Two Thousand Views!

Posts on this blog have been viewed 2,000 times since the beginning of the year. Wow! That’s a lot more than I ever expected. Thanks to everyone who has visited, I hope you learned something. I know that reader stats can be pretty arbitrary, but I will admit that it makes me feel good to see my writing has attracted this much interest. It seems that most of you are coming here for my articles on Farview State Hospital, Disney’s 1943 Chicken Little Cartoon, Al Capone’s incarceration and release in Pennsylvania, and the Industrial Home for Women at Muncy. If anyone would like to see more articles like these let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do!

To celebrate, here’s a few historic images from online archival collections that came up when I searched “two thousand.” It’s always fun to see what you can find when you use new searching strategies in the archives! Enjoy.

Red Cross Dogs

Red Cross Round the World Mascots. Two Red Cross dogs who have circumnavigated the globe as mascots of the Commission to the Balkans. They crossed the Pacific with the first Red Cross expedition to Roumania in 1917, later returning to America by way of North Russia. Now they are back in the Near East again, this time as mascots of the Red Cross Commission to South Russia. They travel back and forth between the various Black Sea ports and the Red Cross base at Constantinople. Their milage averages two thousand miles a month the year ’round. “Brace” and “Bit” are the property of Capt. G.P. Floyd of Boston. Library of Congress.


Walking Canes.jpg

A. Buck of the Soldiers’ Home carving the Lord’s Prayer on walking canes. He has sold $2000 worth of these canes. Sept. 21, 1922. Library of Congress.

2000 pound bomb

Greenville, South Carolina. Air Service Command. Men of the ordinance, supply and maintenance company of the 25th service group taking 2000 pound bombs out of the revetment area. 1943. Library of Congress.


A flock of nearly two thousand Angoras photographed at Ward’s Ranch Manor from American homes and gardens. 1905. Smithsonian Libraries.

Fort Union.jpg

Fort Union, Mouth of the Yellowstone River, 2000 Miles above St. Louis. George Catlin, 1832. Smithsonian American Art Museum.


Lunch at 2000 Feet on Cerro Campana, Panama. 1951. Smithsonian Institution Archives.


Nome Gold Rush: Economics over Adventure


Gold Seekers Breaking Camp, near Dyea, 1898. Alaska State Library.

Many of us may have romantic visions of the gold rush- exciting adventure and striking it rich in the scenic beauty of Alaska. Reality wasn’t even close. It was extremely expensive and difficult to travel that far north. Most of the gold that could be mined by individuals or small groups of miners was all claimed quickly leaving many prospectors with nothing to show for their efforts except for a few stories. Of the 100,000 stampeders, about 30,000 made it to the Klondike and only 4,000 found gold. By the time Frank and Nell meet a few of these guys in Skagway, the only gold left was buried deep in the wilderness and required a (well financed) heavy mining operation to reach. From what Frank writes, it seems like those who didn’t make a fortune were disappointed but looking back didn’t have any regrets. I was surprised they weren’t angrier, I would have been! For a fun (though not 100% accurate) depiction of the Nome gold rush, I recommend the TV movie “Goldrush: A Real Life Alaskan Adventure” (1998)

After writing a little but more about Skagway and the towns nearby, Frank and Nell turn around and begin to head home, three and a half months after their vacation began, on a steamer bound for southern waters.

Camp Nome is 1400 miles from Dawson City by the Yukon  river, and 2700 miles from Seattle. I met and conversed with a man returned from Nome who tole me that in 1899, -$3,000,000.00 was the entire output of gold for for this district. He says the beach gold is fine, and is found in a strip 100 to 150 yards widebeach gold is fine, and is found in a strip 100 to 150 yards wide and running parallel with the shore for 8 or 10 miles. All of this is staked. Back of this strip and extending to the foothills, is the “tundra” some three miles wide. This “tundra” is a black pear land covered with moss and grass. Gold is found eight or ten feet below the surface: also in many of the gulches and river beds of the back district. All of this gold is placer gold washed down from the quartz veins and ledges of the mountains in the back country. Very little of the mountainous region of Alaska has been prospected as yet, and no doubt there are many rich pay streaks to be found, some time in the future.


New gold camp, Nome, 1900. Alaska State Library.

I asked this man why he did not go into the mountains back of Nome and prospect. He said it was too cold up there for him, besides he was out of supplies and wanted to see some friends in California once more.

The water for drinking, also the climate of Nome district is very bad All known gold regions of Alaska in this district and vicinity are staked. There is a chance for a company with large capital and improved machinery to buy up some claims and make money.

But to return to Skagway and its mountains on the top of which are numerous lakes, and one large one, fed by melting glacier, supplies Skagway with an abundance of the purest water. The pressure is so great the water can be thrown farther than any fire engine can force it.

This is a good fire protection and Skagways needs one for the rainfall is light, and the winds blow very hard at times especially in the winter.

The winters are very long here and the mercury goes down some degrees below zero. Along in the last of December there are only two hours of daylight and the electric lights are on all day to use if one likes. Of course during the summer the reverse is the case, and from the top of one of the hills nearby the sun can be seen at midnight during the month of June. We were there during the months of July and August and the days were growing shorter. For some time we puzzled as to the proper hours for sleep. I was told by an egg dealer, that when his chickens first came up from the States, they laid two and three eggs a day, and when his cow was new in the country, she was deceived by the long hours of daylight and allowed herself to be milked four times a day, but this only lasted a month or two.


Photographed at midnight, arrival of Seattle No. 1 at Dawson City, N.W.T. 1898. Alaska State Library.

Hay is worth $35.00 a ton in Skagway, and sweet milk 15 cents a quart. Tomatoes, home grown are worth 25 cents a pound, and fruit generally is high.

About five miles from here is Dyea, at the entrance to Chilcoot Pass. This is a dead town as all the business now goes through Skagway on the White Pass R.R. Formerly Dyea had an elevated wire tramway over the Chilcoot Pass, but that was brought up by the W.P.R.R. which now has the monopoly of all the business to Dawson.


Across the Taiya River from the ghost town, Dyea, 1904. University of Alaska, Fairbanks Archives.

The Express rate is fourteen cents per pound, Skagway to Dawson. Freight on hay costs $85.00 per ton from Seattle in 500 ton lots. One thing more while we are in Skagway,- sleeping Moses, of the Face Mountain is what its name signifies. The outline of the face is perfect, and we have some photos of it. While staying in Skagway we have had some very pleasant times and made some pleasant acquaintances who seemed to think we ought to stay a month or so longer, but we bade them all good bye, and late in the afternoon of Monday August 13th, take passage on the “Queen” for Seattle, by way of the Muir Glacier and Sitka.


I wonder how much this field of hay near Pedro was worth? c. 1896-1913. University of Alaska, Fairbanks Archives.

This post is part of a longer travelogue written by Frank L. Felter of Los Angeles, a distant relative of mine, as he and his wife Nell journeyed up to and around Alaska in 1900. To read the previous part, click here. To read the next part, click here.


Alaska: “Too Grand for my Weak Pen to Describe”

Keeping with their leisurely traveling habits, Frank and Nell arrive in Skagway and promptly decide to stay here for several weeks taking in the sights and fishing as much as possible. The missionary that Frank befriended rents them a small cottage on the grounds of McCabe College for an entire month. Though Skagway is a very new town (it was settled in 1887 and didn’t have many inhabitants until gold was discovered in 1896), it had already developed a colorful history as a mining boom town and den of lawlessness and home of the infamous “Soapy” Smith. Just a few years later the Felters find Skagway to be “quite respectable” and worthy of a relaxing visit. Though Frank never gives the missionary friend’s name, but I suspect he was Dr. Gordon Lamont, an educator at the college. Sadly, lack of funds and students closed the college just a few months after this letter was written. This portion of the account ends with the Felters taking a train ride on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad towards White Horse and describing the difficulties of prospecting for gold farther north near Nome.

Leaving Juneau we steam 100 miles up the Lynn Canal, (which by the way is a natural one), past islands, glaciers, and scenery too grand for my weak pen to describe, and at about 10-30  at night we are moored to one of the several wharves of Skagway. It is still daylight, and as we get off to take a walk through the town, we are hailed by an acquaintance we made in Portland, who pilots us around and shows us the place to such good advantage that we finally conclude to stop off and rest a few weeks before continuing the trip.


Skagway and the Lynn Canal, as seen from a nearby mountain top c. 1900. Alaska State Library.

It is still light, though nearly midnight, and after securing rooms in a Hotel, I send a man down to get our baggage before the steamer sails off with it. It had been 22 hours since our eyes were closed in sleep and you may imagine we were soon in bed, and that we staid there until we had caught up the back numbers.

Soapy Smith Vigalante Gang

Frank Reid’s gang that took on Soapy Smith and his men in 1898. University of Washington Libraries.

Next day, after a late breakfast, we commence our rest by a walk with our fiend from Portland, who by the way is a traveling salesman, and a good talker. Skagway is but three years old, has a population of 3000 or 3500, and is quite respectable at the present time: a year ago however, it was run by a gang off thieves and cut-throats, but the citizens headed by a Mr. Reid, organized and drove the gang out of town after killing the leaders. Mr. Reid was shot, and lost his life in the scrimmage, and there is now a large monument erected in his honor.


Reid’s Grave/Monument can still be seen in Skagway today. Alaska State Library.

Back of the burial ground is a beautiful cascade, now called Reid’s Falls. We climbed up this delightfully cool canyon one warm afternoon a few days alter, and had a small picnic with the waterfall close by our side.

Skagway boasts of a stone college costing about $10,000.00 nearly completed, and 3 or 4 churches. Our missionary owns a small cottage, all furnished, one the college grounds, and we have rented it for a month. Here we can sit under our shade trees and listen to him preach in the college building, every Sunday, or can wash our fish in the stream which runs through the dooryard. We have some very nice times fishing from the end of one of the wharves. We go down every day when the wind does not blow, and prove our reputation by bringing as many fish as we can conveniently carry.

Mccabe College

McCabe College was the first institution of higher learning in the state. Alaska State Library.

Mackerel of two pounds each, flounders of half that size, are our standbys, though we often get codfish from three to six pounds, and occasionally, salmon trout. Eels are more than plentiful. Fishing one or two hours a day, we supplied three families, beside our own, and the missionary, with more fish than could be eaten. In my youthful days I was called “Jonah”, but the name has been changed to “Mascot”. We have strong lines with three or four hooks on each line, and after baiting with a nice toothsome piece of fresh fish throw the line out as far as possible, and then slowly pull it in until we get the signal, then a quick jerk, and some good strong pulling. Often, two or three fish come in at one haul. The flounders are the most gamey for their size. I would like to make a couple of remarks while on this subject.


Hopefully Frank’s fish were bigger than this… “Man and Two Children on Beach with Fishing Pole, 1909,” University of Alaska Fairbanks Archives.

The great secret of successful fishing is, first, to have sharp hooks of the proper size: second, to bait them with nice delicious morsels that are sure to tempt the fish: third, the last and most important thing of all is to throw your line where the fish are so thick you can’t miss catching one or two every time you pull out. If people would follow these instructions there would be no need to tell large doubtful fishy stores when they return from a day’s outing. They could instead hold up their catch, and let it talk for itself, as we did. The wharf is about twenty feet above the water, a long distance so successfully lift a large fish.

But to change the subject, Skagway is surrounded by snow-capped hills ranging from 4000 to 8000 feet high, and is built on the sand washings of the Skagway River which flows down from White pass. There is now a railroad built through this Pass, and it extends to White Horse 111 miles, connecting there with steamboats for Dawson City, $100.00, one way. The transportation companies are making enormous profits, but let them make it. If the Railroad had been in operation two years ago, how many poor fellows toiling through on foot, and frozen to death, would still be living.

We joined an excursion part at $5.00 each for a trip of Twenty miles up to the Summit and back, on this Railroad. The scenery was grand, and we crossed over the border line into British territory. We did not notice any difference in the atmosphere: it seemed to be the same both sides of the line and exceedingly crisp for July weather. A party of Englishmen came along, and came near being left up there, they were so reluctant to leave, shedding a few departing tears to moisten her Majesty’s Domain they hurridly board the train,- just in time,- as it starts down the grade for home, that is, our home, not theirs. The track is a narrow gauge, and all the cars, engines, etc., are built in Skagway. I learned from some of the Skagway merchants that they are hardly paying expenses now, as the Dawson dealers go down and buy direct from Seattle, where formerly they brought from the Skagway merchants. Dawson itself is rather overdone, and has seen its best days for making quick money. All claims of value are taken up, and there is no chance for any one except he has a mint of money to start a large mill, or is satisfied to work in the mines as a laborer.

As high as $6.00 or $8.00 a day is paid to miners, but it mostly goes out in board and other expenses.

There are lots of young men who have broken down in health, and grown prematurely old in their mad rush for wealth. Only a few are successful and the majority fail. In the same way has the Nome gold field been too highly colored. There were 50,000 men went to Nome last spring and summer, and our Government had to send out vessels to bring back many that were stranded there and without money, or food.

A Million in Gold_Nome.JPG

News of Gold in Nome spread quickly after its discovery in 1899. Guthrie Daily Leader, August 9, 1909.

This post is part of a longer travelogue written by Frank L. Felter of Los Angeles, a distant relative of mine, as he and his wife Nell journeyed up to and around Alaska in 1900. To read the previous part, click here. To read the next part, click here.

What’s in a Namesake?: George Washingtons Who Have Made Their Mark on America

Ever since the Revolution, Americans have been naming their kids after George Washington. Some parents did so to honor our leaders, others hoped it would endow their children with the same luck and qualities of the commander in chief. Others probably just liked the way the name sounded. Today, most Americans named after Washington are black, historians think its because many freed people after the Civil War adopted his name to assert their freedom and passed the name down to their descendants. The late Dr. Ira Berlin has said that “names are this central way we think about ourselves. Whenever we have these kinds of emancipatory moments, suddenly people can reinvent themselves, rethink themselves new, distinguish themselves…New names are one of the ways they do it.” For children who were named after Washington, this could be a small way of aiming them towards a brighter future.

george washington silhouette

Bet you know who this is! National Portrait Gallery.

Here are 15 men from the past with the same name as our inaugural president. Each went on to have interesting and noteworthy lives. I think each of these men resemble Washington in one way or another- some inherited the best parts of Washington’s legacy, others the worst. What do you think, have these men lived up to their namesake? What similarities and differences do you see?

One last thing- I’ve looked and looked but haven’t been able to find any women who were named after Martha Washington (or any other famous women from that era); I thought that would be a great companion piece to this article. If you know of any women named after famous Americans, please let me know!

George Washington Sears (1821-1890)


This drawing of Sears was included in his 1888 book “Woodcraft.”

The grandfather of today’s outdoors-men and conservationists, Sears lived in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania for most of his life where he spent most of his time hiking and enjoying the natural beauty of the area. He wrote under the pseudonym “Nessmuk” in The Atlantic Monthly and Forest and Stream about his adventures and advice on camping, hunting, and hiking. He also wrote two popular books: “Woodcraft” in 1884 and “Forest Runes” in 1887 (a collection of forest poetry). For Sears, nature was a refuge from the hardships of life. “We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it,” he urged, “we go to smooth it.. take it easy, and always keep cool.”

George Washington Plunkitt (1842-1924)


Photo Credit: Library of Congress

Plunkitt wasn’t just a politician in New York City. He was the politician in NYC from the 1870s to the early 1900s. He was a member of Tammany Hall  and used his political influence to make himself a fortune through patronage, the spoils system, and other shady practices he called “honest graft.” Plunkitt has faded into relative obscurity since his death, but you can still read his book “Plunkitt of Tammany Hall,” (1905) a collection of talks he gave from his seat at the bootblack stand in the county courthouse. “I seen my opportunity” he always said, “and I took ’em.”


George Washington Hill (1884-1946)

George Washington Hill

George Washington Hill, president of the American Tobacco Company. “Sold American!”

This man lived and breathed (ironically) to sell cigarettes. President of the American Tobacco Company for 21 years and a dogged marketer, Hill poured millions of dollars into advertising campaigns for Lucky Strike cigarettes that were noted for their crassness, controversy, and effectiveness (he inspired this  classic 1947 Sydney Greenstreet scene from The Hucksters). Almost single-handedly, Hill took his company to the top of the cigarette market, outselling other popular brands like Camel and Chesterfield even during the tough Depression years. He was an early adopter of many advertising strategies such as public relations, radio advertising, and celebrity sponsorships. Hill got millions of Americans hooked on smoking and inspired many of the types of advertising that we still see today. Continue reading

Now I am on Twitter!

Like this blog? Like it a lot? Well now there’s more!

I’ve just recently joined twitter, where I’ll be posting everything from cool archives finds and thoughts about American history to interesting articles I come across. It’ll be the same sorts of things you read here, but hopefully I’ll post more often and about more different kinds of things. I had been hesitating to be more involved on social media in the past since I think these sites can be oppressive and harmful and I don’t want to force anyone to use them to access information. Make your own call and get your information from a place where you’re comfortable!

If you’re inclined (and are on social media), feel free to visit @ArchivistTy

Telegraph Switchboard

Chicago, Illinois. Telegraph switch board of the Pennsylvania railroad in the Pennsylvania telegraph room at the Union Station, 1943. Library of Congress.


You Can Spit Here: Samuel Pennypacker’s Veto Messages

During Samuel Pennypacker’s tenure as governor of Pennsylvania, he vetoed many bills. “There is far too much legislation,” he declared, and the “modern tendency to invent new crimes ought to be curbed.” During his time in office (1903-1907), he vetoed or used his influence to destroy thousands of bills that would have created stiff fines and punishments for offenses. At the time, politicians were overcome with a “perfect mania for legislation,” proposing bills regulating or controlling just about anything, causing one critic to write “a statue is the panacea for the legislative quack.” The Governor believed that it was “far better to leave the law alone unless the necessity for change was plain.” Under Pennypacker’s watch, less than half as many bills were passed annually by Pennsylvania’s General Assembly than there were before or after his term.

Samuel Pennypacker

Samuel Pennypacker, probably reading a new bill with disgust. Capital Preservation Committee.

Another unusual detail from Pennypacker’s efforts to curb legislative excess was his colorful style of vetoing. Unlike previous governors, he wrote detailed and thoughtful official reasons for each veto that were published for the public. Granted, there was probably a lot more going on behind the scenes in the Governor’s office. However, these veto messages give us some insights into Pennypacker’s thought process and some of the pressing issues that affected Pennsylvanians in the early 20th century.

Below is Pennypacker’s 1903 veto message for a law that would have imposed fines or prison sentences for any citizen caught spitting in a public place. The law, supported by members of the State Board of Health, was intended to protect public health and help prevent the spread of communicable diseases like tuberculosis (called consumption then). Take a read to see why Pennypacker would oppose such a bill!

“The purpose of the bill appears to be an effort to make people nice and cleanly in their habits by legislation. It is not confined to those who have consumption or other diseases which may be so transmitted. There are certain inconveniences which necessarily result from association with our fellows and which have to be endured. There is an efiluvia, more or less disagreeable, from every living person. There is an exudation from every pore of the skin. There are conditions under which spitting is almost impossible to restrain.


Pennsylvania senators and representatives had personal spittoons next to each of their desks, and the Governor custom-made brass and bronze one. They were used as late as the 1950s. Capitol Preservation Committee.

Among the thousands of people who go to a circus, one or more may have a cold; catarrh, or sudden contact between the teeth and tongue may cause a flow of saliva. Imprisonment seems to be severe punishment for yielding to what cannot always be prevented. If spittoons were provided, there would be a stronger reason for such legislation. Upon the whole, while it must be conceded that spitting is not nice, pleasant or polite, it seems to me that it would be better to leave the cure of a bad habit to the gradual development of a better taste and higher culture rather than to attempt a regulation by law, in the shape of an enactment which imposes imprisonment, instead of a well digested health regulation.”

Crime on the Wire: How the Telegraph was Used to Send the First Spam Mail

In the early history of the telegraph, entrepreneurial men and women like David Lechler and P.T. Barnum used the technology to play fairly harmless pranks on their friends and neighbors who were unfamiliar with the machine. By the end of the 19th century, the technology had matured and become a common (and to many essential) part of American life.

As I keep an eye out for reports and stories about misuses of the telegraph , I’ve noticed more than a few observers from the late 1800s and early 1900s who don’t condemn the telegraph outright, but write lurid tales of crime and delinquency where the telegraph plays a central role. Just as they had at the mid-century, telegraphs allowed operators to distort their identity and trick unsuspecting customers who assume messages are legitimate. But now, these critics claim, people were really getting hurt.

One such telegraph critic was Josiah Flynt, a early muckraker and crime writer who was known for his expose on railroad tramps. In his 1900 book The Powers that Prey, a collection of short vignettes of the criminal classes, he depicts the telegraph as a fixture of seedy criminal dens that allowed criminals and undesirables to continue their evil ways away from the watchful eye of decent society:

“One evening, or rather one morning, in May, 189-, in the “Slide,” which everybody knows, though that is not its name, a mixed company of men and women were glad that they were young. Therefore they ordered miscellaneous drinks and smoked cigarettes and listened to three “darkies” explain, to the accompaniment of three guitars, that they find the Western Union a convenience no matter where they roam, and that they will telegraph their baby, who’ll send ten or twenty maybe, and they won’t have to walk back home.”

Doped SInger

Untitled Photo, Possibly Related to: Doped Singer, “Love oh, love, oh keerless love,” Scotts Run, West Virginia. Relief Investigator reported a number of dope cases at Scotts Run, 1935. Library of Congress.

In 1907, Flynt returned to his discussion of the telegraph and its relationship with crime in an interesting piece about the New York dope-shop. It seems that con men were using the telegraph to send the first spam mail: solicitations of horse betting tips to unsuspecting “suckers” who paid handsomely for this information. Flynt was adamant that his stories were based off of his personal experiences undercover in the criminal underworld. “These stories,” he wrote, “are not fiction in the ordinary sense…the characters are real and the incidents have all occurred…The stories are intended to point a moral as well as adorn a tale.” Below is a excerpt from his article, can you find the moral of this sensational story?

“The dope-shop is one of the fungus growths of the pool-room game. In it’s every essential the dope-shop is a confidence game. Between the “form” of racehorses as set forth in publications for that purpose or in the daily papers and in the dope-shop there is the same difference that lies between the advice of a reputable broker in stocks and the persuasions of the man that works with three shells. The tips published in the daily papers are given to the public for what they are- the guesses of men who make the handicapping of thoroughbreds their business. It may be that even the publication of guesses does not tend to the common good, but it probably will be continued as long as horse-racing is a recognized American institution. The dope-shop, however, is another thing. Continue reading

A Vital Link to the Past: Pennsylvania Birth and Death Certificates

Birth and death certificates are a genealogist’s best friends. They provide authoritative information about individuals (much more than just their dates of birth and death), and are the starting point for many exciting searches into family history. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Health began recording birth and death certificates in 1906 (many of which are available online today). Since then, the department’s Vital Statistics division has recorded and preserved information about millions of Pennsylvanians. As you probably know from personal experience, birth and death records are extremely important in many situations.

It takes a lot of coordination and effort to record all of these births and deaths, and we should not forget the clerks and typists who were (and still are) the unsung heroes of this critical work. They make this wealth of historical information available to us today. Do you think you have the patience and skill to type out and organize hundreds and thousands of certificates each year? With no mistakes? That’s what these women did. Enjoy these Pennsylvania Vital Statistics office photographs taken in 1945 and description of the division written in 1955!


Reception Room

“The Division of Statistics and Records coordinates the functions of the Section of Vital Statistics and the Section of Statistical Methods. The Section of Vital Statistics is responsible for the collection, permanent binding, filing and indexing of records of birth, death, adoption, marriage, divorce, annulment of marriage and annulment of adoption.


Recording Room

Continue reading

Behind the Scenes Document Preservation at the National Archives, 1939

Ever wondered how records end up in archives? How they get into those clean and organized boxes, neatly arranged and labeled on the archives shelf? As someone who has worked in archives, I can tell you that there are many steps that get archival records from their creators to a reading room. Lots of labor too.

I came across this series of photos taken at the National Archives in 1939 that show the process of bringing new records in and preparing them for storage and research. Many of the things that were considered cutting edge record preservation at the time like fumigating, and laminating are all obsolete today. Archival science has come a long way since then!

NARA Document Trick

Historical documents guarded with great care by National Archives. The treatment and careful handling of valuable historical documents is of prime consideration at the National Archives, Records, legal papers, historical data, etc., of all descriptions must be preserved so that they last indefinitely. This picture shows documents being unloaded at the National Archives by a worker who uses a specially hand-made truck. Library of Congress.


This chamber is used to fumigate the documents. A gas is used to kill any kind of insect life that may be living between the pages of the documents. The gas is left on for about three hours. Library of Congress.

Continue reading

How Do You Pronounce Glacier? And Other Alaska Fun Facts

Frank and Nell are steaming up to Juneau. Almost there! During this part of their five month journey it seems like they have an experience worth writing about to their New York cousins every other minute! I definitely am getting a sense that Frank is taking more notes here than he was during the legs in California and Oregon. In this part their fellow passengers get in an amusing argument over how to pronounce “glacier” right. I didn’t realize there even were different ways! This section finishes out with detailed descriptions of hunting, different Alaskan wildlife, and geology/mining in the Treadwell Mines area. Frank has said that Alaska is a great county, and it looks like the natural resources are what impress him the most. He half-joking says he wants to invest in Alaska fish canning and mining operations, I wonder if he would have ever actually considered it if the opportunity was right?

Passing between islands many thousands feet high, with here and there a narrow rivulet trickling down from above, or a large cataract of water falling from such a distance that ’tis lost in a mist before it reaches the bottom, we listen to an argument between an Englishman and a Chicago girl, as to the proper way to pronounce the word “glacier”.

Heretofore this couple have been on the best of terms, but now they are waxing warm, and presently they separate and are not seen together for an hour or more,- when the ice seems to have melted, and the bets are even, as to whether we can make a match of it. After this some of the passengers have the audacity to speak of them as “Mr. & Mrs. Glacier.”

But speaking of these islands, we could see with our field glasses, on several occasions, what appears to be deer, (or elephants, as a little girl called them) standing near the water’s edge, or sometime in the open. Once I saw a deer swimming across from one island to another, not more than 100 feet from our steamer.


Deer captured by S.S. Dolphin, c. 1896-1913. University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Below the snow line, nearly all of these mountains are covered with forests, and we are told that all through the 20,000 islands of Alaska, bear, deer, and all kinds of game are abundant, and that it is veritably a sportsman’s paradise. Continue reading