was not long after the discovery
of gold on Anvil Creek and other
streams in this neighborhood until most
of the available ground was appropriated for mining purposes. The beach
strike in 1899 furnished profitable employment for all the men in the camp
who were not employed on the creeks
or engaged in business in Nome, but
when winter stopped active mining work
there began a period of exploration and
prospecting in remote parts of the peninsula. Jerry Galvin, who arrived in
Nome from Dawson late in the season
of 1899, was one of the first prospectors to go to the Kougarok District,
the great interior and as yet comparatively undeveloped district of the Nome
White men had been as far
inland as Mary's Igloo, but beyond this
the country was unknown. Jerry Galvin and George Ostrom were the first
white men to enter this unknown region.
Piloted by an Eskimo who told them
he knew where gold could be found,
they went up the Kuzitrin to Idaho
Bar, where prospecting revealed colors in the ruby sand. They were the first white
men to visit the mouth of the Kougarok River. At this place they camped a couple
of days, prospecting in the bars and discovering gold. They went up the Kougarok
as far as the mouth of Windy Creek, but did not go farther because above Windy
Creek there was ho fuel. The only wood in this country is willow, and it is a stunted
growth, attaining a height of only a few feet. A stick with the diameter of a man's
arm is big timber. The winter season of 1899-1900 was the mildest in the recent
history of this country, and the pioneer prospectors did not suffer any great hardships.
While the ground was frozen, they were able to do considerable prospecting, and Mr.
Galvin became convinced that there were pay-streaks in this region where prospects
could be found with so little difficulty in the bars. He worked all winter in this part
of the country, excepting the time spent journeying to and from Nome, 200 miles
by the coast trail, distant from his camp in the solitude of the treeless hills, for the
purpose of obtaining food supplies. He found a pay-streak which has yielded as much
as $225 the pan, and he has since discovered other pay-streaks, and therein is
compensation. He is the discoverer of gold on the Kougarok, and one of the pioneer
miners in this district.
Jerry Galvin is a native of Wisconsin, and was born in Eau Claire April 22, 1869.
The family moved to Michigan, and he was educated in the public schools of that
state. He began life for himself at the age of sixteen in railroad work on the Soo line,
beginning as a freight brakeman, and going through the list of promotion for efficient
service, until he was a passenger conductor. In this last capacity he worked for the
Northern Pacific for twelve years. After he was promoted to freight conductor on
the Duluth, Superior and Western Road, he had charge of the construction train on
his division, and it was here that he learned a lot of useful lessons about expeditious
and economical methods of handling earth, which he has found of great value in
mining. In railroading he was both successful and fortunate, and he never had an
accident during his entire career as conductor.
In 1898 the microbe that causes the gold fever got into his system, and he quit
the business in which, by years of work and painstaking attention to details he had
become proficient, and started for Dawson. He acquired a bench claim off Upper
Discovery on Dominion Creek, and mined it successfully until the latter part of the
season of 1899, when he sold it and came down the Yukon on the last boat down the
river, arriving in Nome in October. His first experience after arriving in Nome was
a thrilling adventure on Sledge Island where he and a party of prospectors were
marooned for twelve days. The story of this experience will be found on another
page of this book. Soon after this adventure he and George Ostrom got a dog
team and started for the Kougarok, where as told in a preceding paragraph, he spent
the winter. He staked Discovery claim on the Kougarok March 2, 1900. During
the winter he made two trips to Nome. On the third journey back to this region he
was accompanied by Griff Yarnell, and they crossed over to the Arctic slope.
The next spring he and Martin Dahl, Griff Yarnell and Al. Kerry went over
the ground to fix up the stakes, which could not be put in the ground properly in the
winter time. They stopped for lunch on a bar of Quartz Creek, where panning showed
values of from five to fifty cents the pan.
Mr. Galvin went up the creek to the confluence of a small tributary. He washed
out some gravel on his shovel and found coarse gold. This was the discovery of
gold on Dahl Creek, now the most famous creek of this district. This is the pay-streak
where $225 was obtained from one pan of gravel picked out of the frozen ground.
During the subsequent seasons Mr. Galvin has mined in this district, principally on
Dahl Creek. Notwithstanding the short seasons and the difficulty of getting supplies
into the country have been a serious handicap, a large quantity of gold dust has come
out of the Dahl Creek claims.
Mr. Galvin has a host of friends in the Northland. Being a young man, he
is not in appearance the type of a pioneer, but he lacks nothing in character to deprive
him of the appellation. Generous, affable and kind-hearted, he deserves the good
fortune that does not come to all the men who blaze the trails.
Source: Nome and Seward Peninsula by R. S.
Harrison. Seattle: The Metropolitan Press, 1905.