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Richard S. Ryan

Prominently identified with civic endeavor in the earliest history of Nome and with early mining operations in this part of the peninsula, R. S. Ryan is one of the best known of the pioneers of this country. He was born in the City of Waterford, Ireland, in 1861, and was educated at the famous Clinquowes Wood College, at which he attained the highest honors. He adopted the profession of engineering and entered his father's office. His father was at that time the head of the great contracting firm of John Ryan & Sons.

R. S. Ryan went to the United States in 1 88 1 , and immediately engaged in the railway contracting business, building in part the Elkhorn and Missouri Valley Railroad, the Cheyenne and Northern Railway, the Colorado and Western, the Union Pacific, Denver and Gulf, and many branch lines.

In 1889 Mr. Ryan obtained options on a great tract of land of 3,500 acres, lying between Jersey City and Newark, and known as the "Jersey Meadows." He planned with the assistance of his associates a great manufacturing city. The work undertaken involved an expenditure of more than $50,000,000. This money was partly raised in London, but the failure of the famous banking house of Baring Brothers at this time, and the great panic of 1893 forced the syndicate to allow the project to lapse with a large monetary loss to themselves.

Mr. Ryan returned to the West, and in 1897 organized the Blue Star Navigation Company for the transaction of business in Alaska. In 1899 he landed in Nome, the first citizen from the "outside" to step on the golden shores which have since proved to prolific in their wealth. Since that day Mr. Ryan has been closely identified with the growth and progress of the country. He was elected chairman of the Anvil Townsite Committee, the first organization effected for the government or regulation of Nome. He has always evinced a public spirit in all matters pertaining to the future of the country. In the fall of 1900 an attempt was made to incorporate the city. The measure failed to receive the necessary two-third vote and was consequently defeated. Mr. Ryan was a candidate for councilman at this election, and received the highest vote cast for any of the nominees, and would have been Nome's first mayor if incorporation had carried. He was urged to permit his name to go before the people at the municipal election five months later, when incorporation was carried. He declined to become a candidate, and has continued in the walk of a private citizen until selected in 1904 as a delegate from Nome to Washington. He was a member of the health committee of the Chamber of Commerce in the early days of Nome, and was secretary of the relief committee that was organized during the winter of 1901-'02.

Mr. Ryan's work in Washington has been helpful to the Nome country and creditable to himself. His knowledge of Alaskan affairs is accurate and the material that he furnished to congressmen who have shown an interest in our part of the world has been of great aid in securing needed legislation.  

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




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