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Henry J. Dieter

HENRY J. DIETER is a well-known mine owner and operator of Seward Peninsula whose connection with this industry in this part of Alaska dates from the fall of 1 900. He went to Dawson in 1 898, where he was engaged in mining for two years. He came down the Yukon to Nome in 1 900, and his practical knowledge of the mining business, good judgment and foresight enabled him to acquire some valuable properties in the Nome country.

Mr. Dieter was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, October 15, 1862. His father was the proprietor of the oldest shoe establishment in Minnesota, and the son acquired a thorough knowledge of this branch of the mercantile business, with which he was associated until he was twenty-three years old. At the age of twenty-three he went west and engaged in quartz mining in Lower California and Arizona. He resided I five years at Mercur, Utah, where he learned the cyanide process, the method in vogue I there for treating low-grade gold ores. Subsequently he went to the Northwest and prospected in Rossland, British Columbia. He was in this region during a period of two years, and sold two good prospects, which were subsequently developed into fine dividend properties. At a later date he was connected with the construction of the Great Northern Railroad. In the early nineties he returned to Utah, and at this early date (became interested in Alaska. A man showed him some nuggets that had come out of I the Forty-Mile country. When he heard the news of the Klondike strike in 1897, he started immediately for the northern gold field. He got over the pass that season, but was compelled to make a winter camp on Lake Bennett. He returned to St. Paul that winter and again started for Dawson in February, arriving at his destination June 11. To borrow his own language, he "never made a big thing in Dawson, but met with fair success." He came near striking it rich in a fraction off 28 above Bonanza. He made a pepper box of his location, but failed to find pay in any of the many holes that he sunk. After he sold the property a "lucky Swede" located the pay-streak and extracted gold dust to the value of $380,000. Mr. Dieter was in possession of a good claim on Dominion Creek, but could not get a title. Some of the Canadian officials also knew the value of the property.

He had sent a man to Nome in 1 899, and disgusted with his failure to obtain a title to properties which rightfully belonged to him, he resolved to follow him and apply his efforts in a region where he had the protection of Uncle Sam's laws. En route to Nome he stopped at Circle and Rampart, and was favorably impressed with this part of Alaska. Arriving in Nome late in the season of 1900, he learned that property had been staked for him on the Bluestone in the Port Clarence country. Prospecting this property, he obtained pans of gravel that yielded as much as $313 the pan. He was highly elated with his prospects, and believed that at last he had struck the right kind of pay-streak. But the pay was in pockets, and the result of operation was not commensurate with the alluring prospects. He mined successfully two seasons on a claim at the mouth of Alder Creek. He is the discoverer of a big ledge in this vicinity which appeared to possess the possibility of a great mine. This ledge is eighteen feet wide and composed of calcite and quartz kidneys. From twenty-five cents to fifty cents the pan have been taken from the gouge.

Before leaving Dawson he was shown stream tin from the York region, and after arriving in the Nome country he kept men in this part of the peninsula prospecting for tin ledges. The result of this prospecting has been the location of a large number of tin claims on Cape Mountain. Mr. Dieter has great faith in the tin prospects in this particular locality, and believes that the ledges which have been discovered will go down and carry continuous values. There is a vein on his property nine feet wide and the average of assays made of this ore show a value of fourteen per cent tin. In the fall of 1903 John E. Burton, one of the most successful and best known mine promoters of the United States, wired Mr. Dieter, who was then in Seattle, to come to Milwaukee. He went, and the result of this trip was the organization of the United States-Alaskan Tin Mining Company, which has been successfully financed. The company owns twenty tin claims which have every indication of being among the most valuable tin properties of Alaska.

This company is erecting a ten-stamp mill, 100 horse-power engine, Wilfley concentrating tables, electric drills, assay office, etc., on this property this spring, there being ore enough in sight to operate a mill of even greater capacity indefinitely. This company deserves especial credit for being the first to mine and smelt commercial tin! for the market from United States soil, as arrangements have been completed for the erection of a smelter at Seattle, Washington, this summer for the smelting of all the ore from this mine.

Besides owning a number of promising gold mines on Seward Peninsula, Mr. Dieter is interested in the vast cinnabar deposits on the Kuskokwim River. An incorporated company has also been formed by Mr. Dieter the past winter in Detroit, Michigan, composed of financially strong mining men to erect a large plant on this immense property early this year, and it is confidently believed that very soon this property will become a factor in the quicksilver market.

He became a Benedict last spring. Mrs. Dieter was formerly Miss Blanche Seepluch, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a broad-gauge man, a genial companion and a good citizen. His character is full of the sunshine that infuses light and happiness into the lives of those who are his associates.  

Source: Nome and Seward Peninsula by R. S. Harrison. Seattle: The Metropolitan Press, 1905.




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