ALASKA—DESCRIPTION OF—Having spent four years in Alaska I think I am very well posted to answer F. C. S. on that country and its resources. I have traveled along the coast striking Douglas, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, then taking the White Pass and Yukon Railway, a distance of one hundred and eleven miles to White Horse, Yukon Territory British possessions. Then took a twelve foot row boat with three companions and drifted down the Yukon River about thirty miles to the bead of Lake La Barge, camped two days at that point then pulled our boat over the ice on Lake La Barge (which does not break for thirty or forty days after the ice goes out of the river) to the foot of Lake La Barge, a distance of thirty-three miles, the boat being built on 2x2 inch runner band with sheet iron so as not to wear out. We stopped at the foot of this lake, known as Lower 30 Mile or Head of the Yukon where we took the boat going down the river to Dawson City, Yukon Territory, which is located forty-five miles from Alaska Line and belonging to the United States. The distance from White Horse, Yukon Territory to Dawson City is four hundred and fifty miles, through a rough and mountainous country with some but very little agricultural ground considering the size of the territory you go through, but what there is of it is fine and vegetation is great but the seasons are short.
However, the country is full of game such as bear, mountain goat and sheep, timber wolves, marten, elk, moose, beaver, otter, wild cats, porcupine, fox and deer. And above all the mountains are full of gold.
Dawson City which is located on the banks of the Yukon at the month of the Klondike River, was, and I believe is yet, one of the richest goldfields ever in existence, being easy to get at as there is a railroad at Dawson forty or fifty miles long.
After leaving Dawson my pal, Ed Taylor, and I drifted down ,the Yukon River across the line into Alaska Territory going to Saint Michael, traveling a distance of twenty-two hundred miles from White Horse, Yukon Territory to Saint Michael, Alaska Territory in our twelve foot boat. After getting into Alaska Territory known as “God’s own country” you will find a great deal more agricultural land than in Yukon Territory, some of which is covered with timber principally spruce. Most all of the creeks are gold bearing streams, but in the Alaska Territory it is more of a deep proposition, more so than in Yukon Territory. Therefore it is harder and more expensive to prospect.
At the mouth of the Tanana River is located Fort Gibbons. At this point one has to transfer from the Yukon River boats to take a smaller river boat up the Tanana River. Both of the rivers are so swift that a man cannot row a boat up stream but can pole one up along the edge of the water if he keeps close to the bank. Below Circle City, Alaska, one has to go through what is known as the Yukon Flats. These Flats are eighty miles in diameter and full of islands covered with timber, brush and grass. During the summer months hundreds of thousands of duck and geese are hatched on these islands and just before they began to fly south it is the grandest hunting in that line one ever saw. In the Tanana District wages run as follows: For common labor, five dollars per day and board or eight dollars per day and board yourself. In the mines are the same. Hoisting engineers get from seven to ten dollars per day. At Fairbanks one can get a meal of fish and sometimes different meat order for fifty or seventy-five cents, but usually one dollar per meal. If you want a porter house steak it will cost you from three dollars and seventy-five cents to four dollars and twenty-five cents, doughnuts and a cup of coffee will cost twenty-five cents. No nickels and dimes there four years ago. Wood costs from eight to fifteen dollars per cord. Lots of men make a business cutting wood and make big money out of it. There is a railroad forty miles long at Fairbanks that burns wood for fuel and consumes lots of it. Fairbanks lies in a level country which is great for producing vegetation.
One gardener is making a fortune out of his place with his hot beds. In fact his was the only one there four years ago. There is some good timber in Alaska, but not very good market for it. The greatest coal fields ever known are in Alaska, but have been withdrawn from entry (and it is a good thing too).
Cordova, Alaska, has s Railroad, the Copper River and North Western, one hundred and ninety-seven miles long, located in the south eastern part of the territory, and running to what is known as the Bannay King, which is a large mountain so pure of copper that it is almost impossible to drill. This mine was located by two men and sold for fifty thousand ($50,000) dollars, and there is five million dollars ($5,000,000) in sight now. Alaska is without a doubt, the richest country the United States ever owned and if the Government will only build railroads and develop the mines it would be one of the greatest movements it could possibly do. There is good busting in Alaska such as deer, moose, elk, fox, marten, porcupine, wild rat, hear and wolves.
Harding, A.R.. 3001 Questions and Answers. Columbus, Oh: A.R. Harding, 1913.
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