present any serious obstacle to the ascent of a good boat. In very high water warping might be required. Six miles below these rapids are what are known as 'Rink Rapids,' This is simply a barrier of rocks, which extends from the westerly side of the river about half way across. Over this barrier there is a ripple which would offer no great obstacle to the descent of a good canoe. On the easterly sides there is no ripple, and the current is smooth and the water apparently deep. I tried with a 6 foot paddle, but could not reach the bottom.
"On the 11th of August I met a party of miners coming out who had passed Stewart River a few days before. They saw no sign of Dr. Dawson having been there. This was welcome news for me, as I expected he would have reached that point long before I arrived, on account of the many delays I had met with on the coast range. These miners also gave me the pleasant news that the story told at the coast about the fight with the Indians at Stewart River was false, and stated substantially what I have already repeated concerning it. The same evening I met more miners on their way out, and the next day met three boats, each containing four men. In the crew of one of them was a son of Capt. Moore, from whom the captain got such information as induced him to turn back and accompany them out.
"Next day, the 13th, I got to the mouth of the Pelly, and found that Dr. Dawson had arrived there on the 11th. The doctor also had experienced many delays, and had heard the same story of the Indian uprising in the interior. I was pleased to find that he was in no immediate want of provisions, the fear of which had caused me a great deal of uneasiness on the way down the river, as it was arranged between us in Victoria that I was to take with me provisions for his party to do them until their return to the coast. The doctor was so much behind the time arranged to meet me that he determined to start for the coast at once. I therefore set about making a short report and plan of my survey to this point; and, as I was not likely to get another opportunity of writing at such length for a year, I applied myself to a correspondence designed to satisfy my friends and acquaintances for the ensuing twelve months. This necessitated three days' hard work.
"On the morning of the 17th the doctor left for the outside world, leaving me with a feeling of loneliness that only those who have experienced it can realize. I remained at the mouth of the Pelly during the next day taking magnetic and astronomical observations, and making some measurements of the river. On the 19th I resumed the survey and reached White River on the 25th. Here I spent most of a day trying to ascend this river, but found it impracticable, on account of the swift current and shallow and very muddy water. The water is so muddy that it is impossible to see through one-eighth of an inch of it. The current is very strong, probably eight miles or more per hour, and the numerous bars in the bed are constantly changing place. After trying for several hours, the base men succeeded in doing about half a mile only, and I came to the conclusion that it was useless to try to get up this stream to the boundary with canoes. Had it proved feasible I had intended making a survey of this stream to the boundary, to discover more especially the facilities it offered for the transport of supplies in the event of a survey of the International Boundary being undertaken.
"I reached Stewart River on the 26th. Here I remained a day taking magnetic observations, and getting information from a miner, named McDonald, about the country up that river. McDonald had spent the summer up the river prospecting and exploring. His information will be given in detail further on.
"Fort Reliance was reached on the 1st of September, and Forty Mile River (Cone-Hill River of Schwatka) on the 7th. In the interval between Fort Reliance and Forty Mile River there were several days lost by rain.
"At Forty Mile River I made some arrangements with the traders there (Messrs. Harper & McQuestion) about supplies during the winter, and about getting Indians to assist me in crossing from the Yukon to the head of the Porcupine, or perhaps on to the Peel River. I then made a survey of the Forty Mile River up to the canon. I found the canon would be difficult of ascent, and dangerous to descend, and therefore, concluded to defer further operations until the winter, and until after I had determined the longitude of my winter post near the boundary, when I would be in a much better position to locate the intersection of the International Boundary with this river, a point important to determine on account of the number and richness of the mining claims on the river.
"I left Forty Mile River for the boundary line between Alaska and the Northwest Territories on the 12th September, and finished the survey to that point on the 14th. I then spent two days in examining the valley of the river in the vicinity of the boundary to get the most extensive view of the horizon possible, and to find a tree large enough to serve for a transit stand.
"Before leaving Toronto I got Mr. Foster to make large brass plates with V's on them, which could be screwed firmly to a stump, and thus be made to serve as a transit stand. I required a stump at least 22 inches in diameter to make a base large enough for the plates when properly placed for the transit. In a search which covered about four miles of the river bank, on both sides, I found only one tree as large as 18 inches. I mention this fact to give an idea of the size of the trees along the river in this vicinity. I had this stump enlarged by firmly fixing pieces on the sides so as to bring it up to the requisite size. This done, I built around the stump a small transit house of the ordinary form and then mounted and adjusted my transit. Meanwhile, most of the party were busy preparing our winter quarters and building a magnetic observatory. As I had been led to expect extremely low temperatures during the winter, I adopted precautionary measures, so as to be as comfortable as circumstances would permit during our stay there.
DESCRIPTION OF THE YUKON, ITS AFFLUENT STREAMS, AND THE ADJACENT COUNTRY.
"I will now give, from my own observation and from information received, a more detailed description of the Lewes River, its affluent streams, and the resources of the adjacent country.
"For the purpose of navigation a description of the Lewes River begins at the head of Lake Bennet. Above that point, and between it and Lake Lindeman, there is only about three-quarters of a mile of river, which is not more than fifty or sixty yards wide, and two or three feet deep, and is so swift and rough that navigation is out of the question.
"Lake Lindeman is about five miles long and half a mile wide. It is deep enough for all ordinary purposes. Lake Bennet is twenty-six and a quarter miles long, for the upper fourteen of which it is about half a mile wide. About midway in its length an arm comes in from the west, which Schwatka appears to have mistaken for a river, and named Wheaton River. This arm is wider than the other arm down to that point, and is reported by Indians to be longer and heading in a glacier which lies in the pass at the head of Chilkoot Inlet. This arm is, as far as seen, surrounded by high mountains, apparently much higher than those on the arm we travelled down. Below the junction of the two arms the lake is about one and a half miles wide, with deep water. Above the forks the water of the east branch is muddy. This is caused by the streams from the numerous glaciers on the head of the tributaries of Lake Lindeman.
[Footnote 3: A small saw-mill has been erected at the head of Lake Bennet; lumber for boat building sells at $100 per M. Boats 25 feet long and 5 feet beam are $60 each. Last year the ice broke up in the lake on the 12th June, but this season is earlier and the boats are expected to go down the lake about the 1st of June.]
"A stream which flows into Lake Bennet at the south-west corner is also very dirty, and has shoaled quite a large portion of the lake at its mouth. The beach at the lower end of this lake is comparatively flat and the water shoal. A deep, wide valley extends northwards from the north end of the lake, apparently reaching to the canon, or a short distance above it. This may have been originally a course for the waters of the river. The bottom of the valley is wide and sandy, and covered with scrubby timber, principally poplar and pitch-pine. The waters of the lake empty at the extreme north-east angle through a channel not more than one hundred yards wide, which soon expands into what Schwatka called Lake Nares. Through this narrow channel there is quite a current, and more than 7 feet of water, as a 6 foot paddle and a foot of arm added to its length did not reach the bottom.
[Footnote 4: The connecting waters between Lake Bennet and Tagish Lake constitute what is now called Caribou Crossing.]
"The hills at the upper end of Lake Lindeman rise abruptly from the water's edge. At the lower end they are neither so steep nor so high.
"Lake Nares is only two and a half miles long, and its greatest width is about a mile; it is not deep, but is navigable for boats drawing 5 or 6 feet of water; it is separated from Lake Bennet by a shallow sandy point of not more than 200 yards in length.
"No streams of any consequence empty into either of these lakes. A small river flows into Lake Bennet on the west side, a short distance north of the fork, and another at the extreme north-west angle, but neither of them is of any consequence in a navigable sense.
"Lake Nares flows through a narrow curved channel into Bove Lake (Schwatka). This channel is not more than 600 or 700 yards long, and the water in it appears to be sufficiently deep for boats that could navigate the lake. The land between the lakes along this channel is low, swampy, and covered with willows, and, at the stage in which I saw it, did not rise more than 3 feet above the water. The hills on the south-west side slope up easily, and are not high; on the north side the deep valley already referred to borders it; and on the east side the mountains rise abruptly from the lake shore.
"Bove Lake (called Tagish Lake by Dr. Dawson) is about a mile wide for the first two miles of its length, when it is joined by what the miners have called the Windy Arm. One of the Tagish Indians informed me they called it Takone Lake. Here the lake expands to a width of about two miles for a distance of some three miles, when it suddenly narrows to about half a mile for a distance of a little over a mile, after which it widens again to about a mile and a half or more.
"Ten miles from the head of the lake it is joined by the Taku Arm from the south. This arm must be of considerable length, as it can be seen for a long distance, and its valley can be traced through the mountains much farther than the lake itself can be seen. It is apparently over a mile wide at its mouth or junction.
"Dr. Dawson includes Bove Lake and these two arms under the common name of Tagish Lake. This is much more simple and comprehensive than the various names given them by travellers. These waters collectively are the fishing and hunting grounds of the Tagish Indians, and as they are really one body of water, there is no reason why they should not be all included under one name.
"From the junction with the Taku Arm to the north end of the lake the distance is about six miles, the greater part being over two miles wide. The west side is very flat and shallow, so much so that it was impossible in many places to get our canoes to the shore, and quite a distance out in the lake there was not more than 5 feet of water. The members of my party who were in charge of the large boat and outfit, went down the east side of the lake and reported the depth about the same as I found on the west side, with many large rocks. They passed through it in the night in a rainstorm, and were much alarmed for the safety of the boat and provisions. It would appear that this part of the lake requires some improvement to make it in keeping with the rest of the water system with which it is connected.
"Where the river debouches from it, it is about 150 yards wide, and for a short distance not more than 5 or 6 feet deep. The depth is, however, soon increased to 10 feet or more, and so continues down to what Schwatka calls Marsh Lake. The miners call it Mud Lake, but on this name they do not appear to be agreed, many of them calling the lower part of Tagish or Bove Lake "Mud Lake," on account of its shallowness and flat muddy shores, as seen along the west side, the side nearly always travelled, as it is more sheltered from the prevailing southerly winds. The term "Mud Lake" is, however, not applicable to this lake, as only a comparatively small part of it is shallow or muddy; and it is nearly as inapplicable to Marsh Lake, as the latter is not markedly muddy along the west side, and from the appearance of the east shore one would not judge it to be so, as the banks appear to be high and gravelly.
"Marsh Lake is a little over nineteen miles long, and averages about two miles in width. I tried to determine the width of it as I went along with my survey, by taking azimuths of points on the eastern shore from different stations of the survey; but in only one case did I succeed, as there were no prominent marks on that shore which could be identified from more than one place. The piece of river connecting Tagish and Marsh Lakes is about five miles long, and averages 150 to 200 yards in width, and, as already mentioned, is deep, except for a short distance at the head. On it are situated the only Indian houses to be found in the interior with any pretension to skill in construction. They show much more labor and imitativeness than one knowing anything about the Indian in his native state would expect. The plan is evidently taken from the Indian houses on the coast, which appear to me to be a poor copy of the houses which the Hudson's Bay Company's servants build around their trading posts. These houses do not appear to have been used for some time past, and are almost in ruins. The Tagish Indians are now generally on the coast, as they find it much easier to live there than in their own country. As a matter of fact, what they make in their own country is taken from them by the Coast Indians, so that there is little inducement for them to remain.
"The Lewes River, where it leaves Marsh Lake, is about 200 yards wide, and averages this width as far as the canon. I did not try to find bottom anywhere as I went along, except where I had reason to think it shallow, and there I always tried with my paddle. I did not anywhere find bottom with this, which shows that there is no part of this stretch of the river with less than six feet of water at medium height, at which stage it appeared to me the river was at that time.
"From the head of Lake Bennet to the canon the corrected distance is ninety-five miles, all of which is navigable for boats drawing 5 feet or more. Add to this the westerly arm of Lake Bennet, and the Takone or Windy Arm of Tagish Lake, each about fifteen miles in length, and the Taku Arm of the latter lake, of unknown length, but probably not less than thirty miles, and we have a stretch of water of upwards of one hundred miles in length, all easily navigable; and, as has been pointed out, easily connected with Taiya Inlet through the White Pass.
"No streams of any importance enter any of these lakes so far as I know. A river, called by Schwatka "McClintock River," enters Marsh Lake at the lower end from the east. It occupies a large valley, as seen from the westerly side of the lake, but the stream is apparently unimportant. Another small stream, apparently only a creek, enters the south-east angle of the lake. It is not probable that any stream coming from the east side of the lake is of importance, as the strip of country between the Lewes and Teslintoo is not more than thirty or forty miles in width at this point.