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Palm Sunday Avalanche
Chilkoot Pass, Alaska - April 3, 1898

The Palm Sunday avalanche of April 3, 1898 was one of the most widely reported events of the Klondike gold rush. The conditions that caused these avalanches were typical of those creating avalanches anywhere. The upper reaches of the Chilkoot Trail experience many avalanches each year, and spring is a common time for them. Heavy snow had fallen on the higher slopes during February and March 1898, but on the first two days of April, warm winds from the south created unstable conditions. It then began to snow again. Veterans of the trail, both white and Native, were aware of the danger of avalanches. Natives refused to pack above Sheep Camp, and white packers warned others against entering the slide-prone area. A few stampeders, however, ignored their warnings and made plans to carry their goods up the trail.

NOTE:  You may find names multiple times on this page.

 

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Omaha World Herald, Omaha, Nebraska

Saturday, April 9, 1898

Page 3

BURIED UNDER TONS OF ICE.

Thirty-One People Lose Their Lives on the Famous Chilkoot Pass

Over Fifty Companions Escape Only With Injuries Which Later Prove Fatal in Many Cases

Foolhardy Gold Seekers Given Warning, but Refused to Leave Their Packs - Thousands Push Forward to Rescue.

SKAGWAY, Alaska, April 3 (via Seattle, Wash, April 8.) - At about noon today on the Chilkoot trail, between the Scales and Stonehouse, at least thirty-one men met death and a large number of others were injured more or less seriously in a snow slide.

The dead are crushed under an avalanche of snow and ice, which came down from the mountain side upon the left-hand side of the trail midway between the Scales and Stonehouse.

At this writing the known dead are:

Gus Sebarth, Seattle.
Frank Sprague, Seattle.
Steve Stevenson, Seattle.
Tom Collins, Portland, Ore.
C. P. Harrison, Seattle.
W. L. Riley, Seattle.
One Woman, name unknown.
Ed Atwood, New York.
C. Beck, Sanford, Fla.
L. Widlein, Kansas City, Mo.
Mrs. Ryan, Baltimore, Md.
John Morgan, Emporia, Kan.
_____ Grimes, Sacramento, Cal., who has a brother in business at Dyea.

Two of the seriously injured are Walter Chappey of New York and John C. Murphy of Dixon, Dakota.

Fully fifty people were overtaken by the slide and are either buried in the snow or scattered along the borders of the avalanche in a more or less injured condition.

The point at which the accident occurred is some five miles above Sheep Camp. The nearest telephone station is four miles distant. The telephone wires at this point were carried away by the slide. This fact makes it difficult to obtain further particulars at this time.

A blinding snow storm was raging all day upon the summit, and as a consequence many of those in the vicinity were making no attempt to travel. Sebarth, Sprague and Stevenson of Seattle were traveling together as partners, and were found side by side in bed.

Thousands of people were encamped in the vicinity of the accident at the time and were soon upon the scene rendering such assistance as was possible. Upon receipt of the news, points below Dyea telephoned up to know if assistance was required, and received an answer to the effect that 5,000 people were at work on the debris and were only in each other's way.

All day Saturday and Sunday a southerly storm, with rain, wind and snow, prevailed in this vicinity, and it is believed the softening of the snow on the mountain side by those agencies was the cause of the avalanche. The quantity of snow and ice that came down the slide is estimated at 1,000 tons. It swept directly across the trail which, notwithstanding the fact that the weather was unsuitable for travel, was thronged with wayfarers. The last vestige of the trail in the vicinity was wiped out of existence and where it led is now a mountain of snow and ice, under which are many dead bodies that cannot be recovered for days to come.

Later reports bring the information that the bodies of three more unfortunates have been taken from the snow. One is that of Garrison, initials and residence unknown: Richie, initials and residence unknown; Durber, initials and residence Seattle.

There was a preliminary slide at 2 o'clock in the morning. People were digging up their goods when the second slide occurred about noon.

Latest reports are that ten bodies have been recovered.


 

Tacoma Daily News, Tacoma, Washington

Saturday, April 9, 1898

Page 5

DEATH ON CHILKOOT.

Thirty-one Bodies Reported to Have Been Recovered at Latest Advices.

SWEPT BY AN AVALANCHE.

List of the Dead May Reach Fifty - The Catastrophe Happened About 2 O'clock Last Sunday Afternoon - An Avalanche, Caused by Warm Winds and Melting Snow, Tore Down the Mountain Side, Sweeping Everything in Its Pathway.

The most terrible calamity yet told of the trails in Alaska is to be recorded of the Chilkoot pass, where, on last Sunday afternoon, a score or more of miners perished in an avalanche of snow and ice that tore down the mountainside, moved from its resting place by the warm Chinook winds that blew from the sea.

Conflicting reports as to the number of lives lost have been received. One statement is to the effect that 31 bodies had been recovered before the Al-Ki sailed. Another authority gives the number of bodies found as 21, while still another states that possibly 60 lives have been lost. News of the disaster was brought by the Al-Ki which arrived at 7 o'clock last night.

Confirmation of the story is contained in a telegram received by John A. Whaley from W. A. Dickey. This message was filed last night at Victoria, but it is believed that it was sent from Dyea, where Mr. Dickey was when last heard from. He says that the number of men and women killed may reach 60.

The accident happened between Stone House and The Scales, while the trail was thronged with miners. The first news was received at Skaguay Sunday afternoon about 5 o'clock, being telephoned from Dyea. Monday morning men at Dyea telephoned that 31 bodies had been taken out of the snow, ice and debris of ruined tents and outfits. Purser Bush of the Al-Ki, who secured all the details possible, gives the following account:

CAUSED BY A CHINOOK.

"Between 1 and 2 o'clock on Sunday afternoon, while the trail between Sheep Camp and The Scales, on the Chilkoot pass, was lined with miners getting their goods over the summit, an avalanche of snow and ice broke from the mountain above and slid with a crash and a roar down the trail, sweeping everything before it. In an instant probably 50 people were covered with snow and ice to a depth, at the greatest, of 10 or 15 feet. Word of the disaster was quickly sent to the camps below, and in an hour 5,000 people had gathered at the scene of the slide and were working with might and main to recover the living and the dead.

"It seems that Saturday and Sunday a warm Chinook had been blowing, and this must have caused a melting in the huge piles of snow on the summit. The big mass of ice and snow, loosened from its icy fetters, torn down the mountain side with terrifying force and destructive power.

"The only word we received from the scene of the avalanche was transmitted b y telephone from Dyea. For two days there had been a strong wind from the sea, and the little steamers plying between Skaguay and Dyea were unable to make their accustomed trips. This was the reason we brought no passengers from Dyea who had left there after the avalanche. The news created the greatest excitement in Skaguay and crowds assembled on street corners and in saloons discussing the catastrophe.

"On account of the storm none of the steamers could make the trip to Skaguay, and so we were compelled to rely on news from the scene of the avalanche by telephone. On Sunday evening a telephone message was received from Dyea, stating that 21 bodies had been recovered by the rescuers from the pile of snow and ice that covered the trail. On Monday morning this information was supplemented by the statement, also telephone, that 16 more bodies had been recovered. This would indicate that the total number of dead, so far as known at this hour, was 37."

Another account, received from Skaguay, states that the avalanche was certainly caused by the melting process on the summit, due to the Chinook winds that had prevailed on the Saturday previous. These winds below on Sunday, their warmth loosening large masses of snow from the rocky defiles of the pass until a huge mass of snow and ice above The Scales was ready to sweep down the mountain shelf and obliterate everything and everybody in its pathway.

DEATH CAME QUICKLY.

Notwithstanding the windy weather prevailing and the unfavorable conditions for travel, nearly 200 miners were scattered from Sheep Camp to the summit of the pass, a distance of eight miles. At Sheep Camp the majority of the gold hunters were camped, waiting for better weather. Had there been no wind, the loss of life would have been four times as great.

There was but little outcry when the huge mass of snow and ice came tearing down the mountain side at a frightful rate. Some of those in the van of the marching gold hunters saw their peril in time to save their lives and ran scampering out of the track of the avalanche. An instant later, the avalanche was on the first party of gold hunters, some of whom were encamped in their tents along the side of the trail. Few of those who were killed made any outcry whatever. They met death quickly and without a murmur. On the side of the trail, some 20 men were buried to one side or partially covered by the snow and injured. Their outfits were destroyed.

Five minutes after the avalanche had spent itself in the widening expanse of the trail below Stone House, rescuers were at work digging out the unfortunates. Messengers were dispatched to Sheep Camp, five miles distant, and there telephone messages were sent to Dyea and Skaguay.

Within an hour afterwards, 5,000 men were working with might and main to get the injured ones out alive and to recover the bodies of the dead. There were so many workers that they interfered with each other, but towards dusk system and organization took place of chaos in the gallant work of rescue, and soon 30 bodies were stretched along the trail.

SMALL SLIDES GAVE WARNING.

The latest dispatch from Skaguay, written just before the Al-Ki sailed, says that many bodies will never be recovered until the summer sun melts tons of snow and ice that now bury them from sight.

Two or three thousand men were working in relays of as many as can stand side by side shoveling away the debris in search of the dead and dying. Up to that hour 22 dead bodies had been recovered and identified, and some 25 taken out alive.

Seventeen employees of the Chilkoot Railway & Tram company, who went up to the summit in the morning to work, are missing, and it is feared that they are numbered among the lost.

It is estimated that 10,000 tons of outfits are buried under the snow and ice. For several days prior to the disaster a heavy snow storm had raged, and the snow was soft and wet. The enormous mass precipitated upon the mountain tops caused several smaller slides before the death-dealing avalanche was started.

About 2 o'clock in the morning a small slide occurred, which buried several cabins. The alarm was spread and many people were endeavoring to work their way back to Sheep Camp when the big disaster occurred. The snow storm was blinding and crowds were coming down with the aid of a rope when overtaken. The exact location is given as two and one-half miles above Sheep Camp and 100 yards above Sheep Camp and 100 yards above the Oregon Improvement company's power house. Here an immense gorge rises at a very steep incline into the hills, and it was down this that the avalanche came.

THE DEAD AND INJURED.

This list of dead and injured, so far as known when the Al-Ki left, is as follows:

Dead --
Calvin P. Harrison, of Seattle, single.
Gus Ziebarth, Jr., of Seattle, single.
Steve Stevenson, of Seattle.
Thomas Collins, of Oregon City.
W. L. Riley, of Seattle.
E. D. Atwood, of New York, may be Fred Atwood, of Seattle.
C. Beck, of Sanford, Fla.
L. Weidelein, of Kansas City, Mo.
Mrs. Ryan, of Baltimore.
John Morean, of Emporia, Kan.
_____ Grimes, of Sacramento.
_____ Garrison, residence unknown.
_____ Ritchie, residence unknown.
_____ Durber, of Seattle.
An unknown woman who may be Mrs. James Harrison, wife of a former resident of Seattle.
Frank Sprague, of Seattle.
F. Lamer.
Mrs. Anna Moxon, Jefferson county, Pa.
Ras Hepgard, Baker City, Or.
_____ Atkins, Idaho.
Tom Geffert, Seattle.
E. F. Miller, Vancouver.

Injured --
Walter Chappy, New York.
J. C. Murphy, Dixon, Dak.
F. B. Holbrooke, Portland.
_____ Dahlstrom.

 

 

Tacoma Daily News, Tacoma, Washington

Monday, April 11, 1898

Page 4

SIX TACOMANS DEAD.

Nineteen Employees of the Chilkoot Tramway Company Die together - Ten Minutes' Delay Cost the Lives of Over 50 Who Were Trying to Escape From the Storm.

The following is a list of the dead and missing, so far as known when the City of Seattle left Skaguay at midnight Wednesday night:

J. B. Pearce, Tacoma.
Harry Holt, Tacoma.
Alfred Englund, Tacoma.
Albert F. King, Tacoma.
Ed Doran, Tacoma.
S. M. Grimes, Tacoma.
G. W. Smith, Wooley, Wash.
O. A. Ulen, Wooley, Wash.
T. Glenn, Takoa.
E. R. Johnson, Spokane.
Tom Culleder or Collins, Portland, Or.
Tim Glenn (foreman), Portland, Or.
S. T. Hudson, Portland, Or.
Sanford, McNeill, Portland.
James Smallwood, Portland.
Andrew Anderson, San Francisco.
W. Carl, San Francisco.
_____ Warner, San Francisco.
Walmer Falke, San Francisco.
John Merchant, California.
C. D. Atwood, New York.
C. Beck, Stanford, Fla.
Tom Clark, Idaho.
A. Chappell, Seattle.
R. L. Easterbrook, Seattle.
Weed Garrison, Seattle.
Con. Gephart, Seattle.
E. P. Haines, Seattle.
C. P. Harrison, Seattle.
Ed Cook, Seattle.
George Overton, Seattle.
W. I. Riley, Seattle.
Con Riser, Seattle.
Steve Stevenson, Seattle.
Frank Sprague, Seattle.
C. R. Homer, Seattle.
A. D. Bissell, Seattle.
I. Sprague, Ballard.
J. P. Clark, Idaho.
Jeff Saley, Idaho.
W. H. Dahlstrom, Lincoln, Neb.
W. Grimes, Atkins, Idaho.
Asmus Hedegard, Baker City, Or.
C. H. Kinney, Prescott, Ari.
George Lewis, Stone House, Alaska.
J. R. Morgan, Emporia, Kan.
Mrs. Annie Maxon, Jefferson county, Pa.
Mrs. Ryan, Baltimore, Md.
Frank Millet, Butte, Mont.
C. L. M'Neill, Elk River, Minn.
J. C. Murphy, New York.
Austin Preston, Grizzly Bluff, Cal.
George Ritchey, Chicago, Ill.
G. Seaborn, Chicago, Ill.
_____ Stevens, New York.
_____ Wilhelm, Menlo Park, Cal.
L. Weidelein, Kansas City.
J. Riesse, Wisconsin.
Matt Schomo, St. Paul, Minn.
Con Rasmus, Colorado.
_____ Atkins, residence unknown.
_____ Durber, residence unknown.
G. Leon, residence unknown.
John Reddy, residence unknown.
_____ Stevens, residence unknown.
Thomas Woll, residence unknown.
H. Yager, residence unknown.

The horror of the series of avalanches on the Chilkoot pass Sunday last increases with every hour that the rescuers spend in digging into the tumbled mass of broken ice cakes and chunks of snow that blockade the trail for several hundred yards.

The number of human beings dead or missing is 175. The list of identified dead up until last Wednesday evening numbered 68. More than 150 names of persons missing and supposed to be under the slide has been left at the Sheep Camp morgue by despairing friends and relatives.

No attempt has been made up to Wednesday to dig into the death dealing slide at the point where it was piled up the highest. The searchers were working through the lighter portions of the slide in hopes of taking out some one who was still alive. It is believed that a cemetery in miniature will be found when the big pile is dug into, as several tents were pitched just at this point. No one can be taken out alive from Wednesday on.

Nineteen employees of the Chilkoot Railway & Transportation company perished in another slide at the foot of Long hill. Their bodies under a solidly packed mass of snow were not discovered until late Monday evening. Thousands of people had walked over the slide which was their icy sepulcher without even imagining that the pile had slid down from the mountains. A chance discovery started the rescuers digging, and in a few hours 14 bodies had been taken out. Four others were recovered later.

THE FIRST SNOWSLIDE.

The first slide of the disastrous series crashed into a little settlement of tents a short distance below the Scales, about 2 o'clock Sunday morning. It was not large enough to completely bury things, but there were some very narrow escapes. A party from Emporia, Kan., composed of Clifford L. Burge, J. A. Rines, Harry Lakin, Frank G. Bears and John A. Morgan were asleep in one of the tents, which got the full force of the slide. The sleeping men were knocked around in all sorts of ways. Burge woke up with their tent stove on top of his chest and with snow piled all around him. They aroused the more fortunate campers and soon dug out the 20 or 25 men that had been buried. The wind was blowing a terrific gale and snow as failing fast. The campers feared other slides and hastened up the bill to the Scales, where a much larger party was encamped.

STAMPEDE TO SHEEP CAMP.

The story of their trouble, together with the storm which was raging, made the crowd at the Scales very excited. When daylight came the situation had not improved. A few tried to start out with their goods, but were unable to breast the storm. About 9 o'clock Sunday morning there was a second slide, about one-eighth of a mile below the Scales. This was the last straw. The terrified Klondikers would not remain longer so far up the pass. A rope some 200 feet in length was secured as a safeguard against getting lost in the storm. The trail could not be distinguished on account of the heavy snowfall and the danger was very great. Between 85 and 130 persons either took hold or tied themselves to this rope. Among the others were four women. Mrs. Ryan, of Baltimore, had been in the first slide and was almost exhausted. She was tied fast to the rope. A number of persons followed along behind and the crowd was augmented by others who joined in the made stampede as their tents were passed on the descent. At the top of Long Hill the leaders turned the human chain to the left and proceeded in that direction to the cable shed. They followed the cable down the bottom of the first pitch.

DELAY THAT CAUSED DEATH.

Some one in the crowd noticed a tent a little below the ridge and near the base of the mountain. Someone proposed that it would be right to warn them of their danger, and ask them to come along down the hill. Several men went over to do this and shortly after came back with the word that the three occupants of the tent were dead - crushed by their baggage which had fallen on them during a small slide. This caused some delay.

The crowd talked over the unfortunate occurrence little thinking that every moment's dally meant death for more of them. Had they not stopped this 10 minutes they would have been out of the way of the slide and all would have reached Sheep Camp in safety. They were tired for the snow had been very deep, sometimes coming up to their waists. They were just preparing to move on when from far up the mountain they heard a rumbling which increased into a roar as the slide gathered momentum and increased in size. There was not time to seek a place of safety. Before the first cry of warning was uttered the slide was upon them. The result is shown in the appalling long list of victims.

SCENE OF THE DISASTER.

The scene of the largest avalanche is about two miles above Sheep Camp, on the bench of what is known as Long Hill. It is a mile or less below Scales along the ravine or valley, directly at the foot of a high mountain rising steeply on both sides. Everything is covered with deep snow, except abrupt rocks and precipices, which are too steep to hold the snow, and the power house of the Oregon Improvement company's tramway, which is almost over the part of the trail on which the most extensive loss of life occurred.

Hundreds of caches in the vicinity shower before the avalanche occurred, but they are buried now under from four to 25 feet of snow. The mountains rise up from 2000 to 3000 feet above the trail at this point, which itself over 2000 feet above sea level. When the snow slides down the trail from the sides of these mountain it packs so solidly at once that it can be walked over easily without fear of breaking through. Successive snowfalls and slides have raised the elevation gradually of Long hill until in some places it is 40 feet or more above the old trail.

Stone house, which has ceased to be a landmark since the avalanche and flood last summer, is some distance down the trail, in the gulch from the foot of Long hill. There is deep snow all the way down to Canyon City, at the mouth of the canyon four miles below. At Sheep camp and for a mile or more above there is little chance for a destructive avalanche at present, for the hills are so far from the tents that the snow does not reach them, even if it does slide down the mountain sides.

There have been so few slides lately and so many unsophisticated men camping there who were perfectly ignorant of the conditions incident to the mountains, that they have plunged into dangers which the old-timers would never dream of taking. The late heavy snows and storms at the summit, followed by warmer weather than usual, convinced the Indians that it was unsafe to attempt to get up the trail above Sheep camp.

But the newcomers knew of no danger and went right on with their packing and traveling on the dangerous trail. Some of them had camps at Scales, almost encompassed with great snow fields on the steep mountain sides. The snow had been there every day since they arrived and they apprehended no danger such as overtook them. There were many who knew of the danger and who would not attempt to work on the trail. They stayed at Sheep Camp in their tents or worked on safe sections of the trail.

The trail on the crest of the hill where disaster occurred runs within 200 feet of the base of the mountain, which rises to a height of 100 feet above. In the center of the bench is a deep cut or gulch, which has this winter been filled almost level with snow. It was from the top of this gully that the slide started.

NINETEEN TRAMWAY MEN BURIED.

The storm had prevented the employees of the Chilkoot company from working for several days. They remained at Sheep Camp passing the time as best they could. On Sunday morning one or two of the bosses suggested that they go up the hill a mile or so and repair a cable that had broken. Nelson Bennett, manager of the company, told friends who arrived yesterday that he did not send the men out and never returned. When they did not return Sunday night it was believed that they were snowbound near the summit. On Monday afternoon a crowd began to dig into the lower end of the slide, and there the tramway men were found. Four Tacomans were killed on this slide.

SPRING FRESHETS EXPECTED.

Within a week, the old-timers say, that spring freshets will begin from the Scales. This will cause more snow slides and will cause the packers to take to the summer trail from Dyea. This trail is said to be in very good condition. If the freshets come, as expected, very little of the outfits cached above the Scales will be saved. There are thousands of tons of this freight and the loss will be great.

DISPOSITION OF BODIES.

Early Monday morning Colonel Anderson, in command of the troops at Dyea, set the soldiers at work digging graves for the unclaimed dead. He laid out a new cemetery at Dyea and cleared as much ground as will be needed. The soldiers worked well and by the time yesterday's steamer left the new cemetery was in readiness.

MANY DISHEARTENED MEN.

According to the officers of the City of Seattle, the Chilkoot slide disaster has caused many of the prospective Klondikers to become disheartened. Many who have lost friends or parts of their outfit will give up the race for gold and return. Nearly 200 persons applied to the officials of the Washington & Alaska company for a special rate to Sound points. Others will leave the Dyea trail for some of the other routs to the interior.

 

 

Tacoma Daily News, Tacoma, Washington

Saturday, April 16, 1898

Page 6

NAMES OF THE DEAD.

Corrected List of the Chilkoot Pass Victims.

MANY OTHERS ARE MISSING

Seventy-Two Bodies Identified - Conflicting Reports of the Number Killed.
 

Port Townsend, April 16. - The steamer Queen arrived here last night with the latest advices from the Chilkoot avalanche. The reports as to the number of people who were killed are conflicting.

The report from Dyea says that 54 were killed and that seven are missing.

The report from Skaguay places the number killed at 96 with 54 missing.

The list of identified dead as compiled by the officers of the Queen contains 72 names, as follows:

Allan Gray, Seattle.
C. G. Smith, Sedro.
J. B. Pierce, Tacoma.
_____ Warner, San Francisco.
A. Anderson, San Francisco.
W. Carle, San Francisco.
Con Geppert, Seattle.
J. P. Clark, Idaho.
A. King, address unknown.
Tom Clark, residence unknown.
George, Riser, residence unknown.
McNeill Sanford, Portland.
A. Chappell, Seattle.
Tom Rasmus, Colorado.
W. Grimes, Atken, Colorado.
E. L. Esterbrook, Seattle.
William Osnall, San Francisco.
George Eggert, California.
Stratton Sheldon, Iowa.
W. F. Warner, San Francisco.
W. A. Dahlstrom, Lincoln, Neb.
Frank Millett, Butte, Mont.
William Falk, Sheep Camp.
James Smallwood, Portland.
John Merchant, California.
C. H. Henry, Arizona.
Thomas Clark, Idaho.
_____ Jaeger, address unknown.
C. P. Harrison, Seattle.
E. J. Hudson, Portland.
E. P. Haines, Seattle.
W. L. Riley, Seattle.
E. D. Atwood, New York.
C. Beck, Sanford, Fla.
L. Wiedelein, Kansas City
S. A. Morgan, emporia, Kan.
S. M. Grimes, Sacramento.
Mrs. Ryan, Baltimore.
J. A. Morgan.
P. A. Olsen, Washington.
J. Sprague, Ballard.
D. A. Elstrom.
William Preston.
J. Scaling.
Oscar Anderson.
Thomas Wall.
Timothy Glen, Portland.
O. A. Nelson, Washington.
Mrs. N. H. Maxon, Punxatawney, Pa.
Thomas Cullerdan, Portland.
S. Stephenson, Seattle.
G. Lee.
Walter Chappie, New York.
J. C. Murphy.
Frank Sprague, Ballard.
T. Finn, Portland.
Ed Doran.
A. Eglund, Tacoma.
John Merchant, Grizzly Bluffs, Cal.
C. L. McNeill, San Francisco.
John Reddy.
J. M. Uhlin, Tacoma.
G. S. Ziebarth, Seattle.
_____ Garrison.
_____ Ritchie.
_____ Durber.
Austin Preston, Grizzly Bluff, Cal.
Harry Holt, Tacoma.
Jeff Saling, Weiser, Idaho.
F. Atkins, Baker City, Or.
R. Hedegard, Baker City.
_____ Stevens, New York.

This list was taken from both the Skaguay and Dyea lists and is thought to be fairly accurate with the exception of one or two possible duplicates.



 

The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon

Sunday, April 17, 1898

Page 2

CHILKOOT TRAGEDY

FIFTY-FOUR VICTIMS HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED.

Story Told by One of the Survivors - How the Work of Rescue Was Carried On.

ON BOARD STEAMER QUEEN, southbound from Skagway, Alaska, April 15. - "Doc" J. D. Cleveland and J. E. Maple, M. D., chairman and executive committeeman, respectively, of the citizen's committee of Sheep Camp, visited Dyea and Skagway, Sunday, both gentlemen had been giving their entire time to the management of rescue work at the avalanches from Sunday, April 3, the date of the disaster, to Saturday evening, April 9, when they prepared to accompany several sleigh-loads of bodies to Dyea. By a vote of the citizens and pilgrims of the Dyea canyon, Cleveland and Maple were given entire charge of the excavating at the slides, of the disposition of victims at the morgue and hospital, and of the burial of the dead. They are, therefore, well informed on every phase of the great Chilkoot pass tragedy.

During the six days following the avalanches, Cleveland and Maple assisted by J. W. Nee, of Oregon; George Zimmerly and C. W. Young, of Sheep Camp; C. Diechmiller, of San Francisco, and Arthur Waters, secretary of the committee, personally cared for 30 bodies. Dr. Maple resuscitated 15 who were injured.

Nelson Bennett superintended the rescue work at the lower slide, where 20 of his men were entombed.

On the testimony of witnesses the committee issued letters of identification for four bodies additional, which were not brought to the morgue. This makes a total of 54 victims whose identification is quite complete.

It is reported that several other bodies were taken in tents, without report to the elected officers. A watch was kept to prevent this, and it is not likely that many, if any, evaded Maple and Cleveland.

The following names and addresses of the dead appear upon the record of Secretary Arthur Waters:

C. P. Harrison, Seattle.
W. L. Riley, Seattle.
E. D. Atwood, New York.
C. Beck, Sanford, Fla.
Tom Cullen, Portland.
Gus Zebarth, Seattle.
_____ Stevenson, Seattle.
F. Sprague, Seattle.
L. Weidelein, Kansas City, Kan.
S. M. Grimes, Dyea, and Sacramento, Cal.
Rasmus Hedegard, Baker City, Or.
John A. Morgan, Emporia, Kan.
R. L. Esterbrook, Seattle.
William Carroll, San Francisco.
George Eggert, Portland, and Menlo Park, Cal.
Andrew Anderson, San Francisco.
Con Geppert, Seattle.
W. H. Warner, Seattle.
W. A. Dahlstrom, Lincoln, Neb.
Frank Millett, Butte, Mont.
E. J. Hudson, Seattle.
William Falke ("Dutchy"), Sheep Camp freighter.
Joseph Smallwood, 780 Kebley street, Portland.
Curtis E. Turner, Omaha, Neb.
Albridge B. Bissell, Palatine, Ill.
Mrs. Anna Moxen, Jefferson county, Penn.
Oscar Johnson, Seattle.
Chris Johnson, Seattle.
Mark Welch, Butte, Mont.
J. K. Clark, Idaho.

Several bodies were not taken to the morgue. They were exhumed and cared for by those with whom the victims were traveling as follows:

C. H. Henry, Arizona.
T. Alderson, residence unknown.
Edward Cook, Seattle.
George Overton, Seattle.

The follow list of employees of the Chilkoot Railway & Transportation Company was given to the correspondent by Nelson Bennett:

Henry Jaeger, Los Angeles, Cal., married.
E. Doran, Tacoma; wife and two children.
Tim Glynn, Portland, foreman at Sheep Camp, married.
J. Salling, Weiser, Idaho.
C. L. McNeil, San Francisco; civil engineer; married.
A. Englund, Tacoma; unmarried.
C. W. Kinney, Prescott, Ariz.
J. Reddy, Washington state.
J. Merchant, Grizzly Bluff, Cal.; married.
O. A. Ulen, Wooley, Wash.
A. Preston, Grizzly Bluff, Cal.; stepson of Merchant.
A. F. King, Tacoma; married.
F. Smith, Sedro, Wash.; teamster.
C. M. Holt, Tacoma; rodman.
George Lewis, Washington state; foreman Stonehouse.
E. R. Johnson, residence unknown.
J. B. Pierce, Tacoma; timekeeper.
O. Anderson, residence unknown.
Tom Wall, residence unknown.
C. M. Hall, Tacoma; rodman.

Six days after the avalanche a number of persons were still reported missing. Whether they were under the snow or had passed on over the summit to Lake Bennett is not known. Their acquaintances at Sheep Camp are anxious about them, and are constantly making inquiries:

G. J. Milton, St. Paul, Minn.
Mat Schamo, St. Paul, Minn.
O. A. Nelson, residence unknown.
William Osnall, San Francisco.
George Raser, residence unknown (sailed from Seattle).
St. Atkins, Eastern Oregon.
G. Leon, residence unknown.
C. Denny, residence unknown.
_____ Garrison, residence unknown.
______ Ritchie, residence unknown.
_____ Dunbar, residence unknown.
W. Carl, San Francisco.

Dr. Maple and "Doc" Cleveland superintended all the work at the morgue. The bodies were examined carefully for papers showing the name and address of the victims. These papers, together with all valuables, and articles aiding to determine identification, were pinched in separate paper bags and labeled.

Maple and Cleveland made the trip to Skagway Sunday to express these bags to the families and relatives of the victims. The contents of the bags are the only ocular evidence the people in the States will have of the fate of their friends on the Chilkoot trail. Only in cases where the victims had money on their persons sufficient to meet the expense of shipment below, or were known to belong to the Odd Fellows or Masonic orders, were the remains went out of Alaska. More than 30 of the bodies already have been or are to be buried in Dyea.

Identification of the bodies was as complete as it was possible to make it. There was some doubt in a few instances, because there happened to report at the morgue no one who had known the deceased parties in life by name.

Nearly every list of the dead from the avalanches shows the name of Mrs. Ryan, of Baltimore. So far as is known, there were only two women in the slide - Mrs. Annie Moxen, who was killed, and Mrs. H. C. Eston, who was resuscitated. The name of Ryan was first applied to Mrs. Moxen.

Arthur L. Jappe, of 113 East Seventh street, New York, has enough life left to praise a woman. He says he was rescued by Mrs. McLean, the woman packer.

When the news of the slide reached Sheep Camp, Mrs. McLean mounted one of her best horses, and was one of the first rescuers at the scene. She found the place by meeting some who had escaped, and, inquiring the way from them, untrammeled by skirts (Mrs. McLean rigs herself in ordinary men's clothing), she made the snow fly as furiously as any of them. She was assisted in the excavation by L. Lane, of Chicago.

When Jappe was reached, he was taken to the powerhouse, and nursed by Mrs. McLean. For 12 hours he was unconscious, and therefore the reports that he was dead. Incessant rubbing restored circulation. His recovery was complete.

Adam Mueller, of Portland, had so far recovered when Dr. Maple left Sheep Camp that he could walk around the hotel. He intends to forge ahead to the lakes and down into the interior.

G. B. and W. H. Swienhart and Frank Beck, of Juneau, are taking a newspaper plant in to Dawson. They expect to publish The Midnight Sun. A part of the plant was caught in one of the avalanches. The accident did not cause any serious "pi," but it gave the boys a lot of work. The excavations on the trail made it difficult for them to haul their heavy outfit up to the Scales.

An outfit belonging to the following party was lost in the slide between the O. I. Co.'s powerhouse and the Stone House: Sam James & Co., of San Bernardino, Cal., and H. McIntosh, Silver City, N. M., and P. Duber & Son, Spokane, Wash.

Charles L. Darrell, of San Francisco, and C. E. Larson, of Portland, came over to Sheep Camp from Lake Bennett, the day of the avalanches. They had a narrow escape from being covered up. The snow rushed around them to the armpits.

Any history of the avalanches on the Chilkoot pass is not complete unless mention is made of the Lindville brothers. Big Tom Lindville is known by everybody in Astoria, where he distinguished himself as a police officer. Lindville was on the pass at the time of the avalanches, and he saved a number of lives. Although he had warned his packers not to leave Sheep Camp that day, he did not heed this wisdom himself. He must have been between the Bennett crowd and the line of people on the rope at the time at the avalanches descended. He passed the Bennett crowd as he climbed the hill, and when he went a quarter of a mile further he came upon the scene of the upper slide. Wherever he saw a hand or a garment sticking above the snow he began to dig with his hands. Among the rescuers who first came up there was but one shovel.

Will Benedict, of Birmingham, Mich., participated in the exciting events in the head of the Dyea canyon. His version of what happened is pretty well sustained by the consensus of opinion of competent judges. He said:

"About midnight, T. M. Black, engineer for the Archive Burns tramway, came to the tents in our vicinity and told us to get out, for snowslides were occurring all around us. He warned us that the entire bottom of the canyon might be filled up at any moment. I arose, as did my partners, William Boyes and Ben Hartsick, of Detroit, and Tom Hannah, of Birmingham. We helped Black and Moxon to arouse others in the vicinity. Soon there were as many as 100 standing around in groups. When a slide would occur in any part of the canyon above the first hill, we could hear cries for help, and a detachment went to the rescue. Thus we dug one another out of the snow for half the night. I can remember 28 that were rescued between midnight and 10 o'clock Sunday morning.

"By that time it became evident to all that our situation was desperate. After a consultation it was decided to abandon the upper canyon and descend three miles to Sheep Camp. Many feared to attempt to go against the storm, as the wind was b lowing up the canyon and would drive the blinding snow right into our faces. We quieted their fears by assuring them that good trailers would lead the exodus, and that all could keep in line by holding a rope.

"That's the way the packers shoot down the Peterson trail when a southerly storm is on so they can't see. Many open their eyes not more than three or four times in traveling several thousand feet.

"An elderly man volunteered to be the Moses to lead us out of our trouble. He took the end of the rope, and the balance of us strung out at regular intervals. The lifeline not being long enough to accommodate all, 13 followed the lead in lockstep.

"With my three partners I was walking near the rear. The snow had drifted during the night; and we made slow progress, having to break trail through it.

"When we could see dimly the outline of the powerhouse of the O. I. Co., ahead of us, I was struck by something that pushed me to the right and down. As I was falling I could see the line in front of me go down. They all seemed to throw up their hands as they were being engulfed. It was a terrible sensation to see the heads disappearing.

"Luckily for me, I kept my feet moving as thought treading in water. The snow did not go higher than my waist. Then I turned to find my partners. Hannah's glove sticking up through the snow gave me their location. The snow was packed quite solid, but with my hands I scratched away like a badger going down after a squirrel. Hannah was all right, and so was Boyes, near him. Neither could move a muscle.

"When the slide struck us, Hannah and Boyes were directly behind me. I found them in the snow 50 feet in front of me."

One of the first volunteers for the aid of the relief committee was Rev. J. A. Headington, of the B. F. Punell party. He sent a note stating that he could be found down the canyon, and that he would perform religious services over the bodies. The committee did not send for the reverend gentleman, as they had their hands full taking bodies out of the snow, shipping them and caring for the injured.

Among he rescuers who hastened to the avalanches was a little woman with black eyes, sallow complexion. Her face, if it was over beautiful, had been scarred by some accident. She worked heroically. After 12 hours of toil in the snow, she cared for the injured at the hospital, administering to the suffering as on a woman can. Before that day her name had not been spoken with much reverence in Sheep Camp. Now it is sounded as reverently as if she were a mother.

For the week following the avalanches an average of 1000 letters a day were sent out from Sheep Camp post office.

C. H. Pigott, of Portland, is one of the campers in the upper Dyea canyon who escaped the recent avalanche. He says that to be in the landslide of the Klondike crusade is tragedy enough for his branch of the family.     W. F. B.

 

 



 


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