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THE CLONDYKE.

ADVICE AND INFORMATION BY A MAN FROM THE YUKON.

Knowing the great interest taken in the Clondyke goldfield?, and having heard that Sir Frank Montgomery, of the s.s. Monowai, had recently returned from the Yukon River, Alaska Territory, a representative of this paper waited upon him and obtained the following information : Mr Montgomery's last employment in Alaska was on the Alaska Commercial Company's steamer Bertha, which traded from St. Michael's Island, at the month of tho Yukon, to a point known as the " Korty Mile," about 200 miles from Dawson City. What is now known as Dawson City did not exist when Mr Montgomery left the Yukon, but there were numbers of prospectors going up the river and over the ranges, and reports of rich gold discoveries in the waters of the Upper Yukon were comiog to band. There were also a large number of British and American miners making good livings by finding gold pockets on the banks of the Yukon. Mr Montgomery was working for one season in the Treadwill mine, on Douglas Island, opposite the city of Jeneau. This mine, which is considered one of the lichest in the world, was discovered about ten years ago, and since that time a batttry of 240 head of stampers has been in constant operation. There are several other well-known mines in Alaska, some of them having been worked for years.

When Mr Montgomery left the Yukon River there was only one stem-wheeler, called the Haytian Republic, going up the river, and she could only accommodate between three and four hundred passengers, and he does not know how it will be possible for the crowds of miners from all parts of the world to be taken up tho Yukon. For a great number of years it has been expectid that gold would be found on the tributaries of the Yukon, and the Alaska Commercial Company, who hold the key of the situation; will probably reap tha greatest benefit from the recent discoveries. To reach Clondyke from New Zealand the shortest way is to go to "Vancouver, thence via the Gulf of Georgia through Seymour Kapids and across Queen Charlotte Sounds into the inland Sea of Alaska as far as Chilkoot Pass. Chilkoot Pass, which is the furthest Mr Montgomery has been, is 3,oooffc and the key of the new goldfields ; and although to us New Zealand 3.000 ft is anything but a formidable barrier, Mr Montgomery says that a range 3,000 ft high in the Arctic Circle is a serious obstacle, and cannot be attempted without, snow-shoes and preparations somewhat similar to those which Dr Nausen had to make prior to his voyage in search of the North Pole. As far as is known Chilkoot Pass has never been -tern without several feet of snow upon it.

From "Vancouver the Pacific Coast Steam Navigation Company's tteamere City of Topeka and City of Mexico are always running in the Yukon trade, a third, the Queen, being put on during the tourist season. After crossing Chlkoot Pass the prospector finds his way barred by lake 3 which supply the head waters of the Yukon, and these, in Mr Montgomery's time, could only be crossed on rafts. During the winter the miners in Alaska are occupied in chopping wood, the wood being afterwards piled in blocks of about 30ft square. At the beginning of spring these bTocks are fired for the purpose of thawing the frozen ground. The dirt is then paddocked and washed out when the water comes down in the summer.

Mr Montgomery says that he would advise only single men to try the Alaska Territory, and they should have a stock of at least a year's provisions with them. When he left tho Yukon the Clondyke was never thought o f , the principal trade" for the steamers being the carrying of furs for the Alaska Company. At the same time there were continually coming down the river rumors of very rich finds of gold exceeding hard to get at.

The Yukon and its tributaries are full of salmon, and the Alatk* miners are in the habit of freezing them for winter use. As the place is almost destitute of edible animals the value of the salmon supply cannot be over-estimated. Mr Montgomery says that in the States it is reckoned that the Alaska Territory is the richest mineral country in the world, coal, silver, and iron having been worked there for years, and the Clondyke discoveries show that gold exists' in quantities hitherto not dreamed of. Mr Montgomery had one season with a sealing steamer through Bihring Strait, going as far north as Petropauloski, in Russian Siberia. He considers from his expeiience of Alaska that it would be absolutely useless for any man to reach the Clondyke unless he had £2OO or £3OO ia oash when leaving Vancouver; but he is perfeotly certain that, given funds, health, and energy, wealth can be more easily attained in the Alaska Territory than ia any part of the world.

• 'X he Indians In Alaska are all friendly, but it is a penal offence to give them rum. Wot even the white man in American Alaska is allowed to have spirits in any shape, and the only alcohol found at the Clondyke must be intro> uuced from the Canadian side. Throughout Alaska the Prohibition law is well kept, and apparently is approved by the great majority of the people. When a steamer arrives off the month of any of the big rivers she is immediately boarded by a United States Customs officer, and all the grog is put under seal until she has cleared the land again. Alaska is being gradually prospected, and Mr Montgomery thinks that the origin of the Clondyke goldfield is due to the energv of Germans. Independent of the gold, large fortunes have been made by speculators in furs, and the fishing industry promises ta become important. Th* Alaska Commercial Company, who in reality represent all the British capital in that country, hold the key to the Clondyke field, as their steimera are the only ones which can get up the Yukon to Chilkoot Tass.

Mr Montgomery tells us that the following are the principal routes to the new gnldfields from Victoria, B.C. :-(l) ViaSt. Michael, the longest and theeasiest route. (2) Via Lynn Canal two trails —(a) the Chilkoot trail, from Dyea at the head of Lynn Canal and over Chilkoot Pass ; (b) the White Pass trail. This is a track which has been opened up from Scagwas Bay up a valley sixteen miles, thence to Tajish Lake on the Canadian boundary. It is considerably lower than the Chilkoot Pass, and has what 13 known in New Zealand as a corduroy track. (3) The Stickeen and Taku tracks have been used by prospectors, but not much if known about them. (4) The Edmonton track is the route taken by the Hadson Bay Company's men. It follows the Peace River into the Mackenzie River, and thence to the Porcupine River, the Porcupine being a tributory of the Yukon. In the summer you can rafc down to Dawson City. Mr Montgomery tells us that if he had had the remotest suspicion that the Clondjke diggings would have broken out he would not have left Alaska, but he continually impressed upon our representative the necessity of warning an} 1 - body against trying the new field un'ess they have youth, a robust constitution, energy, and capital. He is perfectly willing to give the fullest information regarding Alaska to anyone •who may be thinking of trying the Clondyko field.

For several years past, Mr Montgomery says, there has been a large tourist traffic from San Frahchco and British Columbia to the Territory, it being considered that the Alaskan glaciers are the finest in the world and the most easily accessible. He thinks that during the next summer the Yukon River and the Vancouver Sounds will be thronged with steamers, but probably only about 10 per cent, of the miners will ever reach the Upper Yukon or Clondyke. When he left the Yukon, before the Clondyke discoveries, provisions were at starvation prices, and he thinks that until the Canadian Railwav is opened it will be impossible to carry enough provisions over the passes to feed the large number of miners now located there.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18971025.2.44

Bibliographic details

THE CLONDYKE., Issue 10453, 25 October 1897

Word Count
1,390

THE CLONDYKE. Issue 10453, 25 October 1897

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