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Edward R. Dunn

In the history of the United States the outposts of civilization have been planted, beginning with the Virginia and Massachusetts colonies and following the star of empire until they reached the Pacific Ocean. During all these days we had a frontier, a border-land between civilization and the wilderness. The period of this frontier is rapidly passing, and when it is entirely gone the type of men it produced will be only a memory of the Nation. It cannot be longer said that there is a frontier in the West. Railroads and telegraph and telephone lines cross the plains, wind through canyons and stretch over mountains, and civilization is busy building cities where fifty years ago the buffalo roamed in countless numbers, building cities where once was the heart of an ancient forest, building cities where the scorching sands of the arid desert have been fructified by irrigation and converted into orchards and gardens. Up here in Northwestern Alaska is the extreme out-post of civilization in the United States. Civilization has marched westward to the Pacific, and at a single bound has gone northward beyond the Arctic Circle. We are on the frontier, but it is not like the frontier a quarter of a century ago. We have brought with us the accessories of civilization. The frontiersmen were here before the discovery of gold, before we had steamship lines and telegraph and telephone lines and railroads, and burned hard coal in base burners and illuminated the darkness of the long winter nights with electric lights.

Ed. R. Dunn is a type of the successful man who has spent thirty years in the vanguard of the army of civilization. He has prospected and mined from Central America to the country north of the Yukon. He has crossed the desert, and has seen the time when a canteen of water would out-value a mountain of gold. He has suffered from privations and hunger in the remote fastnesses of the wilderness, and has traveled in the Northland where the dangers of the blizzard and intense cold are always imminent. He prefers the cold of the Arctic to the heat of the desert.

Mr. Dunn was born in the city of New York October 3, 1858. His parents emigrated from Ireland to this country. Mr. Dunn's boyhood days were spent in New York, but at the age of sixteen he left home and went to Texas, where he rode the range as a cowboy. He mined in Colorado and New Mexico, and when twenty-one was a subcontractor on the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad in New Mexico and Arizona. But with the exception of a short period of his life spent in the construction work of railroads, he has been a prospector and miner for a quarter of a century. Mexico, Arizona. New Mexico, Colorado, California. Montana, Idaho and Alaska are countries in which he has prospected and mined. In !879-'80 he operated extensively in Leadville, and made a big poke, but there have been lots of times, to use his own expressive words, when he "had no more money than a jackrabbit." He and his brother rode across the desert from Bradshaw Mountains to San Diego, Cal., a distance of about 800 miles. The greatest distance between watering places on this trip was seventy miles. In '83 Mr. Dunn made another long horseback trip, riding from Prescott, Arizona, to Portland, Oregon. He has had three narrow escapes from death on the desert, and on one occasion when thirst had driven him and his companion almost crazy, they found water by following coyote tracks into a little hollow in the scorching hills.

In the spring of 1898 Mr. Dunn went to Dawson over the Chilkoot Pass, and mined on Gold Hill. The following year he came down the river to Nome, arriving June 28, 1899. The next day after his arrival he leased No. 5 Anvil creek, and on June 30 started the first pack train across the tundra with supplies and sluice-boxes to begin work on the Anvil property. He paid twenty-five cents a pound for transportation of this outfit to its destination, a distance of four miles. His was the fifth set of sluice-boxes set up in the Nome District, the other boxes being on 6, 7, and 8 Anvil and No. 2 Snow Gulch He operated on Anvil Creek during the season of '99. In August of this year he left the work in charge of a foreman and went to Seattle, where he purchased thirty-five head of cattle, 108 sheep, a span of horses, lumber for a house and a quantity of general supplies. This cargo was shipped on the Laurada, and the vessel was wrecked on St. George Island Sept 20, while enroute to Nome, and while some of the cargo was removed to the island, shippers sustained nearly a total loss. A small number of Mr. Dunn's stock are reported to be alive and running wild on the island at this date.

He did not complete the journey to Nome, but returned to Seattle on the Townsend. The following season, 1900. he came to Nome, bringing ten head of horses, four wagons and a complete equipment for mining. In 1899 and 1900 he acquired consider- able property in the Council and Nome Mining Districts, and since then has devoted most of h.s time to operations on Ophir Creek. He has a six-mile ditch conveying water to his bench property on Ophir Creek, and operates by means of hydraulic and ground-sluicing methods, and has enough ground in this district for many years of work. His son Ed R Uunn , r owns a quarter interest in the famous Snowflake Mine on the hill between Dexter and Anvil Creeks. The young man shows a natural aptitude for mining, and in 1902 in he early spring before the arrival of his father, cleaned out the ditches and made all the preliminary arrangements for sluicing the Snowflake dump. The snow was melting, and the precious water was running to waste, so he took the initiative, and did the work as well as an experienced miner. He was only sixteen years old at this time, but he has al- ready shown an ability to handle men, originality in methods of work and an independence of character which are usually associated with persons of mature years. The young man is now attending a preparatory school in Oakland, California, and will take the course of mining engineering ,n the State University at Berkeley. He will begin his technical work with a pretty good practical knowledge of mining .

Mr. Dunn came to Nome from Seattle via Dawson over the .ce He accomplished the trip in fifty-eight days. In the latter part of 1903 he and others bought a quartz mine in Chihuahua, Mexico. The mine is a valuable property and has proved to be a good investment. Ed. Dunn is a miner, a man of broad ideas and generous impulses. With the directness of manner and speech characteristic of the West, he has the polish of the gentleman. His is the kind of character that in success or adversity remains unchanged, and impels him to make the most of life no matter what the environment is. What he has accomplished is due to work, to the execution of plans that required untiring industry. If this brief sketch has indicated a predominant trait of character, it is the disposition and ability to work.

September 23, 1885, Ed. R. Dunn and Miss Abbie Sullivan were married in Butte, Montana. The issue of this marriage has been three children, only one of whom, the eldest son, born in April, 1887, survives. Mrs. Dunn has shared the hardships and privations of her husband's work. She has accompanied him on prospecting trips, has beer, his helpmate in adversity, and a faithful companion through all the years of their married life.

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

 

 

 



 


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