Alexander Campbell Stewart
The men who own the ditches of Seward Peninsula practically control
I the mines of the country. Every man that has a ditch enterprise, projected, under
way, or completed, in this country, has made the most of his opportunities, and is
preparing to make his fortune. Without water the mines cannot be operated, and
without ditches water cannot be got to all the mines.
The young man who is the subject of this sketch came to Nome in the spring of
1900, and to quote his own language, "landed on the beach with $7 and a sprained
ankle." But he possessed the one prerequisite of success in a new country, industry.
From his point of view idleness is a crime, an abhorred something to be shunned. It
is as natural for him to work as it is to partake of food when he is hungry. He has
that nervous, muscular temperament which keeps the mind keyed to concert pitch and
is a constant spur to physical endeavor. It is by work and self-denial and exposure to the
inclemencies of both Arctic summer and winter, by sincerity of purpose and honesty of
methods, that he has been able to accomplish what he has done.
A. C. Stewart is the vice-president and general manager of the Golden Dawn Mining Company, which owns some of the most valuable mining property on Seward Peninsula, and has under construction an extensive ditch on the right limit of Snake River covering a vast area of mineral ground. Mr. Stewart was born January 23, 1874, at
Kingston, Ontario. He is of Scotch parentage and spent his boyhood days in Kingston, Ontario
where, when he was ten years old, he distributed the Kingston daily papers to country
subscribers. At the age of sixteen years he was a sailor on the lakes. When he was
nineteen years old he went to North Michigan and became a prospector in the iron region
He worked in the woods as a lumberman. When twenty-three years old he was in
Montana prospecting and mining. While he was a sailor on the lakes he learned the art
of cooking and baking, and he frequently has followed his avocation as a cook to obtain
funds with which to go prospecting.
Attracted by the news from Nome in 1899. he was one of the early arrivals in the
camp the following spring. His first employment was cooking in a restaurant. The wages
he received were $1.50 an hour. After earning some money, he put a pack on his
back and started for the creeks. He secured some property this season, and started to
go outs.de for the winter. At Dutch Harbor he found employment as a cook in the
United btates Mar.ne Hospital. He filled this position until the hospital closed three
months and a half later, and received from the Government in addition to his salary, a
high recommendation for sobriety, conduct and ability.
In the spring of 1901, he returned to Nome with his brother, J. W. Stewart. They
prospected during the summer season, and having the promise of a grub-stake, made
preparations to remain in the country the ensuing winter. But the last boat sailed, and the
promised grub-stake had not arrived. Mr. Stewart's entire available assets consisted of
forty-two dollars in dust and a tent on his Cooper Gulch Claim. He lived in this tent
during that winter. On February 1, 1902, he was sent to the Arctic slope. It was
one of the severest and worst trips that he ever had in this country. During this trip he
was in a bad blizzard, and for forty-four hours his dog team of eight dogs was buried
under the snow. He had a long weary tramp in search of shelter, and when nearly
exhausted and badly frozen fortunately found a road-house. Experiences like these have
come to many prospectors who were in the Nome country during the early days, and they
are incidents which are branded on the memory of every man who has fought the blizzard
on the trail.
He arrived in Candle City after the arduous and dangerous trip, and found that
there was nothing there for him. He succeeded in borrowing thirty dollars, fifteen of
which he spent for fifty pounds of flour and the other fifteen dollars for a pair of rubber
boots. He got a job working for Baker & Long on Candle Creek at ten dollars the
day, and after working twenty-nine shifts he started in mid-summer to return to Nome with
a pack horse across the peninsula. His guide on this trip was a compass. He refers to
this trip as one of the pleasant experiences of his life, as it gave him an opportunity to
see and examine the country and acquire a better knowledge of it than he previously had.
After he returned to Nome the balance of the season was occupied in doing assessment
work on the property he had previously acquired. He also did some prospecting on Snake
River, and there and then resolved to concentrate his efforts and confine his work to this
part of the peninsula. At that time he owned claims on Cooper Gulch and Holyoke
Creek. Between this date and the spring of 1903, he acquired water rights and secured surveys for the ditch which he now has partially constructed. In 1903 he went
back to Green Bay, Wisconsin, and organized the Golden Dawn Mining Company composed of representative men in that part of the state. A ditch, thirteen miles from Bangor
Creek to Sunset Creek will be finished this year, 1905. Hydraulic elevators will be
installed on the property of the company, and the work of mining by the latest improved
methods will begin.
Source: Nome and Seward Peninsula by R. S.
Harrison. Seattle: The Metropolitan Press, 1905.