Alaska : The Great Country
by Ella Higginson
Inspired by the important discoveries of this expedition
and by the hope of a profitable fur trade with China,
various Russian traders and adventurers, known as
" promyshleniki," made voyages into the newly discovered
regions, pressing eastward island by island, and year by
year ; beginning that long tale of cruelty and bloodshed
in the Aleutian Islands which has not yet reached an end.
Men as harmless as the pleading, soft-eyed seals were
butchered as heartlessly and as shamelessly, that their
stocks of furs might be appropriated and their women
ravished. In 1745 Alexei Beliaief and ten men inveigled
fifteen Aleutians into a quarrel with the sole object of
killing them and carrying off their women. In 1762, the
crew of the Gravril persuaded twenty-five young Aleutian
girls to accompany them " to pick berries and gather roots
for the ship's company." On the Kamchatkan coast
several of the crew and sixteen of these girls were landed
to pick berries. Two of the girls made their escape into
the hills; one was killed by a sailor; and the others cast
themselves into the sea and were drowned. Gavril
Pushkaref, who was in command of the vessel, ordered
that all the remaining natives, with the exception of one
boy and an interpreter, should be thrown overboard and
These are only two instances of the atrocious outrages
perpetrated upon these innocent and childlike people by
the brutal and licentious traders who have frequented
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these far beautiful islands from 1745 to the present time.
From year to year now dark and horrible stories float down
to us from the far northwestward, or vex our ears when we
sail into those pale blue water-ways. Nor do they concern " promyshleniki " alone. Charges of the gravest
nature have been made against men of high position who
spend much time in the Aleutian Islands. That these
gentle people have suffered deeply, silently, and shamefully,
at the hands of white men of various nationalities, has
never been denied, nor questioned. It is well known to
be the simple truth. From 1760 to about 1766 the natives
rebelled at their treatment and active hostilities were
carried on. Many Russians were killed, some were
tortured. Solovief, upon arriving at Unalaska and learning the fate of some of his countrymen, resolved to
them. His designs were carried out with unrelenting
cruelty. By some writers, notably Berg, his crimes have
been palliated, under the plea that nothing less than extreme brutality could have so soon reduced the natives to
the state of fear and humility in which they have ever
since remained - failing to take into consideration the
atrocities perpetrated upon the natives for years before
their open revolt.
In 1776 we find the first mention of Grigor Ivanovich
Shelikoff; but it was not until 1781 that he succeeded in
making the first permanent Russian settlement in America,
on Kodiak Island, - forty-three dark and strenuous years
after Vitus Behring saw Mount St. Elias rising out of the
sea. Shelikoff was second only to Baranoff in the early history of Russian
America, and is known as "the founder and father of Russian colonies in
America." His wife, Natalie, accompanied him upon all his voyages. She was a
woman of very unusual character, energetic and ambitious, and possessed of great business and executive
ability. After her husband's death, her management for
164 ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY
many years of not only her own affairs, but those of the
Shelikoff Company as well, reflected great credit upon
It was the far-sighted Shelikoff who suggested and carried
out the idea of a monopoly of the fur trade in Russian
America under imperial charter. As a result of his
forceful presentation of this scheme and the able - and
doubtless selfish - assistance of General Jacobi, the governor-general of Eastern Siberia, the Empress became
interested. In 1788 an imperial ukase was issued, granting to the Shelikoff Company exclusive control of the
territory already occupied by them. Assistance from the
public coffers was at that time withheld; but the Empress
graciously granted to Shelikoff and his partner, Golikof,
swords and medals containing her portrait. The medals
were to be worn around their necks, and bore inscriptions
explaining that they " had been conferred for services
rendered to humanity by noble and bold deeds."
Although Shelikoff greatly preferred the pecuniary
assistance from the government, he nevertheless accepted
with a good grace the honor bestowed, and bided his time
In accordance with commands issued by the commander
at Ohkotsk and by the Empress herself, Shelikoff adopted
a policy of humanity in his relations with the natives,
although it is suspected that this was on account of his
desire to please the Empress and work out his own designs,
rather than the result of his own kindness of heart.
With the clearness of vision which distinguished his
whole career, Shelikoff selected Alexander Baranoff as his
agent in the territory lying to the eastward of Kodiak.
In Voskressenski, or Sunday, Harbor - now Resurrection
Bay, on which the town of Seward is situated - Baranoff
built in 1794 the first vessel to glide into the waters of
Northwestern America - the Phoenix. At the request of
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Shelikoff a colony of two hundred convicts, accompanied
by twenty priests, were sent out by imperial ukase, and
established at Yakutat Bay, under Baranoff. During the
years that followed many complaints were entered by the
clerg-y against Baranoff for cruelty, licentiousness, and
mismanagement of the company's affairs. But, whatever
his faults may have been, it is certain that no man could
have done so much for the promotion of the company's
interests at that time as Baranoff; nor could any other so
efficiently have conducted its affairs.
It was during his governorship that the rose of success
bloomed brilliantly for the Russian-American Company
in the colonies. He was a shrewd, tireless, practical
business man. His successors were men distinguished in
army and navy circles, haughty and patrician, but abso-
lutely lacking in business ability, and ignorant of the
unique conditions and needs of the country.
After Baranoff's resignation and death, the revenues of
the company rapidly declined, and its vast operations were
conducted at a loss.
It was in 1791 that Baranoff assumed command of all the
establishments on the island of the Shelikoff Company which, under imperial
patronage, had already secured a partial monopoly of the American fur trade. Owing to competition by
independent traders, the large company, after the death of
Shelikoff, united with its most influential rival, under the
name of the Shelikoff United Company. The following
year this company secured an imperial ukase which granted
to it, under the name of the Russian-American Company,
" full privileges, for a period of twenty years, on the coast
of Northwestern America, beginning from latitude fifty-five degrees North, and including the chain of islands
extending from Kamchatka northward to America and
southward to Japan ; the exclusive right to all enterprises,
whether hunting, trading, or building, and to new discoveries,
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with strict prohibition from profiting by any of these
pursuits, not only to all parties who might engage in them
on their own responsibility, but also to those who formerly
had ships and establishments there, except those who have
united with the new company."
In the same year a fort was established by Baranoff, on
what is now Sitka Sound. This was destroyed by natives ;
and in 1804 another fort was erected by Baranoff, near the
site of the former one, which he named Fort Archangel
Michael. This fort is the present Sitka. Its establishment enabled the Russian -American Company to extend
its operations to the islands lying southward and along the
We now come to the most fascinating portion of the history of Alaska. Not even the wild and romantic days of
gold excitement in the Klondike can equal Baranoff's reign
at Sitka for picturesqueness and mysterious charm. The
strength and personality of the man were such that today
one who is familiar with his life and story, entering Sitka,
will unconsciously feel his presence ; and will turn, with
a sigh, to gaze upon the commanding height where once
his castle stood.
There were many dark and hopeless days for Baranoff
during his first years with the company, and it was while
in a state of deep discouragement and hopelessness that he
received the news of his appointment as chief manager of
the newly organized Russian-American Company. Most
of his plans and undertakings had failed ; many Russians
and natives had been lost on hunting voyages ; English
and American traders had superseded him at every point
to the eastward of Kodiak ; many of his Aleutian hunters
had been killed in conflict with the savage Thlinkits ; he
had lost a sloop which had been constructed at Voskressenski Bay ; and finally,
he had returned to Kodiak enduring the agonies of inflammatory rheumatism, only
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 167
reproached by the subordinates, who were suffering of actual
hunger - so long had they been without relief from supply
In this dark hour the ship arrived which carried not only
good tidings, but plentiful supplies as well. Baranoff's star
now shone brightly, leading him on to hope and renewed
In the spring of the following year, 1799, Baranoff, with
two vessels manned by twenty-two Russians, and three hundred and fifty canoes, set sail for the eastward. Many of
the natives were lost by foundering of the canoes, and
many more by slaughter at the hands of the Kolosh, but
finally they arrived at a point now known as Old Sitka,
six miles north of the present Sitka, and bartered with the
chief of the natives for a site for a settlement. Captain
Cleveland, whose ship Caroline, of Boston, was then lying
in the harbor, describes the Indians of the vicinity as follows : " A more hideous set of beings in the form of men
and women, I had never before seen. The fantastic manner in which many of the faces were painted was probably
intended to give them a more ferocious appearance ; and
some groups looked really as if they had escaped from the
dominions of Satan himself. One had a perpendicular line
dividing the two sides of the face, one side of which
was painted red, the other black, with the hair daubed
with grease and red ochre, and filled with the down of
birds. Another had the face divided with a horizontal
line in the middle, and painted black and white. The
visage of a third was painted in checkers, etc. Most of
them had little mirrors, .before the acquisition of which
they must have been dependent on each other for those
correct touches of the pencil which are so much in vogue,
and which daily require more time than the toilet of a
These savages were known to be treacherous and
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dangerous, but they pretended to be friendly, and fears were
gradually allayed by continued peace. The story of the
great massacre and destruction of the fort is of poignant
interest, as simply and pathetically told by one of the
survivors, a hunter : " In this present year 1802, about
the twenty-fourth of June - I do not remember the exact
date, but it was a holiday - about two o'clock in the afternoon, I went to the river to look for our calves, as I had
been detailed by the commander of the fort, Vassili Medvednikof, to take care of the cattle. On returning soon
after, I noticed at the fort a great multitude of Kolosh
people, who had not only surrounded the barracks below,
but were already climbing over the balcony and to the
roof with guns and cannon ; and standing upon a little
knoll in front of the out-houses, was the Sitka toyon, or
chief, Mikhail, giving orders to those who were around the
barracks, and shouting to some people in canoes not far
away, to make haste and assist in the fight. In answer
to his shouts sixty-two canoes emerged from behind the
points of rocks." (One is inclined to be skeptical concerning the exact number of canoes ; the frightened hunter
would scarcely pause to count the war canoes as they
rounded the point.) " Even if I had reached the barracks,
they were already closed and barricaded, and there was no
safety outside ; therefore, I rushed away to the cattle yard,
where I had a gun. I only waited to tell a girl who was
employed in the yard to take her little child and fly to the
woods, when, seizing my gun, I closed up the shed. Very
soon after this four Kolosh came to the door and knocked
three times. As soon as I ran out of the shed, they seized
me by the coat and took my gun from me. I was compelled to leave both in their hands, and jumping through
a window, ran past the fort and hid in the thick underbrush
of the forest, though two Kolosh ran after me, but could
not find me in the woods. Soon after, I emerged from
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the underbrush, and approached the barracks to see if the
attack had been repulsed, but I saw that not only the
barracks, but the ship recently built, the warehouse and
the sheds, the cattle sheds, bath house and other small
buildings, had been set on fire and were already in full
blaze. The sea-otter skins and other property of the
company, as well as the private property of Medvednikof
and the hunters, the savages were throwing from the balcony to the ground on the water side, while others seized
them and carried them to the canoes, which were close to
the fort. . . . All at once I saw two Kolosh running toward
me armed with guns and lances, and I was compelled to
hide again in the woods. I threw myself down among
the underbrush on the edge of the forest, covering myself
with pieces of bark. From there I saw Nakvassin drop
from the upper balcony and run toward the woods ; but
when nearly across the open space he fell to the ground,
and four warriors rushed up and carried him back to the
barracks on the points of their lances and cut off his head.
Kabanof was dragged from the barracks into the street,
where the Kolosh pierced him with their lances ; but how
the other Russians who were there came to their end, I do
not know. The slaughter and incendiarism were continued
by the savages until the evening, but finally I stole out
among the ruins and ashes, and in my wanderings came
across some of our cows, and saw that even the poor dumb
animals had not escaped the bloodthirsty fiends, having
spears stuck in their sides. Exercising all my strength,
I was barely able to pull out some of the spears, when I
was observed by two Kolosh, and compelled to leave the
cows to their fate and hide again in the woods.
" I passed the night not far from the ruins of the fort.
In the morning I heard the report of a cannon and
looked out of the brush, but could see nobody, and not
wishing to expose myself again to further danger, went
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higher up in the mountain through the forest. While
advancing cautiously through the woods, I met two other
persons who were in the same condition as myself, - a
girl from the Chiniatz village, Kodiak, with an infant on
her breast, and a man from the Kiliuda village, who had
been left behind by the hunting party on account of
sickness. I took them both with me to the mountain,
but each night I went with my companions to the ruins
of the fort and bewailed the fate of the slain. In this
miserable condition we remained for eight days, with
nothing to eat and nothing but water to drink. About
noon of the last day we heard from the mountain two
cannon-shots, which raised some hopes in me, and I told
my companions to follow me at a little distance, and then
went down toward the river through the woods to hide
myself near the shore and see whether there was a ship
in the bay."
He discovered, to his unspeakable joy, an English ship
in the bay. Shouting to attract the attention of those
on board, he was heard by six Kolosh, who made their
way toward him and had almost captured him ere he
saw them and made his escape in the woods. They
forced him to the shore at a point near the cape, where
he was able to make himself heard by those on the vessel.
A boat put off at once, and he was barely able to leap
into it when the Kolosh, in hot pursuit, came in sight
again. When they saw the boat, they turned and fled.
When the hunter had given an account of the massacre
to the commander of the vessel, an armed boat was sent
ashore to rescue the man and girl who were in hiding.
They were easily located and, with another Russian who
was found in the vicinity, were taken aboard and supplied with food and clothing.
The commander himself then accompanied them, with
armed men, to the site of the destroyed fort, where they
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examined and buried the dead. They found that all
but Kabanof had been beheaded.
Three days later the chief, Mikhail, went out to the
ship, was persuaded to go aboard, and with his nephew
was held until all persons captured during the massacre
and still living had been surrendered. The prisoners
were given up reluctantly, one by one; and when it was
believed that all had been recovered, the chief and his
nephew were permitted to leave the ship.
The survivors were taken to Kodiak, where the humane
captain of the ship demanded of Baranoff a compensation
of fifty thousand roubles in cash. Baranoff, learning that
the captain's sole expense had been in feeding and clothing
the prisoners, refused to pay this exorbitant sum ; and after
long wrangling it was settled for furs worth ten thousand
Accounts of the massacre by survivors and writers of
that time vary somewhat, some claiming that the massacre
was occasioned by the broken faith and extreme cruelty
of the Russians in their treatment of the savages; others,
that the Sitkans had been well treated and that Chief Mikhail had falsely
pretended to be the warm and faithful friend of Baranoff, who had placed the fullest confidence in him.
Baranoff was well-nigh broken-hearted by his new and
terrible misfortune. The massacre had been so timed
that the most of the men of the fort were away on
a hunting expedition; and Baranoff himself was on
Afognak Island, which is only a few hours' sail from
Kodiak. Several Kolosh women lived at the fort with
Russian men; and these women kept their tribesmen
outside informed as to the daily conditions within the
garrison. On the weakest day of the fort, a holiday, the
Kolosh had, therefore, suddenly surrounded it, armed
with guns, spears, and daggers, their faces covered with
masks representing animals.
172 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
About this time Krusenstern and Lisiansky sailed
from Kroustadt, in the hope - which was fulfilled - of
being the first to carry the Russian flag around the
world. Lisiansky arrived at Kodiak, after many hardships, only to receive a written request from Baranoff to
proceed at once to Sitka and assist him in subduing the
savages and avenging the officers and men lost in the fearful massacre. On the 15th of August, 1804, he therefore sailed to eastward, and on the twentieth of the
same month entered Sitka Sound. The day must have
been gloomy and Lisiansky's mood in keeping with the
day, for he thus describes a bay which is, under favorable
conditions, one of the most idyllically beautiful imaginable : " On our entrance into Sitka Sound to the place
where we now were, there was not to be seen on the shore
the least vestige of habitation. Nothing presented itself
to our view but impenetrable woods reaching from the
water-side to the very tops of the mountains. I never
saw a country so wild and gloomy; it appeared more
adapted for the residence of wild beasts than of men."
Shortly afterward Baranoff arrived in the harbor with
several hundred Aleutians and many Russians, after a
tempestuous and dangerous voyage from Yakutat, the
site of the convict settlement. He learned that the
savages had taken up their position on a bluff a few
miles distant, where they had fortified themselves. This
bluff was the noble height upon which Baranoff's castle
was afterward erected, and which commands the entire
bay upon which the Sitka of today is located. Lisiansky,
in his " Voyage around the World," describes the Indians'
fort as " an irregular polygon, its longest side facing the
sea. It was protected by a breastwork two logs in thick-
ness, and about six feet high. Around and above it
tangled brushwood was piled. Grape-shot did little
damage, even at the distance of a cable's length. There
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 173
were two embrasures for cannon in the side facing the
sea, and two gates facing the forest. Within were fourteen large huts, or, as they were called then, and are
called at the present time by' the natives, barabaras.
Judging from the quantity of provisions and domestic
implements found there, it must have contained at least
eight hundred warriors."
An envoy from the Kolosh fort came out with friendly
overtures, but was informed that peace conditions could
only be established through the chiefs. He departed,
but soon returned and delivered a hostage.
Baranoff made plain his conditions ; agreement with the
chiefs in person, the delivery of two more hostages, and
permanent possession of the fortified bluff.
The chiefs did not appear, and the conditions were not
accepted. Then, on October 1, after repeated warnings,
Baranoff gave the order to fire upon the fort. Immediately afterward, Baranoff, Lieutenant Arlusof, and a
party of Russians and Aleutians landed with the intention
of storming the fort. They were repulsed, the panic-
stricken Aleutians stampeded, and Baranoff was left al-
most without support. In this condition, he could do
nothing but retreat to the boats, - which they were barely
able to reach before the Kolosh were upon them. They
saved their field-pieces, but lost ten men. Twenty-six
were wounded, including Baranoff himself. Had not their
retreat at this point been covered by the guns of the ship,
the loss of life would have been fearful.
The following day Lisiansky was placed in command.
He opened a rapid fire upon the fort, with such effect
that soon after noon a peace envoy arrived, with promise
of hostages. His overtures were favorably received, and during the following
three days several hostages were returned to the Russians. The evacuation of the
fort was demanded ; but, although the chief consented, no movements
174 ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY
in that direction could be discovered from the ships.
Lisiansky moved his vessel farther in toward the fort and
sent an interpreter to ascertain how soon the occupants
would be ready to abandon their fortified and commanding position. The reply not being satisfactory, Lisiansky
again fired repeatedly upon the stronghold of the Kolosh.
On the 3d of October a white flag was hoisted, and the
firing was discontinued. Then arose from the rocky height
and drifted across the water until far into the night the
sound of a mournful, wailing chant.
When dawn came the sound had ceased. Absolute
silence reigned ; nor was there any living object to be
seen on the shore, save clouds of carrion birds, whose dark
wings beat the still air above the fort. The Kolosh had
fled ; the fort was deserted by all save the dead. The
bodies of thirty Kolosh warriors were found; also those
o'f many children and dogs, which had been killed lest
any cry from them should betray the direction of their
The fort was destroyed by fire, and the construction of
magazines, barracks, and a residence for Baranoff was at
once begun. A stockade surrounded these buildings,
each corner fortified with a block-house. The garrison
received the name of Novo Arkangelsk, or New Archangel.
The tribal name of the Indians in that locality was Sitkah
pronounced Seetkah - and this short and striking name
soon attached itself permanently to the place.
Immense houses were built solidly and with every consideration for comfort
and safety, and many families lived in each. They ranged in size from one
hundred to one hundred and fifty feet in length, and about eighty in width, and
were from one to three stories high with immense attics. They were well finished
and richly papered. The polished floors were covered with costly rugs
and carpets, and the houses were furnished with heavy
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and splendid furniture, which had been brought from St.
Petersburg. The steaming brass samovar was everywhere
a distinctive feature of the hospitality and good cheer which
made Sitka famous.
To the gay and luxurious life, the almost prodigal entertainment of guests by
Sitkans from this time on to 1867, every traveler, from writers and naval officers down to
traders, has enthusiastically testified. At the first signal
from a ship feeling its way into the dark harbor, a bright
light flashed a welcome across the water from the high
cupola on Baranoff' s castle, and fires flamed up on Signal
Island to beacon the way.
The officers were received as friends, and entertained
in a style of almost princely magnificence during their entire stay - the only thing asked in return being the capacity to eat like gluttons, revel like roisterers, and drink
until they rolled helplessly under the table ; and, in Baranoff's estimation, these were small returns, indeed, to ask
of a guest for his ungrudging and regal hospitality.
Visions of those high revels and glittering banquets of
a hundred years ago come glimmering down to us of to-
day. Beautiful, gracious, and fascinating were the Russian ladies who lived there, - if we are to believe the stories
of voyagers to the Sitka of Baranoff's and WrangelFs
times. Baranoff's furniture was of specially fine workmanship and exceeding value ; his library was remarkable,
containing works in nearly all European languages, and a
collection of rare paintings - the latter having been presented to the company at the time of its organization.
Baranoff had left a wife and family in Russia. He never saw them again,
although he sent allowances to
them regularly. He was not bereft of woman's companionship, however, and we have tales of revelry by
night when Baranoff alternately sang and toasted everybody,
176 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
from the Emperor down to the woman upon his
knee with whom he shared every sparkling glass. He had
a beautiful daughter by a native woman, and of her he
was exceedingly careful. A governess whom he surprised
in the act of drinking a glass of liquor was struck in sudden blind passion and turned out of the house. The following day he sent for her, apologized, and reinstalled
her with an increased salary, warning her, however, that
his daughter must never see her drink a drop of liquor.
When in his most gloomy and hopeless moods, this daughter could instantly soothe and cheer him by playing upon
the piano and singing to him songs very different from
those sung at his drunken all-night orgies.
That there was a very human and tender side to Baranoff's nature cannot be doubted by those making a careful
study of his tempestuous life. He was deeply hurt and
humiliated by the insolent and supercilious treatment of
naval officers who considered him of inferior position, not-withstanding the fact that he was in supreme command
of all the Russian territory in America. From time to
time the Emperor conferred honors upon him, and he was
always deeply appreciative ; and it is chronicled that when
a messenger arrived with the intelligence that he had been
appointed by the Emperor to the rank of Collegiate Councillor, Baranoff, broken by the troubles, hardships, and
humiliations of his stormy life, was suddenly and completely overcome by joy. He burst into tears and gave
thanks to God.
" I am a nobleman ! " he exclaimed. " I am the equal in
position and the superior in ability of these insolent naval
In 1812 Mr. Wilson P. Hunt, of the Pacific Fur Company, sailed from Astoria for Sitka on the Beaver with
supplies for the Russians. By that time Baranoff had
risen to the title and pomp of governor, and was living
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 177
in splendid style befitting his position and his triumph
over the petty officers, whose names are now insignificant in Russian history.
Mr. Hunt found this hyperborean veteran ensconced in
a fort which crested the whole of a high, rocky promontory. It mounted one hundred guns, large and small, and
was impregnable to Indian attack unaided by artillery.
Here the old governor lorded it over sixty Russians, who
formed the corps of the trading establishment, besides an
indefinite number of Indian hunters of the Kodiak tribe,
who were continually coming and going, or lounging and
loitering about the fort like so many hounds round a sportsman's hunting quarters. Though a loose liver among his
guests, the governor was a strict disciplinarian among his
men, keeping them in perfect subjection and having
seven guards on duty night and day.
Besides those immediate serfs and dependents just mentioned, the old Russian potentate exerted a considerable
sway over a numerous and irregular class of maritime
traders, who looked to him for aid and munitions, and
through whom he may be said to have, in some degree,
extended his power along the whole Northwest Coast.
These were American captains of vessels engaged in a
particular department of trade. One of the captains
would come, in a manner, empty-handed, to New Archangel. Here his ship would be furnished with about fifty
canoes and a hundred Kodiak hunters, and fitted out with
provisions and everything necessary for hunting the sea-otter on the coast of California, where the Russians had
another establishment. The ship would ply along the
California coast, from place to place, dropping parties
of otter hunters in their canoes, furnishing them only
with water, and leaving them to depend upon their own
dexterity for a maintenance. When a sufficient cargo
was collected, she would gather up her canoes and hunters
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and return with them to Archangel, where the captain
would render in the returns of his voyage and receive
one-half of the skins as his share.
Over these coasting captains the old governor exerted
some sort of sway, but it was of a peculiar and characteristic kind ; it was the tyranny of the table. They were
obliged to join in his " prosnics " or carousals and his
heaviest drinking-bouts. His carousals were of the wildest and coarsest, his tempers violent, his language strong.
" He is continually," said Mr. Hunt, " giving entertainment
by way of parade ; and if you do not drink raw rum,
and boiling punch as strong as sulphur, he will insult you
as soon as he gets drunk, which is very shortly after sitting down at table."
A "temperance captain" who stood fast to his faith and
kept his sobriety inviolate might go elsewhere for a market;
he was not a man after the governor's heart. Rarely, however, did any captain made of such unusual stuff darken
the doors of Baranoff's high-set castle. The coasting
captains knew too well his humor and their own interests.
They joined with either real or well-affected pleasure in
his roistering banquets; they ate much and drank more ;
they sang themselves hoarse and drank themselves under
the table ; and it is chronicled that never was Baranoff
satisfied until the last-named condition had come to pass.
The more the guests that lay sprawling under the table,
upon and over one another, the more easily were trading
arrangements effected with Baranoff later on.
Mr. Hunt relates the memorable warning to all " flinchers " which occurred shortly after his arrival. A young
Russian naval officer had recently been sent out by the
Emperor to take command of one of the company's vessels.
The governor invited him to one of his " prosnics " and
plied him with fiery potations. The young officer stoutly
maintained his right to resist - which called out all the
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 179
fury of the old ruffian's temper, and he proceeded to make
the youth drink, whether he would or not. As the guest
began to feel the effect of the burning liquors, his own
temper rose to the occasion. He quarreled violently with
his almost royal host, and expressed his young opinion of
him in the plainest language - -if Russian language ever
can be plain. For this abuse of what Baranoff considered
his magnificent hospitality, he was given seventy-nine
lashes when he was quite sober enough to aiDpreciate
With all his drinking and prodigal hospitality, Baranoff
always managed to get his own head clear enough for busi-
ness before sobriety returned to any of his guests, who were
not so accustomed to these wild and constant revels of
their host's ; so that he was never caught napping when
it came to bargaining or trading. His own interests were
ever uppermost in his mind, which at such times gave not
the faintest indication of any befuddlement by drink or
by licentiousness of other kinds.
For more than twenty years Baranoff maintained a
princely and despotic sway over the Russian colonies.
His own commands were the only ones to receive consideration, and but scant attention was given by him to
orders from the Directory itself. Complaints of his rulings and practices seldom reached Russia. Tyrannical,
coarse, shrewd, powerful, domineering, and of absolutely
iron will, all were forced to bow to his desires, even men
who considered themselves his superiors in all save sheer
brute force of will and character. Captain Krusenstern,
a contemporary, in his account of Baranoff, says : " None
but vagabonds and adventurers ever entered the company's services as Promishleniks ; "
- uneducated Russian
traders, whose inferior vessels were constructed usually of
planks lashed to timbers and calked with moss; they sailed
by dead reckoning, and were men controlled only by
180 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
animal instincts and passions ; - "it was their invariable
destiny to pass a life of wretchedness in America."
" Few," adds Krusenstern, " ever had the good fortune to
touch Russian soil again."
In the light of present American opinion of the advantages and joys of life in Russia, this naive remark has an
almost grotesque humor. Like many of the brilliantly
successful, but unscrupulous, men of the world, Baranoff
seemed to have been born under a lucky star which ever
led him on. Through all his desperate battles with
Indians, his perilous voyages by sea, and the plottings of
subordinates who hated him with a helpless hate, he came
During his later years at Sitka, Baranoff, weighed
down by age, disease, and the indescribable troubles of his
long and faithful service, asked frequently to be relieved.
These requests were ignored, greatly to his disappointment.
When, finally, in 1817, Hagemeister was sent out with instructions to assume
command in Baranoff's place, if he deemed it necessary, the orders were placed
before the old governor so suddenly and so unexpectedly that he was completely
prostrated. He was now failing in mind, as well as body; and in this connection
Bancroft adds another touch of ironical humor, whether intentional or accidental
it is impossible to determine. " One of his symptoms of approaching imbecility," writes Bancroft, " being in his
sudden attachment to the church. He kept constantly
about him the priest who had established the first church
at Sitka, and, urged by his spiritual adviser, made large
donations for religious purposes."
The effect of the unexpected announcement is supposed
to have shortened Baranoff's days. Lieutenant Yanovsky,
of the vessel which had brought Hagemeister, was placed
in charge by the latter as his representative. Yanovsky
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 181
fell in love with Baranoff's daughter and married her.
It was, therefore, to his own son-in-law that the old
governor at last gave up the sceptre.
By strength of his unbreakable will alone, he arose
from a bed of illness and painfully and sorrowfully arranged all the affairs of his office, to the smallest and
most insignificant detail, preparatory to the transfer to his
It was in January, 1818, that Hagemeister had made
known his appointment to the office of governor; it was
not until September that Baranoff had accomplished his
difficult task and turned over the office.
There was then, and there is today, halfway between
the site of the castle and Indian River, a gray stone about
three feet high and having a flat, table-like surface. It
stands on the shore beside the hard, white road. The
lovely bay, set with a thousand isles, stretches sparkling
before it; the blue waves break musically along the curving shingle; the wooded hills rise behind it; the winds
murmur among the tall trees.
The name of this stone is the " blarney " stone. It was
a favorite retreat of Baranoff's and there, when he was
sunken in one of his lonely or despondent moods, he would
sit for hours, staring out over the water. What his
thoughts were at such times, only God and he knew, - for
not even his beloved daughter dared to approach him
when one of his lone moods was upon him.
In the first hour that he was no longer governor of the
country he had ruled so long and so royally, he walked
with bowed head along the beach until he reached his
favorite retreat. There he sat himself down and for
hours remained in silent communion with his own soul.
He had longed for relief from his arduous duties, but it
had come in a way that had broken his heart. His
government had at last listened to complaints against him,
182 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
and, ungrateful for his long and faithful service, had finally
relieved him with but scant consideration; with an abruptness and a lack of courtesy that had sorely wounded him.
Nearly thirty of his best years he had devoted to the
company. He had conquered the savages and placed the
fur trade upon a highly- profitable basis; he had built
many vessels and had established trading relations with
foreign countries; forts, settlements, and towns had risen
at his indomitable will. Sitka, especially, was his own;
her storied splendor, whose fame has endured through all
the years, she owed entirely to him; she was the city of
his heart. He was her creator; his life-blood, his very
heart beats, were in her; and now that the time had really
come to give her up forever, he found the hour of farewell
the hardest of his hard life. No man, of whatsoever
material he may be made, nor howsoever insensible to the
influence of beauty he may deem himself to be, could
dwell for twenty years in Sitka without finding, when it
came to leaving her, that the tendrils of her loveliness had
twined themselves so closely about his heart that their
breaking could only be accomplished by the breaking of
the heart itself.
Of his kin, only a brother remained. The offspring of
his connection with a Koloshian woman was now married
and settled comfortably. A son by the same mistress had
died. He had first thought of going to his brother, who
lived in Kamchatka; but Golovnin was urging him to return to Russia, which he had left forty years before.
This he had finally decided to do, it having been made
clear to him that he could still be of service to his country
and his beloved colonies by his experience and advice.
Remain in the town he had created and ruled so tyrannically, and which he still loved so devotedly, he could not.
The mere thought of that was unendurable.
All was now in readiness for his departure, but the old
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 183
man he was now seventy-two - had not anticipated
that the going would be so hard. The blue waves came
sparkling in from the outer sea and broke on the curving
shingle at his feet ; the white and lavender wings of sea-
birds floated, widespread, upon the golden September air;
vessels of the fleet he had built under the most distressing
difliculties and disadvantages lay at anchor under the
castle wherein he had banqueted every visitor of any
distinction or position for so many years, and the light
from whose proud tower had guided so many worn
voyagers to safety at last ; the yellow, red-roofed buildings, the great ones built of logs, the chapel, the
significant block-houses - all arose out of the wilderness
before his sorrowful eyes, taking on lines of beauty he
had never discovered before.
From this hour Baranoff failed rapidly from day to
day. His time was spent in bidding farewell to the
Russians and natives - to many of whom he was sincerely attached - and to places which had become
endeared to him by long association. He was frequently
found in tears. Those who have seen fair Sitka rising
out of the blue and islanded sea before their raptured eyes may be able to
appreciate and sympathize with the old governor's emotion as, on the 27th of November, 1818, he stood in the stern of the Kutusof and
watched the beloved city of hp creation fade lingeringly
from his view. He was weeping, silently and hopelessly,
as the old weep, when, at last, he turned away.
Baranoff never again saw Sitka. In March the Kutusof
landed at Batavia, where it remained more than a month.
There he was very ill ; and soon after the vessel had
again put to sea, he died, like Behring, a sad and lonely
death, far from friends and home. On the 16th of
April, 1819, the waters of the Indian Ocean received the
body of Alexander Baranoff.
184 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
Notwithstanding his many and serious faults, or, possibly because of their existence in so powerful a character - combined as they were with such brilliant talent
and with so many admirable and conscientious qualities -
Baranoff remains through all the years the most fascinating figure in the history of the Pacific Coast. None
is so well worth study and close investigation ; none is so
rich in surprises and delights ; none has the charm of so
lone and beautiful a setting. There was no littleness, no
niggardliness, in his nature. " He never knew what avarice was," wrote Khlebnikof, " and never hoarded riches.
He did not wait until his death to make provision for the
living, but gave freely to all who had any claim upon
He spent money like a prince. He received ten shares
of stock in the company from Shelikoff and was later
granted twenty more ; but he gave many of these to his
associates who were not so well remunerated for their
faithful services. He provided generously during his life
for his family; and for the families in Russia of many
who lost their lives in the colonies, or who were unable
through other misfortunes to perform their duties in
Born of humble parentage in Kargopal, Eastern Russia,
in 1747, he had, at an early age, drifted to Moscow, where
he was engaged as a clerk in retail stores until 1771,
when he established himself in business.
Not meeting with success, he four years later emigrated
to Siberia and undertook the management of a glass factory at Irkutsk. He also interested himself in other
industries ; and on account of several valuable communications to the Civil Economical Society on the subject of
manufacture he was in 1789 elected a member of the
His life here was a humdrum existence, of which his
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 185
restless spirit soon wearied. Acquainting himself with
the needs, resources, and possibilities of Kamchatka, he
set out to the eastward with an assortment of goods
and liquors, which he sold to the savages of that and
At first his operations were attended by success ; but
when, in 1789, two of his caravans were captured by
Chuckchi, he found himself bankrupt, and soon yielded
to Shelikoff's urgent entreaties to try his fortunes in
Such is the simple early history of this remarkable man.
Not one known descendant of his is living today. But
men like Baranoff do not need descendants to perpetuate
Bancroft is the highest authority on the events of this
period, his assistant being Ivan Petroff, a Russian, who
was well-informed on the history of the colonies.
Many secret reasons have been suspected for the sale
of the magnificent country of Alaska to the United States
for so paltry a sum.
The only revenue, however, that Russia derived from
the colonies was through the rich fur trade ; and when,
after Baranoff's death, this trade declined and its future
seemed hopeless, the country's vast mineral wealth being
unsuspected, Russia found herself in humor to consider,
any offer that might be of immediate profit to herself.
For seven millions and two hundred thousands of dollars
Russia cheerfully, because unsuspectingly, yielded one of
the most marvelously rich and beautiful countries of the
world - its valleys yellow with gold, its mountains green
with copper and thickly veined with coal, its waters alive
with fish and fur-bearing animals, its scenery sublime -
to the scornful and unappreciative United States.
As early as the fifties it became rumored that Russia,
186 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
foreseeing the entire decline of the fur trade, considered
Alaska a white elephant upon its hands, and that an offer
for its purchase would not meet with disfavor. The
matter was discussed in Washington at various times,
but it was not until 1866 that it was seriously considered.
The people of the present state of Washington were
among those most desirous of its purchase ; and there
was rumor of the organization of a trading company of
the Pacific Coast for the purpose of purchasing the rights
of the Russian-American Company and acquiring the
lease of the lisiere which was to expire in 1868. The
Russian-American Company was then, however, awaiting
the reply of the Hudson Bay Company concerning a
renewal of the lease ; and the matter drifted on until, in
the spring of 1867, the Russian minister opened negotiations for the purchase of the country with Mr. Seward.
There was some difficulty at first over the price, but the
matter was one presenting so many mutual advantages
that this was soon satisfactorily arranged.
On Friday evening, March 25, 1867, Mr. Seward
was playing whist with members of his family when
the Russian minister was announced. Baron Stoeckl
stated that he had received a dispatch from his government by cable, conveying the consent of the Emperor to
" To-morrow," he added, " I will come to the department, and we can enter upon the treaty."
With a smile of satisfaction, Seward replied: -
" Why wait till to-morrow? Let us make the treaty
" But your department is closed. You have no clerks,
and my secretaries are scattered about the town."
" Never mind that," said Seward ; " if you can muster
your legation together before midnight, you will find me
awaiting you at the department."
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 187
By four o'clock on the following morning the treaty was
engrossed, sealed, and ready for transmission by the President to the Senate. The end of the session was approaching, and there was need of haste in order to secure action
Leutze painted this historic scene. Mr. Seward is seen
sitting at his table, pen in hand, listening to the Russian
minister. The gaslight, streaming down on the table,
illuminates the outline of "the great country."
When, immediately afterward, the treaty was presented
for consideration in the Senate, Charles Sumner delivered
his famous and splendid oration which stands as one of
the masterpieces of history, and which revealed an enlightened knowledge and understanding of Alaska that
were remarkable at that time - and which probably surpassed those of Seward, Among other clear and
beautiful things he said : -
" The present treaty is a visible step in the occupation
of the whole North American Continent. As such it will
be recognized by the world and accepted by the American
people. But the treaty involves something more. By it
we dismiss one more monarch from this continent. One
by one they have retired ; first France, then Spain, then
France again, and now Russia - all giving way to that
absorbing unity which is declared in the national motto :
E Pluribus Unum . ' '
There is yet one more monarch to be retired, in
all kindness and good-will, from our continent ; and that
event will take place when our brother-Canadians unite
with us in deed as they already have in spirit.
For years the purchase was unpopular, and was ridiculed by the press and in
conversation. Alaska was declared to be a "barren, worthless, God-forsaken region,"
whose only products were "icebergs and polar bears";
vegetation was " confined to mosses " ; and " Walrussia "
188 ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY
was wittily suggested as an appropriate name for our new
possession - as well as " Icebergia " ; but in the face of
all the opposition and ridicule, those two great Americans, Seward and Sumner, stood firmly for the acquisition
of this splendid country. They looked through the mist
of their own day and saw the day that is ours.
Since Sitka first dawned upon my sight on a June day,
in her setting of vivid green and glistening white, she
has been one of ray dearest memories. Four times in all
have the green islands drifted apart to let her rise from
the blue sea before my enchanted eyes ; and with each
visit she has grown more dear, and her memory more
Something gives Sitka a different look and atmosphere
from any other town. It may be her whiteness, glistening against the rich green background of forest and hill,
with the whiteness of the mountains shining in the higher
lights ; or it may be the severely white and plain Greek
church, rising in the centre of the main street, not more
than a block from the water, that gives Sitka her chaste
and immaculate appearance.
No buildings obstruct the view of the church from the
water. There it is, in the form of a Greek cross, with its
green roof, steeple, and bulbous dome.
This church is generally supposed to be the one that
Baranoff built at the beginning of the century ; but this
is not true. Baranoff did build a small chapel, but it was
in 1848 that the foundation of the present church was
laid - almost thirty years after the death of Baranoff.
It was under the special protection of the Czar, who, with
other members of the imperial family, sent many costly
furnishings and ornaments.
Veniaminoff - who was later made Archpriest, and still
190 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
later the Archbishop of Kamchatka, and during the last
years of his noble life, the Metropolitan of Moscow - sent many of the rich
vestments, paintings, and furnishings. The chime of silvery bells was also sent from
Upon landing at Sitka, one is confronted by the old
log storehouse of the Russians. This is an immense
building, barricading the wharf from the town. A narrow, dark, gloomy passage-way, or alley, leads through
the centre of this building. It seems as long as an ordinary city square to the bewildered stranger groping
through its shadows.
In front of this building, and inside both ends of the
passage as far as the light reaches, squat squaws, young
and old, pretty and hideous, starry-eyed and no-eyed,
saucy and kind, arrogant and humble, taciturn and
voluble, vivacious and weary-faced. Surely no known
variety of squaw may be asked for and not found in this
long line that reaches from the wharf to the green-roofed
There is no night so wild and tempestuous, and no
hour of any night so late, or of any morning so early, that
the passenger hastening ashore is not greeted by this
long line of dark-faced women. They sit like so many
patient, noiseless statues, with their tempting wares clustered around the flat, "toed-in" feet of each.
Not only is this true of Sitka, but of every landing-place on the whole coast where dwells an Indian or an
Aleut that has something to sell. Long before the boat
lands, their gay shawls by day, or their dusky outlines by
night, are discovered from the deck of the steamer.
How they manage it, no ship's officer can tell ; for the
whistle is frequently not blown until the boat is within a
few 3'ards of the shore. Yet there they are, waiting !
Sometimes, at night, they appear simultaneously, fluttering
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 191
down into their places, swiftly and noiselessly, like
a flock of birds settling down to rest for a moment in
Some of these women are dressed in skirts and waists,
but the majority are wrapped in the everlasting gay
blankets. No lip or nose ornaments are seen, even in
the most aged. Two or three men are scattered down
the line, to guard the women from being cheated.
These tall and lordly creatures strut noiselessly and
superciliously about, clucking out guttural advice to the
squaws, as well as, to all appearances, the frankest criticism of the persons examining their wares with a view to
The women are very droll, and apparently have a keen
sense of humor ; and one is sure to have considerable
fun poked at one, going down the line.
Mild-tempered people do not take umbrage at this ridicule ; in fact, they rather enjoy it. Being one of them, I
lost my temper only once. A young squaw offered me a
wooden dish, explaining in broken English that it was an
old eating dish.
It had a flat handle with a hole in it ; and as cooking
and eating utensils are never washed, it had the horrors
of ages encrusted within it to the depth of an inch or
This, of course, only added to its value. I paid her a
dollar for it, and had just taken it up gingerly and shudderingly with the tips of my fingers, when, to my amazement and confusion, the girl who had sold it to me, two
older women who were squatting near, and a tall man
leaning against the wall, all burst simultaneously into
jeering and uncontrollable laughter.
As I gazed at them suspiciously and with reddening
face, the young woman pointed a brown and unclean
finger at me ; while, as for the chorus of chuckles and
192 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
duckings that assailed my ears - I hope I may never
hear their like again.
To add to my embarrassment, some passengers at that
" Hello, Sally," said one ; " what's the matter ? "
Laughing too heartily to reply, she pointed at the
wooden dish, which I was vainly trying to hide. They
all looked, saw, and laughed with the Indians.
For a week afterward they smiled every time they
looked at me; and I do believe that every man, woman, and
child on the steamer came, smiling, to my cabin to see my
" buy." But the ridicule of my kind was as nothing compared to that of the
Indians themselves. To be " taken
in " by the descendant of a Koloshian, and then jeered at
to one's very face !
The only possession of an Alaskan Indian that may not
be purchased is a rosary. An attempt to buy one is met
with glances of aversion.
" It has been blessed ! " one woman said, almost in a
But they have most beautiful long strings of big,
evenly cut, sapphire-blue beads. They call them Russian
beads, and point out certain ones which were once used
as money among the Indians.
Their wares consist chiefly of baskets; but there are
also immense spoons carved artistically out of the horns
of mountain sheep; richly beaded moccasins of many
different materials; carved and gay ly painted canoes and
paddles of the fragrant Alaska cedar or Sitka pine;
totem-poles carved out of dark gray slate stone ; lamps,
carved out of wood and inlaid with a fine pearl-like shell.
These are formed like animals, with the backs hollowed to
hold oil. There are silver spoons, rings, bracelets, and
chains, all delicately traced with totemic designs; knives,
virgin charms, Chilkaht blankets, and now and then a
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 193
genuine old spear, or bow and arrow, that proves the
dearest treasure of all.
Old wooden, or bone, gambling sticks, finely carved,
polished to a satin finish, and sometimes inlaid with fragments of shell, or burnt with totemic designs, are also
greatly to be desired.
The main features of interest in Sitka are the Greek-
Russian church and the walk along the beach to Indian
A small admission fee is charged at the church door.
This goes to the poor-fund of the parish. It is the only
church in Alaska that charges a regular fee, but in all
the others there are contribution boxes. When one has,
with burning cheeks, seen his fellow-Americans drop
dimes and nickels into the boxes of these churches, which
have been specially opened at much inconvenience for
their accommodation, he is glad to see the fifty-cent fee
at the door charged.
There are no seats in the church. The congregation
stands or kneels during the entire service. There are
three sanctuaries and as many altars. The chief sanctuary
is the one in the middle, and it is dedicated to the Archi-Strategos Michael.
The sanctuary is separated from the body of the church
by a screen - which has a " shaky " look, by the way -
adorned with twelve icons, or images, in costly silver
and gold casings, artistically chased.
The middle door leading into the sanctuary is called
the Royal Gates, because through it the Holy Sacrament,
or Eucharist, is carried out to the faithful. It is most
beautifully carved and decorated. Above it is a magnificent icon, representing the Last Supper. The heavy
silver casing is of great value. The casings alone of the
twelve icons on the screen cost many thousands of dollars.
An interesting story is attached to the one of the patron
194 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
saint of the church, the Archangel Michael. The ship Neva, on her way to
Sitka, was wrecked at the base of Mount Edgecumbe. A large and valuable cargo was
lost, but the icon was miraculously cast upon the beach,
Many of the icons and other adornments of the church
were presented by the survivors of wrecked vessels ; others
by illustrious friends in Russia. One that had paled and
grown dim was restored by Mrs. Emmons, the wife of
Lieutenant Emmons, whose work in Alaska was of great
When the Royal Gates are opened the entire sanctuary
or Holy of Holies, in which no woman is permitted to
set foot, lest it be defiled - may be seen.
To one who does not understand the significance of the
various objects, the sanctuary proves a disappointment
until the splendid old vestments of cloth of gold and
silver are brought out. These were the personal gifts
of the great Baranoff. They are exceedingly rich and
sumptuous, as is the bishop's stole, made of cloth woven of
heavy silver threads.
The left-hand chapel is consecrated to " Our Lady of
Kazan." It is adorned with several icons, one of which,
" The Mother of God, " is at once the most beautiful
and the most valuable object in the church. An offer of
fifteen thousand dollars was refused for it. The large
dark eyes of the madonna are so filled with sorrowful
tenderness and passion that they cannot be forgotten.
They follow one about the chapel; and after he has gone
out into the fresh air and the sunlight he still feels
them upon him. Those mournful eyes hold a message
that haunts the one who has once tried to read it. The
appeal which the unknown Russian artist has painted into
them produces an effect that is enduring.
But most precious of all to me were those objects, of
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 195
whatsoever value, which were presented by Innocentius,
the Metropolitan of Moscow, the Noble and the Devoted.
If ever a man went forth in search of the Holy Grail, it
was he; and if ever a man came near finding the Holy
Grail, it was, likewise, he.
From Sitka to Unalaska, and up the Yukon so far as
the Russian influence goes, his name is still murmured with
a veneration that is almost adoration.
Historians know him and praise him, without a dissenting voice, as Father Veniaminoff ; for it was under this
simple and unassuming title that the pure, earnest, and
devout young Russian came to the colonies in 1823, carrying the high, white light of his faith to the wretched
natives, among whom his life work was to be, from that
time on, almost to the end.
No man lias ever done as much for the natives of Alaska
as he, not even Mr. Duncan. His heart being all love
and his nature all tenderness, he grew to love the gentle
Aleutians and Sitkans, and so won their love and trust
In the Sitka church is a very costly and splendid
vessel, used for the Eucharist, which was once stolen, but
afterward returned. There are censers of pure silver
and chaste design, which tinkle musically as they swing.
A visit to the building of the Russian Orthodox
Mission is also interesting. There will be found some
of the personal belongings of Father Veniaminoff - his
clock, a writing-desk which was made by his own hands,
of massive and enduring workmanship, and several
articles of furniture ; also the icon which once adorned
his cell - a gift of Princess Potemkin.
Sir George Simpson describes an Easter festival at
Sitka in 1842. He found all the people decked in festal
attire upon his arrival at nine o'clock in the morning.
They were also, men and women, quite "tipsy."
196 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
Upon arriving at Governor Etholin's residence, he was
ushered into the great banqueting room, where a large
party was rising from breakfast. This party was composed of the bishop and priests, the Lutheran clergyman,
the naval officers, the secretaries, business men, and
masters and mates of vessels, - numbering in all about
seventy, - all arrayed in uniforms or, at the least, in elegant dress.
From morning till night Sir George was compelled
to " run a gantlet of kisses." When two persons met,
one said, " Christ is risen " - and this was a signal for
prolonged kissing. "Some of them," adds Sir George,
naively, " were certainly pleasant enough ; but many,
even when the performers were of the fair sex, were
perhaps too highly flavored for perfect comfort."
He was likewise compelled to accept many hard-boiled,
gilded eggs, as souvenirs.
During the whole week every bell in the chimes of the
church rang incessantly - from morning to night, from
night to morning ; and poor Sir George found the jangling of " these confounded bells " harder to endure than
the eggs or the kisses.
Sir George extolled the virtues of the bishop - Veniaminoff. His appearance impressed the Governor-in-Chief
with awe ; his talents and attainments seemed worthy
of his already exalted station ; while the gentleness
which characterized his every word and deed insensibly
moulded reverence into love.
Whymper visited Sitka in 1865, and found Russian
hospitality under the administration of Matsukoff almost
as lavish as during Baranoff's famous reign.
" Russian hospitality is proverbial," remarks Whymper,
" and we all somewhat suffered therefrom. The first
phrase of their language acquired by us was ' petnatchit
copla' - fifteen drops." This innocently sounding phrase
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 197
really meant a good half-tumbler of some undiluted
liquor, ranging from cognac to raw vodka, which was
pressed upon the visitors upon, every available occasion.
A refusal to drink meant an insult to their host ; and
they were often sorely put to it to carry graceful p the
burden of entertainment which they dared not decline.
The big brass samovar was in every household, and
they were compelled to drink strong Russian tea, served
by the tumblerful. Balls, banquets, and fetes in the
gardens of the social clubs were given in their honor ;
while their fleet of four vessels in the harbor was daily
visited by large numbers of Russian ladies and gentlemen
from the town.
At all seasons of the year the tables of the higher
classes were supplied with game, chickens, pork, vegetables, berries, and every luxury obtainable ; while the
food of the common laborers was, in summer, fresh fish, and
in winter, salt fish.
Sir George Simpson attended a Koloshian funeral at
Sitka, or New Archangel, in 1842. The body of the
deceased, arrayed in the gayest of apparel, lay in state
for two or three days, during which time the relatives
fasted and bewailed their loss. At the end of this
period, the body was placed on a funeral pyre, round
which the relatives gathered, their faces painted black
and their hair covered with eagles' down. The pipe was
passed around several times ; and then, in obedience to
a secret sign, the fire was kindled in several places at
once. Wailings and loud lamentations, accompanied by
ceaseless drumming, continued until the pyre was entirely
consumed. The ashes were, at last, collected into an
ornamental box, which was elevated on a scaffold.
Many of these monuments were seen on the side of a
A wedding witnessed at about the same time was quite
198 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
as interesting as the funeral, presenting several unique
features. A good-looking Creole girl, named
Archimanditoffra, married the mate of a vessel lying in port.
Attended by their friends and the more important
residents of Sitka, the couple proceeded at six o'clock
in the evening to the church, where a tiresome service,
lasting an hour and a half, was solemnized by a priest.
The bridegroom then led his bride to the ballroom.
The most startling feature of this wedding was of Russian,
rather than savage, origin. The person compelled to bear
all the expense of the wedding was chosen to give the bride
away; and no man upon whom this honor was conferred
ever declined it.
This custom might be followed with beneficial results today, a bachelor being always honored, until, in sheer self-defense, many a young man would prefer to pay for his own
wedding to constantly paying for the wedding of some
other man. It is more polite than the proposed tax on
At this wedding the beauty and fashion of Sitka were
assembled. The ladies were showily attired in muslin
dresses, white satin shoes, silk stockings, and kid gloves ;
they wore flowers and carried white fans.
The ball was opened by the bride and the highest
officer present; and quadrille followed waltz in rapid
succession until daylight.
The music was excellent ; and the unfortunate host
and paymaster of the ceremonies carried out his part like
a prince. Tea, coffee, chocolate, and champagne were
served generously,' varied with delicate foods, "petnatchit
coplas " of strong liquors, and expensive cigars.
According to the law of the church, the bridesmaids
and bridesmen were prohibited from marrying each other ;
but, owing to the limitations in Sitka, a special dispensation had been granted, permitting such marriages.
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 199
From the old Russian cemetery on the hill, a panoramic
view is obtained of the town, the harbor, the blue waterways winding among the green islands to the ocean, and
the snow mountains floating above the pearly clouds on
all sides. In a quiet corner of the cemetery rests the
first Princess Matsukoff, an Englishwoman, who graced
the " Castle on the Rock " ere she died, in the middle
sixties. Her successor was young, beautiful, and gay ;
and her reign was as brilliant as it was brief. She it was
who, through bitter and passionate tears, dimly beheld the
Russian flag lowered from its proud place on the castle's
lofty flagstaff and the flag of the United States sweeping
up in its stead. But the first proud Princess Matsukoff
slept on in her quiet resting-place beside the blue and
alien sea, and grieved not.
From all parts of the harbor and the town is seen the
kekoor, the "rocky promontory," from which Baranoff
and Lisiansky drove the Koloshians after the massacre,
and upon which Baranoff's castle later stood.
It rises abruptly to a height of about eighty feet, and
is ascended by a long flight of wooden steps.
The first castle was burned ; another was erected, and
was destroyed by earthquake ; was rebuilt, and was
again destroyed - the second time by fire. The eminence is now occupied by the home of Professor Georgeson, who conducts the government agricultural experimental work in Alaska.
The old log trading house which is on the right side of
the street leading to the church is wearing out at last.
On some of the old buildings patches of modern weatherboarding mingle with the massive and ancient logs,
producing an effect that is almost grotesque.
In the old hotel Lady Franklin once rested with an
uneasy heart, during the famous search for her husband.
The barracks and custom-house front on a vivid green
200 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
parade ground that slopes to the water. Slender graveled
roads lead across this well-kept green to the quarters and
to the building formerly occupied by Governor Brady
as the Executive Offices. His residence is farther on,
around the bay, in the direction of the Indian village.
There are fine fur and curio stores on the main street.
The homes of Sitka are neat and attractive. The
window boxes and carefully tended gardens are brilliant
with bloom in summer.
Passing through the town, one soon reaches the hard,
white road that leads along the curving shingle to Indian
River. The road curves with the beach and goes glimmering on ahead, until it disappears in the green mist of
Surely no place on this fair earth could less deserve the
offensive name of " park " than the strip of land bordering Indian River, - five hundred feet wide on one bank, and
two hundred and fifty feet on the other, between the falls
and the low plain where it pours into the sea, - which in
1890 was set aside for this purpose.
It has been kept undefiled. There is not a sign, nor a
painted seat, nor a little stiff flower bed in it. There is
not a striped paper bag, nor a peanut shell, nor the peel
of an orange anywhere.
It must be that only those people who live on beauty,
instead of food, haunt this beautiful spot.
The spruce, the cedar, and the pine grow gracefully and
luxuriantly, their lacy branches spreading out flat and
motionless upon the still air, tapering from the ground
to a fine point. The hard road, velvet-napped with the
spicy needles of centuries, winds through them and under
them, the branches often touching the wayfarer's bared
The devil's-club grows tall and large ; there are thickets
of salmon-berry and thimbleberry; there are banks of
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 201
velvety green, and others blue with violets ; there are
hedges of wild roses, the bloom looking in the distance
like an amethyst cloud floating upon the green.
The Alaskan thimbleberry is the most delicious berry
that grows. Large, scarlet, velvety, yet evanescent, it
scarcely touches the tongue ere its ravishing flavor has become a memory.
The vegetation is all of tropical luxuriance, and, owing
to its constant dew and mist baths, it is of an intense
and vivid green that is fairly dazzling where the sun
touches it. One of the chief charms of the wooded reserve
is its stillness - broken only by the musical rush of waters
and the lyrical notes of birds. A kind of lavender twi-
light abides beneath the trees, and, with the narrow,
spruce-aisled vistas that open at every turn, gives one a
sensation as of being in some dim and scented cathedral.
Enticing paths lead away from the main road to the
river, where the voices of rapids and cataracts call; but
at last one comes to an open space, so closely walled round
on all sides by the forest that it may easily be passed
without being seen - and to which one makes his way
with difficulty, pushing aside branches of trees and tall
ferns as he proceeds.
Here, producing an effect that is positively uncanny,
are several great totems, shining out brilliantly from their
dark green setting.
One experiences that solemn feeling which every one
has known, as of standing among the dead ; the shades
of Baranoff, Behring, Lisiansky, Veniaminoff, Chirikoff,
all the unknown murdered ones, too, - go drifting
noiselessly, with reproachful faces, through the dim
It was on the beach near this grove of totems that
Lisiansky's men were murdered by Koloshiaus in 1804,
while obtaining- water for the ship.
202 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
The Sitka Industrial Training School was founded
nearly thirty years ago by ex-Governor Brady, who was
then a missionary to the Indians of Alaska.
It was first attended by about one hundred natives,
ranging from the very young to the very old. This school
was continued, with varied success, by different people -
including Captain Glass, of the Jamestown - until Dr.
Sheldon Jackson became interested, and, with Mr. Brady
and Mr. Austin, sought and obtained aid from the Board
of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church.
A building was erected for a Boys' Home, and this was
followed, a year later, by a Girls' Home.
The girls weere taught to speak the English language,
cook, wash, iron, sew, mend, and to become cleanly,
cheerful, honest, honorable women.
The boys were taught to speak the English language ;
the trades of shoemaking, coopering, boat-building, carpentry, engineering, rope-making, and all kinds of agricultural work. The rudiments of bricklaying, painting, and
paper-hanging are also taught.
During the year 1907 a Bible Training Department was added for those among
the older boys and girls who desired to obtain knowledge along such lines, or
who aspired to take up missionary work among their people.
Twelve pupils took up the work, and six continued it
throughout the year. The work in this department is, of
course, voluntary on the part of the student.
The Sitka Training School is not, at present, a government school. During the early nineties it received aid
from the government, under the government's method of
subsidizing denominational schools, where they were al-
ready established, instead of incurring the extra expense
of establishing new government schools in the same localities.
When the government ceased granting such subsidies,
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 203
the Sitka School - as well as many other denominational
schools - lost this assistance.
The property of the school has always belonged to the
Presbyterian Board of Home Missions.
For many years it was customary to keep pupils at the
schools from their entrance until their education was
In the summer of 1905 the experiment was tried of permitting a few pupils to go to their homes during vacation.
All returned in September cheerfully and willingly; and
now, each summer, more than seventy boys and girls return to their homes to spend the time of vacation with
In former years, it would have been too injurious to the
child to be subjected to the influence of its parents, who
were but slightly removed from savagery. Today, al-
though many of the old heathenish rites and customs still
exist, they have not so deep a hold upon the natives; and
it is hoped, and expected, that the influence of the students
for good upon their people will far exceed that of their
people for ill upon them.
During the past year ninety boys and seventy-four girls
were enrolled - or as many as can be accommodated at
the schools. They represent the three peoples into which
the Indians of southeastern Alaska are now roughly
divided - the Thlinkits, the Haidahs, and the Tsimpsians.
They come from Katalla, Yakutat, Skagway, Klukwan,
Haines, Douglas, Juneau, Kasaan, Howkan, Metlakahtla,
Hoonah - and, indeed, from almost every point in southeastern Alaska where a handful of
Indians are gathered
The many people who innocently believe that there are
no birds in Alaska may be surprised to learn that there
are, at least, fifty different species in the southeastern part
of that country.
Among these are the song sparrow, the rufous humming-
bird, the western robin, of unfailing cheeriness, the russet-
backed thrush, the barn swallow, the golden-crowned
kinglet, the Oregon Junco, the winter wren, and the
bird that, in liquid clearness and poignant sweetness of
note, is second only to the western meadow-lark - the
poetic hermit thrush.
He that has heard the impassioned notes of this shy
bird rising from the woods of Sitka will smile at the
assertion that there are no birds in Alaska.
On the way to Indian River is the museum, whose interesting and valuable contents were gathered chiefly by
Sheldon Jackson, and which still bears his name.
Dr. Jackson has been the general Agent of Education
in Alaska since 1885, and the Superintendent of Presbyterian Missions since 1877. His work in Alaska in early
years was, undoubtedly, of great value.
The museum stands in an evergreen grove, not far from
the road. Here may be found curios and relics of great
value. It is to be regretted, however, that many of the
articles are labeled with the names of collectors instead of
those of the real donors - at least, this is the information
voluntarily given me by some of the donors.
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 205
In the collection is an interesting war bonnet, which
was donated by Chief Kath-le-an, who planned and carried
out the siege of 1878.
It was owned by one of Kath-le-an's ancestors. It is
made of wood, carved into a raven's head. It has been
worked and polished until the shell is more like velvet
than wood, and is dyed black.
It was many years ago a polite custom of the Thlinkits
to paint and oil the face of a visitor, as a matter of hospitality and an indication of friendly feeling and respect.
A visitor from another tribe to Sitka fell ill and died,
shortly after having been so oiled and honored, and his
people claimed that the oil was rancid, - or that some
evil spell had been oiled into him, - and
a war arose.
The Sitka tribe began the preparation of the raven war
bonnet and worked upon it all summer, while actual
hostilities were delayed.
As winter came on, Kath-le-an's ancestor one day
addressed his young men, telling them that the new war
bonnet on his head would serve as a talisman to carry
them to a glorious victory over their enemies.
Through the battle that followed, the war bonnet was
everywhere to be seen in the centre of the most furious
fighting. Only once did it go down, and then only for a
moment, when the chief struggled to his feet; and as his
young men saw the symbol of victory rising from the dust,
the thrill of renewed hope that went through them impelled them forward in one splendid, simultaneous movement that won the day.
In 1804 Kath-le-an himself wore the hat when his people
were besieged for many days by the Russians.
On this occasion the spell of the war bonnet was broken;
and upon his utter defeat, Kath-le-an, feeling that it had
lost its charm for good luck, buried the unfortunate symbol
in the woods.
206 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
Many years afterward Kath-le-an exhumed the hat and
presented it to the museum.
" We will hereafter dwell in peace with the white
people," he said; "so my young men will never again
need the war bonnet."
Kath-le-an has to this day kept his word. He is still
alive, but is nearly ninety years old.
Interesting stories and myths are connected with a
large number of the relics in the museum - to which the
small admission fee of fifty cents is asked.
One of the early picturesque block-houses built by the
Russians still stands in a good state of preservation on a
slight eminence above the town, on the way to the old
The story of the lowering of the Russian flag, and the
hoisting of the American colors at Sitka, is fraught with
significance to the superstitious.
The steamship John L. Stevens carrying United States -
troops from San Francisco, arrived in Sitka Harbor
on the morning of October 9, 1867. The gunboats
Jamestown and Resaca had already arrived and were lying
at anchor. The Ossipee did not enter the harbor until
the morning of the eighteenth.
At three o'clock of the same day the command of General Jefferson C. Davis, about two hundred and fifty
strong, in full uniform, armed and handsomely equipped,
were landed, and marched to the heights where the famous
Governor's Castle stood. Here they were met by a company of Russian soldiers who took their place upon the
left of the flagstaff.
The command of General Davis formed on the right.
The United' States flag, which was to float for the first
time in possession of Sitka, was in the care of a color
guard - a lieutenant, a sergeant, and ten men.
Besides the officers and troops, there were present the
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 207
Prince and Princess Matsukoff, many Russian and American residents, and some interested
It was arranged by Captain Pestchouroff and General
Lovell N. Rosseau, Commissioner for the United States,
that the United States should lead in firing the first
salute, but that there should be alternate guns from the
American and Russian batteries - thus giving the flag
of each nation a double national salute.
The ceremony was begun by the lowering of the Russian
flag - which caused the princess to burst into passionate
weeping, while all the Russians gazed upon their colors
with the deepest sorrow and regret marked upon their faces.
As the battery of the Ossipee led off in the salute and
the deep peals crashed upon ]Mount Verstovi and reverberated across the bay, an accident occurred which has
ever been considered an omen of misfortune.
The Russian flag became entangled about the ropes,
owing to a high wind, and refused to be lowered.
The staff was a native pine, about ninety feet in height.
Russian soldiers, who were sailors as well, at once set out
to climb the pole. It was so far to the flag, however, that
their strength failed ere they reached it.
A " boatswain's chair " was hastily rigged of rope, and
another Russian soldier was hoisted to the flag. On
reaching it, he untangled it and then made the mistake
of dropping it to the ground, not understanding Captain
Pestchouroff's energetic commands to the contrary.
It fell upon the bayonets of the Russian soldiers -
which was considered an ill omen for Russia.
The United States flag was then slowly hoisted by
George Lovell Rosseau, and the salutes were fired as before, the Russian water battery leading this time.
The hoisting of the flag was so timed that at the exact
instant of its reaching its place, the report of the last big
gun of the Ossipee roared out its final salute.
208 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
Upon the completion of the salutes, Captain Pestchouroff approached the commissioner and said : -
" General Rosseau, by authority of his Majesty, the
Emperor of Russia, I transfer to the United States the
Territory of Alaska."
The transfer was simply accepted, and the ceremony
was at an end.
No one understanding the American spirit can seriously
condemn the Americans present for the three cheers which
burst spontaneously forth ; yet there are occasions upon
which an exhibition of good taste, repression, and consideration for the people of other nationalities present is
more admirable and commendable than a spread-eagle burst
The last trouble caused by the Sitkan Indians was in
1878. The sealing schooner San Diego carried among
its crew seven men of the Kake-sat-tee clan. The schooner
was wrecked and six of the Kake-sat-tees were drowned.
Chief Kath-le-an demanded of Colonel M. D. Ball, collector
of customs and, at that time, the only representative of
the government in Sitka, one thousand blankets for the
life of each man drowned.
Colonel Ball, appreciating the gravity of the situation,
and desiring time to prepare for the attack which he knew
would be made upon the town, promised to write to the
company in San Francisco and to the government in
After a long delay a reply to his letter arrived from the
company, which refused, as he had expected, to allow the
claim, and stated that no wages, even, were due the men
who were drowned.
The government which at that time had a vague idea
that Alaska was a great iceberg floating between America
and Siberia - paid no attention to the plea for assistance.
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 209
When Chief Kath-le-an learned that payment in blankets
would not be made, he demanded the lives of six white
men. This, also, being refused, he withdrew to prepare
Then hasty preparations were made in the settlement
to meet the hourly expected attack. All the firearms were
made ready for action, and a guard kept watch day and
night. The Russian women and children were quartered
in the home of Father Nicolai Metropolsky ; the Americans
in the custom-house.
The Indians held their war feast many miles from
Sitka. On their way to attack the village they passed
the White Sulphur Hot Springs, on the eastern shore of
Baranoff Island, and murdered the man in charge.
They then demanded the lives of five white men, and
when their demand was again refused, they marched
stealthily upon the settlement.
However, Sitka possessed a warm and faithful friend
in the person of Anna-Hoots, Chief of the Kak-wan-tans. He and his men met the
hostile party and, while attempting to turn them aside from their murderous
purpose, a general fight among the two clans was precipitated.
Before the Kake-sat-tees could again advance, a mail-boat arrived, and the war passion simmered.
When the boat sailed, a petition was sent to the British
authorities at Esquimault, asking, for humanity's sake, that
assistance be sent to Sitka.
Kath-le-an had retreated for re-enforcement ; and on the
eve of his return to make a second attack, H.M.S. Osprey
arrived in the harbor.
The appeal to another nation for aid, and the bitter
newspaper criticism of its own indifference, had at last
aroused the United States government to a realization of
its responsibilities. The revenue cutter Wolcott dropped
anchor in the Sitka Harbor a few days after the Osprey ;
210 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
and from that time on Sitka was not left without
Along the curving road to Indian River stands the soft
gray Episcopal Church, St. Peter's-by-the-Sea. Built of
rough gray stone and shingles, it is an immediate pleasure
and rest to the eye,
" Its doors stand open to the sea,
The wind goes thro' at will,
And bears the scent of brine and blue
To the far emerald hill."
Any stranger may enter alone, and passing into any
pew, may kneel in silent communion with the God who
has created few things on this earth more beautiful than
No admission is asked. The church is free to the
prince and the pauper, the sinner and the saint; to those
of every creed, and to those of no creed at all.
The church has no rector, but is presided over by P.T.
Rowe, the Bishop of All Alaska and the Beloved of All
Men ; him who carries over land and sea, over ice and
Everlasting snow, over far tundra wastes and down the
lone and mighty Yukon in his solitary canoe or bidarka,
by dog team and on foot, to white people and dark, and
to whomsoever needs - the simple, sweet, and blessed
message of Love.
It was in 1895 that Reverend P. T. Rowe, Rector of
St. James' Church, Sault Sainte Marie, was confirmed as
Bishop of Alaska. He went at once to that far and unknown land ; and of him and his work there no words
are ever heard save those of love and praise. He is bishop,
rector, and traveling missionary'; he is doctor, apothecary,
and nurse ; he is the hope and the comfort of the dying
and the pall-bearer of the dead. He travels many hundreds of miles every year, by lone and perilous ways, over
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 211
the ice and snow, with only an Indian guide and a team
of huskies, to carry the word of God into dark places.
He is equally at ease in the barabara and in the palace-
like homes of the rich when he visits the large cities of the
Bishop Rowe is an exceptionally handsome man, of
courtly bearing and polished manners. The moment he
enters a church his personality impresses itself upon the
people assembled to hear him speak.
On a gray August Sunday in Nome - three thousand
miles from Sitka - I was surprised to see so many people on their way to midday service, Alaska not being
famed for its church-going qualities.
" Oh, it is the Bishop," said the hotel clerk, smiling.
" Bishop Rowe," he added, apparently as an after-thought.
" Everybody goes to church when he comes to town."
I had never seen Bishop Rowe, and I had planned to
spend the day alone on the beach, for the surf was rolling
high and its musical thunder filled the town. Its lonely,
melancholy spell was upon me, and its call was loud and
insistent ; and my heart told me to go.
But I had heard so much of Bishop Rowe and his self- devoted work in Alaska
that I finally turned my back upon temptation and joined the narrow stream of
humanity wending its way to the little church.
When Bishop Rowe came bending his dark head
through the low door leading from the vestry, clad in his
rich scarlet and purple and gold-embroidered robes, I
thought I had never seen so handsome a man.
But his appearance was forgotten the moment he began
to speak. He talked to us ; but he did not preach. And
we, gathered there from so many distant lands - each
with his own hopes and sins and passions, his own desires
and selfishness - grew closer together and leaned upon
the words that were spoken there to us. They were so
212 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
simple, and so earnest, and so sweet ; they were so seriously and so kindly uttered.
And the text it went with us, out into the sea-sweet,
surf-beaten streets of Nome ; and this was it, " Love me ;
and tell me so." Like the illustrious Veniaminoff, Bishop
Rowe, of a different church and creed, and working in a
later, more commercial age, has yet won his hold upon
northern hearts by the sane and simple way of Love.
The text of his sermon that gray day in the surf-beaten,
tundra-sweet city of Nome is the text that he is patiently
and cheerfully working out in his noble life-work.
Mr. Duncan, at Metlakahtla, has given his life to the
Indians who have gathered about him ; but Bishop Rowe,
of All Alaska, has given his life to dark men and white,
wherever they might be. Year after year he has gone out
by perilous ways to find them, and to scatter among them
his words of love - as softly and as gently as the Indians
used to scatter the white down from the breasts of sea-
birds, as a message of peace to all men.
The White Sulphur Hot Springs, now frequently called
the Sitka Hot Springs, are situated on Hot Springs Bay
on the eastern shore of Baranoff Island, almost directly
east of Sitka.
The bay is sheltered by many small green islands, with
lofty mountains rising behind the sloping shores. It is
an ideally beautiful and desirable place to visit, even aside
from the curative qualities of the clear waters which bubble
from pools and crevices among the rocks. These springs
have been famous since their discovery by Lisiansky in
1805. Sir George Simpson visited them in 1842; and
with every year that has passed their praises have been
more enthusiastically sung by the fortunate ones who
have voyaged to that dazzlingly green and jeweled
The main spring has a temperature of one hundred and
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 213
fifty-three degrees Fahrenheit, its waters cooking eggs in
eight minutes. From this spring the baths are fed, their
waters, flowing down to the sea, being soon reduced in
temperature to one hundred and thirty degrees.
Filmy vapors float over the vicinity of the springs and
rise in funnel-shaped columns which may be seen at a
considerable distance, and which impart an atmosphere of
mystery and unreality to the place.
Vegetation is of unusual luxuriance, even for this land
of tropical growth ; and in recent years experiments with
melons and vegetables which usually mature in tropic
climes only, have been entirely successful in this steamy
and balmy region.
There are four springs, in whose waters the Indians,
from the time of their discovery, have sought to wash away
the ills to which flesh is heir. They came hundreds of
miles and lay for hours at a time in the healing baths with
only their heads visible. The bay was neutral ground
where all might come, but where none might make settlement or establish claims.
The waters near abound in fish and water-fowl, and the
forests with deer, bears, and other large game.
The place is coming but slowly to the recognition of the
present generation. When the tropic beauty of its location and the curative powers of its waters are more generally known, it will be a Mecca for pilgrims.
The main station of Government Agricultural Experimental work in Alaska is located at Sitka. Professor C.
Georgeson is the special agent in charge of the work,
which has been very successful. It has accomplished more
than anything else in the way of dispelling the erroneous
impressions which people have received of Alaska by reading the descriptions of early explorers who fancied that
every drift of snow was a living glacier and every feather
the war bonnet of a savage.
214 ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY
In 1906, at Coldfoot, sixty miles north of the Arctic
Circle, were grown cucumbers eight inches long, nineteen-inch rhubarb, potatoes four inches long, cabbages whose
matured heads weighed eight pounds, and turnips weighing sixteen pounds - all of excellent quality.
At Bear Lake, near Seward and Cook Inlet, were grown
good potatoes, radishes, lettuce, carrots, beets, rhubarb,
strawberries, raspberries, Logan berries, blackberries ; also,
roses, lilacs, and English ivy. In this locality cows and
chickens thrive and are profitable investments for those
who are not too indolent to take care of them.
Alaskan lettuce must be eaten to be appreciated. During the hot days and the long, light hours of the nights it
grows so rapidly that its crispness and delicacy of flavor
cannot be imagined.
Everything in Alaska is either the largest, the best, or most beautiful, in
the world, the people who live there maintain ; and this soon grows to be a joke
to the traveler.
But when the assertion that lettuce grown in Alaska is
the most delicious in the world is made, not a dissenting
voice is heard.
Along the coast, seaweed and fish guano are used as
fertilizers ; and soil at the mouth of a stream where
there is silt is most desirable for vegetables.
In southeastern Alaska and along the coast to Kodiak,
at Fairbanks and Copper Centre, at White Horse, Dawson, Rampart, Tanana, Council City, Eagle, and other
places on the Yukon, almost all kinds of vegetables,
berries, and flowers grow luxuriantly and bloom and bear
in abundance. One turnip, of fine flavor, has been found
sufficient for several people.
In the vicinity of the various hot springs, even corn,
tomatoes, and muskmelons were successful to the highest
On the Yukon cabbages form fine white, solid heads;
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 215
cauliflower is unusually fine and white ; beets grow to a
good size, are tender, sweet, and of a bright red ; peas are
excellent ; rhubarb, parsley, and celery were in many
places successful. Onions seem to prove a failure in
nearly all sections of the country ; and potatoes, turnips,
and lettuce are the prize vegetables.
Grain growing is no longer attempted. The experiment
made by the government, in the coast region, proved entirely unsatisfactory. It will usually mature, but August,
September, and October are so rainy that it is not possible
to save the crop. It is, however, grown as a forage crop,
for which purpose it serves excellently.
The numerous small valleys, coves, and pockets afford
desirable locations for gardens, berries, and some varieties
of fruit trees.
In the interior encouraging success has been obtained
with grain. The experiments at Copper Centre have not
been so satisfactory as at Rampart, three and a half degrees
farther north, on the Yukon.
At Copper Centre heavy frosts occur as early as August
14 ; while at Rampart no " killing " frosts have been known
before the grain had ripened, in the latter part of August.
Rampart is the loveliest settlement on the Yukon, with
the exception of Tanana. Across the river from Rampart,
the green fields of the Experimental Station slope down
to the water. The experiments carried on here by Superintendent Rader, under the general supervision of
professor Georgeson - who visits the stations yearly - have
been very satisfactory.
Experimental work was begun at Rampart in 1900, and
grain has matured there every year, while at Copper
Centre only one crop of four has matured. In 1906,
owing to dry weather, the growth was slow until the middle of July ; from that date on to the latter part of
August there were frequent rains, causing a later growth
216 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
of grain than usual. The result of these conditions was
that when the first " killing " frost occurred, the grain
was still growing, and all plats, save those seeded earliest,
were spoiled for the finer purposes. The frosted grain
was, however, immediately cut for hay, twenty tons of
which easily sold for four thousand, one hundred and
These results prove that even where grain cannot be
grown to the best advantage, it may be profitably grown
for hay. For the latter purpose larger growing varieties
would be sown, which would produce a much heavier yield and bring larger
profits. At present all the feed consumed in the interior by the horses of pack
trains and of travelers is hauled in from tidewater, - a hundred miles, at
least, and frequently two or three times as far, - and
two hundred dollars a ton for hay is a low price. The
actual cost of hauling a ton of hay from Valdez to Copper Centre, one hundred miles, is more than two hundred
Road-house keepers advertise " specially low " rates on
hay at twenty cents a pound, the ordinary retail price at
that distance from tide-water being five hundred dollars
The most serious drawback to the advancement of agriculture in Alaska is the lack of interest on the part of the
inhabitants. Probably not fifty people could be found in
the territory who went there for the purpose of making
homes. Now and then a lone dreamer of dreams may be
found who lives there - or who would gladly live there,
if he might - only for the beauty of it, which can be found
nowhere else ; and which will soon vanish before the
brutal tread of civilization.
The others go for gold. If they do not expect to dig
it out of the earth themselves, they plan and scheme to
get it out of those who have so acquired it. There is
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 217
no scheme that has not been worked upon Alaska and the
real workers of Alaska.
The schemers go there to get gold ; honestly, if possible,
but to get gold ; to live " from hand to mouth," while
they are there, and to get away as quickly as possible and
spend their gold far from the country which pelted it.
They have neither the time nor the desire to do anything
toward the development of the country itself.
Ex-Governor John G. Brady is one of the few who
have devoted their lives to the interest and the up-building of Alaska.
Thirty years ago he went to Alaska and established his
home at Sitka. There he has lived all these years with
his large and interesting family ; there he still lives.
He has a comfortable home, gardens and orchards that
leave little to be desired, and has demonstrated beyond
all doubt that the man who wishes to establish a modern,
comfortable - even luxurious - home in Alaska, can accomplish his purpose without serious hardship to his
family, however delicate the members thereof may be.
The Bradys are enthusiasts and authorities on all matters pertaining to Alaska.
Governor Brady has been called the " Rose Governor "
of Alaska, because of his genuine admiration for this
flower. He can scarcely talk five minutes on Alaska
without introducing the subject of roses ; and no enthusiast has ever talked more simply and charmingly of the
roses of any land than he talks of the roses of Alaska, -
the cherished ones of the garden, and the big pink ones
of Unalaska and the Yukon.
As missionary and governor, Mr. Brady has devoted
many years to this splendid country ; and the distressful
troubles into which he has fallen of late, through no fault
of his own, can never make a grateful people forget his
unselfish work for the up-building and the civilization of
218 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
Today, Sitka is idyllic. Her charm is too poetic and
too elusive to be described in prose. A greater contrast
than she presents to such hustling, commercial towns as
Juneau, Valdez, Cordova, and Katalla, could scarcely be
conceived. To drift into the harbor of Sitka is like
entering another world.
The Russian influence is still there, after all these years
as it is in Kodiak and Unalaska.
In rough weather, steamers bound for Sitka from the
westward frequently enter Cross Sound and proceed by
way of Icy Straits and Chatham to Peril.
Icy Straits are filled, in the warmest months, with icebergs floating down from the many glaciers to the north.
Of these Muir has been the finest, and is a world-famous
glacier, owing to the charming descriptions written of it
by Mr. John Muir. For several years it was the chief
object of interest on the "tourist" trip ; but early in 1900
an earthquake shattered its beautiful front and so choked
the bay with immense bergs that the steamer Spokane
could not approach closer than Marble Island, thirteen
miles from the front. The bergs were compact and filled
the whole bay. Since that time excursion steamers have
not attempted to enter Glacier Bay.
In the summer of 1907, however, a steamer entered the
bay and, finding it free of ice, approached close to the
famed glacier - only to find it resembling a great castle
whose towers and turrets have fallen to ruin with the passing of years. Where once shone its opaline palisades is
now but a field of crumpled ice.
There are no less than seven glaciers discharging into
Glacier Bay and sending out beautiful bergs to drift up
and down Icy Straits with the tides and winds. Rendu,
Carroll, Grand Pacific, Johns Hopkins, Hugh Miller, and
Geikie front on the bay or its narrow inlets.
220 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
Brady Glacier has a three-mile frontage on Wimbledon,
or Taylor, Bay, which opens into Icy Straits.
When, on her mid-June voyage from Seattle in 1905,
the Santa Ana drew out and away from Sitka, and turning
with a wide sweep, went drifting slowly through the maze
of green islands and set her prow " to Westward," one of
the dreams of my life was "come true."
I was on my way to the far, lonely, and lovely Aleutian
Isles, - the green, green isles crested with fire and snow
that are washed on the north by the waves of Behring
It was a violet day. There were no warm purple tones
anywhere ; but the cool, sparkling violet ones that mean
the nearness of mountains of snow. One could almost
feel the crisp ting of ice in the air, and smell the sunlight
that opalizes, without melting, the ice.
Round and white, with the sunken nest of the thunderbird on its crest, Mount Edgecumbe rose before us ; the
pale green islands leaned apart to let us through ; the sea-
birds, white and lavender and rose-touched, floated with
us ; the throb of the steamer was like a pulse beating in
one's own blood ; there were words in the violet light that
lured us on, and a wild sweet song in the waves that
broke at our prow.
" There can be nothing more beautiful on earth," I said ;
but I did not know. An hour came soon when I stood
with bared head and could not speak for the beauty about
me ; when the speech of others jarred upon me like an
insult, and the throb of the steamer, which had been a
sensuous pleasure, pierced my exaltation like a blow.
The long violet day of delight wore away at last, and
night came on. A wild wind blew from the southwest,
and the mood of the North Pacific Ocean changed. The
ship rolled heavily ; the waves broke over our decks. We
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 221
could see them coming - black, bowing, rimmed with
white. Then came the shock - followed by the awful
shudder and struggle of the boat. The wind was terrific.
It beat the breath back into the breast.
It was terrible and it was glorious. Those were big
moments on the texas of the Santa Ana ; they were worth
living, they were worth while. But on account of the
storm, darkness fell at midnight ; and as the spray was
now breaking in sheets over the bridge and texas, I was
assisted to my cabin - drenched, shivering, happy.
" Shut your door," said the captain, " or you will be
washed out of your berth; and wait till to-morrow."
I wondered what he meant, but before I could ask him,
before he could close my cabin door, a great sea towered
and poised for an instant behind him, then bowed over him
and carried him into the room. It drenched the whole
room and everything and everybody in it ; then swept
out again as the ship rolled to starboard.
My traveling companion in the middle berth uttered
such sounds as I had never heard before in my life, and
will probably never hear again unless it be in the North
Pacific Ocean in the vicinity of Yakutat or Katalla. She
made one attempt to descend to the floor ; but at sight of
the captain who was struggling to take a polite departure
after his anything but polite entrance, she uttered the
most dreadful sound of all and fell back into her berth.
I have never seen any intoxicated man teeter and lurch
as he did, trying to get out of our cabin. I sat upon the
stool where I had been washed and dashed by the sea, and
He made it at last. He uttered no apologies and no
adieux; and never have I seen a man so openly relieved
to escape from the presence of ladies.
I closed the window. Disrobing was out of the question. I could neither stand nor sit without holding
222 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
tightly to something with both hands for support ; and
when I had lain down, I found that I must hold to both
sides of the berth to keep myself in,
" Serves you right," complained the occupant of the
middle berth, "for staying up on the texas until such an
unearthly hour. I'm glad you can't undress. Maybe
you'll come in at a decent hour after this! "
It is small wonder that Behring and Chirikoff disagreed
and drifted apart in the North Pacific Ocean. It is my
belief that two angels would quarrel if shut up in a state-
room in a " Yakutat blow " - than which only a " Yakataga
blow " is worse; and it comes later.
I am convinced, after three summers spent in voyaging
along the Alaskan coast to Nome and down the Yukon,
that quarrelling with one's room-mate on a long voyage
aids digestion. My room-mate and I have never agreed
upon any other subject; but upon this, we are as one.
Neither effort nor exertion is required to begin a
quarrel. It is only necessary to ask with some querulous-
ness, "Are you going to stand before that mirror all
day and hey, presto! we are instantly at it with hammer and tongs.
Toward daylight the storm grew too terrible for further
quarrelling; too big for all little petty human passions.
A coward would have become a man in the face of such a
conflict. I have never understood how one can commit a cowardly act during a storm at sea. One may dance
a hornpipe of terror on a public street when a man thrusts
a revolver into one's face and demands one's money.
That is a little thing, and inspires to little sensations and
little actions. But when a ship goes down into a black hollow of the sea, down, down, so low that it seems as though
she must go on to the lowest, deepest depth of all - and
then lies still, shudders, and begins to mount, higher,
higher, higher, to the very crest of a mountainous wave; if
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 223
God put anything at all of courage and of bravery into
the soul of the human being that experiences this, it conies
to the front now, if ever.
In that most needlessly cruel of all the ocean disasters
of the Pacific Coast, the wreck of the Valencia on Seabird
Reef of the rock-ribbed coast of Vancouver Island, more
than a hundred people clung to the decks and rigging in
a freezing storm for thirty-six hours. There was a young
girl on the ship who was traveling alone. A young man,
an athlete, of Victoria, who had never met her before,
assisted her into the rigging when the decks were all
awash, and protected her there. On the last day before
the ship went to pieces, two life-rafts were successfully
launched. Only a few could go, and strong men were
desired to manage the rafts. The young man in the
rigging might have been saved, for the ones who did go
on the raft were the only ones rescued. But when summoned, he made simple answer : -
"No; I have some one here to care for. I will stay."
Better to be that brave man's wave-battered and fish-
eaten corpse, than any living coward who sailed away and
left those desperate, struggling wretches to their awful
The storm died slowly with the night; and at last we
It was noon when we once more got ourselves up on
deck. The sun shone like gold upon the sea, which
stretched, dimpling, away for hundreds upon hundreds
of miles, to the south and west. I stood looking across
it for some time, lost in thought, but at last something
led me to the other side of the ship.
All unprepared, I lifted my eyes - and beheld before
me the glory and the marvel of God. In all the splendor
of the drenched sunlight, straight out of the violet,
sparkling sea, rose the magnificent peaks of the Fair-
224 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
weather Range and towered against the sky. No great
snow mountains rising from the land have ever affected
me as did that long and noble chain glistening out of the
sea. They seemed fairly to thunder their beauty to the
From Mount Edgecumbe there is no significant break
in the mountain range for more than a thousand miles ;
it is a stretch of sublime beauty that has no parallel.
The Fairweather Range merges into the St. Elias Alps ;
the Alps are followed successively by the Chugach Alps,
the Kenai and Alaskan ranges, - the latter of which
holds the loftiest of them all, the superb Mount McKinley,
and the Aleutian Range, which extends to the end of
the Aliaska Peninsula. The volcanoes on the Aleutian
and Kurile islands complete the ring of snow and fire
that circles around the Pacific Ocean.
Our ship having been delayed by the storm, it was
mid-afternoon when we reached Yakutat. A vast plateau borders the ocean from Cross Sound, north of Baranoff and Chicagoff islands, to Yakutat ; and out of this
plateau rise four great snow peaks - Mount La Perouse,
Mount Crillon, Mount Lituya, and Mount Fairweather -
ranging in height from ten thousand to fifteen thousand
nine hundred feet.
In all this stretch there are but two bays of any size,
Lituya and Dry, and they have only historical importance.
Lituya Bay was described minutely by La Perouse,
who spent some time there in 1786 in his two vessels, the
Astrolabe and Boussole.
The entrance to this bay is exceedingly dangerous ; the
tide enters in a bore, which can only be run at slack tide.
La Perouse lost two boatloads of men in this bore, on
the eve of his departure, - a loss which he describes at
length and with much feeling.
Before finally departing, he caused to be erected a monument to the memory of the lost officers and crew on a
small island which he named Cenotaphe, or Monument,
Isle. A bottle containing a full account of the disaster
and the names of the twenty-one men was buried at the
foot of the monument.
La Perouse named this bay Port des Frangais.
The chronicles of this modest French navigator seem,
226 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
somehow, to stand apart from those of the other early
voyagers, There is an appearance of truth and of fine
feeling in them that does not appear in all.
He at first attempted to enter Yakutat Bay, which he
called the Bay of Monti, in honor of the commandant
of an exploring expedition which he sent out in advance ;
but the sea was breaking with such violence upon the
beach that he abandoned the attempt.
He described the savages of Lituya Bay as treacherous
and thievish. They surrounded the ships in canoes, offering to exchange fresh fish and otter skins for iron, which
seemed to be the only article desired, although glass beads
found some small favor in the eyes of the women.
La Perouse supposed himself to be the first discoverer
of this bay. The Russians, however, had been there years
Tiie savages appeared to be worshippers of the sun.
La Perouse pronounced the bay itself to be the most extraordinary spot on the whole earth. It is a great basin,
the middle of which is unfathomable, surrounded by snow
peaks of great height. During all the time that he was
there, he never saw a puff of wind ruffle the surface of
the water, nor was it ever disturbed, save by the fall of
masses of ice which were discharged from five different
glaciers with a thunderous noise which reechoed from the
farthest recesses of the surrounding mountains. The air
was so tranquil and the silence so undisturbed that the
human voice and the cries of sea-birds lying among the
rocks were heard at the distance of half a league.
The climate was found to be " infinitely milder " than
that of Hudson Bay of the same latitude. Vegetation
was extremely vigorous, pines measuring six feet in diameter and rising to a height of one hundred and forty
Celery, sorrel, lupines, wild peas, yarrow, chicory,
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 227
angelica, violets, and many varieties of grass were found
in abundance, and were used in soups and salads, as
remedies for scurvy.
Strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, the elder, the
willow, and the broom were found then as they are to-
day. Trout and salmon were taken in the streams, and
in the bay, halibut.
It is to be feared that La Perouse was not strong
on birds ; for in the copses he heard singing " linnets,
nightingales, blackbirds, and water quails," whose songs
were very agreeable. It was July, which he called the
"pairing-time." He found one very fine blue jay; and
it is surprising that he did not hear it sing.
For the savages - especially the women - the fastidious Frenchman entertained feelings of disgust and
horror. He could discover no virtues or traits in them
to praise, conscientiously though he tried.
They lived in the same kind of habitations that all the
early explorers found along the coast of Alaska: large
buildings consisting of one room, twenty-five by twenty
feet, or larger. Fire was kindled in the middle of these
rooms on the earth floor. Over it was suspended fish
of several kinds to be smoked. There was always a large
hole in the roof - when there was a roof at all - to
receive the smoke.
About twenty persons of both sexes dwelt in each of
these houses. Their habits, customs, and relations were
indescribably disgusting and indecent.
Their houses were more loathsome and vile of odor
than the den of any beast. Even at the present time in
some of the native villages - notably Belkoffski on the
Aliaskan Peninsula - all the most horrible odors ever
experienced in civilization, distilled into one, could not
equal the stench with which the natives and their habitations reek. As their customs are somewhat cleanlier
228 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
now than they were a hundred and thirty years ago, and
as upon this one point all the early navigators forcibly
agree, we may well conclude that they did not exaggerate.
The one room was used for eating, sleeping, cooking,
smoking fish, washing their clothes - in their cooking
and eating wooden utensils, by the way, which are never
cleansed - and for the habitation of their dogs.
The men pierced the cartilage of the nose and ears for
the wearing of ornaments of shell, iron, or other material.
They filed their teeth down even with the gums with a
piece of rough stone. The men painted their faces and
other parts of their bodies in a " frightful manner " with
ochre, lamp-black, and black lead, mixed with the oil of
the "sea-wolf." Their hair was frequently greased and
dressed with the down of sea-birds ; the women's, also.
A plain skin covered the shoulders of the men, while the
rest of the body was left entirely naked.
The women filled the Frenchman with a lively horror.
The labret in the lower lip, or ladle, as he termed it, wore
unbearably upon his fine nerves. He considered that the
whole world would not afford another custom equally
revolting and disgusting. When the ornament was removed, the lower lip fell down upon the chin, and this
second picture was more hideous than the first.
The gallant Captain Dixon, on his voyage a year later,
was more favorably impressed with the women. He
must have worn rose-colored glasses. He describes their
habits and habitations almost as La Perouse did, but uses no expression of
disgust or horror. He describes the women as being of medium size, having
straight, well- shaped limbs. They painted their faces ; but he prevailed upon
one woman by persuasion and presents to wash her face and hands. Whereupon " her
countenance had all the cheerful glow of an English milkmaid's ; and the healthy
red which suffused her cheeks was even
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 229
beautifully contrasted with the white of her neck ; her eyes
were black and sparkling ; her eyebrows of the same
color and most beautifully arched; her forehead so remarkably clear that the translucent veins were seen
meandering even in their minutest branches - in short,
she would be considered handsome even in England."
The worst adjectives he applied to the labret were
"singular" and "curious."
Don Maurello and other navigators found now and then
a woman who might compete with the beauties of Spain
and other lands ; but none shared the transports of Dixon,
who idealized their virtues and condoned their faults.
Tebenkof located two immense glaciers in the bay of
Lituya, one in each arm, describing them briefly : -
" The icebergs fall from the mountains and float over
the waters of the bay throughout the year. Nothing
disturbs the deep silence of this terribly grand gorge of
the mountains but the thunder of the falling icebergs."-
La Perouse found enormous masses of ice detaching
themselves from five different glaciers. The water was
covered with icebergs, and nearness to the shore was
exceedingly dangerous. His small boat was upset half a
mile from shore by a mass of ice falling from a glacier.
Mr. Muir describes La Perouse Glacier as presenting
grand ice bluffs to the open ocean, into which it occasionally discharged bergs.
All agree that the appearance and surroundings of the
bay are extraordinary.
Yakutat Bay is two hundred and fifteen miles from
Sitka. It was called Behring Bay by Cook and Vancouver, who supposed it to be the bay in which the Dane
anchored in 1741. It was named Admiralty Bay by
Dixon, and the Bay of Monti by La Perouse. The Indian name is the only one which has been preserved.
230 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
It is so peculiarly situated that although several islands
lie in front of it, the full force of the North Pacific Ocean
sweeps into it. At most seasons of the year it is full of
floating ice which drifts down from the glaciers of disenchantment Bay.
At the point on the southern side of the bay which
Dixon named Mulgrave, and where there is a fine harbor,
Baranoff established a colony of Siberian convicts about
1796. His instructions from Shelikoff for the laying-out
of a city in such a wilderness make interesting reading.
" And now it only remains for us to hope that, having
selected on the mainland a suitable place, you will lay out
the settlement with some taste and with due regard for
beauty of construction, in order that when visits are
made by foreign ships, as cannot fail to happen, it may
appear more like a town than a village, and that the
Russians in America may live in a neat and orderly way,
and not, as in Ohkotsk, in squalor and misery, caused by
the absence of nearly everything necessary to civilization.
Use taste as well as practical judgment in locating the
settlement. Look to beauty, as well as to convenience of
material and supplies. On the plans, as well as in reality,
leave room for spacious squares for public assemblies.
Make the streets not too long, but wide, and let them
radiate from the squares. If the site is wooded, let trees
enough stand to line the streets and to fill the gardens,
in order to beautify the place and preserve a healthy atmosphere. Build the houses along the streets, but at some distance from each other, in order to increase the extent of the
town. The roofs should be of equal height, and the architecture as uniform as possible. The gardens should be
of equal size and provided with good fences along the
streets. Thanks be to God that you will at least have
no lack of timber."
In the same letter poor Baranoff was reproached for
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 231
exchanging visits with captains of foreign vessels, and
warned that he might be carried off to California or some
other " desolate " place.
The colony of convicts had been intended as an " agricultural " settlement ; but the bleak location at the foot
of Mount St. Elias made a farce of the undertaking.
The site had been chosen by a mistake. A post and fortifications were erected, but it is not chronicled that
Shelikoff's instructions were carried out. There was
great mortality among the colonists and their families,
and constant danger of attack by the Kolosh. Finally,
in 1805, the fort and settlement were entirely destroyed
by their cruel and revengeful enemies.
The new town of Yakutat is three or four miles from
the old settlement. There is a good wharf at the foot of
a commanding plateau, which is a good site for a city.
On the wharf are a saw-mill and cannery. A stiff climb
along a forest road brings one to a store, several other
business houses, and a few residences.
There are good coal veins in the vicinity. The Yakutat
and Southern Railway leads several miles into the interior,
and handles a great deal of timber.
In 1794 Puget sailed the Chatham through the narrow
channel between the mainland and the islands, leading to
Port Mulgrave - where Portoff was established in a tent
with nine of his countrymen and several hundred Kadiak
natives. He found the channel narrow and dangerous ;
his vessel grounded, but was successfully floated at returning tide. Passage to Mulgrave was found easy,
however, by a channel farther to the westward and
In this bay, as in nearly all other localities on the
Northwest Coast, the Indians coming out to visit them
paddled around the ship two or three times singing a
ceremonious song, before offering to come aboard. They
232 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
gladly exchanged bows, arrows, darts, spears, fish-gigs -
whatever they may be - karaelaykas, or walrus-gut coats,
and needlework for white shirts, collars, cravats, and
other wearing apparel.
An Indian chief stole Mr. Puget's gold watch chain
and seals from his cabin; but it was discovered by Portoff
The cape extending into the ocean south of the town
was the Cape Phipps of the Russians. It has long been
known, however, as Ocean Cape. Cape Manby is on the
opposite side of the bay.
Sailing up Yakutat Bay, the Bay of Disenchantment is
entered and continues for sixty miles, when it merges into
Russell Fiord, which bends sharply to the south and al-
most reaches the ocean.
Enchantment Bay would be a more appropriate name.
The scenery is of varied, magnificent, and ever increasing
beauty. The climax is reached in Russell Fiord - named
for Professor Russell, who explored it in a canoe in 1891.
From Yakutat Bay to the very head of Russell Fiord
supreme splendor of scenery is encountered, surpassing the
most vaunted of the Old World. Within a few miles, one
passes from luxuriant forestation to lovely lakes, lacy
cascades, bits of green valley; and then, of a sudden, all
unprepared, into the most sublime snow-mountain fast-
nesses imaginable, surrounded by glaciers and many of
the most majestic mountain peaks of the world.
Cascades spring, foaming, down from misty heights,
and flowers bloom, large and brilliant, from the water to
the line of snow.
Malaspina, an Italian in the service of Spain, named
Disenchantment Bay. Turner Glacier and the vast Hubbard Glacier discharge into this bay; and from the reports of the Italian, Tabenkoif, and Vancouver, it has
been considered possible that the two glaciers may have
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 233
reached, more than a hundred years ago, across the narrowest bend at the head of Yakutat Bay.
The fiord is so narrow that the tops of the high snow
mountains have the appearance of overhanging their
bases ; and to the canoeist floating down the slender,
translucent water-way, this effect adds to the austerity of
Captains of regular steamers are frequently offered
good prices to make a side trip up Yakutat Bay to the
beginning of Disenchantment; but owing to the dangers
of its comparatively uncharted waters, they usually decline with vigor.
One who would penetrate into this exquisitely beautiful, lone, and enchanted region must trust himself to a
long canoe voyage and complete isolation from his kind.
But what recompense - what life-rememberable joy!
Each country has its spell; but none is so great as the
spell of this lone and splendid land. It is too sacred for
any light word of pen-or lip. The spell of Alaska is the
spell of God; and it holds all save the basest, whether
they acknowledge it or deny. Here are sphinxes and
pyramids built of century upon century's snow ; the
pale green thunder of the cataract ; the roar of the avalanche and the glacier's compelling march; the flow of
mighty rivers ; the unbroken silences that swim from
snow mountain to snow mountain ; and the rose of sunset
whose petals float and fade upon mountain and sea.
As one sails past these mountains days upon days, they
seem to lean apart and withdraw in pearly aloofness,
that others more beautiful and more remote may dawn
upon the enraptured beholder's sight. For hundreds of
miles up and down the coast, and for hundreds into the
interior, they rise in full view from the ocean which
breaks upon the nearer ones. At sunrise and at sunset
each is wrapped in a different color from the others,
234 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
each in its own light, its own glory - caused by its own
peculiar shape and its position among the others.
While the steamer lies at Yakutat passengers may, if
they desire, walk through the forest to the old village,
where there is an ancient Thlinkit settlement. There
is a new one at the new town. The tents and cabins
climb picturesquely among the trees and ferns from the
water up a steep hill.
In 1880 there was a great gold excitement at Yakutat.
Gold was discovered in the black-sand beaches. A
number of mining camps were there until the late
'eighties, and by the use of rotary hand amalgamators,
men were able to clean up forty dollars a day.
The bay was flooded by a tidal wave which left the
beach covered with fish. The oil deposited by their
decay prevented the action of the mercury, and the camp
The sea is now restoring the black sand, and a second
Nome may one day spring up on these hills in a single
As I have said elsewhere, the Yakutat women are
among the finest basket weavers of the coast. A finely
twined Yakutat basket, however small it may be, is a
prize; but the bottom should be woven as finely and
as carefully as the body of the basket. Some of the
younger weavers make haste by weaving the bottom
coarsely, which detracts from both its artistic and commercial value.
The instant the end of the gangway touches the wharf
at Yakutat, the gapy-clad, dark-eyed squaws swarm
aboard. They settle themselves noiselessly along the
promenade decks, disposing their baskets, bracelets,
carved horn spoons, totem-poles, inlaid lamps, and beaded
moccasins about them.
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 235
If, during the hours of animated barter that follow,
one or two of the women should disappear, the wise
woman-passenger will saunter around the ship and take
a look into her stateroom, to make sure that all is well;
else, when she does return to it, she may miss silver-backed mirrors, bottles of lavender water, bits of
that may have been carelessly left in sight, pretty collars
and even waists and hats - to say nothing of the
things which she may later on find.
These poor dark people were born thieves ; and neither
the little education they have received, nor the treatment
accorded them by the majority of white people with
whom they have been brought into contact, has served
to wean them entirely from the habits and the instincts
At Yakutat, no matter how much good sound sense he may possess, the traveler parts with many large
silver dollars. He thinks of Christmas, and counts his
friends on one hand, then on the other; then over again,
When the steamer has whistled for the sixth time to
call in the wandering passengers, and the captain is on the
bridge; when the last squaw has pigeon-toed herself up
the gangway, flirting her gay shawl around her and
chuckling and clucking over the gullibility of the innocent white people; when the last strain from the phonograph in the big store on the hill has died across the
violet water widening between the shore and the with-
drawing ship - the spendthrift passenger retires to his
cabin and finds the berths overflowing and smelling to
heaven with Indian things. Then - too late - he sits
down, anywhere, and reflects.
The western shore of Yakutat Bay is bounded by the
largest glacier in the world - the Malaspina. It has a
sea-frontage of more than sixty miles extending from the
236 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
bay " to Westward"; and the length of its splendid sweep
from its head to the sea at the foot of Mount St. Elias
is ninety miles.
For one whole day the majestic mountain and its
beautiful companion peaks were in sight of the steamer,
before the next range came into view. The sea breaks
sheer upon the ice-palisades of the glacier. Icebergs,
pale green, pale blue, and rose-colored, march out to
meet and, bowing, pass the ship.
One cannot say that he knows what beauty is until he
has cruised leisurely past this glacier, with the mountains
rising behind it, on a clear day, followed by a moonlit
On one side are miles on miles of violet ocean sweeping
away into limitless space, a fleck of sunlight flashing like
a fire-fly in every hollowed wave; on the other, miles on
miles of glistening ice, crowned by peaks of softest snow.
At sunset warm purple mists drift in and settle over
the glacier; above these float banks of deepest rose;
through both, and above them, glimmer the mountains
pearlily, in a remote loveliness that seems not of earth.
But by moonlight to see the glacier streaming down
from the mountains and out into the ocean, into the midnight - silent, opaline, majestic - is worth ten years of
dull, ordinary living.
It is as if the very face of God shone through the
silence and the sublimity of the night.
There is an open roadstead at Yaktag, or Yakataga.
The ship anchors several miles from shore - when the
fierce storms which prevail in this vicinity will permit it
to anchor at all - and passengers and freight are lightered ashore.
I have seen horses hoisted from the deck in their
wooden cages and dropped into the sea, where they were
liberated. After their first frightened, furious plunges,
they headed for the shore, and started out bravely on their
long swim. The surf was running high, and for a time it
seemed that they could not escape being dashed upon the
rocks; but with unerring instinct, they struggled away
from one rocky place after another until they reached a
strip of smooth sand up which they were borne by the
breaking sea, and where they fell for a few moments, exhausted. Then they arose, staggered, threw up their heads
and ran as I have never seen horses run - with such wildness, such gladness, such utterance of the joy of freedom
in the fling of their legs, in the streaming of mane and tail.
They had been penned in a narrow stall under the forward deck for twelve days; they had been battered by
the storms and unable to lie down and rest; they had been
plunged from this condition unexpectedly into the ocean
and compelled to strike out on a long swim for their lives.
The sudden knowledge of freedom; the smell of sun
and air; the very sweet of life itself - all combined to
make them almost frantic in the animal expression of their
238 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
We put down the powerful glasses with which we had
painfully watched every yard of their progress toward the
I looked at the pilot. There was a moisture in his eyes,
which was not entirely a reflection of that in my own.
It is one hundred and seventy miles from Yakutat to
Kayak. Off this stretch of coast, between Lituya and
Cape Suckling, the soundings are moderate and by whalers
have long been known as " Fairweather Grounds."
Just before reaching Kayak, Cape Suckling is
The point of this cape is low. It runs up into a considerable hill, which, in turn, sinking to very low land has
the appearance of an island. It was named by Cook.
Around this cape lies Comptroller Bay - the bay which
should have been named Behring's Bay. It was on the
two islands at its entrance that Behring landed in 1741.
He named one St. Elias; and to this island Cook, in 1778,
gave the name of Kaye, for the excellent reason that the
" Reverend Doctor Kaye " gave him two silver two-penny
pieces of the date of 1772, which he buried in a bottle on
the island, together with the names of his ships and the
date of discovery.
Unhappily this immortal island retains the name which
Cook lightly bestowed upon it, instead of the name given
it by the illustrious Dane. It is now, however, more frequently known as Wingham Island. The settlement of
Kayak is upon it. The southern extremity of the larger
island retains the name St. Elias for the splendid headland
that plunges boldly and challengingly out into the sea. It
is a magnificent sight in a storm, when sea-birds are shrieking over it and a powerful surf is breaking upon its base.
At all times it is a striking landmark.
I have been to Kayak four times. Landings have always
been made by passengers in dories or in tiny launches
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 239
which come out from the settlement, and which bob up
and down like corks.
It requires a cool head to descend a rope-ladder twenty
or thirty feet from the deck to a dory that rolls away
from the ship with every wave and which may only be
entered as it rolls back. There is art in the little kick
which one must give each rung against the side of the
ship to steady the ladder. At the last comes an awful
moment when a woman must hang alone on the last swaying rung and await the return of the dory. If the sea is
rough, the ship will probably roll away from the boat.
When the sailors, therefore, sing out, "Now I Jump!"
she must close her eyes, put her trust in heaven and foreordination, and jump.
If she chances to jump just at the right moment ; if one.
sailor catches her just right and another catches him just
right, she will know by the cheer that arises from hurricane
and texas that all is well and she may open her eyes. Under
other conditions, other situations arise; but let no woman
be deterred by the possibility of the latter from descending a rope-ladder when she has an opportunity. The hair-crinkling moments in an ordinary life are few enough,
There are several business houses and dwellings at
Kayak; and an Indian village. The Indian graveyard is
very interesting. Tiny houses are built over the graves
and surrounded by picket fences. Both are painted white.
Through the windows may be seen some of the belongings
of the dead. In dishes are different kinds of food and
drink, that the deceased may not suffer of hunger or
thirst in the bourne to which he may have journeyed.
There are implements and weapons for the men ; unfinished
baskets for the women, with the long strands of warp and
woof left ready for the idle hand ; for the children, beads
and rattles made of bear claws and shells. The houses
are on posts a few feet above the graves.
240 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
For a number of years Kayak was the base of operation for oil companies. In 1898 the Akska Development
Company staked the country, but later leased their lands
to the Alaska Oil and Coal Company - commonly known
as the " English " company - for a long term of years,
with the privilege of taking up the lease in 1906. This
company spent millions of dollars and drilled several
The Alaska Petroleum and Coal Company - known as
the Lippy Company - put down two holes, one seventeen
hundred feet deep. The cost of drilling is about five
thousand dollars a hole of two thousand feet ; the rig,
laid down, six thousand five hundred dollars.
These wells are situated at Katalla, sixteen miles from
Kayak, at the mouth of the Copper River. The oil lands
extend from the coast to the Malaspina and Behring
Since the recent up-springing of a new town at Katalla,
the centre of trade has been transferred from Kayak to
this point. Katalla was founded in 1904 by the Alaska
Petroleum and Coal Company ; but not until the actual
commencement of work on the Bruner Railway Company's road, in 1907, from Katalla into the heart of the
coal and oil fields, did the place rise to the importance of
a northern town.
It has attained a wide fame within a few months on
account of the remarkable discoveries of high-grade
petroleum and coal in the vicinity.
For many years these two products of Alaska were considered of inferior quality ; but it has recently been discovered that they rival the finest of Pennsylvania.
The town has grown as only a new Alaskan, or Puget
Sound, town can grow. At night, perhaps, there will be
a dozen shacks and as many tents on a town site ; the next
morning a steamer will anchor in the bay bearing government
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 241
offices, stores, hotels, saloons, dance-halls, banks,
offices for several large companies, electric light plants,
gas works, telephones - and before another day dawns,
business is in full swing.
For fifteen miles along the Comptroller Bay water front
oil wells may be seen, some of the largest oil seepages
existing close to the shore. The coal and oil lands of
this vicinity, however, are about a hundred miles in
length and from twenty to thirty in width.
During the fall and early winter of 1907, Katalla suffered a serious menace to its prosperity, owing to its total
lack of a harbor.
The bay is but a mere indentation, and an open roadstead sends its surf to curl upon the unprotected beach.
The storms in winter are ceaseless and terrific. Steamers
cannot land and anchors will not hold.
As Nome, similarly situated, is cut off from the world
for several months by ice, so is Katalla cut off by storms.
Steamer after steamer sails into the roadstead, rolls and
tosses in the trough of the sea, lingers regretfully, and
sails away, without landing even a passenger, or mail.
In October, 1907, one whole banking outfit, including
everything necessary for the opening of a bank, save the
cashier, - who was already there, - and the building, -
which was waiting, - was taken up on a steamer. Not
being able to lighter it ashore, the steamer carried the
bank to Cook Inlet.
Upon its return, conditions again made it impossible to
enter the bay, and the bank was carried back to Seattle.
When the steamer again went north, the bank went, too ;
when the steamer returned, the bank returned.
In the meantime, other events were shaping themselves
in such wise as to render the situation extremely
A few miles northwest of Katalla, the town of Cordova
242 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
was established three years ago, with the terminus of the
Copper River Railway located there. Mr. M. J. Heney,
who had built the White Pass and Yukon Railway,
received the contract for the work. The building of
wharves in the excellent harbor and the laying out of a
town site capable of accommodating twenty thousand
people - and one that might have pleased even the fastidious Shelikoff - was energetically begun.
Early in 1907 the Copper River Railway sold its interests to the Northwestern and Copper River Valley
Railway, promoted by John Rosene, and financed by the
Guggenheims. It was semi-officially announced that the
new company would tear up the Cordova tracks and that
Katalla would be the terminus of the consolidated line.
The announcement precipitated the " boom " at Katalla.
Mr. Heney retired from the new company and spent
the summer voyaging down the Yukon.
Immediately upon his return to Seattle in September,
he journeyed to New York. In a few days, newspapers
devoted columns to the sale of the Rosene interests in
the railway, also a large fleet of first-class steamers, and
wharves, to the Copper River and Northwestern Railway
The contract for the immediate building of the road had been secured by Mr.
Heney, who had returned to his original surveys. The terminus at once traveled back to
Cordova ; and the itinerant bank may yet thank its guiding star which prevented it from getting itself landed at
Important " strikes " are made constantly in the Tanana
country, in the Sushitna, and in the Koyukuk, where pay
is found surpassing the best of the Klondike.
The trail from Valdez to Fairbanks may yet be as
thickly strewn with eager-eyed stampeders as were the
Dyea and Skagway trails a decade ago. Never again,
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 243
however, in any part of Alaska, can the awful conditions
of that time prevail. Steamer, rail, and stage transportation have made
traveling in the North luxurious, compared to the horrors endured in the old days.
The Guggenheims have been compelled to carry on a
fantastic fight for right of way for the Copper River and
Northwestern Railroad. In the summer of 1907, they
attempted to lay track at Katalla over the disputed
Bruner right of way. The Bruner Company had constructed an immense "go-devil" of railway rails, which,
operated by powerful machinery, could be swung back
and forth over the disputed point. It was operated by
armed men behind fortifications.
The Bruner concern was known as the Alaska-Pacific
Transportation and Terminal Company, financed by Pitts-
burg capital, and proposed building a road to the coal
regions, thence to the Copper River. They sought right
of way by condemnation proceedings.
The town site of Katalla is owned by the Alaska
Petroleum and Coal Company, which had deeded a right
of way to the Guggenheims; also, a large tract of land
for smelter purposes. At one point it was necessary for
the latter to cross the right of way of the Bruner road.
The trouble began in May, when the Bruner workmen
dynamited a pile-driver and trestle belonging to the
Guggenheims, who had then approached within one hundred feet of the Bruner right of way.
On July 3 a party of Guggenheim laborers, under the
protection of a fire from detachments of armed men, succeeded in laying track over the disputed right of way.
Tony de Pascal daringly led the construction party
and received the reward of a thousand dollars offered by
the Guggenheims to the man who would successfully lead
the attacking forces. Soon afterward, he was shot dead
by one of his own men who mistook him for a member
244 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
of the opposing force. Ten other men were seriously
injured by bullets from the Bruner block-houses.
In the autumn of the same year a party of men surveying for the Reynolds Home Railway, from Valdez to
the Yukon, met armed resistance in Keystone Canyon
from a force of men holding right of way for the Guggenheims. A battle occurred in which one man was
killed and three seriously wounded.
The wildest excitement prevailed in fiery Valdez, and
probably only the proximity of a United States military
post prevented the lynching of the men who did the
Ever since the advent of the Russians, Copper River
has been considered one of the bonanzas of Alaska. It
was discovered in 1783 by Nagaief, a member of Potap
Zaikoff's party. He ascended it for a short distance and
traded with the natives, who called the river Atnah.
Rufus Serrebrennikof and his men attempted an exploration, but were killed. General Miles, under Abercrombie,
attempted to ascend the river in 1884, with the intention of coming out by the Chilkaht country; but the
expedition was a failure. In the following year Lieu-
tenant H. T. Allen successfully ascended the river,
crossed the divide to the Tanana, sailed down that
stream to the Yukon, explored the Koyukuk, and then
proceeded down the Yukon to St. Michael and returned
to San Francisco by ocean.
His description of Miles Glacier was the first to be
printed. This glacier fronts for a distance of six miles
in splendid palisades on Copper River. This and Childs
Glacier afford the chief obstacles to navigation on this
river, and Mr. A. H. Brooks reports their rapid recession.
The river is regarded as exceedingly dangerous for
steamers, but may, with caution, be navigated with
small boats. Between the mouth of the Chitina and
the head of the broad delta of the Copper River, is the
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 245
only canyon. It is the famous Wood Canyon, several
miles in length and in many places only forty yards
wide, with the water roaring through perpendicular
stone walls. The Tiekel, Tasnuna, and other streams
tributary to this part of the Copper also flow through
narrow valleys with precipitous slopes.
The Copper River has its source in the mountains east
of its great plateau, whose eastern margin it traverses,
and then, passing through the Chugach Mountains, debouches across a wide delta into the North Pacific Ocean
between Katalla and Cordova. It rises close to Mount
Wrangell, flows northward for forty miles, south and
southwest for fifty more, when the Chitina joins it from
the east and swells its flood for the remaining one hundred and fifty miles to the coast.
The Copper is a silt-laden, turbulent stream from its
source to the sea. Its average fall is about twelve feet
to the mile. From the Chitina to its mouth, it is steep-sided and rock-bound; for its entire length, it is weird
By land, the distance from Katalla to Cordova is insignificant. It is a distance, however, that cannot as
yet be traversed, on account of the delta and other impassable topographic features, which only a railroad can
overcome. The distance by water is about one hundred
and fifty miles.
In the entrance to Cordova Bay is Hawkins Island,
and to the southwest of this island lies Hinchingbroke
Island, whose southern extremity, at the entrance to
Prince William Sound, was named Cape Hinchingbroke
by Cook in 1778. At a point named Snug Corner Bay
Cook keeled and mended his ships.
This peerless sound itself - brilliantly blue, greenly
islanded, and set round with snow peaks and glaciers,
including among the latter the most beautiful one of
246 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
Alaska, if not the most beautiful of the world, the
Columbia - was known as Chugach Gulf - a name to
which I hope it may some day return, - until Cook
A boat sent out by Cook was pursued by natives in
canoes. They seemed afraid to approach the ship; but
at a distance sang, stood up in the canoes, extending their
arms and holding out white garments of peace. One man
stood up, entirely nude, with his arms stretched out like
a cross, motionless, for a quarter of an hour.
The following night a few natives came out in the
skin-boats of the Eskimos. These boats are still used
from this point westward and northward to Nome and
vip the Yukon as far as the Eskimos have settlements.
They are of three kinds. One is a large, open, flat-
bottomed boat. It is made of a wooden frame, covered
with walrus skin or sealskin, held in place by thongs of
the former. This is called an oomiak by the Innuits or
Eskimos, and a bidarra by the Russians. It is used by
women, or by large parties of men.
A boat for one man is made in the same fashion, but
covered completely over, with the exception of one hole
in which the occupant sits, and around which is an up-
right rim. When at sea he wears a walrus-gut coat,
completely waterproof, which he ties around the outside
of the rim. The coat is securely tied around the wrists,
and the hood is drawn tightly around the face ; so that
no water can possibly enter the boat in the most severe
storm. This boat is called a bidarka.
The third, called a kayak, differs from the bidarka
only in being longer and having two or three holes.
The walrus-gut coats are called kamelinkas or kamelaykas. They may be purchased in curio stores, and at
Seldovia and other places on Cook Inlet. They are now
gaily decorated with bits of colored wool and range in
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 247
price from ten to twenty dollars, according to the amount
of work upon them.
There is a difference of opinion regarding the names
of the boats. Dall claims that the one-holed boat was
called a kayak by the natives, and by the Russians a
bidarka; and that the others were simply known as two
or three holed bidarkas. The other opinion, which I
have given, is that of people living in the vicinity at
Each of the men who came out in the bidarkas to visit
Cook had a stick about three feet long, the end of which
was decorated with large tufts of feathers. Behring's
men were received in precisely the same manner at the
Shumagin Islands, far to westward, in 1741; their sticks,
according to Miller, being decorated with hawks' wings.
These natives were found to be thievish and treacherous, attempting to capture a boat under the ship's very
guns and in the face of a hundred men.
Cook then sailed southward and discovered the largest
island in the sound, the Sukluk of the natives, which he
Nutchek, or Port Etches, as it was named by Portlock,
is just inside the entrance to the sound on the western
shore of the island that is now known as Hinchingbroke,
but which was formerly called Nutchek.
Here Baranoff, several years later, built the ships that
bore his first expedition to Sitka. The Russian trading
post was called the Redoubt Constantine and Elena. It
was a strong, stockaded fort with two bastions.
There is a salmon cannery at Nutchek, and the furs of
the Copper River country were brought here for many
years for barter.
Orca is situated about three miles north of Cordova, in
Cordova Bay. There is a large salmon cannery at Orca ;
and the number of sea-birds to be seen in this small bay,
248 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
filling the air in snowy clouds and covering the precipitous cliffs facing the wharf, is surpassed in only one
place on the Alaskan coast - Karluk Bay.
For several years before the founding of Valdez, Orca
was used as a port by the argonauts who crossed by way
of Valdez Pass to the Copper River mining regions, and
by way of the Tanana River to the Yukon.
Prince William Sound is one of the most nobly beautiful bodies of water in Alaska. Its wide blue water-sweeps, its many mountainous, wooded, and snow-peaked
islands, the magnificent glaciers which palisade its ice-
inlets, and the chain of lofty, snowy mountains that
float mistily, like linked pearls, around it through the
amethystine clouds, give it a poetic and austere beauty
of its own. Every slow turn of the prow brings forth
some new delight to the eye. Never does one beautiful
snow-dome fade lingeringly from the horizon, ere another
pushes into the exquisitely colored atmosphere, in a chaste
beauty that fairly thrills the heart of the beholder.
The sound, or gulf, extends winding blue arms in every
direction, - into the mainland and into the many islands.
It covers an extent of more than twenty-five hundred
square miles. The entrance is about fifty miles wide, but is
sheltered by countless islands. The largest and richest are
Montagu, Hinchingbroke, La Touche, Knight's, and Hawkins. There are many excellent harbors on the shores of
the gulf and on the islands, and the Russians built several
ships here. In Chalmers Bay Vancouver discovered a
remarkable point, which bore stumps of trees cut with an
axe, but far below low-water mark at the time of his discovery. He named it Sinking Point.
There is a portage from the head of the gulf to Cook Inlet,
which, the earliest Russians learned, had long been used by
the natives, who are of the Innuit, or Eskimo, tribe, similar to those of the Inlet, and are called Chugaches. The
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 249
northern shore of Kenai and the western coast of the
Inlet are occupied by Indians of the Athabascan stock.
Cook found the natives of the gulf of medium size,
with square chests and large heads. The complexion of
the children and some of the younger women was white ;
many of the latter having agreeable features and pleasing appearance. They were vivacious, good-natured, and of
These people, of all ages and both sexes, wore a close
robe reaching to the ankles - sometimes only to the
knees - made of the skins of sea-otter, seal, gray fox, raccoon, and pine-marten. These garments were worn with
the fur outside. Now and then one was seen made of the
down of sea-birds, which had been glued to some other
substance. The seams were ornamented with thongs, or
tassels, of the same skins.
In rain they wore kamelinkas over the fur robes.
Cook's description of a kamelinka as resembling a "goldbeater's leaf " is a very good one.
His understanding of the custom of wearing the labret,
however, differs from that of other early navigators. The
incision in the lip, he states, was made even in the chil-
dren at the breast ; while La Perouse and others were
of the impression that it was not made until a girl had
arrived at a marriageable age.
It appears that the incision in time assumes the shape
of real lips, through which the tongue may be thrust.
One of Cook's seamen, seeing for the first time a
woman having the incision from which the labret had
been removed, fell into a panic of horror and ran to his
companions, crying that he " had seen a man with two
mouths," - evidently mistaking the woman for a man.
Cook reported that both sexes wore the labret ; but this
was doubtless an error. When they are clad in the fur
250 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
garments, which are called parkas, it is difficult to distinguish one sex from the other among the younger people.
I had a rather amusing experience myself at the small
native settlement of Anvik on the Yukon. It was midnight, but broad daylight, as we were in the Arctic Circle.
The natives were all clad in parkas. Two sitting side by
side resembled each other closely. After buying some of
their curios, I asked one, indicating the other, ' Is she
your sister ? "
To my confusion, my question was received with a
loud burst of laughter, in which a dozen natives, sitting
around them, hoarsely and hilariously joined.
They poked the unfortunate object of my curiosity in
the ribs, pointed at him derisively, and kept crying -
"She! She!" until at last the poor young fellow, not
more embarrassed than myself, sprang to his feet and ran
away, with laughter and cries of "She! She!" following
I have frequently recalled the scene, and feared that
the innocent dark-eyed and sweet-smiling youth may have
retained the name which was so mirthfully bestowed upon
him that summer night.
But since the mistake in sex may be so easily made, I
am inclined to the belief that Cook and his men were misled in this particular.
A most remarkable difference of opinion existed between Cook and other early explorers as to the cleanliness
of the natives. He found their method of eating decent
and cleanly, their persons neat, without grease or dirt,
and their wooden dishes in excellent order.
The white-headed eagle was found here, as well as the
shag, the great kingfisher of brilliant coloring, the humming-bird, water-fowl, grouse, snipe, and plover. Many
other species of water and land fowl have been added to
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 251
The flora of the islands is brilliant, varied, and luxuriant.
In 1786 John Meares - who is dear to my heart be-
cause of his confidence in Juan de Fuca - came to disaster in the Chugach Gulf. Overtaken by winter, he first
tried the anchorage at Snug Corner Cove, in his ship, the
Nootka, but later moved to a more sheltered nook closer
to the mainland, in the vicinity of the present native village of Tatithk.
The ill-provisioned vessel was covered for the winter ;
spruce beer was brewed, but the men preferred the liq-
uors, which were freely served, and, fresh fish being
scarce, scurvy became epidemic. The surgeon was the
first to die ; but he was followed by many others.
At first, graves were dug under the snow ; but soon
the survivors were too few and too exhausted for this
last service to their mates. The dead were then dropped
in fissures of the ice which surrounded their ship.
At last, when the lowest depth of despair had been
reached. Captains Portlock and Dixon arrived and furnished relief and assistance.
In 1787-1788 the Chugach Gulf presented a strange appearance to the natives,
not yet familiar with the presence of ships. Englishmen under different flags, Russians and Spaniards, were sailing to all parts of the gulf,
taking possession in the names of different nations of all
the harbors and islands.
In Voskressenski Harbor - now known as Resurrection Bay, where the new railroad town of Seward is situated - the first ship ever built in Alaska was launched by
Baranoff, in 1791. It was christened the Phoenix, and
was followed by many others.
Preparations for ship-building were begun in the winter of 1791. Suitable
buildings, storehouses, and quarters for the men were erected. There were no
large saws, and planks were hewn out of whole logs. The iron
252 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
required was collected from wrecks in all parts of the colonies ; steel for axes was procured in the same way.
Having no tar, Baranoff used a mixture of spruce gum
Provisions were scarce, and no time was allowed for
hunting or fishing. So severe were the hardships endured
that no one but Baranoff could have kept up his courage
and that of his suffering men, and cheered them on to
The Phoenix which was probably named for an English ship which had visited the Chugach Gulf in 1792 -
was built of spruce timber, and was seventy-three feet
long. It was provided with two decks and three masts.
The calking above the water-line was of moss. The sails
were composed of fragments of canvas gathered from all
parts of the colonies.
On her first voyage to Kadiak, the Phoenix encountered
a storm which brought disaster to her frail rigging ; and
instead of sailing proudly into harbor, as Baranoff had
hoped, she was ignominiously towed in.
But she was the first vessel built in the colonies to
enter that harbor in any fashion, and the Russian joy was
great. The event was celebrated by solemn Mass, followed by high eating and higher drinking.
The Phoenix was refitted and re-rigged and sent out on
her triumphal voyage to Okhotsk. There she arrived
safely and proudly. She was received with volleys of
artillery, the ringing of bells, the celebration of Mass, and
great and joyous feasting.
A cabin and deck houses were added, the vessel was
painted, and from that time until her loss in the Alaskan
Gulf, the Phoenix regularly plied the waters of Behring
Sea and the North Pacific Ocean between Okhotsk and
the Russian colonies in America.
Ellamar is a small town on Virgin Bay, Prince William Sound, at the entrance
to Puerto de Valdes, or Valdez Narrows. It is very prettily situated on a gently
It has a population of five or six hundred, and is the
home of the Ellamar Mining Company. Here are the
headquarters of a group of copper properties known as
the Gladdaugh mines.
One of the mines extends under the sea, whose waves
wash the buildings. It has been a large and regular
shipper for several years. In 1903 forty thousand tons
of ore were shipped to the Tacoma smelter, and shipments
have steadily increased with every year since.
The mine is practically a solid mass of iron and copper
pyrites. It has a width of more than one hundred and
twenty -five feet where exposed, and extends along the strike
for a known distance of more than three hundred feet.
The vast quantities of gold found in Alaska have, up to
the present time, kept the other rich mineral products of
the country in the background. Copper is, at last, coming into her own. The year of 1907 brought forth tremendous developments in copper properties. The Guggenheim-Morgan-Rockefeller syndicate has kept experts
in every known, or suspected, copper district of the North
during the last two years. Cordova, the sea terminus of
the new railroad, is in the very heart of one of the richest
copper districts. The holdings of this syndicate are al-
254 ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY
ready immense and cover every district. The railroad
will run to the Yukon, with branches extending into
every rich region.
Other heavily financed companies are preparing to rival
the Guggenheims, and individual miners will work their
claims this year. Experts predict that within a decade
Alaska will become one of the greatest copper-producing
countries of the world. In the Copper River country
alone, north of Valdez, there is more copper, according
to expert reports, than Montana or Michigan ever has
produced, or ever will produce.
The Ketchikan district is also remarkably rich. At
Niblack Anchorage, on Prince of Wales Island, the ore
carries five per cent of copper, and the mines are most
favorably located on tide-water.
Native copper, associated with gold, has been found on
Turnagain Arm, in the country tributary to the Alaska
A half interest in the Bonanza, a copper mine on the
western side of La Touche Island, Prince William Sound,
was sold last year for more than a million dollars. This
mine is not fully developed, but is considered one of the
best in Alaska. It has an elevation of two hundred feet.
Several tunnels have been driven, and the ore taken out
runs high in copper, gold, and silver. One shipment of
one thousand two hundred and thirty-five pounds gave
net returns of fifty dollars to the ton, after deducting
freight to Tacoma, smelting, refining, and an allowance
of ninety-five per cent for the silver valuation. A sample
taken along one tunnel for sixty feet gave an assay of
over nine per cent copper, with one and a quarter ounces
The Bonanza was purchased in 1900 by Messrs. Beatson and Robertson for seventy-two thousand dollars.
There is a good wharf and a tramway line to the mine.
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 256
Adjoining the Bonanza on the north is a group of
eleven claims owned by Messrs. Esterly, Meenach, and
Keyes, which are in course of development. There are
many other rich claims on this island, on Knight's, and
on others in the sound. Timber is abundant, the water
power is excellent, and ore is easily slapped.
There is an Indian village two or three miles from
Ellamar. It is the village of Tatithk, the only one now
remaining on the sound, so rapidly are the natives vanishing under the evil influence of civilization. Ten years ago
there were nine hundred natives in the various villages on
the shores of the sound ; while now there are not more
than two hundred, at the most generous calculation.
White men prospecting and fishing in the vicinity of
the village supply them with liquor. When a sufficient
quantity can be purchased, the entire village, men and
women, indulges in a prolonged and horrible debauch
which frequently lasts for several weeks.
The death rate at Tatithk is very heavy, - more than
a hundred natives having died during 1907.
Passengers have time to visit this village while the
steamer loads ore at Ellamar.
The loading of ore, by the way, is a new experience.
A steamer on which I was traveling once landed at Ella-
mar during the night.
We were rudely awakened from our dreams by a sound
which Lieutenant Whidbey would have called "most stupendously dreadful." We thought that the whole bottom
of the ship must have been knocked off by striking a reef,
and we reached the floor simultaneously.
I have no notion how my own eyes looked, but my
friend's eyes were as large and expressive as bread-and-butter plates.
" We are going down ! " she exclaimed, with tragic
256 ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY
At that instant the dreadful sound was repeated. We
were convinced that the ship was being pounded to pieces
under us upon rocks. Without speech we began dressing
with that haste that makes fingers become thumbs.
But suddenly a tap came upon our door, and the watch-
man's voice spoke outside.
" Ladies, we are at Ellamar."
" Yes. You asked to be called if it wasn't midnight
when we landed."
"But what is that awful noise, watchman?"
" Oh, we're loading ore," he answered cheerfully, and
All that night and part of the next day tons upon tons
of ore thundered into the hold. We could not sleep, we
could not talk ; we could only think ; and the things we
thought shall never be told, nor shall wild horses drag
them from us.
We dressed, in desperation, and went up to " the
store " ; sat upon high stools, ate stale peppermint candy,
and listened to " Uncle Josh " telling his parrot story
through the phonograph.
Somehow, between the ship and the store, we got ourselves through the night and the early morning hours.
After breakfast we found the green and flowery slopes
back of the town charming ; and a walk of three miles
along the shore to the Indian village made us forget the
ore for a few hours. But to this day, when I read that
an Alaskan ship has brought down hundreds of tons of
ore to the Tacoma smelter, my heart goes out silently to
the passengers who were on that ship when the ore was
When seen under favorable conditions, the Columbia
Glacier is the most beautiful thing in Alaska. I have
visited it twice ; once at sunset, and again on an all-day
excursion from Valdez.
The point on the western side of the entrance to
Puerto de Valdes, as it was named by Fidalgo, was named
Point Fremantle by Vancouver. Just west of this point
and three miles north of the Conde, or Glacier, Island is
the nearly square bay upon which the glacier fronts.
Entering this bay from the Puerto de Valdes, one is instantly conscious of
the presence of something wonderful and mysterious. Long before it can be seen,
this presence is felt, like that of a living thing. Quick, vibrant,
thrilling, and inexpressibly sweet, its breath sweeps out to
salute the voyager and lure him on ; and with every sense
alert, he follows, but with no conception of what he is to
One may have seen glaciers upon glaciers, yet not be
prepared for the splendor and the magnificence of the one
that palisades the northern end of this bay.
The Fremantle Glacier was first seen by Lieutenant
Whidbey, to whose cold and unappreciative eyes so many
of the most precious things of Alaska were first revealed.
He simply described it as " a solid body of compact, elevated ice . . . bounded at no great distance by a continuation of the high ridge of snowy mountains."
He heard "thunder-like" noises, and found that they
258 ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY
had been produced by the breaking off and headlong
plunging into the sea of great bodies of ice.
In such wise was one of the most marvelous things of
the world first seen and described.
The glacier has a frontage of about four miles, and its
glittering palisades tower upward to a height of from
three to four hundred feet. There is a small island, named
Heather, in the bay. Poor Whidbey felt the earth shake
at a distance of three miles from the falling ice.
In ordinary light, the front of the glacier is beautifully
blue. It is a blue that is never seen in anything save a glacier or a floating iceberg - a pale, pale blue that seems to
flash out fire with every movement. At sunset, its beauty
holds one spellbound. It sweeps down magnificently
from the snow peaks which form its fit setting and pushes
out into the sea in a solid wall of spired and pinnacled
opal which, ever and anon breaking off, flings over it
clouds of color which dazzle the eyes. At times there is
a display of prismatic colors. Across the front grow,
fade and grow again, the most beautiful rainbow shadings.
They come and go swiftly and noiselessly, affecting one
somewhat like Northern Lights - so still, so brilliant, so
There was silence upon our ship as it throbbed in, slowly
and cautiously, among the floating icebergs - some of
which were of palest green, others of that pale blue I have
mentioned, and still others of an enchanting rose color.
Even the woman who had, during the whole voyage, taken
the finest edge off our enjoyment of every mountain by
drawling out, "Oh - how - pretty! George, will you
just come here and look at this pretty mountain ? It
looks good enough to eat " - even this woman was speech-
less now, for which blessing we gave thanks to God, of
which we were not even conscious at the time.
It was still fired as brilliantly upon our departure as
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 259
upon our entrance into its presence. The June sunset in
Alaska draws itself out to midnight ; and ever since, I
have been tormented with the longing to lie before that
glacier one whole June night ; to hear its falling columns
thunder off the hours, and to watch the changing colors
play upon its brilliant front.
Even in the middle of the day a peculiarly soft and
rich rose color flashes from it and over it. One who has
seen the first snow sifting upon a late rose of the garden
may guess what a delicate, enchanting rose color it is.
There are many fine glaciers barricading the inlets and
bays in this vicinity; in Port Nell Juan, Applegate Arm,
Port Wells, Passage Canal - which leads to the portage
to Cook Inlet - and Unakwik Bay; but they are scarcely
to be mentioned in the same breath with the Fremantle.
The latter has been known as the Columbia since the Harriman expedition in 1899. It has had no rival since the
destruction of the Muir.
Either the disagreeable features of the Alaskan climate
have been grossly exaggerated, or I have been exceedingly
fortunate in the three voyages I have made along the coast to Unalaska, and down
the Yukon to Nome. On one voyage I traveled continuously for a month by water,
experiencing only three rainy days and three cloudy ones.
All the other days were clear and golden, with a blue sky,
a sparkling sea, and air that was sweet with sunshine,
flowers, and snow. I have never been in Alaska in winter,
but I have for three years carefully compared the weather
reports of different sections of that country with those of
other cold countries ; and no intelligent, thoughtful person can do this without arriving at conclusions decidedly
favorable to Alaska.
Were Alaska possessed of the same degree of civilization that is enjoyed by St. Petersburg, Chicago, St. Paul,
260 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
Minneapolis, and New York, we would hear no more .of
the rigors of the Alaskan climate than we hear of those
of the cities mentioned. It is more agreeable than the
climate of Montana, Nebraska, or the Dakotas.
With large cities, rich and gay cities ; prosperous inhabitants clad in costly furs ; luxurious homes, well warmed
and brilliantly lighted ; railway trains, sleighs, and auto-
mobiles for transportation ; splendid theatres, libraries,
art galleries, - with these and the hundreds of advantages
enjoyed by the people of other cold countries, Alaska's
winters would hold no terrors.
It is the present loneliness of the winter that appalls.
The awful spaces and silences ; the limitless snow plains ;
the endless chains of snow mountains ; the silent, frozen
rivers ; the ice-stayed cataracts ; the bitter, moaning
sea ; the hastily built homes, lacking luxuries, sometimes
even comforts ; the poverty of congenial companionship ;
the dearth of intelligent amusements - these be the conditions that make all but the stoutest hearts pause.
But the stout heart, the heart that loves Alaska! Pity
him not, though he spend all the winters of his life in its
snow-bound fastnesses. He is not for pity. Joys are his
of which those that pity him know not.
According to a report prepared by Lieutenant- Colonel
Glassford, of the United States Signal Corps Service, on
February 5, 1906, the temperature was twenty-six degrees
above zero in Grand Junction, Colorado, and in Salchia,
Alaska ; twenty-two degrees in Flagstaff, Arizona, Memphis, Salt Lake, Spokane, and Summit, Alaska ; fourteen
degrees in Cairo, Illinois, Cincinnati, Little Rock, Pittsburgh, and Delta, Alaska ; twelve degrees in Santa Fe
and in Fort Egbert and Eagle, on the Yukon ; ten degrees in Helena, Buffalo, and Workman's, Alaska ; zero
in Denver, Dodge, Kansas, and Fairbanks and Chena,
Alaska; live degrees below in Dubuque, Omaha, and
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 261
Copper Centre and Matanuska, Alaska ; ten degrees below in Huron, Michigan, and in Gokona, Alaska ; fifteen
degrees below in Bismarck, St. Paul, and in Tanana
Crossing, Alaska ; twenty degrees below in Fort Brady,
Michigan, and in Ketchumstock, Alaska.
Statistics giving the absolute mean minimum temperature in the capital cities of the United States prove that
out of the forty-seven cities, thirty-one were as cold or
colder than Sitka, and four were colder than Valdez.
On the southern coast of Alaska there are few points
where zero is recorded, the average winter weather at Juneau, Sitka, Valdez, and Seward being milder than in Washington, D.C. In the interior, the weather is much colder,
but it is the dry, light cold. At Fairbanks, it is true
that the thermometer has registered sixty degrees below
zero ; but it has done the same in the Dakotas and other
states, and is unusual. Severely cold weather occurs in
Alaska as rarely as in other cold countries, and remains
but a few days.
Alaska has unfortunately had the reputation of having
an unendurable climate thrust upon her, first by such
chill-blooded navigators as Whidbey and Vancouver ; and
later, by the gold seekers who rushed, frenziedly, into
the unsettled wastes, with no preparation for the intense
cold which at times prevails.
Almost every winter in Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana,
and the Dakotas, children of the prairies and their teachers
freeze to death going to or from school, and it is accepted as
a matter of course. In Alaska, where hundreds of men
traverse hundreds of miles by dog sleds and snow-shoes,
with none of the comforts of more civilized countries and
with road houses few and far, if two or three in a winter
freeze to death, the tragedy is wired to all parts of the
world as another mute testimony to the " tremendously
horrible " climate of Alaska.
262 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
The intense heat, of which dozens of people perish
every summer in New York and other eastern states is
unknown in Alaska. Cyclones and cloud-bursts are unchronicled. Fatal epidemics of disease among white
people have never yet occurred.
As for the summer climate of Alaska, both along the
coast and in the interior, it is possessed of a charm and
fascination which cannot be described in words.
" You can just taste the Alaska climate," said an old
Klondiker, on a White Pass and Yukon train. We were
standing between cars, clinging to the brakes - sooty-
eyed, worn-out with joy as we neared White Horse, but
standing and looking still, unwilling to lose one moment
of that beautiful trip.
"It tastes different every hundred miles," he went on.
Math that beam in his eye which means love of Alaska in
the heart. " You begun to taste it in Grenville Channel.
It tasted different in Skagway, and there's a big change
when you get to White Horse. I golly! at White Horse,
you'll think you never tasted anything like it ; but it
don't hold a candle there to the way it tastes going down
the Yukon. If you happen to get into the Artic Circle,
say, about two in the morning, you dress yourself and
hike out on deck, an' I darn! you can taste more'n climate. You can taste the Ar'tic Circle itself ! Say, can
you guess what it tastes like ? "
I could not guess what the Arctic Circle tasted like,
and frankly confessed it.
"Well, say, weepin' Sinew! It tastes like icicles made
out of them durn little blue flowers you call voylets. I
picked some out from under the snow once, an' eat 'em.
There was moisture froze all over 'em - so I know how
they taste; and that's the way the Ar'tic Circle tastes,
with - well, maybe a little rum mixed in, the way they
fix things up at the Butler down in Seattle. I darn! . . .
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 263
Just you remember, when you get to the Circle, an' say,
straight goods, if Cyanide Bill ain't right."
" Talkin' about climate," he resumed, as the train hesi-
tated in passing the Grand Canyon, "there's a well at
White Horse that's got the climate of the hull Yukon
country in it. It's about two blocks toward the rapids
from White Pass Hotel. It stands on a vacant lot about
fifty steps from the sidewalk, on your right hand goin'
toward the Rapids. Well, I darn ! I've traipsed over
every country on this earth, an' I never tasted such water.
Not anywheres ! You see, it's dug right down into solid
ice an' the sun just melts out a little water at a time, an'
ever pthing nice in Alaska tastes in that water - ice an'
snow, an' flowers an' sun - "
" Do you write poetry ? " I asked, smiling.
His face lightened.
"No; but say - there's a young fellow in White Horse
that does. He's wrote a whole book of it. His name's
Robert Service. Say, I'd shoot up anybody that said his
poetry wasn't the real thing."
" I'm sure it is," said I, hastily.
" You bet it is. You can hear the Yukon roar, an' the
ice break up an' go down the river, standin' up on end in
chunks twenty feet high, an' carryan' everything with it ;
you can wade through miles an' miles of flowers an' gether
your hands full of 'em an' think there's a woman somewhere waitin' for you to take 'em to her ; you can tromp
through tundra an' over rocks till your feet bleed ; you can
go blind lookin' for gold ; you can get kissed by the prettiest girl in a Dawson dance hall, an' then get jilted for some
younger fellow ; you can hear glaciers grindin' up, an' avylanches tearin' down the mountains ; you can starve to
death an' freeze to death ; you can strike a gold mine an'
go home to your family a millionnaire an' have 'em like you
again ; you can drink champagne an' eat sour-dough ; you
264 ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY
can feel the heart break up inside of you - an' yes, I God !
you can go down on your knees an' say your prayers again
like your mother showed you how ! You can do every
one of them damn fool things when you're readin' that
Service fellow's poetry. So that's why I'm ready to shoot
up anybody that says, or intimates, that his poetry ain't
the genuine article."
Port Valdez or the Puerto de Valdes, as it was
named by Vancouver after Whidbey's exploration - is a
fiord twelve miles long and of a beauty that is simply enchanting.
On a clear day it winds like a pale blue ribbon between
colossal mountains of snow, with glaciers streaming down
to the water at every turn. The peaks rise, one after an-
other, sheer from the water, pearl-white from summit to
It has been my happiness and my good fortune always
to sail this fiord on a clear day. The water has been as
smooth as satin, with a faint silvery tinge, as of frost,
shimmering over its blue.
At the end, Port Valdez widens into a bay, and upon
the bay, in the shadow of her mountains, and shaded by
her trees, is Valdez.
Valdez! The mere mention of the name is sufficient to
send visions of loveliness glimmering through the memor3%
Through a soft blur of rose-lavender mist shine houses,
glacier, log-cabins, and the tossing green of trees ; the
wild, white glacial torrents pouring down around the
town ; and the pearly peaks linked upon the sky.
Valdez was founded in 1898. During the early rush
to the Klondike, one of the routes taken was directly
over the glacier. In 1898 about three thousand people
landed at the upper end of Port Valdez, followed the
glacier, crossed over the summit of the Chugach Mountains,
266 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
and thence down a fork of the Copper River. The
route was dangerous, and attended by many hardships
and real suffering.
At first hundreds of tents whitened the level plain at
the foot of the glacier ; then, one by one, cabins were
built, stocks were brought in for trading purposes,
saloons and dance halls sprang up in a night, - and
In this year Captain Abercrombie, of the United States
Army, crossed the glacier with his entire party of men
and horses and reached the Tanana. In the following
year, surveys were made under his direction for a military
wagon trail over the Chugach Mountains from Valdez to
the Tanana, and during the following three years this
trail was constructed.
It has proved to be of the greatest possible benefit, not
only to the vast country tributary to Valdez, but to the
various Yukon districts, and to Nome. After many experiments, it has been chosen by the government as the
winter route for the distribution of mail to the interior of
Alaska and to Nome. Steamers make connection with a
regular line of stages and sleighs. There are frequent
and comfortable road houses, and the danger of accident
is not nearly so great as it is in traveling by railway in
the eastern states.
The Valdez military trail follows Lowe River and Keystone Canyon. Through the canyon the trail is only wide
enough for pack trains, and travel is by the frozen river.
The Signal Corps of the Army has constructed many
hundreds of miles of telegraph lines since the beginning
of the present decade. Nome, the Yukon, Tanana, and
Copper River valleys are all connected with Valdez and
with Dawson by telegraph. Nome has outside connection by wireless, and all the coast towns are in communication with Seattle by cable.
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 267
The climate of Valdez is delightful in summer. In winter it is ten degrees
colder than at Sitka, with good sleighing. The annual precipitation is fifty per
cent less than along the southeastern coast. Snow falls from November to April.
The long winter nights are not disagreeable. The
moon and the stars are larger and more brilliant in
Alaska than can be imagined by one who has not seen
them, and, with the changeful colors of the Aurora playing
upon the snow, turn the northern world into Fairyland.
Valdez has a population of about twenty-five hundred
people. It is four hundred and fifty miles north of
Sitka, and eighteen hundred miles from Seattle. It is
said to be the most northern port in the world that is
open to navigation the entire year.
There are two good piers to deep water, besides one at
the new town site, an electric light plant and telephone
system, two newspapers, a hospital, creditable churches
of five or six denominations, a graded school, private
club-rooms, a library, a brewery, several hotels and restaurants, public halls, a court-house, several merchandise
stores carrying stocks of from fifty to one hundred thousand dollars, a tin and
sheet metal factory, saw-mills, -
and almost every business, industry, and profession is
well represented. There are saloons without end, and
dance halls ; a saloon in Alaska that excludes women is not
known, but good order prevails and disturbances are rare.
The homes are, for the most part, small, - building
being excessively high, - but pretty, comfortable, and
frequently artistic. There are flower-gardens everywhere.
There is no log-cabin so humble that its bit of garden-spot is not a blaze of vivid color. Every window has its
box of bloom. La France roses were in bloom in July in
the garden of ex-Governor Leedy, of Kansas, whose home
is now in Valdez.
268 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
The civilization of the town is of the highest. The
whole world might go to Alaska and learn a lesson in genuine, simple, refined hospitality - for its key-note is kindness of heart.
The visitor soon learns that he must be chary of his admiration of one of the curios on his host's wall, lest he be
begged to accept it.
The Tillicum Club is known in all parts of Alaska. It
has a very comfortable club-house, where all visitors of
note to the town are entertained. The club occasionally
has what its own self calls a " dry night," when ladies are
entertained with cards and music. (The adjective does
not apply to the entertainment.)
The dogs of Valdez are interesting. They are large,
and of every color known to dog-dom, the malamutes predominating. They are all "heroes of the trail," and are
respected and treated as "good fellows." They lie by
twos and threes clear across the narrow board sidewalks ;
and unless one understands the language of the trail, it is
easier to walk around them or to jump over them than it
is to persuade them to move. A string of oaths, followed
by "Mush !" all delivered like the crack of a whip, brings
quick results. The dogs hasten to the pier, on a long, wolf-like lope, when the whistle of a steamer is heard, and
offer the hospitality of the town to the stranger, with
waving tails and saluting tongues.
It is a heavy expense to feed these dogs in Alaska, yet
few men are known to be so mean as to grudge this expense to dogs who have faithfully served them, frequently
saving their lives, on the trail.
The situation of Valdez is absolutely unique. The
dauntlessness of a city that would boldly found itself
upon a glacier has proved too much for even the glacier,
and it is rapidly withdrawing, as if to make room for its
intrepid rival in interest. Yet it still is so close that,
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 269
from the water, it appears as though one might reach out
and touch it. The wide blue bay sparkles in front, and
snow peaks surround it.
Beautiful, oh, most beautiful, are those peaks at dawn,
at sunset, at midnight, at noon. The summer nights in
Valdez are never dark ; and I have often stood at midnight and watched the amethyst lights on the mountains
darken to violet, purple, black, - while the peaks themselves stood white and still, softly
outlined against the sky.
But in winter, when mountains, glacier, city, trees, lie
white and sparkling beneath the large and brilliant stars,
and the sea alone is dark - to stand then and see the great
golden moon rising slowly, vibrating, pushing, oh, so
silently, so beautifully, above the clear line of snow into
the dark blue sky - that is worth ten years of living.
" Why do you not go out to ' the states,' as so many
other ladies do in winter ? " I asked a grave-eyed young
wife on my first visit, not knowing that she belonged to
the great Alaskan order of " Stout Hearts and Strong
Hearts" - the only order in Alaska that is for women
She looked at me and smiled. Her eyes went to the
mountains, and they grew almost as wistful and sweet
as the eyes of a young mother watching her sleeping child.
Then they came back to me, grave and kind.
"Oh," said she, "how can I tell you why ? You have
never seen the moon come over those mountains in winter,
nor the winter stars shining above the sea."
That was all. She could not put it into words more
clearly than that ; but he that runs may read.
The site of Valdez is as level as a parade ground to the
bases of the near mountains, which rise in sheer, bold
sweeps. A line of alders, willows, cottonwoods, and balms
follows the glacial stream that flows down to the sea on
each side of the town.
270 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
The glacier behind the town - now called a " dead "
glacier - once discharged bergs directly into the sea.
The soil upon which the town is built is all glacial deposit. Flowers spring up and bloom in a day. Vegetables thrive and are crisp and delicious - particularly
Society is gay in Valdez, as in most Alaskan towns. Fort Liscum is situated
across the bay, so near that the distance between is traveled in fifteen minutes by launch.
Dances, receptions, card-parties, and dinners, at Valdez
and at the fort, occur several times each week, and the
social line is drawn as rigidly here as in larger communities.
There is always a dance in Valdez on " steamer night."
The officers and their wives come over from the fort ; the
officers of the ship are invited, as are any passengers who
may bear letters of introduction or who may be introduced
by the captain of the ship. A large and brightly lighted
ballroom, beautiful women, handsomely and fashionably
gowned, good music, and a genuine spirit of hospitality
make these functions brilliant.
The women of Alaska dress more expensively than in
"the states." Paris gowns, the most costly furs, and
dazzling jewels are everywhere seen in the larger towns.
All travelers in Alaska unite in enthusiastic praise of
its unique and generous hospitality. From the time of
Baranoff's lavish, and frequently embarrassing, banquets to
the refined entertainments of today, northern hospitality
has been a proverb.
" Petnatchit copla " is still the open sesame.
The trip over " the trail " from Valdez to the Tanana
country is one of the most fascinating in Alaska.
At seven o'clock of a July morning five horses stood at
our hotel door. Two gentlemen of Valdez had volunteered
to act as escort to the three ladies in our party for a trip
over the trail.
I examined with suspicion the red-bay horse that had
been assigned to me.
" Is he gentle ? " I asked of one of the gentlemen.
" Oh, I don't know. You can't take any one's word
about a horse in Alaska. They call regular buckers
' gentle ' up here. The only way to find out is to try
This was encouraging.
" Do you mean to tell me," said one of the other ladies,
"that you don't know whether these horses have ever
been ridden by women ? "
"No, I do not know."
She sat down on the steps.
" Then there's no trail for me. I don't know how to
ride nor to manage a horse."
After many moments of persuasion, we got her upon a
mild-eyed horse, saddled with a cross-saddle. The other
lady and myself had chosen side-saddles, despite the assurance of almost every man in Valdez that we could not
get over the trail sitting a horse sidewise, without accident.
272 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
" Your skirt'll catch in the brush and pull you off," said
" Your feet'll hit against the rocks in the canyon," said
" You can't balance as even on a horse's back, sideways,
and if you don't balance even along the precipice in the
canyon, your horse'll go over," said a third.
" Your horse is sure to roll over once or twice in the
glacier streams, and you can save yourself if you're riding
astride," said a fourth.
" You're certain to get into quicksand somewhere on
the trip, and if all your weight is on one side of your
horse, you'll pull him down and he'll fall on top of you,"
said a fifth.
In the face of all these cheerful horrors, our escort said: -
" Ride any way you please. If a woman can keep her
head, she will pull through everything in Alaska. Besides, we are not going along for nothing ! "
So we chose side-saddles, that having been our manner
of riding since childhood.
We had waited three weeks for the glacial flood at the
eastern side of the town to subside, and could wait no
longer. It was roaring within ten steps of the back door
of our hotel ; and in two minutes after mounting, before
our feet were fairly settled in the stirrups, we had ridden
down the sloping bank into the boiling, white waters.
One of the gentlemen rode ahead as guide. I watched
his big horse go down in the flood - down, down; the
water rose to its knees, to its rider's feet, to his knees -
He turned his head and called cheerfully, " Come on ! "
and we went on - one at a time, as still as the dead, save
for the splashing and snorting of our horses. I felt the
water, icy cold, rising high, higher ; it almost washed my
foot from the red-slippered stirrup ; then I felt it mounting higher, my skirts floated out on the flood, and then fell,
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 273
limp, about me. My glance kept flying from my horse's
head to our guide, and back again. He was tall, and his
horse was tall.
" When it reaches Ms waist," was my agonized thought,
"it will be over my head! "
The other gentleman rode to my side.
" Keep a firm hold of your bridle," said he, gravely,
"and watch your horse. If he falls - "
"Falls! In here!''
" They do sometimes ; one must be prepared. If he
falls - of course you can swim ? "
"I never swam a stroke in my life ; I never even tried! "
" Is it possible ? " said he, in astonishment, " Why, we
would not have advised you to come at this time if we had
known that. We took it for granted that you wouldn't
think of going unless you could swim."
" Oh," said I, sarcastically, " do all the women in Valdez
" No," he answered, gravely, "but then, they don't go
over the trail. Well, we can only hope that he will not
fall. When he breaks into a swim. "
" Swim ! Will he do that ? "
" Oh, yes, he is liable to swim any minute now."
"What will I do then ? " I asked, quite humbly ; I could
hear tears in my own voice. He must have heard them,
too, his voice was so kind as he answered.
"Sit as quietly and as evenly as possible, and lean
slightly forward in the saddle ; then trust to heaven and
give him his head."
" Does he give you any warning? "
"Not the faintest - ah-h! "
Well might he say "ah-h !" for my horse was swimming. Well might we all say " ah-h ! " for one wild
glance ahead revealed to my glimmering vision that all
our horses were swimming.
274 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
I never knew before that horses swam so low down in
the water. I wished when I could see nothing but my
horse's ears that I had not been so stubborn about the
The water itself was different from any water I had
ever seen. It did not flow like a river ; it boiled, seethed,
rushed, whirled ; it pushed up into an angry bulk that
came down over us like a deluge. I had let go of my
reins and, leaning forward in the saddle, was clinging to
my horse's mane. The rapidly flowing water gave me
the impression that we were being swept down the stream.
The roaring grew louder in my ears ; I was so dizzy
that I could no longer distinguish any object ; there was
just a blur of brown and white water, rising, falling, about
me ; the sole thought that remained was that I was being
swept out to sea with my struggling horse.
Suddenly there was a shock which, to my tortured
nerves, seemed like a ship striking on a rock. It was
some time before I realized that it had been caused by
my horse striking bottom. He was walking - staggering.
rather, and plunging ; his whole neck appeared, then his
shoulders ; I released his mane mechanically, as I had
acted in all things since mounting, and gathered up the
" That was a nasty one, wasn't it ? " said my escort,
joining me. " I stayed behind to be of service if you required it. We're getting out now, but there are, at least,
ten or fifteen as bad on the trail - if not worse."
As if anything could be worse!
I chanced to lift my eyes then, and I got a clear view
of the ladies ahead of me. Their appearance was of such
a nature that I at once looked myself over - and saw my-
self as others saw me ! It was the first and only time
that I have ever wished myself at home when I have been traveling in Alaska.
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 275
" Cheer up ! " called our guide, over his broad shoulder.
"The worst is yet to come."
He spoke more truthfully than even he knew. There
was one stream after another - and each seemed really
worse than the one that went before. From Valdez Glacier the ice, melted by the hot July sun, was pouring out
in a dozen streams that spread over the immense flats between the town and the mouth of Lowe River. There
were miles and miles of it. Scarcely would we struggle
out of one place that had been washed out deep - and
how deep, we never knew until we were into it - when
we would be compelled to plunge into another.
At last, wet and chilled, after several narrow escapes from whirlpools and
quicksand, we reached a level road leading throu
gh a cool wood for several miles. From
this, of a sudden, we began to climb. So steep was the
ascent and so narrow the path - no wider than the horse's
feet - that my horse seemed to have a series of movable
humps on him, like a camel ; and riding sidewise, I could
only lie forward and cling desperately to his mane, to avoid a shameful descent over his tail.
Actually, there were steps cut in the hard soil for the
horses to climb upon! They pulled themselves up with
powerful plunges. On both sides of this narrow path the
grass or " feed, " as it is called, grew so tall that we
could not see one another's heads above it, as we rode ;
yet it had been growing only six weeks.
Mingling with young alders, fireweed, devil's-club and
elder-berry - the latter sprayed out in scarlet - it formed
a network across our path, through which we could only
force our way with closed eyes, blind as Love.
Bad as the ascent was, the sudden descent was worse.
The horse's humps all turned the other way, and we turned
with them. It was only by constant watchfulness that
we kept ourselves from sliding over their heads.
276 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
After another ascent, we emerged into the open upon
the brow of a cliff. Below us stretched the valley of the
Lowe River. Thousands of feet below wound and looped
the blue reaches of the river, set here and there with
islands of glistening sand or rosy fireweed ; while over all
trailed the silver mists of morning. One elderberry island was so set with scarlet sprays of berries that from
our height no foliage could be seen.
After this came a scented, primeval forest, through
which we rode in silence. Its charm was too elusive for
speech. Our horses' feet sank into the moss without
sound. There was no underbrush ; only dim aisles and
arcades fashioned from the gray trunks of trees. The
pale green foliage floating above us completely shut out
the sun. Soft gray, mottled moss dripped from the
limbs and branches of the spruce trees in delicate, lacy
Soon after emerging from this dreamlike wood we
reached Camp Comfort, where we paused for lunch.
This is one of the most comfortable road houses in
Alaska, It is situated in a low, green valley ; the river
winds in front, and snow mountains float around it. The
air is very sweet.
It is only ten miles from Valdez ; but those ten miles
are equal to fifty in taxing the endurance.
We found an excellent vegetable garden at Camp comfort. Pansies and other flowers were as large and fra-
grant as I have ever seen, the coloring of the pansies
being unusually rich. They told us that only two other
women had passed over the trail during the summer.
While our lunch was being prepared, we stood about
the immense stove in the immense living room and tried
to dry our clothing.
This room was at least thirty feet square. It had a
high ceiling and a rough board floor. In one corner was
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 211
a piano, in another a phonograph. The ceiling was hung
with all kinds of trail apparel used by men, including
long boots and heavy stockings, guns and other weapons,
and other articles that added a picturesque, and even
startling, touch to the big room.
In one end was a bench, buckets of water, tin cups
hanging on nails, washbowls, and a little wavy mirror
swaying on the wall. The gentlemen of our party played
the phonograph while we removed the dust and mud which
we had gathered on our journey ; afterward, we played
Then we all stood happily about the stove to "dry
out," and listened to our host's stories of the miners who
came out from the Tanana country, laden with gold. As many as seventy men, each
bearing a fortune, have slept at Camp Comfort on a single night. We slept there
ourselves, on our return journey, but our riches were in other things than gold,
and there was no need to guard them. Any man or woman may go to Alaska and
enrich himself or herself forever, as we did, if he or she have the desire. Not
only is there no need to guard our riches, but, on the contrary, we are glad to
give freely to whomsoever would have.
Each man, we were told, had his own way of caring for
his gold. One leaned a gunnysack full of it outside the
house, where it stood all night unguarded, su]3posed to
be a sack of old clothing, from the carelessness with which
it was left, there. The owner slept calmly in the attic,
surrounded by men whose gold made their hard pillows.
They told us, too, of the men who came back, dull-eyed
and empty-handed, discouraged and footsore. They slept
long and heavily ; there was nothing for them to guard.
Every road house has its " talking-machine," with many
of the most expensive records. No one can appreciate one
of these machines until he goes to Alaska. Its influence
278 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
is not to be estimated in those far, lonely places, where
other music is not.
In a big store " to Westward " we witnessed a scene
that would touch any heart. The room was filled with
people. There were passengers and officers from the
ship, miners, Russian half-breeds, and full-blooded Aleuts.
After several records had filled the room with melody.
Calve, herself, sang " The Old Folks At Home." As that
voice of golden velvet rose and fell, the unconscious workings of the faces about me spelled out their life tragedies.
At last, one big fellow in a blue flannel shirt started for
the door. As he reached it, another man caught his
sleeve and whispered huskily: -
" Where you goin'. Bill?"
" Oh, anywheres," he made answer, roughly, to cover
his emotion ; " anywheres, so's I can't hear that damn
piece," - and it was not one of the least of Calve's
Music in Alaska brings the thought of home ; and it is
the thought of home that plays upon the heart-strings
of the North. The hunger is always there, - hidden,
repressed, but waiting, - and at the first touch of music
it leaps forth and casts its shadow upon the face. Who
knows but that it is this very heart-hunger that puts the
universal human look into Alaskan eyes ?
After a good lunch at Camp Comfort, we resumed our
journey. There was another bit of enchanting forest ;
then, of a sudden, we were in the famed Keystone Canyon.
Here, the scenery is enthralling. Solid walls of shaded
gray stone rise straight from the river to a height of from
twelve to fifteen hundred feet. Along one cliff winds
the trail, in many places no wider than the horses' feet.
One feels that he must only breathe with the land side
of him, lest the mere weight of his breath on the other
side should topple him over the sheer, dizzy precipice.
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 279
It was amusing to see every woman lean toward the
rock cliff. Not for all the gold of the Klondike would I
have willingly given one look down into the gulf, sinking
away, almost under my horse's feet. Somewhere in those
purple depths I knew that the river was roaring, white
and swollen, between its narrow stone walls.
Now and then, as we turned a sharp, narrow corner, I
could not help catching a glimpse of it ; for a moment,
horse and rider, as we turned, would seem to hang suspended above it with no strip of earth between. There
were times, when we were approaching a curve, that there
seemed to be nothing ahead of us but a chasm that went
sinking dizzily away ; no solid place whereon the horse
might set his feet. It was like a nightmare in which one
hangs half over a precipice, struggling so hard to recover
himself that his heart almost bursts with the effort.
Then, while I held my breath and blindly trusted to
heaven, the curve would be turned and the path would
glimmer once more before my eyes.
But one false step of the horse, one tiniest rock-slide
striking his feet, one unexpected sound to startle him -
the mere thought of these possibilities made my heart
We finally reached a place where the descent was
almost perpendicular and the trail painfully narrow. The
horses sank to their haunches and slid down, taking gravel
and stones down with them. I had been imploring to be
permitted to walk ; but now, being far in advance of all
but one, I did not ask permission. I simply slipped off
my horse and left him for the others to bring with them.
The gentleman with me was forced to do the same.
We paused for a time to rest and to enjoy the most
beautiful waterfall I saw in Alaska- Bridal Veil. It is
on the opposite side of the canyon, and has a slow, musical fall of six hundred feet.
280 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
When we went on, the other members of our party had
not yet come up with us, nor had our horses appeared.
In the narrowest of all narrow places I was walking ahead,
when, turning a sharp corner, we met a government pack
train, face to face.
The bell-horse stood still and looked at me with big
eyes, evidently as scared at the sight of a woman as an
old prospector who has not seen one for years.
I looked at him with eyes as big as his own. There
was only one thing to do. Behind us was a narrow, V-
shaped cave in the stone wall, not more than four feet
high and three deep. Into this we backed, Grecian-bend
wise, and waited.
We waited a very long time. The horse stood still,
blowing his breath loudly from steaming nostrils, and contemplated us. I never knew before that a horse could
express his opinion of a person so plainly. Around the
curve we could hear whips cracking and men swearing ;
but the horse stood there and kept his suspicious eyes on me.
" I'll stay here till dark," his eyes said, " but you don't
get me past a thing like that ! "
I didn't mind his looking, but his snorting seemed like
At last a man pushed past the horse. When he saw us
backed gracefully up into the V-shaped cave, he stood as
still as the horse. Finding that neither he nor my escort
could think of anything to say to relieve the mental and
physical strain, I called out graciously ; -
" How do you do, sir ? Would you like to get by ? "
" I'd like it damn well, lady," he replied, with what I
felt to be his very politest manner.
" Perhaps," I suggested sweetly, " if I came out and let
the horse get a good look at me - "
" Don't you do it, lady. That 'u'd scare him plumb to
death ! "
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 281
I have always been convinced that he did not mean it
exactly as it sounded, but I caught the flicker of a smile
on my escort's face. It was gone in an instant.
Suddenly the other horses came crowding upon the
bell-horse. There was nothing for him to do but to go
past me or to go over the precipice. He chose me as the
least of the two evils.
" Nice pony, nice boy," I wheedled, as he went sliding
and snorting past.
Then we waited for the next horse to come by ; but he
did not come. Turning my head, I found him fixed in
the same place and the same attitude as the first had been ;
his eyes were as big and they were set as steadily on me.
Well there were fifty horses in that government pack
train. Every one of the fifty balked at sight of a woman.
There were horses of every color - gray, white, black, bay,
chestnut, sorrel, and pinto. The sorrel were the stubbornest of all. To this day, I detest the sight of a sorrel
We stood there in that position for a time that seemed
like hours ; we coaxed each horse as he balked ; and at
the last were reduced to such misery that we gave thanks
to God that there were only fifty of them and that they
couldn't kick sidewise as they passed.
I forgot about the men. There were seven men ; and
as each man turned the bend in the trail, he stood as still
as the stillest horse, and for quite as long a time ; and
naturally I hesitated to say, " Nice boy, nice fellow," to
help him by.
There were more glacier streams to cross. These were
floored with huge boulders instead of sand and quicksand.
The horses stumbled and plunged powerfully. One misstep here would have meant death ; the rapids immediately below the crossing would have beaten us to pieces
upon the rocks.
282 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
Then came more perpendicular climbing ; but at last,
at five o 'clock, with our bodies aching with fatigue, and
our senses finally dulled, through sheer surfeit, to the
beauty of the journey, we reached " Wortman's " road house.
This is twenty miles from Valdez ; and when we were
lifted from our horses we could not stand alone, to say
nothing of attempting to walk.
But " Wortman's " is the paradise of road houses. In
it, and floating over it, is an atmosphere of warmth, comfort and good cheer that is a rest for body and heart.
The beds are comfortable and the meals excellent.
But it was the welcome that cheered, the spirit of
The road house stands in a large clearing, with barns
and other buildings surrounding it. I never saw so many
dogs as greeted us, except in Valdez or on the Yukon.
They crowded about us, barking and shrieking a welcome.
They were all big malamutes.
After a good dinner we went to bed at eight o'clock.
The sun was shining brightly, but we darkened our rooms
as much as possible, and instantly fell into the sleep of
At one o'clock in the morning we were eating break-
fast, and half an hour later we were in our saddles and
off for the summit of Thompson Pass to see the sun rise.
This brought out the humps in the horses' backs again.
We went up into the air almost as straight as a telegraph
pole. Over heather, ice, flowers, and snow our horses
It was seven miles to the summit. There were no trees
nor shrubs, - only grass and moss that gave a velvety look
to peaks and slopes that seemed to be floating around us
through the silvery mists that were wound over them like
turbans. Here and there a hollow was banked with
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 283
When we dismounted on the very summit we could
hardly step without crushing bluebells and geraniums.
We set the flag of our country on the highest point beside the trail, that
every loyal-hearted traveler might
salute it and take hope again, if he chanced to be discouraged. Then we sat under its folds and watched the mists
change from silver to pearl-gray ; from pearl-gray to
pink, amethyst, violet, purple, - and back to rose, gold,
and flame color.
One peak after another shone out for a moment, only to withdraw. Suddenly, as
if with one leap, the sun came over the mountain line ; vibrated brilliantly,
dazzlingly, flashing long rays like signals to every quickened peak. Then, while
we gazed, entranced, other peaks whose presence we had not suspected were brought to life by those
searching rays ; valleys appeared, filled with purple,
brooding shadows ; whole slopes blue with bluebells ; and,
white and hard, the narrow trail that led on to the pitiless
land of gold.
We were above the mountain peaks, above the clouds,
level with the sun.
Absolute stillness was about us ; there was not one
faintest sound of nature; no plash of water, nor sough of
wind, nor call of a bird. It was so still that it seemed
like the beginning of a new world, with the birth of
mountains taking place before our reverent eyes, as one
after another dawned suddenly and goldenly upon our
Every time we had stopped on the trail we had heard
harrowing stories of saddle-horses or pack-horses having
missed their footing and gone over the precipice. The
horses are so carefully packed, and the packs so securely
fastened on - the last cinch being thrown into the " diamond hitch " - that the poor beasts can roll over and
over to the bottom of a canyon without disarranging a
284 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
pack weighing two hundred pounds - a feat which they
very frequently perform.
The military trail is, of necessity, poor enough ; but it is infinitely
superior to all other trails in Alaska, and is a boon to the prospector. It is a
well-defined and well- traveled highway. The trees and bushes are cut in
places for a width of thirty feet, original bridges span the
creeks when it is possible to bridge them at all, and some
corduroy has been laid ; but in many places the trail is a
mere path, not more than two feet wide, shoveled or
blasted from the hillside.
In Alaska there were practically no roads at all until
the appointment in 1905 of a road commission consisting
of Major W. P. Richardson, Captain G. B. Pillsbury and
Lieutenant L. C. Orchard. Since that year eight hundred miles of trails, wagon and sled roads, numerous
ferries, and hundreds of bridges have been constructed.
The wagon road-beds are all sixteen feet wide, with free
side strips of a hundred feet ; the sled roads are twelve
feet wide ; the trails, eight ; and the bridges, fourteen.
In the interior, laborers on the roads are paid five dollars
a day, with board and lodging ; they are given better food
than any laborers in Alaska, with the possible exception
of those employed at the Treadwell mines and on the
Cordova Railroad. The average cost of road work in
Alaska is about two thousand dollars a mile ; two hundred and fifty for sled road, and one hundred for trails.
These roads have reduced freight rates one-half and have
helped to develop rich regions that had been inaccessible.
Their importance in the development of the country is
second to that of railroads only.
The scenery from Ptarmigan Drop down the Tsina
River to Beaver Dam is magnificent. Huge mountains,
saw-toothed and covered with snow, jut diagonally out
across the valley, one after another ; streams fall, riffling,
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 285
down the sides of the mountains ; and the cloud-effects
are especially beautiful.
Tsina River is a narrow, foaming torrent, confined, for
the most part, between sheer hills, - although, in places,
it spreads out over low, gravelly flats. Beaver Dam
huddles into a gloomy gulch at the foot of a vast, overhanging mountain. Its situation is what Whidbey would
have called "gloomily magnificent." In 1905 Beaver
Dam was a road house which many chose to avoid, if possible.
The Tiekel road house on the Kanata River is pleasantly situated, and is a comfortable place at which to eat
For its entire length, the military trail climbs and falls
and winds through scenery of inspiring beauty. The
trail leading off to the east at Tonsina, through the
Copper River, Nizina, and Chitina valleys, is even more
Vast plains and hillsides of bloom are passed. Some
mountainsides are blue with lupine, others rosy with fireweed ; acres upon acres are covered with violets, bluebells,
wild geranium, anemones, spotted moccasin and other
orchids, buttercups, and dozens of others - all large and
vivid of color. It has often been said that the flowers of
Alaska are not fragrant, but this is not true.
The mountains of the vicinity are glorious. Mount
Drum is twelve thousand feet high. Sweeping up splendidly from a level plain, it is more imposing than Mount
Wrangell, which is fourteen thousand feet high, and
Mount Blackburn, which is sixteen thousand feet.
The view from the summit of Sour-Dough Hill is unsurpassed in the interior of Alaska. Glacial creeks and
roaring rivers ; wild and fantastic canyons ; moving
glaciers ; gorges of royal purple gloom ; green valleys
and flowery slopes; the domed and towered Castle
286 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
Mountains ; the lone and majestic peaks pushing up above
all others, above the clouds, cascades spraying down sheer
precipices ; and far to the south the linked peaks of the
Coast Range piled magnificently upon the sky, dim and
faintly blue in the great distance, - all blend into one
grand panorama of unrivalled inland grandeur.
Crossing the Copper River, when it is high and swift,
is dangerous, - especially for a " chechaco " of either sex.
(A chechaco is one who has not been in Alaska a year.)
Packers are often compelled to unpack their horses, putting all their effects into large whipsawed boats. The
halters are taken off the horses and the latter are driven
into the roaring torrent, followed by the packers in the
The horses apparently make no effort to reach the opposite shore, but use their strength desperately to hold
their own in the swift current, fighting against it, with
their heads turned pitifully up-stream. Their bodies being turned at a slight angle, the current, pushing violently
against them, forces them slowly, but surely, from sand
bar to sand bar, and, finally, to the shore.
It frequently requires two hours to get men, horses, and outfit from shore to
shore, where they usually arrive dripping wet. Women who make this trip, it is
needless to say, suffer still more from the hardship of the crossing than do
In riding horses across such streams, they should be
started diagonally up-stream toward the first sand bar
above. They lean far forward, bracing themselves at
every step against the current and choosing their footing
carefully. The horses of the trail know all the dangers,
and scent them afar - holes, boulders, irresistible currents, and quicksand ; they detect them before the most
experienced " trailer " even suspects them.
I will not venture even to guess what the other two
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 287
women in ray party did when they crossed dangerous
streams ; but for myself, I wasted no strength in trying
to turn my horse's head up-stream, or down-stream, or in
any other direction. When we went down into the foaming water, I gave him his head, clung to his mane, leaned
forward in the saddle, - and prayed like anything. I do
not believe in childishly asking the Lord to help one so
long as one can help one's self ; but when one is on the back
of a half -swimming, half-floundering horse in the middle of
a swollen, treacherous flood, with holes and quicksand on
all sides, one is as helpless as he was the day he was born;
and it is a good time to pray.
According to the report of Major Abercrombie, who
probably knows this part of Alaska more thoroughly than
any one else, there are hundreds of thousands of acres in
the Copper River Valley alone where almost all kinds of
vegetables, as well as barley and rye, will grow in abundance and mature. Considering the travel to the many
and fabulously rich mines already discovered in this
valley and adjacent ones, and the cost of bringing in
grain and supplies, it may be easily seen what splendid
opportunities await the small farmer who will select his
homestead judiciously, with a view to the accommodation
of man and beast, and the cultivation of food for both.
The opportunities awaiting such a man are so much more
enticing than the inducements of the bleak Dakota prairies or the wind-swept valleys of the Yellowstone as to be
Major Abercrombie believes that the valleys of the subdrainage of the Copper River Valley will in future years
supply the demands for cereals and vegetables, if not for
meats, of the thousands of miners that will be required to
extract the vast deposits of metals from the Tonsina,
Chitina, Kotsina, Nizina, Chesna, Xanana, and other famous districts.
288 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
The vast importance to the whole territory of Alaska,
and to the United States, as well, of the building of the
Gugenheim railroad from Cordova into this splendid inland empire may be realized after reading Major Abercrombie's report.
We have been accustomed to mineralized zones of from
ten to twelve miles in length; in the Wrangell group
alone we have a circle eighty miles in diameter, the mineralization of which is simply
marvelous ; yet, valuable
though these concentrates are, they are as valueless commercially as so much sandstone, without the aid of a rail-
road and reduction works.
If the group of mines at Butte could deflect a great
transcontinental trunk-line like the Great Northern, what
will this mighty zone, which contains a dozen properties
already discovered, - to say nothing of the unfound, undreamed-of ones, - of far greater value as copper propositions than the richest of Montana, do to advance the
commercial interests of the Pacific Coast ?
The first discovery of gold in the Nizina district was
made by Daniel Kain and Clarence Warner. These two
prospectors were urged by a crippled Indian to accompany him to inspect a vein of copper on the head waters
of a creek that is now known as Dan Creek.
Not being impressed by the copper outlook, the two
prospectors returned. They noticed, however, that the
gravel of Dan Creek had a look of placer gold.
They were out of provisions, and were in haste to reach
their supplies, fifty miles away ; but Kain was reluctant
to leave the creek unexamined. He went to a small lake
and caught sufficient fish for a few days' subsistence;
then, with a shovel for his only tool, he took out five
ounces of coarse gold in two days.
In this wise was the rich Nizina district discovered.
The Nizina River is only one hundred and sixty miles
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 289
from Valdez. In Rex Gulch as much as eight ounces
of gold have been taken out by one man in a single day.
The gold is of the finest quality, assaying over eighteen
dollars an ounce.
There is an abundance of timber suitable for building
houses and for firewood on all the creeks. There is
water at all seasons for sluicing, and, if desired, for
The famous Bonanza Copper Mine is on the mountainside high above the Kennicott Valley, and near the
Kennicott Glacier - the largest glacier of the Alaskan
interior. This glacier does not entirely fill the valley,
and one travels close to its precipitous wall of ice, which
dwindles from a height of one hundred feet to a low,
gravel-darkened moraine. From the summit of Sourdough Hill it may be seen for its whole forty-mile length
sweeping down from Mounts Wrangell and Regal.
The Bonanza Mine has an elevation of six thousand
feet, and was discovered by the merest chance.
The history of this mine from the day of its discovery
is one of the most fascinating of Alaska. In the autumn
of 1899 a prospecting party was formed at Valdez, known
as the "McClellan" party. The ten individuals composing the party were experienced miners and they
contributed money, horses, and " caches," as well as
experience. The principal cache was known as the
"McCarthy Cabin" cache, and was about fifteen miles
east of Copper River on the trail to the Nicolai Mine.
The Nicolai had been discovered early in the summer
by R. F. McClellan, who was one of the men composing the " McClellan " party, and others. Another
important cache of three thousand pounds of provisions
was the "Amy" cache, thirty-five miles from Valdez,
just over the summit of Thompson Pass.
The agreement was that the McClellan party was to
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 291
prospect in the interior in 1900 and 1901, all property-
located to be for their joint benefit.
The members of the party scattered soon after the
organization was completed. Clarence Warner, John
Sweeney, and Jack Smith remained in Valdez for the
winter, all the others going "out to the states."
In March of 1900 Warner and Smith set out for the
interior over the snow. There was no government trail
then, and the hardships to be endured were as terrific as
were those of the old Chilkoot Pass, on the way to the Klondike. The snow was from six to ten feet deep, and their
progress was slow and painful. One went ahead on snow-
shoes, the other following ; when the trail thus made was
sufficiently hard, the hand sleds, loaded with provisions
and bedding, were drawn over it by ropes around the
men's shoulders. From two to three hundred pounds was
a heavy burden for each man to drag through the soft snow.
Climbing the summit, and at other steep places, they
were compelled to " relay," by leaving the greater portion
of their load beside the trail, pulling only a few pounds
for a short distance and returning for more. By the
most constant and exhaustive labor they were able to
make only five or six miles a day.
They replenished their stores at the " Amy " cache,
near the summit, and in May reached the " McCarthy
Cabin " cache. Here they found that the Indians had
broken in and stolen nearly all the supplies.
When they left Valdez, it was with the expectation
that McClellan, or some other member of the party,
would bring in their horses to the McCarthy cabin, that
their supplies might be packed from that point on horse-
back, - the snow melting in May making it impossible to
use sleds, and no man being able to carry more than a few
pounds on his back for so long a journey as they expected
292 ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY
However, McClellan had, during the winter, entered
into a contract with the Chitina Exploration Company
at San Francisco to do a large amount of development
work on the Nicolai Mine during the summer of 1900.
He returned to Valdez after Warner and Smith had left,
bringing twenty horses, a large outfit of tools and supplies, and fifteen men - among them some of the McClellan prospecting party, who had agreed to work for the
season for the Chitina Company.
When this party reached the McCarthy cabin, they
found Warner and Smith there. An endless dispute
thereupon began as to the amount of provisions the two
men had when the Chitina party arrived, - Warner and
Smith claiming that they had five hundred pounds, and
the Chitina Company claiming that they were entirely
" out of grub," to use miner's language.
Warner and Smith demanded that McClellan should give them two horses
belonging to the McClellan prospecting party, which he had brought. This matter was
finally settled by McClellan's packing in what remained
of Smith and Warner's provisions to the Nicolai Mine, a
distance of nearly a hundred miles.
McClellan, as superintendent of the Chitina Company,
used, with that company's horses, four of the McClellan
party's horses during the entire season, sending them
to and from Valdez, packing supplies.
In the meantime, upon reaching the Nicolai Mine, on
the 1st of July, Warner and Smith, packing supplies on
their backs, set out to prospect. The Chitina Company,
in the famous and bitterly contested lawsuit which followed, claimed that they were supplied with the Chitina
Company's " grub " ; while Smith and Warner claimed
that their provisions belonged to the McClellan party.
After a few days' aimless wandering, they reached a
point on the east side of Kennicott Glacier, about twenty
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 293
miles west of the Nicolai Mine. Here they camped at
noon, near a small stream that came running down from
a great height.
Their camp was about halfway up a mountain which
was six thousand feet high. After a miner's lunch of
bacon and beans, they were packing up to resume their
wanderings, when Warner, chancing to glance upward,
discovered a green streak near the top of the mountain.
It looked like grass, and at first he gave it no thought ;
but presently it occurred to him that, as they were
camped above timber-line, grass would not be growing
at such a height.
They at once decided to investigate the peculiar and
mysterious coloring. The mountain was steep, and it was
after a slow and painful climb that they reached the top.
Jack Smith stooped and picked up a piece of shining
"My God, Clarence," he said fervently, "it's copper."
It was copper ; the richest copper, in the greatest quantities, ever found upon the earth. There were hundreds
of thousands of tons of it. There was a whole mountain
of it. It was so bright and shining that they, at first,
thought it was Galena ore; but they soon discovered
that it was copper glance, - a copper ore bearing about
seventy-five per cent of pure copper.
The Havemeyers, Guggenheims, and other eastern capitalists became interested. Then, when the marvelous
richness of the discovery of Jack Smith and Clarence
Warner became known, a lawsuit was begun - hinging
upon the grub-stake - which was so full of dramatic
incidents, attempted bribery, charges of corruption reaching to the United States Senate and the President him-
self, that the facts would make a long story, vivid with
life, action, and fantastic setting - the scene reaching
from Alaska to New York, and from New York to Manila.
294 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
The lawsuit was at last settled in favor of the discoverers.
On January 14, 1908, Mr. Smith disposed of his interest in a mine which he had located across McCarthy
Creek from the Bonanza, for a hundred and fifty thousand
dollars. It will be "stocked " and named " The Bonanza
Mine Extension." It is said to be as rich as the great
In the district which comprises the entire coast from
the southern boundary of Oregon to the northernmost
point of Alaska there are but forty-five lighthouses.
Included in this district are the Strait of Juan de Fuca,
Washington Sound, the Gulf of Georgia, and all the tidal waters tributary to the sea straits and sounds of this
coast. There are also twenty-eight fog signals, operated
by steam, hot air, or oil engines ; six fog signals operated
by clockwork ; two gas-lighted buoys in position ; nine
whistling-buoys and five bell-buoys in position; three
hundred and twenty-two other buoys in position; and
four tenders, to visit lighthouses and care for buoys.
The above list does not include post lights, the Umatilla Reef Light vessel, and unlighted day beacons.
It is the far, lonely Alaskan coast that is neglected.
The wild, stormy, and immense stretch of coast reaching
from Chichagoff Island to Point Barrow in the Arctic
Ocean has two light and fog signal stations on Unimak
Island and two fixed lights on Cape Stephens. A light
and fog signal station is to be built at Cape Hinching-
broke, and a light is to be established at Point Romanoff.
No navigator should be censured for disaster on this
dark and dangerous coast. The little Bora, running
regularly from Seward and Valdez to Unalaska, does not
pass a light. Her way is wild and stormy in winter, and
the coasts she passes are largely uninhabited ; yet there
is not a flash of light, unless it be from some volcano,
296 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
to guide her into difficult ports and around the perilous
reefs with which the coast abounds.
A prayer for a lighthouse at the entrance to Resurrection Bay was refused by the department, with the advice
that the needs of commerce do not require a light at this
point, particularly as there are several other points more
in need of such aid. The department further advised
that it would require a hundred thousand dollars to establish a light and fog signal station at the place designated, instead of the twenty-five thousand dollars asked.
Meanwhile, ships are wrecked and lives and valuable
cargoes are lost, - and will be while the Alaskan coast
Along the intricate, winding, and exceedingly dangerous channels, straits, and narrows of the " inside passage "
of southeastern Alaska, there are only seven light and
fog signals, and ten lights ; but where the sea-coast be-
longs to Canada there is sufficient light and ample buoyage protection, as all mariners admit.
Is our government's rigid, and in some instances stubborn, economy in this matter a wise one ? Is it a humane
one? The nervous strain of this voyage on a conscientious and sensitive master of a ship heavily laden with
human beings is tremendous. The anxious faces and unrelaxing vigilance of the officers on the bridge when a
ship is passing through Taku Open, Wrangell Narrows,
or Peril Straits speak plainly and unmistakably of the
ceaseless burden of responsibility and anxiety which they
bear. The charting of these waters is incomplete as yet,
notwithstanding the faithful service which the Geodetic
Survey has performed for many years. Many a rock has
never been discovered until a ship went down upon it.
Political influence has been known to establish lights,
at immense cost, at points where they are practically
luxuries, rather than needs ; therefore the government
should not be censured for cautiousness in this matter.
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 297
But it should be, and it is, censured for not investigating carefully the needs of the Alaskan Coast - the
" Great Unlighted Way."
Seward is situated almost as beautifully as Valdez.
It is only five years old. It is the sea terminal of the
Alaska Central Railway, which is building to the Tanana,
through a rich country that is now almost unknown.
It will pass within ten miles of Mount McKinley, which
rises from a level plain to an altitude of nearly twenty-
one thousand feet.
This mountain has been known to white men for nearly
a century ; yet until very recently it did not appear upon
any map, and had no official name. More than fifty years
ago the Russian fur traders knew it and called it " Bulshaia,"
signifying "high mountain " or " great mountain." The
natives called it " Trolika," a name having the same
Explorers, traders, and prospectors have seen it and commented upon its magnificent height, yet without realizing
its importance, until Mr. W. A. Dickey saw it in 189G
and proposed for it the name of McKinley. In 1902 Mr.
Alfred Hulse Brooks, of the United States Geological
Survey, with two associates and four camp men, made an
expedition to the mountain. Mr. Brooks' report of this
expedition is exceedingly interesting. He spent the summer of 1906, also, upon the mountain.
The town site of Seward was purchased from the Lowells,
a pioneer family, by Major J. E. Ballaine, for four thousand
dollars. It has grown very rapidly. Stumps still stand
upon the business streets, and silver-barked log-cabins
nestle modestly and picturesquely beside imposing buildings. The bank and the railway company have erected
handsome homes. Every business and profession is represented. There are good schools and churches, an electric-
298 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
light plant, two newspapers, a library and hospital, progressive clubs, and all the modern luxuries of western
When Mr. Seward was asked what he considered the
most important measure of his political career, he replied,
"The purchase of Alaska; but it will take the people a
generation to find it out."
Since the loftiest and noblest peak of North America
was doomed to be named for a man, it should have borne
the name of this dauntless, loyal, and far-seeing friend of
Alaska and of all America. Since this was not to be, it
was very fitting that a young and ambitious town on the
historic Voskressenski Harbor should bear this honored
and forever-to-be-remembered name. If Seward and
Valdez would but work together, the region extending
from Prince William Sound to Cook Inlet would soon be-
come the best known and the most influential of Alaska,
as it is, with the addition of the St, Elias Alps, the most
sublimely and entrancingly beautiful.
Voskressenski Harbor, or Resurrection Bay, pushes out
in purple waves in front of Seward, and snow peaks circle
around it, the lower hills being heavily wooded. There
. is a good wharf and a safe harbor; the bay extends inland
eighteen miles, is completely land-locked, and is kept free
of ice the entire year, as is the Bay of Valdez and Cook
Inlet, by the Japan current.
It is estimated that the Alaska Central Railway will
cost, when completed to Fairbanks, at least twenty-five
millions of dollars. Several branches will be extended
into different and important mining regions.
The road has a general maximum grade of one per cent.
The Coast Range is crossed ten miles from Seward, at an
elevation of only seven hundred feet. The road follows
the shore of Lake Kenai, Turnagain Arm, and Knik Arm
on Cook Inlet; then, reaching the Sushitna River, it
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 299
follows the sloping plains of that valley for a hundred
miles, when, crossing the Alaskan Range, it descends into
the vast valley at the head of navigation on the Tanana
River, in the vicinity of Chena and Fairbanks.
All of the country which this road is expected to
traverse when completed is rich in coal, copper, and quartz
and placer gold.
There is a large amount of timber suitable for domestic
use throughout this part of the country, spruce trees of
three and four feet in diameter being common near the
coast ; inland, the timber is smaller, but of fair quality.
There is much good agricultural land along the line of
the road; the soil is rich and the climatic conditions quite
as favorable as those of many producing regions of the
northern United States and Europe. Grass, known as
" red-top," grows in abundance in the valleys and provides
food for horses and cattle. It is expected that, so soon as
the different railroads connect the great interior valleys
with the sea, the government's offer of three hundred and
twenty acres to the homesteader will induce many people
to settle there. The Alaska Central Railroad is completed
for a distance of fifty-three miles, - more than half the
distance to the coal-fields north of Cook Inlet.
Arrangements have been made for the building of a
large smelter at Seward, to cost three hundred and fifty
thousand dollars, in 1908.
Cook Inlet enjoys well-deserved renown for its scenery.
Between it and the Chugach Gulf is the great Kenai Peninsula, whose shores are indented by many deep inlets and
bays. The most important of these is Resurrection Bay.
Wood is plentiful along the coast of the peninsula.
Cataracts, glaciers, snow peaks, green valleys, and lovely
The peninsula is shaped somewhat like a great pear.
300 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
Turnagain Arm and an inlet of Prince William Sound
almost meet at the north; but the portage mentioned on
another page prevents it from being an island. It is
crowned by the lofty and rugged Kenai Mountains.
Off its southern coast are several clusters of islands -
Pye and Chugatz islands, Seal and Chiswell rocks.
In the entrance to Cook Inlet lie Barren Islands,
Amatuli Island, and Ushugat Island.
On a small island off the southern point of the peninsula
is a lofty promontory, which Cook named Cape Elizabeth
because it was sighted on the Princess Elizabeth's birth-
day. The lofty, two-peaked promontory on the opposite
side of the entrance he named Douglas, in honor of his
friend, the Canon of Windsor.
Between the capes, the entrance is sixty-five miles wide;
but it steadily diminishes until it reaches a width of but
a few miles. There is a passage on each side of Barren
The Inlet receives the waters of several rivers : the
Sushitna, Matanuska, Knik, Yentna, - which flows into
the Sushitna near its mouth, - Kaknu, and Kassitof.
Lying near the western shore of the inlet, and just inside the entrance, is an island which rises in graceful
sweeps on all sides, directly from the water to a smooth,
broken-pointed, and beautiful cone. This cone forms the
entire island, and there is not the faintest break in its
symmetry until the very crest is reached. It is the volcano of St. Augustine.
A chain of active volcanoes extends along the western shore. Of these,
Iliamna, the greatest, is twelve thousand sixty-six feet in height, and was
named " Miranda, the Admirable " by Spanish navigators, who may usually be
relied upon for poetically significant, or soft-sounding, names. It is clad in
eternal snow, but smoke-turbans are wound almost constantly about its brow. It
was in eruption
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 301
in 1854, and running lava has been found near the
lower crater. There are many hot and sulphurous springs
on its sides.
North of Iliamna is Goryalya, or " The Redoubt," which
is a lesser " smoker," eleven thousand two hundred and
seventy feet high. It was in eruption in 1867, and ashes
fell on islands more than a hundred and fifty miles away.
Iliamna Lake is one of the two largest lakes in Alaska.
It is from fifty to eighty miles long and from fifteen to
twenty-five wide. A pass at a height of about eight hundred feet affords an easy route of communication between
the upper end of the lake and a bay of the same name on
Cook Inlet, near the volcano, and has long been in use by
white, as well as native, hunters and prospectors. The
country surrounding the lake is said to abound in large
and small game. Lake Clark, to the north, is connected
with Lake Iliamna by the Nogheling River. It is longer
than Iliamna, but very much narrower. It lies directly
west of the Redoubt Volcano.
Iliamna Lake is connected with Behring Sea by Kvichak
River, which flows into Bristol Bay. The lake is a
natural hatchery of king salmon, and immense canneries
are located on Bristol Bay, which lies directly north of
the Aliaska Peninsula.
It is comparatively easy for hunters to cross by the
chain of lakes and water-ways from Bristol Bay to Cook
Inlet - which is known to sportsmen of all countries,
both shores offering everything in the way of game.
The big brown bear of the inlet is the same as the famous
Kadiak ; and hunters come from all parts of the world
when they can secure permits to kill them. Moose, caribou, mountain sheep, mountain goat, deer, and all kinds
of smaller game are also found. There are many trout
and salmon streams on the eastern shore of the inlet,
and the lagoons and marshes are the haunts of water-fowl.
302 ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY
The voyage up Cook Inlet is one of the most fascinating that may be taken, as a side trip, in Alaska.
Large steamers touch only at Homer and Seldovia, just
inside the entrance. There is a good wharf at Homer,
but at Seldovia there is another rope-ladder descent and
dory landing. There are a post-office, several stores and
houses, and a little Greek-Russian church. Scattered
over a low bluff at one side of the settlement are the
native huts, half hidden in tall reeds and grasses, and a
Seldovia is not the place to buy baskets, as the only
ones to be obtained are of very inferior coloring and
My Scotch friend was so fearful that some one else
might secure a treasure that she seized the first basket in
sight at Seldovia, paying five dollars for it. It was not
large, and as for its appearance - !
But with one evil mind we all pretended to envy her
and to regret that we had not seen it first ; so that, for
some time, she stepped out over the tundra with quite a
proud and high step, swinging her " buy " proudly at her
right side, where all might see and admire.
Presently, however, we came to a hut wherein we
stumbled upon all kinds of real treasures - old bows and
arrows, kamelinkas, bidarkas, virgin charms, and ivory
spears. We all gathered these things unto ourselves -
all but my Scotch friend. She stood by, watching us,
She had spent all that she cared to spend on curios in
one day on the single treasure which she carried in her
hand. We observed that presently she carried it less
proudly and that her carriage had less of haughtiness in
it, as we went across the beach to the dory.
She took the basket down to the engine-room to have
it steamed. I do not know what the engineer said to her
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 303
about her purchase, but when she came back, her face
was somewhat flushed. The Scotch are not a demonstrative race, and when she ever after referred to the chief
engineer simply as "that engineer down there," I felt
that it meant something. She never again mentioned
that basket to me ; but I have seen it in six different
curio stores trying to get itself sold.
At Seldovia connection is made with small steamers
running up the inlet to the head of the arm. Hope and
Sunrise are the inspiring names of the chief settlements
of the arm.
The tides of Cook Inlet are tremendous. There are
fearful tide-rips at the entrance and again about halfway
up the inlet, where they appeared " frightful " to Cook
and his men. The tide enters Turnagain Arm, at the
head of the inlet, in a huge bore, which expert canoe-men
are said to be able to ride successfully, and to thus be
carried with great speed and delightful danger on their
Cook thought that the inlet was a river, of which the
arm was an eastern branch. Therefore, at the entrance
of the latter, he exclaimed in disappointment and chagrin,
" Turn again ! " - and afterward bestowed this name
upon the slender water-way.
He modestly left only a blank for the name of the great
inlet itself ; and after his cruel death at the hands of
natives in the Sandwich Islands, Lord Sandwich directed
that it be named Cook's River.
The voyage of two hundred miles to the head of the
arm by steamer is slow and sufficiently romantic to
satisfy the most sentimental. The steamer is compelled
to tie up frequently to await the favorable stage of the
tide, affording ample opportunity and time for the full
enjoyment of the varied attractions of the trip. The numerous waterfalls are among the finest of Alaska.
304 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
Even today the trip is attended by the gravest dangers
and is only attempted by experienced navigators who are
familiar with its unique perils. The very entrance is the
dread of mariners. The tide-rips that boil and roar around
the naked Barren Islands subject ships to graver danger
than the fiercest storms on this wild and stormy coast.
The tides of Turnagain Arm rival those of the Bay of
Fundy, entering in tremendous bores that advance faster
than a horse can run and bearing everything with resist-
less force before them. After the first roar of the entering tide is heard, there is but a moment in which to make
for safety. There is a tide fall in the arm of from twenty
to twenty-seven feet.
The first Russian settlement of the inlet was by the
establishment of a fort by Shelikoff, near the entrance,
named Alexandrovsk. It was followed in 1786 by the
establishment of the Lebedef-Lastuchkin Company on the
Kussilof River in a settlement and fort named St. George.
Fort Alexandrovsk formed a square with two bastions,
and the imperial arms shone over the entrance, which was
protected by two guns. The situation, however, was not
so advantageous for trading as that of the other company.
In 1791 the Lebedef Company established another fort,
the Redoubt St. Nicholas, still farther up the inlet, just
below that narrowing known as the " Forelands," at the
Kaknu, or Kenai, River. At this place the shores jut out
into three steep, cliffy points which were named by Vancouver West, North, and East Forelands.
Here Vancouver found the flood-tide running with such
a violent velocity that the best bower cable proved unable
to resist it, and broke. The buoy sank by the strength
of the current, and both the anchor and the cable were
Cook did not enter Turnagain Arm, but Vancouver
learned from the Russians that neither the arm nor the
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 305
inlet was a river ; that the arm terminated some thirty
miles from its mouth; and that from its head the Russians
walked about fifteen versts over a mountain and entered
an inlet of Prince William Sound, - thereby keeping themselves in communication with their fellow-countrymen at
Port Etches and Kaye Island.
Vancouver sent Lieutenant Whidbey and some men to explore the arm ; but
having entered with the bore and finding no place where he might escape its ebb,
he was compelled to return with it, without making as complete an examination as was desired.
The country bordering upon the bays along Turnagain
Arm is low, richly wooded, and pleasant, rising with a
gradual slope, until the inner point of entrance is reached.
Here the shores suddenly rise to bold and towering eminences, perpendicular cliffs, and mountains which to
poor Whidbey, as usual, appeared "stupendous" - cleft
by " awfully grand " chasms and gullies, down which
rushed immense torrents of water.
The tide rises thirty feet with a roaring rush that is
really terrifying to hear and see.
At a Russian settlement Whidbey found one large house,
fifty by twenty-four feet, occupied by nineteen Russians.
One door afforded the only ventilation, and it was usually
Whidbey and his men were hospitably received and
were offered a repast of dried fish and native cranberries;
but because of the offensive odor of the house, owing to
the lack of ventilation and other unmentionable horrors,
they were unable to eat. Perceiving this, their host
ordered the cranberries taken away and beaten up with
train-oil, when they were again placed before the visitors.
This last effort of hospitality proved too much for the
politeness of the Englishmen, and they rushed out into the
cool air for relief.
306 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
Indeed, the Russians appeared to live quite as filthily
and disgustingly as the natives, and to have fallen into
all their cooking, living, and other customs, save those of
painting their faces and wearing ornaments in lips, noses,
The name "inlet," instead of "river," was first applied to
this torrential water-way in 1794 by Vancouver, who also
bestowed upon Turnagain the designation of "arm."
Vancouver, upon the invitation of the commanding
officer who came out to his ships for that purpose, paid
the Redoubt St. Nicholas, near the Forelands, a visit.
He was saluted by two guns from a kind of balcony, above
which the Russian flag floated on top of a house situated
upon a cliff.
Captain Dixon, the most pious navigator I have found,
with the exception of the Russians, extolled the Supreme
Being for having so bountifully provided in Cook Inlet
for the needs of the wretched natives who inhabited the
region. The fresh fish and game of all kinds, so easily
procured, the rich skins with which to clothe their bodies,
inspired him to praise and thanksgiving.
For the magnificent water-way pushing northward,
glaciered, cascaded, blue-bayed, and emerald-valed, with
unbroken chains of snow peaks and volcanoes on both
sides, - up which the voyager sails charmed and fascinated
today, - he spoke no enthusiastic word of praise. On
the contrary, he found the aspect dreary and uncomfortable. Even Whidbey, the Chilly, could not have given
way to deeper shudders than did Dixon in Cook Inlet.
The low land and green valleys close to the shore,
grown with trees, shrubbery, and tall grasses, he found
" not altogether disagreeable," but it was with shock upon
shock to his delicate and outraged feelings that he sailed
between the mountains covered with eternal snow. Their
" prodigious extent and stupendous precipices . . . chilled
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 307
the blood of the beholder." They were "awfully dreadful."
Dixon, as well as Cook, mentions the wearing of the
labret by men, but I still cling to the opinion that they
could not distinguish a man from a woman, owing to the
Dixon also reported that the natives have a keen sense
of smell, which they quicken by the use of snakeroot.
One would naturally have supposed that they would have
hunted the forests through and through for some herb,
or some dark charm of witchcraft, that would have
deprived them utterly and forever of this sense, which is
so undesirable a possession to the person living or traveling in Alaska.
The climate of Cook Inlet is more agreeable than that
of any other part of Alaska. In the low valleys near the
shore the soil is well adapted to the growing of fruits,
vegetables, and grain, and to the raising of stock and
chickens. Good butter and cheese are made, which, with
eggs, bring excellent prices. Roses and all but the tenderest flowers thrive, and berries grow large and of delicious flavor, bearing abundantly.
" Awfully dreadful " scenes are not to be found. It is
a pleasure to confess, however, that many features, by
their beauty, splendor, and sublimity, fill the appreciative
beholder with awe and reverence.
The coal deposits of the region surrounding the inlet
are now known to be numerous and important. Coal is
found in Kachemak Bay, and Port Graham, at Tyonook,
and on Matanuska River, about fifty miles inland from
the head of the inlet. It is lignitic and bituminous, but
semi-anthracite has been found in the Matanuska Valley.
Lignitic coals have a very wide distribution, but have
been, as yet, mined only on Admiralty Island, at Homer
308 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
and Coal Bay in Cook Inlet, at Chignik and Unga, at
several points on the Yukon, and on Seward Peninsula.
The new railroad now building from Cordova will open
up not only vast copper districts, but the richest and most
extensive oil and coal fields in Alaska, as well.
Semi-anthracite coal exists in commercial quantities,
so far as yet discovered, only at Comptroller Bay. A
fine quality of bituminous coal also exists there, extending inland for twenty-five miles on the northern tributaries of Behring River and about thirty-five miles east
of Copper River, covering an area of about one hundred
and twenty square miles.
Southwestern Alaska includes the Cook Inlet region,
Kodiak and adjacent islands, Aliaska Peninsula, and the
Aleutian Islands. Coal, mostly of a lignitic character,
is widely distributed in all these districts. It has also
been discovered in different localities in the Sushitna Basin.
All coal used by the United States government's naval
vessels on the Pacific is purchased and transported there
from the East at enormous expense. Alaska has vast coal
deposits of an exceedingly fine quality lying undeveloped
in the Aliaskan Peninsula, two hundred miles farther west
than Honolulu, and directly on the route of steamers plying
from this country to the Orient. (It is not generally known
that the smoke of steamers on their way from Puget Sound
to Japan may be plainly seen on clear days at Unalaska.)
This coal is in the neighborhood of Portage Bay where
there is a good harbor and a coaling station. It is reported
by geological survey experts to be as fine as Pocahontas
coal, and even higher in carbon.
Possibly, in time, the United States government may
awaken to a realization of the vast fortunes lying hidden
in the undeveloped, neglected, and even scorned resources
of Alaska, - not to mention the tremendous advantages of
being able to coal its war vessels with Pacific Coast coal.
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 309
During the spring of 1908 the Alaska-coal land situation was discouraging. A great area of rich coal-bearing
land had been withdrawn from entry, because of the
amazing presumption of the interior department that the
removal of prohibitive restrictions upon entry-men would
encourage the formation of monopolies in the mining and
marketing of coal.
Secretary Garfield at first inclined strongly to the
opinion that the Alaska coal lauds should be held by the
government for leasing purposes, and that there should
be a separate reservation for the navy ; and he has not
entirely abandoned this opinion.
The withdrawal of the coal lands from entry caused the
Copper River and Northwestern Railway Company to
discontinue all work on the Katalla branch of the road ;
nor will it resume until the question of title to the coal
lands is settled and the lands themselves admitted to
The fear of monopolies, which is making the interior
department uneasy, is said to have arisen from the fact
that it has been absolutely necessary for several entry-men
in a coal region to associate themselves together and combine their claims, on account of the enormous expense of
opening and operating mines in that country. The surveys alone, which, in accordance with an act passed in
1904, must be borne by the entry-man, although this burden
is not imposed upon entry-men in the states, are so expensive, particularly in the Behring coal-fields near Katalla,
that an entry-man cannot bear it alone ; while the expense
of getting provisions and tools from salt-water into the
interior is simply prohibitive to most locators, unless they
can combine and divide the expense.
These early discoverers and locators acted in good
faith. The lands were entered as coal lands ; there was
no fraud and no attempt at fraud ; not one person sought
310 ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY
to take up coal land as homestead, nor with scrip, nor in
any fraudulent manner.
There was some carelessness in the observance of new
rules and regulations, but there was excuse for this in the
fact that Alaska is far from Congress and news travels
slowly ; also, it has been the belief of Alaskans that when
a man, after the infinite labor and deprivation necessary to
successful prospecting in Alaska, has found anything of
value on the public domain, he could appropriate it with
the surety that his right thereto would be recognized and
respected; and that any slight mistakes that might be
made technically would be condoned, provided that they
were honest ones and not made with the intent to defraud
The oldest coal mine in Alaska is located just within
the entrance to Cook Inlet, on the western shore, at Coal
Harbor. There, in the early fifties, the Russians began
extensive operations, importing experienced German miners to direct a large force of Muscovite laborers sent from
Sitka, and running their machinery by steam.
Shafts were sunk, and a drift run into the vein for a
distance of one thousand seven hundred feet. During a
period of three years two thousand seven hundred tons
of coal were mined, but the result was a loss to the enterprising Russians.
Its extent was practically unlimited, but the quality
was found to be too poor for the use of steamers.
It is only within the past three years that the fine quality of much of the coal found in Alaska has been made
known by government experts.
It was inconceivable that Congress should hesitate to
enact such laws as would help to develop Alaska ; yet it
was not until late in the spring that bills were passed which
greatly relieved the situation and insured the building of
the road upon which the future of this district depends.
Cook Inlet is so sheltered and is favored by a climate
so agreeable that it was called " Summer-land " by the
Across Kachemak Bay from Seldovia is Homer -
another town of the inlet blessed with a poetic name.
When I landed at its wharf, in 1905, it was the saddest,
sweetest place in Alaska. It was but the touching phantom of a town.
We reached it at sunset of a June day.
A low, green, narrow spit runs for several miles out
into the waters of the inlet, bordered by a gravelly beach.
Here is a railroad running eight miles to the Cook Inlet
coal-fields, a telephone line, roundhouses, machine-shops,
engines and cars, a good wharf, some of the best store
buildings and residences in Alaska, - all painted white with
soft red roofs, and all deserted !
On this low and lovely spit, fronting the divinely blue
sea and the full glory of the sunset, there was only one
human being, the postmaster. When the little Dora
swung lightly into the wharf, this poor lonely soul showed
a pitiable and pathetic joy at this fleeting touch of companionship. We all went ashore and shook hands with
him and talked to him. Then we returned to our cabins
and carried him a share of all our daintiest luxuries.
When, after fifteen or twenty minutes, the Dora with-
drew slowly into the great Safrano rose of the sunset,
leaving him, a lonely, gray figure, on the wharf, the look
312 ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY
on his face made us turn away, so that we could not see
one another's eyes.
It was like the look of a dog who stands helpless, lonely,
and cannot follow.
I have never been able to forget that man. He was so
gentle, so simple, so genuinely pleased and grateful - and
so lonely !
As I write, Homer is once more a town, instead of a
phantom. I no longer picture him alone in those empty,
echoing, red-roofed buildings ; but one of my most vivid
and tormenting memories of Alaska is of a gray figure,
with a little pathetic stoop, going up the path from the
wharf, in the splendor of that June sunset, with his dog at
The Act of 1902, commonly known as the Alaska Game Law, defines game, fixes
open seasons, restricts the number which may be killed, declares certain methods
of hunting unlawful, prohibits the sale of hides, skins, or heads at any time,
and prohibits export of game animals, or birds - except for scientific purposes,
for propagation, or for trophies - under restrictions prescribed by the
Department of Agriculture. The law also authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture,
when such action shall be necessary, to place further restrictions on killing in
certain regions. The importance of this provision is already apparent. Owing to the fact that nearly all persons who
go to Alaska to kill big game visit a few easily accessible
localities - notably Kadiak Island, the Kenai Peninsula,
and the vicinity of Cook Inlet - it has become necessary
to protect the game of these localities by special regulations, in order to prevent its speedy destruction.
The object of the act is to protect the game of the terri-
tory so far as possible from the mere " killer," but without
causing unnecessary hardship. Therefore, Indians, Eskimos,
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 313
miners, or explorers actually in need of food, are permitted to kill game for their immediate use. The exception in favor of natives, miners, and explorers must be
construed strictly. It must not be used merely as a pretext to kill game out of season, for sport or for market, or
to supply canneries or settlements ; and, under no circum-
stances, can the hides or heads of animals thus killed be
lawfully offered for sale.
Every person who has traveled in Alaska knows that
these laws are violated daily. An amusing incident occurred on the Dora, on the first morning "to Westward"
from Seward. Far be it from me to eat anything that is
forbidden ; but I had seen fried moose steak in Seward.
It resembles slices of pure beef tenderloin, fried.
It chanced that at our first breakfast on the Dora I
found fried beef tenderloin on the bill of fare, and ordered it. Scarcely had I been served when in came the
gentleman from Boston, who, through his alert and insatiable curiosity concerning all things Alaskan and his keen
desire to experience every possible Alaskan sensation, -
all with the greatest naivete and good humor, - had
endeared himself to us all on our long journey together.
" What's that ? " asked he, briskly, scenting a new
experience on my plate.
" Moose," said I, sweetly.
" Moose - 7noose ! " cried he, excitedly, seizing his bill
of fare. " I'll have some. Where is it ? I don't see it ! "
" Hush-h-h," said I, sternly. " It is not on the bill of
fare. It is out of season."
" Then how shall I get it ? " he cried, anxiously. " I
must have some."
" Tell the waiter to bring you the same that he brought
When the dear, gentle Japanese, "Charlie," came to
serve him, he shamelessly pointed at my plate.
314 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
" I'll have some of that," said he, mysteriously.
Charlie bowed, smiled like a seraph, and withdrew, to
return presently with a piece of beef tenderloin.
The gentleman from Boston fairly pounced upon it.
We all watched him expectantly. His expression changed
from anticipation to satisfaction, delight, rapture.
" That's the most delicious thing I ever ate," he burst
" Do you think so ? " said I. " Really, I was disappointed. It tastes very much like beefsteak to me."
" Beefsteak ! " said he, scornfully. " It tastes no more
like beefsteak than pie tastes like cabbage ! What a pity
to waste it on one who cannot appreciate its delicate wild
Months afterward he sent me a marked copy of a Boston
newspaper, in which he had written enthusiastically of
the " rare, wild flavor, haunting as a poet's dream," of
the moose which he had eaten on the Doi-a.
In addition to the animals commonly regarded as game,
walrus and brown bear are protected; but existing laws
relating to the fur-seal, sea-otter, or other fur-bearing
animals are not affected. The act creates no close season for black bear, and contains no prohibition against
the sale or shipment of their skins or heads ; but those
of brown bear may be shipped only in accordance with
The Act of 1908 amends the former act as follows : -
It is unlawful for any person in Alaska to kill any wild
game, animals, or birds, except during the following seasons : north of latitude sixty-two degrees, brown bear
may be killed at any time ; moose, caribou, sheep, walrus and sea-lions, from August 1 to December 10, inclusive ; south of latitude sixty -two degrees, moose, caribou,
and mountain sheep, from August 20 to December 31, inclusive ; brown bear, from October 1 to July 1, inclusive ;
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 315
deer and mountain goats, from August 1 to February 1,
inclusive ; grouse, ptarmigan, shore birds, and water fowl,
from September 1 to March 1, inclusive.
The Secretary of Agriculture is authorized, whenever
he may deem it necessary for the preservation of game
animals or birds, to make and publish rules and regulations which shall modify the close seasons established, or
to provide different close seasons for different parts of
Alaska, or to place further limitations and restrictions
on the killing of such animals or birds in any given locality, or to prohibit killing entirely for a period not
exceeding two years in such locality.
It is unlawful for any person at any time to kill any
females or yearlings of moose, or for any one person to
kill in one year more than the number specified of each
of the following game animals : Two moose, one walrus
or sea-lion, three caribou,- sheep, or large brown bear ;
or to kill or have in his possession in any one day more
than twenty-five grouse or ptarmigan, or twenty-five shore
birds or water fowl.
The killing of caribou on the Kenai Peninsula is prohibited until August 20, 1912.
It is unlawful for any non-resident of Alaska to hunt auy of the protected
game animals, except deer and goats, without first obtaining a hunting license;
or to hunt on the Kenai Peninsula without a registered guide, such license not
being transferable and valid only during the year of issue. The fee for this
license is fifty dollars to citizens of the United States, and one hundred
dollars to foreigners; it is accompanied by coupons authorizing the shipment of
two moose, - if killed north of sixty-two degrees, - four deer, three caribou,
sheep, goats, brown bear, or any part of said animals. A resident of Alaska may
ship heads or trophies by obtaining a shipping license for this purpose. A fee
of forty dollars permits the shipment
316 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
of heads or trophies as follows: one moose, if killed
north of sixty-two degrees ; four deer, two caribou, two
sheep, goats, or brown bear. A fee of ten dollars permits
the shipment of a single head or trophy of caribou or
sheep; and one of five, that of goat, deer, or brown bear.
It costs just one hundred and fifty dollars to ship any part
of a moose killed south of sixty-two degrees. Furthermore, before any trophy may be shipped from Alaska, the
person desiring to make such shipment shall first make
and file with the customs office of the port where the shipment is to be made, an affidavit to the effect that he has
not violated any of the provisions of this act ; that the
trophy has been neither bought nor sold, and is not to be
shipped for sale, and that he is the owner thereof.
The Governor of Alaska, in issuing a license, requires
the applicant to state whether the trophies are to be
shipped through the ports of entry of Seattle, Portland, or
San Francisco, and he notifies the collector at the given
port as to the name of the license holder, and name and
address of the consignee.
After reading these rigid laws, I cannot help wondering
whether the Secretary of Agriculture ever saw an Alaskan
mountain sheep. If he has seen one and should unexpectedly come across some poor wretch smuggling the
head of one out of Alaska, he would - unless his heart is
as hard as " stun-cancer," as an old lady once said - just
turn his eyes in another direction and refuse to see what
was not meant for his vision.
The Alaskan sheep does not resemble those of Montana
and other sheep countries. It is more delicate and far
more beautiful. There is a deerlike grace in the poise of
its head, a fine and sensitive outline to nostril and mouth, a
tenderness in the great dark eyes, that is at once startled
and appealing; while the wide, graceful sweep of the horns
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 317
The head of the moose, as well as of the caribou, is imposing, but coarse and ugly.
The antlers of the delicate-
headed deer are pretty, but lack the power of the horns of
the Alaskan sheep. The Montana sheep's head is almost
as coarse as that of the moose. The dainty ears and
soft-colored hair of the Alaskan sheep are fawnlike.
From the Alaska Central trains near Lake Kenai, the
sheep may be seen feeding on the mountain that has been
named for them.
Cape Douglas, at the entrance to Cook Inlet, is the admiration of all save the careful navigator who usually at
this point meets such distressing winds and tides that he
has no time to devote to the contemplation of scenery.
This noble promontory thrusts itself boldly out into the
sea for a distance of about three miles, where it sinks sheer
for a thousand feet to the pale green surf that breaks everlastingly upon it. It is far more striking and imposing
than the more famous Cape Elizabeth on the eastern side
of the entrance to the inlet.
The heavy forestation of the Northwest Coast ceases
finally at the Kenai Peninsula. Kadiak Island is sparsely
wooded in sylvan groves, with green slopes and valleys
between; but the islands lying beyond are bare of trees.
Sometimes a low, shrubby willow growth is seen; but for
the most part the thousands of islands are covered in
summer with grasses and mosses, which, drenched by frequent mists and rain, are of a brilliant and dazzling green.
The Aleutian Islands drift out, one after another,
toward the coast of Asia, like an emerald rosary on the
blue breast of Behring Sea. The only tree in the Aleutian
Islands is a stunted evergreen growing at the gate of a
residence in Unalaska, on the island of the same name.
The prevailing atmospheric color of Alaska is a kind of
misty, rosy lavender, enchantingly blended from different
shades of violet, rose, silver, azure, gold, and green. The
water coloring changes hourly. One passes from a narrow
channel whose waters are of the most delicate green into a
wider reach of the palest blue; and from this into a gulf
of sun-flecked purple.
The summer voyage out among the Aleutian Islands is
lovely beyond all description. It is a sweet, dreamlike
drifting through a water world of rose and lavender, along
the pale green velvety hills of the islands. There are no
adjectives that will clearly describe this greenness to one
who has not seen it. It is at once so soft and so vivid;
it flames out like the dazzling green fire of an emerald, and
pales to the lighter green of the chrysophrase.
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 319
Marvelous sunset effects are frequently seen on these
waters. There was one which we saw in broad gulfs,
which gathered in a point on the purple water about
nine o'clock. Every color and shade of color burned
in this point, like a superb fire opal ; and from it were
flung rays of different coloring - so far, so close, so
mistily brilliant, and so tremulously ethereal, that in
shape and fabric it resembled a vast thistle-down blowing before us on the water. Often we sailed directly
into it and its fragile color needles were shattered and
fell about us ; but immediately another formed farther
ahead, and trembled and throbbed until it, too, was
overtaken and shattered before our eyes.
At other times the sunset sank over us, about us,
and upon us, like a cloud of gold and scarlet dust that
is scented with coming rain ; but of all the different
sunset effects that are but memories now, the most unusual was a great mist of brilliant, vivid green just
touched with fire, that went marching down the wide
straits of Shelikoff late one night in June.
Early on the morning after leaving Cook Inlet, the
" early-decker " will find the Dora steaming lightly
past Afognak Island through the narrow channel separating it from Marmot Island. This was the most silvery, divinely blue stretch of water I saw in Alaska,
with the exception of Behring Sea. The morning that
we sailed into Marmot Bay was an exceptionally suave
one in June; and the color of the water may have
been due to the softness of the day.
We had passed Sea Lion Rocks, where hundreds of
these animals lie upon the rocky shelves, with lifted,
narrow heads, moving nervously from side to side in
serpent fashion, and whom a boat's whistle sends plunging headlong into the sea.
The southern point of Marmot Island is the Cape St.
320 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
Hermogenes of Behring, a name that has been perpetuated to this day. The steamer passes between it and
Pillar Point, and at one o'clock of the same day through
the winding, islanded harbor of Kadiak.
This settlement is on the island that won the heart
of John Burroughs when he visited it with the famous
Harriman Expedition - the Island of Kadiak.
I voyaged with a pilot who had accompanied the expedition.
"Those scientists, now," he said, musingly, one day
as he paced the bridge, with his hands behind him.
" They were a real study for a fellow like me. The
genuine big-bugs in that party were the finest gentle-
men you ever saw; but the little-hugs - say, they put
on more dog than a bogus prince ! They were always
demanding something they couldn't get and acting as
if they was afraid somebody might think they didn't
amount to anything. An officer on a ship can always
tell a gentleman in two minutes - his wants are so few
and his tastes so simple. John Burroughs? Oh, say,
every man on the ship liked Mr. Burroughs. I don't
know as you'd ought to call him a gentleman. You
see, gentlemen live on earth, and he was way up
above the earth - in the clouds, you know. He'd look
right through you with the sweetest eyes, and never
see you. But flowers - well, Jeff Davis ! Mr. Burroughs could see a flower half a mile away ! You could
talk to him all day, and he wouldn't hear a word you
said to him, any more than if he was deef as a post.
I thought he was, the longest while. But Jeff Davis !
just let a bird sing on shore when we) were sailing
along close. His deafness wasn't particularly noticeable
then ! . . . He'd go ashore and dawdle 'way off from
everybody else, and come back with his arms full of
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 321
Mr. Burroughs was charmed with the
of Kadiak Island ; its pale blue, cloud-dappled skies and
deep blue, islanded seas ; its narrow, winding waterways ; its dimpled hills, silvery streams, and wooded
dells ; its acres upon acres of flowers of every variety,
hue and size ; its vivid green, grassy, and mossy slopes,
crests, and meadows ; its delightful air and singing birds.
He was equally charmed with Wood Island, which is
only fifteen minutes' row from Kadiak, and spent much
time in its melodious dells, turning his back upon both
islands with reluctance, and afterward writing of them
appreciative words which their people treasure in their
hearts and proudly quote to the stranger who reaches
those lovely shores.
The name Kadiak was originally Kaniag, the natives
calling themselves Kaniagists or Kaniagmuts. The island was discovered in 1763, by Stephen Glottoff.
His reception by the natives was not of a nature to
warm the cockles of his heart. They approached in
their skin-boats, but his godson, Ivan Glottoff, a young
Aleut interpreter, could not make them understand him,
and they fled in apparent fear.
Some days later they returned with an Aleutian boy
whom they had captured in a conflict with the natives
of the Island of Sannakh, and he served as interpreter.
The natives of Kadiak differ greatly from those of
the Aleutian Islands, notwithstanding the fact that the
islands drift into one another.
The Kadiaks were more intelligent and ambitious, and
of much finer appearance, than the Aleutians.
They were of a fiercer and more warlike nature, and
refused to meet the friendly advances of Glottoff. The
latter, therefore, kept at some distance from the shore,
and a watch was set night and day.
322 ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY
Nevertheless, the Kadiaks made an early-morning attack, firing upon the watches with arrows and attempting to set tire to the ship. They fled in the wildest
disorder upon the discharge of firearms, scattering in
their flight ludicrous ladders, dried moss, and other materials with which they had expected to destroy the ship.
Within four days they made another attack, provided
with wooden shields to ward off the musket-balls.
They were again driven to the shore. At the end of
three weeks they made a third and last attack, protected
by immense breastworks, over which they cast spears and
arrows upon the decks.
As these shields appeared to be bullet-proof and the
natives continued to advance, Glottoff landed a body of
men and made a fierce attack, which had the desired
effect. The savages dropped their shields and fled from
When Von H. J. Holmberg was on the island, he persuaded an old native to dictate a narrative to an interpreter, concerning the arrival of the first ship - which
was undoubtedly Glottoff's. This narrative is of poignant
interest, presenting, as it does, so simply and so eloquently,
the "other" point of view - that of the first inhabitant of
the country, which we so seldom hear. For this reason,
and for the charm of its style, I reproduce it in part: -
" I was a boy of nine or ten years, for I was already set
to paddle a bidarka, when the first Russian ship, with two
masts, appeared near Cape Aleulik. Before that time we
had never seen a ship. We had intercourse with the Ag-
legnutes, of the Aliaska Peninsula, with the Tnaianas of
the Kenai Peninsula, and with the Koloshes, of southeastern Alaska. Some wise men even knew something of
the Californias ; but of white men and their ships we knew
" The ship looked like a great whale at a distance. We
ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY 323
went out to sea in our bidarkas, but we soon found that it
was no whale, but another unknown monster of which we
were afraid, and the smell of which made us sick."
(In all literature and history and real life, I know of
no single touch of unintentional humor so entirely delicious as this : that any odor could make an Alaskan native, of any locality or tribe, sick ; and of all things, an
odor connected with a white person ! It appears that in
more ways than one this old native's story is of value.)
" The people on the ship had buttons on their clothes,
and at first we thought they must be cuttle-fish." (More
unintentional, and almost as delicious, humor !) " But
when we saw them put fire into their mouths and blow
out smoke we knew that they must be devils.'''
(Did any early navigator ever make a neater criticism
of the natives than these innocent ones of the first white
visitors to their shores ?)
" The ship sailed by . . . into Kaniat, or Alitak, Bay,
where it anchored. We followed, full of fear, and at the
same time curious to see what would become of the strange apparition, but we did not dare to approach the ship.
" Among our people was a brave warrior named Ishinik,
who was so bold that he feared nothing in the world ; he
undertook to visit the ship, and came back with presents
in his hand, - a red shirt, an Aleut hood, and some glass
beads." (Glottoff describes this visit, and the gifts
"He said there was nothing to fear; that they only
wished to buy sea-otter skins, and to give us glass beads
and other riches for them. We did not fully believe this
statement. The old and wise people held a council.
Some thought the strangers might bring us sickness.
" Our people formerly were at war with the Fox Island
people. My father once made a raid on Unalaska and
brought back, among other booty, a little girl left by her
324 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
fleeing people. As a prisoner taken in war, she was our
slave, but my father treated her like a daughter, and
brought her up with his own children. We called her
Plioo, which means ashes, because she was taken from
the ashes of her home. On the Russian ship which came
from Unalaska were many Aleuts, and among them the
father of our slave. He came to my father's house, and
when he found that his daughter was not kept like a slave,
but was well cared for, he told him confidentially, out of
gratitude, that the Russians would take the sea-otter
skins without payment, if they could.
"This warning saved my father. The Russians came
ashore with the Aleuts, and the latter persuaded our peo-
ple to trade, saying, ' Why are you afraid of the Russians?
Look at us. We live with them, and they do us no harm.'
" Our people, dazzled by the sight of such quantities of
goods, left their weapons in the bidarkas and went to the
Russians with the sea-otter skins. While they were busy
trading, the Aleuts, who carried arms concealed about
them, at a signal from the Russians, fell upon our people,
killing about thirty and taking away their sea-otter skins.
A few men had cautiously watched the result of the first
intercourse from a distance - among them my father."
(The poor fellow told this proudly, not understanding
that he thus confessed a shameful and cowardly act on
his father's part.)
" These attempted to escape in their bidarkas, but they
were overtaken by the Aleuts and killed. My father
alone was saved by the father of his slave, who gave him
his bidarka when my father's own had been pierced by
arrows and was sinking.
" In this he fled to Akhiok. My father's name was
Penashigak. The time of the arrival of this ship was
August, as the whales were coming into the bays, and
the berries were ripe.
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 325
"The Russians remained for the winter, but could not
find sufficient food in Kaniat Bay. They were compelled
to leave the ship in charge of a few watchmen and moved
into a bay opposite Aiakhtalik Island. Here was a lake
full of herrings and a kind of smelt. They lived in tents
through the winter. The brave Ishinik, who first dared
to visit the ship, was liked by the Russians, and acted as
mediator. When the fish decreased in the lake during
the winter, the Russians moved about from place to place.
Whenever we saw a boat coming, at a distance, we fled to
the hills, and when we returned, no dried fish could be
found in the houses.
"In the lake near the Russian camp there was a poisonous kind of starfish. We knew it very well, but said
nothing about it to the Russians. We never ate them,
and even the gulls would not touch them. Many Russians died from eating them. We injured them, also,
in other ways. They put up fox-traps, and we removed
them for the sake of obtaining the iron material. The
Russians left during the following year."
This native's name was Arsenti Aminak. There are
several slight discrepancies between his narrative and
Glottoff's account, especially as to time. He does not
mention the hostile attacks of his people upon the Russians ; and these differences puzzle Bancroft and make
him skeptical concerning the veracity of the native's
It is barely possible, however, that Glottoff imagined
these attacks, as an excuse for his own merciless slaughter
of the Kadiaks.
As to the discrepancy in time, it must be remembered
that Arsenti Aminak was an old man when he related the
events which had occurred when he was a young lad of
nine or ten. White lads of that age are not possessed of
vivid memories ; and possibly the little brown lad, just
326 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
'' set to paddle a bidarka," was not more brilliant than his
It is wiser to trust the word of the early native than
that of the early navigator - with a few illustrious exceptions.
Kadiak is the second in size of Alaskan islands, -
Prince of Wales Island in southeastern Alaska being
slightly larger, - and no island, unless it be Baranoff, is
of more historic interest and charm. It was from this
island that Gregory Shelikoff and his capable wife directed
the vast and profitable enterprises of the Shelikoff Company, having finally succeeded, in 1784, in making the
first permanent Russian settlement in America at Three
Saints Bay, on the southeastern coast of this island.
Barracks, offices, counting-houses, storehouses, and shops
of various kinds were built, and the settlement was
guarded against native attack by two armed vessels.
It was here that the first missionary establishment and
school of the Northwest Coast of America were located ;
and here was built the first great warehouse of logs.
Shelikoff's welcome from the fierce Kadiaks, in
was not more cordial than Glottoff's had been. His ships
were repeatedly attacked, and it was not until he had fired
upon them, causing great loss of life and general consternation among them, that he obtained possession of the
Shelikoff lost no time in preparing for permanent occupancy of the island. Dwellings and fortifications were
erected. His own residence was furnished with all the
comforts and luxuries of civilization, which he collected
from his ships, for the purpose of inspiring the natives
with respect for a superior mode of living. They watched
the construction of buildings with great curiosity, and at
last volunteered their own services in the work.
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 327
Shelikoff personally conducted a school, endeavoring to
teach both children and adults the Russian language and
arithmetic, as well as religion.
In 1796 Father Juvenal, a young Russian priest who
had been sent to the colonies as a missionary, wrote as
follows concerning his work : -
"" With the help of God, a school was opened today at
this place, the first since the attempt of the late Mr. Shelikoff to instruct the natives of this neighborhood. Eleven
boys and several grown men were in attendance. When
I read prayers they seemed very attentive, and were
evidently deeply impressed, although they did not understand the language. . . . When school was closed, I
went to the river with my boys, and with the help of God "'
(the italics are mine) " we caught one hundred and
three salmon of large size."
The school prospered and was giving entire satisfaction
when Baranoff transferred Father Juvenal to Iliamna, on
We now come to what has long appealed to me as the
most tragic and heart-breaking story of all Alaska - the
story of Father Juvenal's betrayal and death at Iliamna.
Of his last Sabbath's work at Three Saints, Father Ju-
venal wrote : -
" We had a very solemn and impressive service this
morning. Mr. Baranoff and officers and sailors from the
ship attended, and also a large number of natives. We
had fine singing, and a congregation with great outward
appearance of devotion. I could not help but marvel at
Alexander Alexandreievitch Baranoff, who stood there
and listened, crossing himself and giving the responses at
the proper time, and joined in the singing with the same
hoarse voice with which he was shouting obscene songs
the night before, when I saw him in the midst of a
drunken carousal with a woman seated on his lap. I
328 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
dispensed with services in the afternoon, because the traders
were drunk again, and might have disturbed us and disgusted the natives."
Father Juvenal's pupils were removed to Pavlovsk and
placed under the care of Father German, who had recently
opened a school there.
The priestly missionaries were treated with scant courtesy by Baranoff, and ceaseless and bitter were the
complaints they made against him. On the voyage to Iliamna,
Father Juvenal complains that he was compelled to sleep
in the hold of the brigantine Catherine, between bales of
goods and piles of dried fish, because the cabin was occupied
by Baranoff and his party.
In his foul quarters, by the light of a dismal lantern,
he wrote a portion of his famous journal, which has be-
come a most precious human document, unable to sleep
on account of the ribald songs and drunken revelry of
He claims to have been constantly insulted and humiliated by Baranoff during the brief voyage ; and finally, at
Pavlovsk, he was told that he must depend upon bidarkas
for the remainder of the voyage to the Gulf of Kenai;
and after that to the robbers and murderers of the Lebedef Company.
The vicissitudes, insults, and actual suffering of the voyage are vividly set forth in his journal. It was the 16th
of July when he left Kadiak and the 3d of September
when he finally reached Iliamna - having journeyed by
barkentine to Pavlovsk, by bidarka from island to island
and to Cook Inlet, and over the mountains on foot.
He was hospitably received by Shakmut, the chief, who
took him into his own house and promised to build one
especially for him. A boy named Nikita, who had been
a hostage with the Russians, acted as interpreter, and was
later presented to Father Juvenal.
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 329
This young missionary seems to have been more zealous
than diplomatic. Immediately upon discovering that the
boy had never been baptized, he performed that ceremony,
to the astonishment of the natives, who considered it some
dark practice of witchcraft.
Juvenal relates with great naivete that a pretty young
woman asked to have the same ceremony performed upon
her, that she, too, might live in the same house with the
The most powerful shock that he received, however,
before the one that led to his death, he relates in the following simple language, under date of September 5, two
days after his arrival : -
" It will be a relief to get away from the crowded house
of the chief, where persons of all ages and sexes mingle
without any regard to decency or morals. To my utter
astonishment, Shakmut asked me last night to share the
couch of one of his wives. He has three or four. I suppose such abomination is the custom of the country, and
he intended no insult. God gave me grace to overcome my indignation, and to decline the offer in a friendly
and dignified manner. My first duty, when I have some-
what mastered the language, shall be to preach against
such wicked practices, but I could not touch upon such
subjects through a boy interpreter."
The severe young priest carried out his intentions so
zealously that the chief and his friends were offended.
He commanded them to put away all their wives but one.
They had marveled at his celibacy ; but they felt, with
the rigid justice of the savage, that, if absolutely sincere,
he was entitled to their respect.
However, they doubted his sincerity, and plotted to
satisfy their curiosity upon this point. A young Iliamna
girl was bribed to conceal herself in his room. Awaking
330 ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY
in the middle of the night and finding himself in her arms,
the young priest was unable to overcome temptation.
In the morning he was overwhelmed with remorse and
a sense of his disgrace. He remembered how haughtily
he had spurned Shakmut's offer of peculiar hospitality,
and how mercilessly he had criticized Baranoff for his
immoral carousals. Remembering these things, as well
as the ease with which his own downfall had been accomplished, he was overcome with shame.
" What a terrible blow this is to all my recent hopes ! "
he wrote, in his pathetic account of the affair in his
journal. " As soon as I regained my senses, I drove the
woman out, but I felt too guilty to be very harsh with
her. How can I hold up my head among the people, who,
of course, will hear of this affair ? . . . God is my witness
that I have set down the truth here in the face of any-
thing that may be said about it hereafter. I have kept
myself secluded today from everybody. I have not yet
the strength to face the world,"
When Juvenal did face the small world of Iliamna, it
was to be openly ridiculed and insulted by all. Young
girls tittered when he went by ; his own boys, whom he
had taught and baptized, mocked him ; a girl put her
head into his room when he was engaged in fastening a
heavy bar upon his door, and laughed in his face. Shakmut came and insisted that Juvenal should baptize his
several wives the following Sunday. This he had been
steadily refusing to do, so long as they lived in daily sin ;
but now, disgraced, broken in spirit, and no longer able
to say, " I am holier than thou," he wearily consented.
" I shall not shrink from my duty to make him relinquish all but one wife, however," he wrote, with a last
flash of his old spirit, " when the proper time arrives. If
I wink at polygamy now, I shall be forever unable to
combat it. Perhaps it is only my imagination, but I
ALASKA: THE GREAT COUNTRY 331
think I can discover a lack of respect in Nikita's behavior
toward me since yesterday. . . . My disgrace has become
public already, and I am laughed at wherever I go, especially by the women. Of course, they do not understand
the sin, but rather look upon it as a good joke. It will
require great firmness on my part to regain the respect I
have lost for myself, as well as on behalf of the Church.
I have vowed to burn no fuel in my bedroom during the
entire winter, in order to chastise my body - a mild punishment, indeed, compared to the blackness of my sin."
The following day was the Sabbath. It was with a
heavy heart that he baptized Katlewah, the brother of the
chief, and his family, the three wives of the chief, seven
children, and one aged couple.
The same evening he called on the chief and surprised
him in a wild carousal with his wives, in which he was
jeeringly invited to join.
Forgetting his disgrace and his loss of the right to condemn for sins not so black as his own, the enraged young
priest vigorously denounced them, and told the chief that
he must marry one of the women according to the rites of
the Church and put away the others, or be forever damned.
The chief, equally enraged, ordered him out of the house.
On his way home he met Katlewah, who reproached him
because his religious teachings had not benefited Shakmut,
who was as immoral as ever.
The end was now rapidly approaching. On September
29, less than a month after his arrival, he wrote : "The
chief and his brother have both been here this morning
and abused me shamefully. Their language I could not
understand, but they spat in my face and, what was
worse, upon the sacred images on the walls. Katlewah
seized my vestments and carried them off, and I was left
bleeding from a blow struck by an ivory club. Nikita
has washed and bandaged my wounds ; but from his
332 ALASKA : THE GREAT COUNTRY
anxious manner I can see that I am still in danger. The other
boys have run away. My wound pains me so that I can
scarcely - "
The rest is silence. Nikita, who escaped with Juvenal's
journal and papers and delivered them to the revered and
beloved Veniaminoff, relates that the young priest was
here fallen upon and stabbed to death by his enemies.
Many different versions of this pathetic tragedy are given.
I have chosen Bancroft's because he seems to have gone
more deeply and painstakingly into the small details that
add the touch of human interest than any other historian.
The vital interest of the story, however, lies in what no
one has told, and what, therefore, no one but the romancer
can ever tell.
It lies between the written lines ; it lies in the imagination of this austere young priest's remorseful suffering for
his sin. There is no sign that he realized - too late, as
usual - his first sin of intolerant criticism and condemnation of the sins of others. But neither did he spare him-
self, nor shrink from the terrible results of his downfall, so
unexpected in his lofty and almost flaunting virtue. He
was ready, and eager, to chastise his flesh to atone for his
sin; and probably only one who has spent a winter in
Alaska could comprehend fully the hourly suffering that
would result from a total renouncement of fuel for the
long, dark period of winter.
Veniaminoff was of the opinion that the assassination
was caused not so much by his preaching against polygamy
as by the fact that the chiefs, having given him their children to educate at Kadiak, repented of their action, and
being unable to recover them, turned against him and slew
him as a deceiver, in their ignorance. During the fatal
attack upon him, it is said, Juvenal never thought of flight or
self-defence, but surrendered himself into their hands without resistance, asking only for mercy for his companions.