R D Logan
The Free Lance
14 Oct 1898
From Alaska --
Bonanza, July 3, 1898 --
Arrived safely in Dawson City on June 17th, after a somewhat perilous
We broke camp at Lake Bennett on May 27th. We made about 10 miles on the
first day and then we were compelled to camp once more on Lake Bennett,
owing to an ice-jam. After 2 days? delay, we proceeded down the lakes
till we arrived at the head of Lake Tagish, when the ice blocked our way
for 6 days. We had a fine camping ground and plenty of company. It was
here that I met Mr. FOX and his brother, and John MAHONEY, of San Felipe.
We found a bed of wild onions and they were delicious. Maybe when I
return home, I won?t have such an aversion for them.
One night down at the saw-mill, we had a dance which concluded with
singing national airs and giving 3 cheers for the army and navy, and 3
and a tiger for DEWEY, on account of his recent victory at Manila. The
enthusiasm along the trail is great and I doubt whether it is any
greater back in the States. Everybody is anxious to hear what Admiral
SAMPSON?s fleet is doing in Cuban waters. I feel certain that when he
meets the Spanish fleet, the victory will be no less decisive than
DEWEY?s at Manila.
After quite a sojourn in these pleasant camping grounds we pulled up
stakes and resumed our journey to Dawson.
Lake Tagish is a very picturesque body of water, about 21 miles long and
5 miles wide. We made the distance in about 10 hours, there being only a
slight wind. At the lower end of this lake, we were stopped by the
Canadian officials. We were told after landing, that we must be
inspected, have our boat numbered, and secure our clearance papers,
before we could proceed down the river. There was a great rush here and
boats lined the shore for a distance of 2 miles. I immediately turned to
the Custom?s officer to get the necessary papers, I found to my surprise
about 500 people in line. I took my place and after a wait of 3 days, my
turn came. The number of our boat was 12,516.
This over with, we at once pulled down the river to Marsh Lake. Here we
were caught in a heavy storm which nearly swamped us. For a time we were
at the mercy of the swell, but we bent to the oar and pulled into a
sheltering cove to await the subsiding of the storm. We were compelled to
make camp for the night as the storm continued for sometime.
Early next morning we were once more on the lake which was calm and
placid, being quite a contrast to the evening before. Then after a
distance of 51 miles, we reached Lake Lebarge. Three days were consumed
in crossing this, as we had to sail against the wind and encountered some
heavy swells. We left Lake Lebarge by the 30-mile River. This is a
dangerous stream, full of rocks, and bars and has a very swift current. I
steered down the stream and narrowly escaped some very dangerous places.
A careful lookout was necessary or the boat would be dashed to pieces on
the rocks or swamped on the bars.
The next critical place was the Canyon where the river narrows to 50 ft.
The water rushes through here with terrific velocity, causing numerous
whirlpools and eddies. There were steep walls on either side, to avoid
which the middle of the stream must be kept or your boat will be dashed
to pieces and the chances of escape would be small. After a survey of the
situation, we decided to pat a pilot $20 to take us through this place.
The pilot asked for an oarsman. As the others did not like to take the
risk, I volunteered. So the pilot and myself started on our perilous
ride. Swifter and swifter we went. The passage was made before I was
aware of it. Owing to the heavy load we dipped considerable water. But
straight as an arrow we shot through the Canyon. Then 3 miles more and we
would come to the famous White Horse Rapids. Before shooting the rapids,
the pilot advised us to unload a portion of our outfit. We took out about
900 lbs and then we were ready to tempt fate on the much-dreaded White
Horse Rapids. There is a fall of 32 feet and a current running with a
velocity of 10 miles per hour. The Canyon was bad enough, but the Rapids
are worse. However, we were soon approaching the rocks and the pilot
cautioned me to keep cool and obey him implicitly. So, I set my teeth and
determined to do my best with the oars, come what might. My sensations in
shooting the Rapids are indescribable; but one thing I do know -- I was
as cool as a cucumber. The pilot afterwards told me that we had the
closest call he had that season and if I had not helped him at the right
moment we would have been swamped. After making a landing we had to pack
the stuff left behind, ¾ of a mile. We turned our small boat loose as we
entered the Canyon. That was the last we saw of it. We also lost quite a
number of useful articles that were securely tied in the lost boat. Our
stove, tent poles, picks, shovels, steel bar, and 2 saws vanished with
the boat. So you see that was quite a loss, yet we were better off than
those who had lost their provisions and entire outfit. It was here that
Harry said he would trust his life no more in a small boat, so he went to
Dawson on a barge. Nevertheless, STOCKMIER and I continued our journey.
The remainder of the journey was not so dangerous except the Five Finger
Rapids and the Rink Rapids. These were passed without much trouble.
The wild flowers along the banks of the Yukon were beautiful, and
plentiful, perfuming the atmosphere along the shores. The wild roses are
handsome and very fragrant. There is a great variety of flowers and many
new ones to me. After leaving the Rapids, we averaged about 10 miles per
day, and the rest of the journey was a delightful trip.
When we arrived at Dawson, the boats were as thick as bees and we could
hardly make a landing. After taking in the sights around Dawson, we
started out with a pack on a prospecting trip. Prospecting was a failure
so we decided to look for work. We struck a job at $10 per day, and a
cabin to live in. The man we are working for is an old-time Hollisterite.
His name is George CARMACK. He intends returning to Hollister as soon as
he can get out. He will take this letter and one for ERWIN with him. He
is a fine fellow and is going to give us a lay on his claim to work this
Tomorrow is the Fourth of July. I guess I cannot celebrate this year. I
must close as it is getting late and I start to work at 7 o?clock
tomorrow morning. Give my regards to my friends and be sure to write
often. Have received no letter from home yet.
Your loving son,
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