Washington, April 13--(AP)--A lean and
bronzed Wyoming rancher is in Washington preparing to lead a new-style
pioneering expedition into an Alaskan valley late this month.
He is D.L. Irwin and his title is "director
of colonization for Alaska for the federal emergency relief administration."
The fertile Matanuska valley, 125 miles north of Seward, has been selected
as the site for the first FERA rehabilitation colony in Alaska.
Under consideration for several months, the
project has attracted attention of the American Red Cross. Chairman
Cary T. Grayson announced today that first aid training will be given the
480 relief workers who will spend the summer helping build the colony.
They will receive the training before the first contingent sails from
California April 20.
Admiral Grayson added that a Red Cross
public health nurse will be assigned to the colony for a year to serve as a
visiting nurse and to teach home hygiene, while the junior Red Cross is
assembling a library for both children and adults.
Two hundred families--including 1,000
persons--have been selected
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from farms in northern Minnesota, Michigan
and Wisconsin to form the colony. Each family will be lent $3,000 and
will be furnished a 40-acre homestead. Thirty years will be allowed
for repayment of the money. The 480 relief workers who help launch the
project will return to the states in the fall, leaving the farmers to carry
Irwin is tall, slightly stooped. His
face is weather-beaten. Crow's feet at the corners of his eyes bear
out his statement that he has spent most of his life outdoors.
Early in 1934, he explained, efforts were
begun to get him to leave his ranch to assume charge of the government
experiment station in Matanuska valley. He took his wife, two
daughters and young son and went there in June, 1934. In January of
this year, he was summoned to Washington and told he was to take charge of
the colonization project.
Of pioneering stock, Irwin's eyes glow as
he talks about the venture. He likes Alaska - America's "last
"I think Alaska is one of the few spots in
the world where there is a future," he said, simply.
The colonists should succeed, he said.
They will be located within a seven-mile radius of a community center.
They must build their own homes and they must clear their own ground.
They will be able to kill some small game for food. They will have
excellent fishing. It is truly a pioneering expedition, he said--but
the government will help take the raw edge off the venture. There will
be portable sawmills, tractors and thousands of pounds of equipment.
"It's a great country," Irwin said.
"My family is still up there, you know, and we'll have to build our home
like the rest of them.
"I'll be glad to get back."