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Captain William E. Geiger

CAPTAIN GEIGER is one of the best known men in the North- land. He went to Alaska first in 1894, and was on the Yukon in the early days, the days of the Yukon pioneers.

Captain Geiger was born in Marion County, Ohio, June 14, 1865. In 1887 he followed the advice of Horace Greeley and went west. In 1894 he started for Alaska. The object of his trip was to mine, and he went equipped with a dredger, which he took over the Chilkoot Pass, using a block and tackle to transport the heavy machinery over this difficult pass. At Caribou Crossing he sawed timber with which to equip his dredger, and began work mining on Cassiar Bar on the upper Yukon. These mining operations were stopped by high water and Captain Geiger was then employed by the N. A. T. & T. Co. as master of the steamer P. B. Weare. In the capacity of captain of the N. A. T. & T. Co.'s river steamers, he navigated the Yukon until 1899. He unloaded the first expedition of prospectors at the mouth of Indian Creek, twenty-five miles above the Klondike.

After the Klondike strike he acquired interests in the Dawson country and incidentally did some work as a miner. Reports from the Nome camp induced him to quit the Yukon Territory in 1 899 and join the stampede to the new diggings on American soil. After he arrived in Nome he saw the necessity of a bridge across Snake River, and also saw the opportunity of making some money by constructing a bridge across this stream. The serious difficulty that he had to overcome was the lack of suitable lumber in the camp for building the bridge. He did not have any money, his total assets consisting of four dogs, but he did not consider this an impediment to the enterprise. With his dog team he gathered drift-wood on the Nome beach, and began the work of building the bridge. The bridge was finished and ready for transportation by the opening of navigation in 1900. Its construction cost $19,000, and that sum represented Captain Geiger's indebtedness. In forty-two days after the first steamer landed in Nome, 1900, he did not owe a dollar -- the bridge had paid for itself. During the season of 1900 he built two bridges across Nome River, but both of these structures were carried out by the floods resulting from the heavy storms of that season. The largest traffic over the Snake River bridge was on June 21, 1900, when the receipts were $1,013. Captain Geiger never exacted any toll of women and children. This bridge was a mint in 1900, yielding an immense revenue. Captain Geiger sold this property in 1902, and the bridge was subsequently bought by the City of Nome.

Captain Geiger left Nome for Valdez during this year and expended considerable money in Valdez in the construction of a wharf, which he subsequently sold. After the Tanana strike he went to Fairbanks, and has since made several trips to this region of Alaska.

Captain Geiger possesses the qualities conspicuous in most of the Yukon pioneers -- liberal to prodigality, frankly and bluntly honest, energetic and hopeful, and believes in the innate goodness of human nature. He has many friends in all parts of Alaska.

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

 

 



 


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