“Generally Good and Enjoy-All Times” in Alaskan Waters

Queen advertisement
Advertisement for the Queen in the Seattle Post-Intelligencier, July 11, 1899.

All vacations must come to an end, and the Felters are near the end of theirs. Their last Alaskan port is Ft. Wrangell, where they wait for the tide to rise. A few years earlier, the Queen had run aground in this very spot, it was very difficult to navigate. Passing out of Alaskan waters, their ship reaches Seattle and our intrepid vacationers hop on a train bound for their home in Los Angeles. This portion of Frank’s letter quickly glosses over hundreds of miles traveled, but since he already described these things in earlier he focuses on time spent with friends and acquaintances on the boat instead. Their ship, the Queen, was advertised as “Strict first-class. Table unsurpassed. Most experienced, competent commanders and pilots running to Alaska.” Of course he gets a little more time to fish, and has the biggest catch of the day!

Fort Wrangell Birds Eye View 1895
Bird’s-eye view of Fort Wrangell, ca. 1895. Alaska State Library.

At Wrangel Narrows we have to wait for the tide before passing through, and some put their time in fishing, while others go ashore and prospect for minerals. Our party did both, we found no mineral, but had better luck at fishing. I caught two of the three fish that were taken in during the day, and, consulting with the gentleman who caught the third, we decided to throw all three overboard out of sympathy for the other fishermen who caught nothing. This was exceedingly generous on our part as each of these fish measured over four feet in length, yet no one thanked us for our magnanimity, and one man (jealous of our success), very unkindly said that sharks and dog fish never were considered of any account, anyhow.

Queen article
The “Queen” was the most popular steamers for Alaskan tourists. Dawson Island News July 12, 1899.

The balance of our trip back to Seattle, was one round of card parties, musicales, recitals, speeches, and generally good and enjoy-all times. Every one being acquainted there is no stiffness, and when the “Queen” brings her 250 passengers safely into port at Seattle, nearly all are sorry that the trip is ended.

Steamer Queen Unloading
Steamer Queen unloading travelers, 1897. Library of Congress.

Spending a few days in Seattle, we have a call from Mr. and Mrs. Potter whom we formerly knew in Va. They were delighted to see us, and wanted us to settle in Seattle, but we concluded to go back to Los Angeles for the winter, and on August 23rd board the train for San Francisco. We reach Portland about Eight o’clock in the evening, and regret we cannot stop off and see once more the good friends we met here, but business calls us back to Southern California, so we bow to necessity, and continue our course, Southward.

Remembering to arise early the next morning for the fine scenery of the Shasta route, we find ourselves ascending the mountain ravines in Southern Oregon, and are on the alert, for ’twas this part of the journey that we missed seeing on the up trip.

Forests of Oak, Pine and Sycamore, and of other varieties, we pass through as we are gradually carried up the steep incline.

It now requires the combined efforts of three locomotives to climb the grade and the sublimity of the scenery increases every moment. Now we creep along the edge of a cliff, and look down thousands of feet below, where we see immense Pine trees that look no larger than hop poles to us so far above. Frequently we pass through tunnels and cross gorges on trestles of dizzy height, again we are on the edge of a cliff, and this time we can see the winding track below in three or four different places,- so many curves and double curves have been necessary to climb up to this altitude.

Shasta Train.JPG
The Felters probably took the Southern Pacific route past Mt. Shasta. c. 1949. Wikipedia.

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.


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