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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 for the winter. At Dutch Harbor he found employment as a cook in the United btates 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.




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