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Warren C. Wilkins

W. C. WILKINS is the manager of the Seward Peninsula Mining Company. This company is installing a $90,000 dredger this season to operate its extensive holdings on Nome River. The property was well prospected by Mr. Wilkins in order to ascertain the values in the grounds before the large initial expense of building a dredger and transporting it to Nome was incurred. The result of the prospecting fully warrants the heavy preliminary expense of the extensive mining operations proposed. Mr. Wilkins has had an interesting and varied career in Alaska, beginning in the spring of 1897. He was an architect and builder in Philadelphia, Pa., and started for the Klondike in 1897 on a vacation, intending to remain only a few months. While in Dawson he acquired several valuable mining interests and among other properties 49 bench. Bonanza Creek, which has since he relinquished it produced $1 ,000,000. He staked this claim in the spring of '98. He returned to the states in the following fall and went back to Dawson in 1899. In 1900 he made a trip to the head-waters of the Koyukuk. He descended this stream in a rowboat, floating down the Yukon to St. Michael. This trip covered a period of twenty-two days. He had grub-staked a man in Dawson in 1899 to go to Nome, and through this grub-stake arrangement acquired some property on Dexter and Glacier Creeks, which he still holds.

Mr. Wilkins perceived from the beginning of his connection with the Nome country that capital was required to accomplish undertakings of any magnitude. The individual miner might find a rich pay-streak and succeed in taking out a large quantity of gold dust, but instances of this kind were the exception rather than the rule. His in- vestigations of the mineral deposits of the peninsula satisfied him that the most successful operations were to be conducted with the aid of modern mining machinery. After mining in a desultory sort of way and with indifferent success during the seasons of 1901 -'02-'03, he went to Philadelphia and in the spring of 1904 organized the Seward Peninsula Mining Company in that city. This company purchased the holdings of the Nome River and New York Hydraulic Mining Company which owned 1,280 acres of mining ground on Nome River above the mouth of Dexter Creek. During the summer of 1904 Mr. Wilkins prospected this ground with a keystone drill and having satisfied himself of the values which it contained, by persistence and hard work succeeded in securing the necessary funds to work upon this property by what he considered the best and most feasible method. He expects to demonstrate the accuracy of his judgment and the success of the big undertaking before the close of navigation this year.

Mr. Wilkins has endured the hardships of the Alaskan prospector. He has traveled over the uncertain trails of Seward Peninsula in the early days, and has "mushed" through the blinding blizzard when the compass was his only guide. During the winter of 1 902-'03 he made a memorable trip from Nome to Inmachuk River. During this trip he encountered the severest weather ever experienced since the discovery of gold in the Nome country. Several prospectors were frozen stiff and stark on the trail during this winter, and Mr. Wilkins narrowly escaped the same fate. Several dogs in his team became exhausted, and had to be cut out of the harness and left to perish in the merciless storm; and only by the exercise of extraordinary will, that forced his weary limbs to trudge onward at a time when weariness made death desirable, was he saved from the mortality list of the unfortunates who have succumbed to the blizzards of this country. Sixty days were consumed in the round-trip from Nome to Inmachuk River and Candle City, and while this distance can be covered in a 300-mile journey, Mr. Wilkins estimates that he traveled not less than 600 miles. One that has not traveled over the wilderness in a blinding snow storm when the thermometer is away below zero can not realize the difficulty of holding a course. A person that becomes bewildered in a blizzard frequently travels in a circle. The cold, cutting wind forces the traveler to make many detours in an effort to pursue his journey so that he may obtain the protecting shelter of the hills and mountains. These conditions make a winter trip in the Arctic region longer and more arduous than it otherwise would be.

Mr. Wilkins was the first man that ever went from Haines Mission across to the Yukon with a pack train. His first trip in Alaska was made by this route. He took. ten horses with him, and before reaching his destination was compelled to kill several of the animals for food for himself and companions. He was accompanied by three men and an Indian who had adopted Lieut. Schwatka's name. The men who have braved the dangers of an unknown trail in Alaska deserve success, not merely the success of a competence, but the success of a fortune.

W. C. Wilkins was born at Mt. Pleasant, Pa., and educated at the Mt. Pleasant Classic and Scientific Institute. He was equipped for the profession of civil engineering, land for a period of twelve years was an architect and builder in the city of Philadelphia, at one time handling contracts aggregating $1,000,000 annually. Notwithstanding this experiences on the trail, he still bears the evidence of youth. He has a splendid ' physique and a prepossessing personality. With native intelligence he has the polish of education, and carries with him the atmosphere of an early environment of refinement and culture.  

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

 

 



 


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