30. Bering Lake to Seattle

August 28, 2011

The 1905 US Geological Survey trip to Alaska inspired Hayes with natural beauty and disgusted him with human folly.  By the end of the trip, the generally mild, hard working young man from Oregon finds himself pushed too far by a shirker named Small under the protection of the trip’s leaders Martin and Maddren.  Hayes did not break his hand, and Small couldn’t see through swollen eyes to strike back with the axe he grabbed – but Hayes knows this will be his last USGS trip to Alaska.

The map below won’t appear in an email.  The current chapter appears as the green path down from Alaska, preceded by the blue  up to Alaska, and followed by the short (funny) pink path around Northern Washington State.


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Here and There Synopsis:

30.1 Wolverines and Colonialists

August 12, 1905

To this far place in Alaska come newspapers from Seattle in which Brooks “somewhat drew a long bow.” Hayes reads with interest about Brooks and Martin exploring the ice fields, climbing mountains, and rowing in swift water and ocean breakers – why, he even describes shooting white water with Martin. “Strange, but I was not mentioned at all. But I do wish the reading public could have seen Messrs. Brooks and martin walking down the bank while I turned the nose of the boat upstream and shot the water all alone… Martin doesn’t mention this article to me.”

Hayes is up Canyon creek cooking for Hill and McDonald who are surveying around the nearby ranges. The rest of the survey team remains camped near Behring Lake. They’ve measured a 47 square mile coal area east of Copper River flats. If these rich fields are to be exploited, a deepwater port must be located; a coast and geodetic survey boat sounds Controller Bay while the survey team works.

Unloading on the immense flats along the coast can be quite dangerous. Once while lining a boat against the rip tide, quicksand sucked Martin in to his waist. Hayes and Hamilton got to him on oars and the false bottom of the boat, literally pulling him out of his boots. (Hopefully not the ones in the picture in segment 28.) “He was covered with mud and slime, and was badly frightened. Martin is always having marvelous adventures.”

In the hills, Hayes encounters a new animal, “a fairly formidable beast called a carcajou, or wolverine.”

Carcajou or Wolverine

Wolverines are the curse of trappers. “One will follow a trap line for miles destroying bait, springing traps, eating any fox or marten in a trap and will rob a cache, spraying a frightful scent over such goods as he may not eat.” A member of the skunk family, “the Indians say they can whip a bear.”

Hayes’ comments on colonialism are contradictory and always fascinating. On this date he writes a long rant beginning, “The Indians are better than white men. They never steal from us, are quiet, mind their own affairs, but are debauched by the renegade whites who have brought drink and disease that is rapidly wiping out the entire people.” Noting that still habitable native houses stand empty near the beaches, he continues, “So it is and always has been before the Anglo-Saxon. He decimates the people aboriginal to the countries he conquers by whiskey, by debauching their womenfolk and by crowding them all off into corners considered worthless, where they lose heart and soon perish.” Then he goes on about how the Spaniards enslaved the Mexicans and South Americans – inadvertently hardening them for survival – and the methods of the Catholic church: conversion followed by execution to prevent backsliding. He ends with, “The Anglo-Saxon is not so concerned about the native’s soul, but does get everything else he has.”

30.2 Naming Berg Lake

August 30,1905

Hayes together with some in the survey party “have crossed the range to Behring Glacier, where there is a log cabin beside the ice field and where we can see away into infinity across the ice. It is the most majestic scene I have ever witnessed.” On days of unusual clarity long comet tails of windblown snow can be seen howling off Mounts St. Elias and Logan more than one hundred miles distant but looking more like ten.

Mt. St. Elias

Mt. Logan

Martin is “chary” of christening the unnamed peaks nearby; he’s afraid “He might offend the powers that be in Washington if he did.” Already such luminaries as Foraker, Dall, and Tillman – all men in positions to give Martin his job – denominate peaks nearby.

Maddren, the fossil collector, not so chary as Martin, names a small lake half a mile below their cabin Berg Lake. “Martin received his subordinate’s decision with shrieks of silence, and it was felt by all assembled here.” Martin’s reaction aside, the name seems apt. Every night gigantic bergs break off the glacier thundering into the lake sometimes roaring for minutes on end when successive bergs break from the main mass of ice.

30.3 Winter Coming

September 6, 1905

Now Hayes and several others are camped, “high above the gorge of Canyon Creek and at the timberline.” In early September this high up, winter approaches. “Daily the snow line creeps down the big range to the north of us, and in a few days will be at the ice fields for the winter.” Returning up the hill from a hike to the main camp for supplies, Hayes saw that wolverine tracks covered his own downward footprints on the entire path.

September 10,1905

A foot of snow has fallen and the college boys “take it good naturedly.” Some of the prospectors are clearing out for the winter, carrying one hundred pound packs down the rugged mountains. Hayes’ main concern is keeping the large outfit fed. He must pack in food from base camp a thousand feet below, “and it keeps me humming to feed them and get food in. They don’t seem to realize it either.”

30.4 Back at Berg Lake

September 26, 1905

Hayes and company return the cabin above Berg Lake for the geologists to mop up work here. “Nightly now the bergs break off the glacier with tremendous roarings, and the grinding after, when the newly born berg grinds among its fellows, is awesome to hear.” New ice an inch thick forms on the lake at night only to be broken to bits every time a new chunk of ice breaks from the main sheet. Hayes speculates that, “It must be this lake that sometimes breaks out down Behring river and floods the entire country.”

Berg Lake breaking down the gorge in 1956

Hayes laughs at the engineers who all carry gold watches they love to show off to the impoverished miners. But when anyone wants to know the correct time, they all ask Hayes who owns a dollar Ingersoll whose timekeeping improved after falling to the floor where it was stepped on by some heavy Alaskan in hob-nailed boot.

30.5 “Too bad one has to have trouble.”

October 5, 1905

The reader will recall a member of the survey party named Small who was hired in the same cook/handyman capacity to the crew as Hayes. For the past several months Small, under the protection of the topographer Maddren, has been shirking his duties and bullying Hayes. Maddren has convinced Martin that Hayes is responsible for shortages of food – when Maddren himself took a good bit from Hayes’ allotment. “Other than these three, Martin, Maddren, and Small, I get on well with the rest of the crowd.”

These very three, Martin, Maddren, and Small, moved together with Hayes, “up river to another camp, where are some miners coming and going, together with their Indian packers.” Feeling covered by Martin and Maddren, Small began berating Hayes before some of the miners packing out. “We came to blows a couple of mornings since, and Small is in bed with both eyes shut, while I have a badly smashed left hand. Small lead with his nose, breaking my thumb, but it was worth it. Martin rushed to the rescue of his protégé, who got an axe, but could not see to use it.”

The “grizzled miners” readily size up the situation and the two men. One asks Small, “What’s the matter with your eye? Limb strike it?” (Hayes’ quote.) Small, in reply: “Yes, Struck me right hin the heye!” (Hayes’ quote.) Then the grim faced Alaskan glancing at his mates: “Gee! Must have give you a hell of a lick!” (Hayes’ quote.) But Martin cannot immediately judge the situation fairly, “He promises to see me out of the country, has already secured the services of a Chilean in case.”

After a couple of days with Hayes doing all the “slop-up jobs” and Small recovering his sight, Martin, Maddren, and the two combatants rejoined the main party at Behring Lake. When the rest of the crew “proclaimed their joy at Small’s take down,” Martin finally realized he’d “backed the wrong horse.” One of the company, Billy Hill went so far as to quote scripture “Behold, he that seeketh earnestly shall find!” (Hayes’ quote.) All but the two bosses had seen Small’s bullying and are glad Hayes evened the score.

30.6 An Apology of Sorts

October 10, 1905

With winter coming in earnest the entire crew waits at Wingham Island for the steamer Excelsior.

Steamer Excelsior

Martin has apologized for his attitude but Hayes sees only a feeble attempt to pick the strongest side: all in the party except Maddren back Hayes, and Martin wants to appear their leader. “Small tried to smirk and make up, but I turned from him.” Hamilton or maybe some of the rodmen from among the college students are all right, but as for the rest, “[I] never want to see any of them again.”

30.7 Sitka

October 14,1905

The survey party barely made the Excelsior, rowing out in a blinding gale. Once aboard Hayes found a cache of apples and pears under the pillow in his four-man cabin. “The steward had swiped these off the ship to sell to passengers, and we scoffed the lot free.”

At a stopover at Yakutat, one of the young survey members, Bill McDonald, “got a crush on an Indian maid named Judith Johnson.” Judith returned his affection and only the ship’s departure cut short a budding romance.

“Sitka is as picturesque as ever.” As when he had been here before, Hayes is favorably impressed with the Indian school. The students from Ketchikan to Nome and Behring Strait, “seem an earnest lot, and surely some good will come out of this school.” Technical training and book work for the boys, domestic science for the girls.

30.8 Adrift in Seattle

October 24, 1905

At Seattle, Hayes parts from the survey crew. “Martin … has been trying to square things. But it is the end, I know that. I would be afraid to go with him again.”

Immediately following his first survey trip to Alaska in 1903, Hayes: turned down a place at Stanford; learned of his father’s death; sailed fruitlessly to Liverpool and back to Galveston; walked across the Southwestern United States desert; broke rocks in Tacoma, and hopped logs for a winter in Eureka. He calls all that “My last disaster after leaving Alaska.” Fearing a repeat, he’s determined to save what he earned this past summer in Alaska.

He knows what he doesn’t want to do – but, “what to do, what to do, is always the question for a wanderer, and I am one at heart, even if I am not so good at it. I’m 27 now, and have not made much of a splash in the world. Perhaps I never will.”

23. Resurrection Bay AK to Hico TX

July 1, 2011

Down from Alaska for the winter, Hayes declines an offer to study at Stanford returning coincidentally to Hico to see his mother and sisters just as word of his father’s death arrives from Colorado.

On the map, chapter 22 is the yellow path.  The current chapter is pink with popups.  Chapter 24 is the blue circular path.

(If the map doesn’t appear in the email, click the title to go to the blog.)

Click here for links to maps and downloads of more maps.

Here and There Synopsis:
23.1 A “four flusher” and Hundreds of Sea Lions

September 14, 1903

Before Hayes and Martin changed ships from the Newport to the Santa Ana at Resurrection Bay, they got an illustration the danger of the extreme tides in these long narrow Alaskan Bays. The Newport dragged anchor and came to rest against a rock at high tide; as the tide ebbed, the fore part of the ship pointed high in the air threatening to snap the hull. Fortunately, it held, and when the tides reversed, the ship floated serenely off. “Now all is well again, and the priests, the whores, the prospectors and various scientists who make up the list are celebrating with wine and song.”

On the Santa Ana Hayes bunks with an interesting mate, Jack Carroll, who with another sourdough and three college students looking for adventure, accompanied Doctor Frederick Cook on an expedition to climb Mt. McKinley.

Dr. Frederick Cook

Ignorant of even the rudiments of Alaskan life, Cook scoffed at Carroll’s insistence on a mosquito-proof tent. The first night Carroll and Jones, the other sourdough, slept comfortably inside the tent while the other five roughed it outside. “Next night, and each ensuing night thereafter, seven men were crowded into this 7×10 tent.”

Carroll took ill with pleurisy and had to leave Cook’s party at the foot of Mt. McKinley, but not before forming a poor opinion of the expedition’s leader: “Carroll says Cook is a fourflusher.” (The word comes from bluffing with a weak hand when playing poker. It now roughly means one not true to his word.) Carroll’s principle evidence for the charge is Cook’s inability to listen to men more experienced in the wilds of Alaska. (Wikipedia cites other evidence supporting Carroll’s assessment of Cook’s character, including a famous faked photograph of a first ascent of Mt. McKinley from a 1906 attempt.)

On a great rock off shore from the mouth of Resurrection Bay, hundreds of sea lions line one wall, some several hundred feet above the sea. “The Santa Ana ran near the rock, then gave a loud blast on her whistle. The lions tumbled down any way they might, rolling, somersaulting, leaping to the water, then surrounded the ship and barking their indignation.”

23.2 The Beauty of Southern Alaska

September 16, 1903

Snow creeping toward the edge of town brings “the lonely men who have spent the short summer on distant creeks in search of the elusive gold,” down into Valdez where the fortunate “are given smiles, and if necessary further favors by the ladies of the evening,” who haunt the dance halls, saloons and other sporting houses. The nights are lengthening and, “In a few weeks all will be covered with snow for the winter.”

“Words fail to tell of the marvelous scenery of Southern Alaska. The highest mountains on the North American continent front on the sea here, and snow is always present on these above 3,000 feet, even in mid summer. There is forest below the snow, and rivers tumble down the steeps into the sea, and glaciers may be seen at every turn. Islands separated by winding blue channels give passage to the heart of these mountains… It is an empty land, these fine harbors wasted on a wilderness where they are of no use to man.”

23.3 Yakutat

September 20, 1959 (sic)

(The misdating of this entry probably reflects when the diaries were typed.)

At Yakutat native women “sit in front of the trading post and sell beaded moccasins, ladies hand bags and all sorts of trinkets they have made during the long winters,” for whatever price they can get. The young people native to the area “are becoming Americanized,” at a school in Sitka where they are taken when quite young. The US government offers men who live with Indian women two choices: “marry her and keep her as wife, or else jail.”

At Valdez most of the passengers left the ship to be replaced by a new list. Now Hayes bunks with “one Cloudesley Rutter,” a biologist at Stanford University, who offers Hayes a job for the next summer assisting Rutter’s study of the Alaska salmon industry. In the meantime, Rutter asks why doesn’t Hayes come down and enroll at Stanford? “It sounds good, but I wonder.” Maybe the quick bond between Hayes and Rutter forms because, “We have one thing in common, both dislike Martin’s pretensions.”

Perhaps the long nights with the coming of winter send Hayes back to his darkest assessments of humanity. A prostitute on board has lost the malamute pup she loved, tangled in some rigging and killed; maybe that set him off – or the end of the Alaska adventure with no plan for tomorrow? At any rate, he writes: “Men are the most degraded animals this world holds. They prostitute their own kind, exploit each other and slay each other without mercy if it profits to do so. The most fortuned die in infancy, or are never born at all.” And so on at some length.

23.4 Summing up Alaska 1903

Septermber 23, 1903

After some geological speculation about how glaciers carved the bay leading to Juneau and all the waterways south to Puget Sound, Hayes comments on the viability of the future state capital: “Mining keeps Juneau from dying, there being no industry or farming hereabout to make a town.” Juneau will be a business center of the region until the rich mines at Treadwell across the bay are worked dry – but then what will support a town?

A comment Hayes makes on passing again through Sitka encapsulates his impression of Alaska and its cultural history formed while traipsing about the region in the summer of 1903: “Sitka remains the same sleepy village is has always been. The Indian schools, the territorial staff who govern the country and the old Russian mission makes a living for 1,500 people”

He goes on to say that 50 years of Russian occupation stripped Alaska of its furs and broke the spirit of the native population: “The 36 years of American rule has been insufficient to uplift them from their lowly estate, but it can be done.” He sees the Indian schools as the great hope for future civilization of the area because the native children will be taught practical skills and, “kept free from the gamblers, the licentious miners, and others who corrupt them utterly.” In Hayes’ view, these young natives will surely inherit Alaska. When the minerals are stripped and the fisheries regulated, there are too many mosquitoes in summer and too much cold in winter “to make it a white man’s country.” He’s hopeful that the educated children of Alaska “will rebuild what has been lost within a hundred years.”

As for Hayes? He’ll be in Seattle within the week.

23.5 Where to next?

September 30, 1903

Slow boats like the Santa Ana poke down the coast “for they creep into all sorts of outlandish places and load and unload cargo for small mines, fisheries, trading stations and such.” But the pleasant sightseeing trip will end tomorrow in Seattle.

Hayes’ will be glad to part ways with Martin whose “head has been turned by the publicity he has received.” Early in the summer he was reasonably companionable but now, “he seeks the society of scientists, politicians, or rich mining people who can help him up on his way to the top, wherever that is.” While softening the critique about Martin’s turned head with,“I suppose we are all like that,” Hayes makes clear by his own choice of working class companions that he understands “the top” differently than Martin.

So, that’s Alaska – what next? Uncle Epam in Washington who wrangled the trip for Hayes wants him to visit another uncle, Epam’s brother, out in Oregon. To Hayes this seems an odious though necessary part of the job. Nevertheless, “I think I’ll funk it this time, go back to Eureka and stay the winter.”

23.6 Same Old Eureka

October 10, 1903

After a brief stop in Victoria BC – “a dull town with an English atmosphere” – and the usual violent seasickness coming down the coast in a small boat, Hayes arrives in Eureka where George Glynn, his old boss at the mill, has a job waiting for him. But “I don’t like it. I want to wander.”

In this frame of mind, of course Eureka receives a tawdry description: “There is little to recommend Eureka to a vagrant.” With five large sawmills, a shingle mill, and some dairies and farms, “It is one of those towns that is built, has no further need for expansion.” No need for any new houses, and “the business section has a run-down appearance.”

Uncle Epam still presses Hayes to visit the family up in Oregon, George Glynn wants him to stay on –“but I wonder.”

23.7 Galveston? Stanford?

October 22, 1903

To wander the world one must have either cash or sailor’s work. Lacking the former, Hayes tries in San Francisco for a ship to China or to the South Seas. “Nothing doing, no chance ever.” So, it’ll have to be Galveston and wherever ships are going from there.

On a visit to Stanford University, Cloudesley Rutter, the biologist Hayes met on the Santa Ana out of Valdez, offers another alternative: an expedition to the Galapagos Islands departing some months hence. In the meantime, Rutter wants Hayes to enroll in a special geology course. Never mind the tuition money, Rutter can set him up with a job as a club secretary.

October 24, 1903

“Was out at the Twin Peaks yesterday, thinking it over.” It’ll have to be Galveston: “I won’t handle booze, and to be a club secretary means I must do just that.” The decision made, he’s on a train for Texas that very night.

23.8 William Morrison Perkins 1841-1903

October 30, 1903

At 25, Hayes has been traveling the world for 10 years since leaving Hico at the end of a horsewhip. Returning to a place he says he never cares to see again, he gives the following terse account of his sisters: “May is married, lives in Oklahoma. Jennie is in Houston. I will see her on my way south. Annie is teaching at Iredell, a small village next station to Hico. Memrie is in the post office here, and Pearl and Vance still attend school.” He reports being happy to see them.

November 3, 1903

Remarkable that Hayes should be in Hico with the family when “Word has come that father was killed by an unruly horse at Walsenburg Colorado.” He lived three days after the horse crushed his head against a fence rail.

“Our reactions were different when the tidings came.” He reports that his mother went pale, “But there was little sorrow for his passing. He had been too cruel for that.” Hayes is glad to have written to his faterh before he died, but “To be truthful, it means no more than any other person whom I have met casually. Whatever affection there may have been, it has been wholly eradicated by his brutality when I was in his power. Somehow I am glad it has been no worse, for I might have slain him had I stayed home.”

Hayes and his mother will leave for Houston tomorrow to visit sister Jennie on his way to find a ship at Galveston.

22. Katalla River to Resurrection Bay

June 26, 2011

More Tramping around Alaska with G. C. Martin.

On the map, chapter 21 is the red path.  The current chapter is yellow with popups.  Chapter 23 is the pink path.

(If the map doesn’t appear in the email, click the title to go to the blog.)

Click here for links to maps and downloads of more maps.

Here and There Synopsis:

22.1 Valdez

July 26, 1903

Valdez has, “one business street … lined with a few stores, many groggeries and gambling halls, [and] the inevitable redlight district.” Perhaps a thousand people live here at this stop-off on the way to Eagle on the Yukon. It rains all summer and 63 feet of snow reportedly fell last winter. “Fort Liscum is immediately across the bay from Valdez, where there is a company of soldiers watching all the rapscallions who prey on honest miners.”

Fort Liscum, Alaska 1913

The same Colonel Greene and his party, whom Hayes met on the Bertha out of Sitka, passed through Valdez just before Hayes arrived. Breathtaking reports in the Seattle newspapers tell of their fights with bears and daring exploits on the ice fields. According to Hayes, every column inch is hogwash: “The fact is they never left the Bertha making the round trip in all comfort. Lies are what go over about this northland; no one wants to hear the truth.”

Boarding the Bertha again for Inerskin (sic) Bay, Hayes and Martin hear the skipper laughing at the tales of Colonel Green and his party. Hayes speaks with a prospector now on board the Bertha who staked a rich claim near Dawson. “He sold it for $32,000. Lost half of it in one night at faro, and in three weeks was broke.” Now he’s on his way up the Chitina River to a new strike. “Everybody is insane with gold fever. I’m content with my pay and hope to stay on. Most of the men we meet are broke, but all are hopeful of striking it soon. Many do, but more find graves in this wilderness.”

22.2 Bear Meat at Inerskin Bay

July 30, 1903

Hayes uses the name Inerskin Bay, but from the description of the surrounding land features, it must be the bay now called Iniskin. Martin, who is busily renaming everything in sight, says that this bay was named in honor of a Russian named Enochskin. Somehow the name has settled to Iniskin.

The two won’t stay long here. As Martin examines the sedimentary rock with igneous intrusions and evidence of volcanic action, Hayes speaks with Guzmer, chief of the small local tribe. Guzmer speaks enough English to give a report of a volcanic eruption in 1883: “Big fire! Night all same day! Plenty noise! Fire he come shore here.” (Hayes’ quote.)

Miskar, another man native to the place, shows Hayes the skin covered bidarkies by which the tribe supports itself fishing.

Edward S Curtis collection

When two other men arrived with the haunches of a bear, “larger than the largest bullock in size,” in their boat, Martin wanted to try a bit. So Hayes traded oats for bear. After parboiling it three times, and cooking for a total of five hours, the meat was at least tender, “But I noticed Martin ate but little. The Indians made short work of the lot, however, and all was well.”

22.3 Abundance at Brown’s Creek

August 3, 1903

The two-man, Perkins and Martin, expedition moves slightly north to “another nameless bay.” Hayes never catches Martin’s christening of the bay, “But the large creek that flows into it is to be called Brown’s Creek, this after the head of an oil drilling company whose cabins are here.”

“The numbers of salmon running into this creek are beyond computation.” When Hayes tries to row a skiff across the thirty-foot wide stream, the oars cannot find water, only salmon. The stream is about three-feet deep but no one dares enter to cross for fear of being pressed down by the numbers of salmon and drowned. “The whole of Alaska holds no more luscious fish than these. We eat them day after day and do not become satiated. If we should, there are trout in equal numbers with the salmon.” Hayes gave Guzmer’s wife some fishhooks and now she is catching salmon four times as fast as Hayes.

At Brown’s oil drilling camp, the men have chained a “pet” brown bear that arrived in a coat sleeve but has grown so fast only the strongest man can hold its leash. Suspicious of the men, the bear has great affection for a young malamute dog with coloring similar to the bear’s. The poor pup is nearly crushed with affection whenever the bear catches it in a great hug. Because the bear likes his food cooked better than raw, Hayes boils this giant “pet” a bucket of fine trout.

Hayes hunts with a setter dog so smart that the hunter needs no gun. The dog leaps onto his duck at the slightest quiver of grass. Remarking again on the abundance of the salmon: “Seals lay in the mouth of the creek and play with the salmon running into the stream. They toss them playfully, take one bite and release them for another.” Wildlife abounds up here, but even this vast land has its limits: “There are a few caribou, so say the natives, and an occasional moose. These animals are hunted so sharply the have fled to better and safer pastures.”

22.4 Exploring Chinitna Bay

August 10,1903

In this region tides rise more than 30’ and the currents run faster than any boat can counter, so Hayes must navigate the entrance to Chinitna Bay carefully. Once ashore, he and Martin marvel at a petrified forest standing out from a solid sedimentary rock base; follow bear paths two feet deep in the moss where one hind footprint measures 11”x16”; and reassess the map’s 11,000 foot estimate for Mt Illamna (sic) as closer to 8,500 feet.

Mt Iliamna

“From Illamna emits steam white as snow. Three vast columns rise heavenward for thousands of feet when the air is clear and calm. These join at a great height, making one of the most spectacular pictures I have ever seen.” Chinaboro, another active volcano forty miles from Iliamna, belches smoke that droops around its edges like a mushroom. Mt. Redoubt, farther north, stands quiet for now.

Martin foolishly expects the sea to obey his wishes. He planned to explore a sea cliff base at low tide and when Hayes demurred fearing the tidal bore, Martin sneered, “If you are afraid, you had better go back to the tent!” (Hayes’ quote.) Martin survived his folly but only by two feet. Trapped by the incoming tide, he scrambled up the cliff face as far as he could climb. The 30’ tidal surge rose to his waist – two more feet and he would have drowned. “He seems to think he has achieved a heroic stunt. I think he is a fool.”

Hayes isn’t alone in thinking Martin a fool. When Martin ordered Hayes to auction their small skiff, Hayes turned up a sourdough willing to pay $12. But according to government regulations an auction must be held. So after receiving the $12 offer, Martin called out “What am I bid for this boat?” (Hayes’ quote.) Being the only one present, the $12 man lowered his bid to $10 and Martin sold for that. “The old sourdough turned and looked at me for a long time. Like myself, he considered Martin cuckoo in some ways, and he is.”

22.5 Back at Brown’s Creek

August 10,1903

Everywhere Hayes turns, mountain peaks soar into the blue air. In addition to the volcanoes Chinaboro, Iliamna, and Redoubt, the great snow peaks of Cape Douglas and Afognak can bee seen from Brown’s Creek. From the mouth of the inlet, even Mt. McKinley is visible far to the north.

Martin didn’t affix the name Mt. McKinley; that had already been accomplished by Alfred Hulse Brooks who also named mountains for Vice-President Roosevelt, and senators Foraker and Tillman who controlled appropriations for geological surveys. “They reciprocated by giving Brooks full charge of all Alaska. He is a good geologist, but is more interested in Brooks than in his country’s welfare.”

Alfred Hulse Brooks

While waiting for a ship out of Brown’s creek, “there are endless new rocks to investigate.” And not only rocks – between Iliamna and Chinaboro volcanoes, oil seeps directly onto the ground. Unscrupulous promoters sell stock on oil puddles to, “easy money hunters in the States,” knowing full well that no great oil reserve likely lies between these two fiery peaks.

22.6 Big Bears in Kodiak

August 21, 1903

On the short trip back from Brown’s creek to Iniskin Bay in a small boat overloaded with Martin, Hayes, and Brown’s men, three great huskies also on board almost did them all in. The dogs began rushing from side to side in panic, nearly upsetting the frail craft before the men could restrain them.

From Iniskin Bay, Hayes and Martin were finally able to catch a ship on the way out to Kodiak Island. “At the village of Kodiak a bartender in a low-brow groggery there has a bear skin that squares 12 ½ feet each way.” The town of Kodiak retains a strong feel of the Russian culture established by the fur trappers who built it. The sea otters the Russians hunted are so rare now that only natives are allowed to take any more. “Its wonderful fur doomed it to destruction, just as the fur seal is going now. Man is the most wasteful, destructive animal this earth contains.”

22.7 Cold Bay

August 27, 1903

After Kodiak, the ship made a short stop at a salmon cannery at Uyak on the west side of Kodiak Island. “One of the greatest salmon runs known comes in here to spawn every year, and once 3,000,000 of the fish were taken at one time.” Without capacity to process so many fish, much of the catch was simply destroyed. Hayes laments that the lust for short-sighted profit will soon send the salmon the way of the sea otter.

Hayes wonders: How did the bears cross from the mainland to Kodiak Island? “Shelikoff Strait is one of the roughest bits of water about the Alaskan coast … Perhaps land lay all the way across in some distant geological epoch, for surely no bear could swim that distance in such rough water.” In any case, huge bears roam the island now.

Current maps show Cold Bay farther south from the spot Hayes says they explore next; Martin has gone across from this Cold Bay eight miles to Lake Bencharof. Bad weather forces the two to share the shelter of a fetid old Russian barabara with some of the locals.

The Rosenburg Barabara, Unimak Island,
Urilia Bay, Alaska, circa 1910

Near Lake Bencharof, oil workers drill at a spot where, “over square miles of country oil has at one time flowed and mingled with the soil until all is similar to asphalt.” Initially, coal was shipped from the south to power the drilling rig, until “some genius, waiting for the coal, at last tried out the asphalt. It burns better than the coal, and is here in millions of tons.” So the coal remains heaped on the beach unused.

22.8 Kodiak Again on the Way South

September 10,1903

As the year turns to autumn, it is time for the expedition to return south. “Martin explored much of the coast, and has a badly swelled head. His expedition has received considerable publicity, and he has been flattered by the heads of the mining and oil drilling companies until he believes he is an important man.” Hayes believes Martin’s accounts of the area are being used by speculators to inflate the value of their “barren claims” for sale to gullible investors in the states. “Any remark he makes is at once used to bolster up their stock selling industry, and they even ask for my opinion at times.”

The small steamer Newport that will run as far as Valdez, brings them again to Kodiak Island. A sheep farmer has set up here – providing “a luscious tidbit” for the bears. The many fine furs of red fox, silver-greys, and black foxes they’ve seen about the area convince Hayes that fox farming on the small isolated islands hereabout would be a viable industry.

22.9. Resurrection Bay

September 12, 1903

On board the Newport, “Martin has doubled up with a Belgian scientist, has a bad case of the swell head because of the constant flattery these embryo oil barons have heaped upon him.” Hayes rooms with some gamblers. His other choice would have been bunking with several priests from various missions about Alaska. Also aboard are, “Some of the hard-eyed sisterhood who gold-dig the miners out of every cent.” With ever the wry sense of humor, Hayes notes the “unregenerate steward sandwiched [the priests] between the girls of the row.”

A storm rages all the way from Kodiak Island, but here in the deep bay all is calm. Hayes believes a town will soon be built on this site – the railroad terminal will call it into existence. Right now, “The Santa Ana is here from the south with a cargo of timber, iron and miscellaneous goods for a railway that is to be built towards Fairbanks, a new camp on the Tanana River, a tributary of the Yukon.” The railway promoters who join the company of the Newport, “are in a fever of ecstasy at their prospect of easily gained riches, selling stock to gullible people also anxious to make money without work.”

21. Washington DC to Katalla River AK

June 19, 2011

Finally, some real adventuring with one of the earliest US Geological Survey teams in Southwest Alaska.

(If no map appears in the email, click on the title above to go to the blog page.)

Click here for links to maps and downloads of more maps.

Here and There Synopsis:

21.1 Passing through Chicago.

June 5, 1903

Six weeks previously Hayes arrived in the US from Liverpool with less than $5 in pocket. Now he’s at a stopover in Chicago with a first class ticket, “on a fast train that will reach Seattle in four days.” George Curtis Martin, (Jean the genealogist says GC is not related to John Martin the author of these synopses) the leader of the Alaska survey, instructed him to find his own Pullman sleeper and dining car, but that was all too rich for Hayes as he still has only about four dollars to make his way to Seattle.

East of Chicago Hayes marvels at the density of the population, “One wonders where all the people come from, how they all live and how so many can find sustenance in one land.”

June 6 1903

West of Chicago he marvels at the desolation and emptiness, “The Bad Lands are very picturesque, earthen hills eroding rapidly, of little use to man.”

21.2 Outfitting in Seattle

June 8,1903

In the five years since Hayes last visited Seattle, the gold boom has settled and the town shows signs of maturing, it “is much larger and is getting paved streets and cement sidewalks instead of the planked streets and wooden footpaths of those days.”

Martin puts Hayes up at the Hotel Seattle in Pioneer Square carelessly instructing him to pay for his own meals “for a couple of days, then he would settle with me later.” Hayes says he can get just enough to eat for 10¢ at a low-ramp Japanese restaurant nearby. In this contradictory moment, Hayes lodges at a fancy hotel, works on outfitting the Alaska expedition on a $6,000 budget, and has only 10¢ a day on which to eat. “Martin is more extravagant than I am, but I am inclined to believe there is a lot of game to be had in the north, and count on that rather than lump round a heavy burden of unneeded grub. Even my hip boots and oil skins are included in the outfit, which is more than one can hope for after these ships of recent years.”

21.3 Running the Seymour Narrows

June 13, 1903

An uncharacteristic joy suffuses Hayes’ description of the Seymour Narrows and his trip up through this watery labyrinth of British Columbia. “There are green islands on every side, large and small. Winding channels that burst suddenly into wide gulfs and into narrower fjords, with snow mountains sometimes near, always in the distance if we are not shut in. Waterfalls leap into the sea, or roaring rapids boil into the bays as if they were anxious to escape the hills.”

The beauty of the natural world sustains Hayes in all his travels. Perhaps a current reader can understand his ceaseless roaming as pursuit of out-of-the-way corners of transcendence like he found at the Seymour Narrows. “They are said to be about 800 yards across, and there is a large rock in the center of the strait. It is a crooked passage; and when the water is high, ships can pass. Deep enough at any time, but the current is tremendous as the water pours through the passage like the creeks pour into the sea all the way. For twenty minutes the water is still. It is then the ships put on all steam ahead and make the short run before the current begins to run in or out of the Gulf of Georgia.”

This far north daylight lingers very late. Hayes will not go below deck as long as light remains to reveal some new beauty round the next bend. “To one who loves nature it is an ideal life.”

21.4 The Beauty of Sitka

June 20, 1903

In a rugged wooden vessel called the Bertha, Hayes and Martin make their way up the southern Alaska coastline through Ketchikan, Petersburg, Juneau, Douglas, and finally to Sitka. Traveling with them are, “scientists, priests, girls seeking moneyed men for husbands or for prey.”

The biggest catch on board would be Colonel William Greene of the Cananea copper mines in Mexico, one of the wealthiest men in the world. Greene travels with a group of mining men from Arizona whose drunken, debauched behavior elicits this comment from Hayes, “If this is all that wealth brings men, I am content to be counted among the humble of earth.”

Colonel William Greene (with hand raised)
addressing striking Cananea copper mine workers
Mexico, 1906

The beauty at Sitka fairly takes Hayes’ breath away: “The gold mines at Juneau and Douglas may be more profitable, but Sitka has the transcendent beauty that one never forgets. It fronts almost on the open sea. Cut off by numberless tiny islets, it wanders about the rugged coast line and back into the forest in bewildering fashion.” Much of the architecture here is Russian and Hayes wonders why they ever gave up this vast territory rich in natural resources.

21.5 Hemmed in at Dundas Bay

June 22, 1903

Poking up the coast to Dundas Bay, the small ship gets hemmed in by thousands of tiny icebergs off Muir Glacier. They’ll have to wait for the winds to scatter them across the bay before leaving the small salmon cannery near which they are blocked.

The cold water makes the teeming fish life here tastier than in warmer climates but the cannery wants only salmon. There are so many, Hayes wonders where they all come from. Any fish not a salmon is discarded for the gulls. “This when Europe is full of starving people who never knew a square meal, yet so vivid in my mind.”

21.6 Yakatut Bay: Real Alaska

June 24, 1903

At Yakutat Bay: “This is real Alaska, with Indian women selling furs, mukluks, beaded moccasins, ditty bags, everything possible they know to make.” The world’s largest glaciers are on every side. Forty miles distant, though seeming only ten in the crystalline air, “is the famed peak discovered by Vitus Behring (sic) in 1741, I think it was.”

Vitus Bering,
Danish Navigator in service to the Russian Navy

One more short hop across the ocean and the expedition will have arrived at their base and begin some inland explorations.

21.7 Wingham Island

June 27,1903

When Hayes and Martin land on Wingham Island, place names mentioned in the Diary become confusing. Hayes refers to places with names used by the locals, while Martin continually renames them. So when Hayes says a scow immediately towed them from Wingham Island across to the mouth of the Chilkat River, a current map shows this as the Bering River – Martin’s names stuck.

On the scow, Hayes picked up another interesting name: “an ex-prize fighter, one Ed Smith, who was famed for defeating Joe Goddard, the Australian Barrier Champion, was working long-shore at the beach.”

”Denver Ed Smith”

Above the high tide line, the men set up a tent to hold back the voracious mosquitoes, “that are the curse of the north.” Hayes and Martin brought a small skiff from Seattle; the plan is to wander up and down the costal inlets, rivers and lakes of this roadless area looking for resources. Already Hayes can see coal-bearing rocks around what is now Bering Lake.

As Hayes frequently notes throughout his travels to the frontiers of European and American expansion, cultural contact usually is not genteel: “The white man has in Alaska crowded the natives out of all best places, has brought to them social diseases, liquor, and dishonesty.”

21.8 Exploring far Inland.

July 10, 1903

Traveling in the skiff and by hiking along bear paths pushed through “the jungle of devil’s club, tag alder and in the spruce forest”, Hayes and Martin explore where, “No maps have ever been made …. We are the first government party.” Hayes marvels at the volume of water cascading from the enormous glaciers: “there are eighty rivers in the thirty miles falling from the ice field between [the mouth of the Bering River] and Yakataga.”

By law no company can take more than sixteen land claims in this territory. But Hayes knows of one company with more than 1,500 claims taken by two men. “Talking to them, they told me they had difficulty in studying up names to put on claims.” If some mineral resource proves good on a claim, the company places a real homesteader there; if not, the claim lapses in a year. “There are four companies grabbing all prospects of coal, oil or anything else that may give evidence of remuneration in this district.”

During their explorations over the moss covered ground, at the edge of glaciers, and across torrential streams (Martin nearly drowned in one) Hayes feeds himself and Martin on ducks, geese, ptarmigan, and the salmon everywhere. Eagles and gulls gorge on the abundance of salmon and other small fish. “There are numerous bears, and the old Scotch foreman at the coal mines has killed eighteen of these splendid animals for so-called sport.”

21.9 Two Men alone in the Bush and Not Companionable

July 15, 1903

Down from the backcountry, Martin and Hayes push west to Catella River which Martin promptly renames the Katalla. The two aren’t getting along well. For Martin, “Everything must be done according to the book, and this goes ill when one must use his head as emergencies arise in the bush. He has almost caused us to lose our lives several times already.”

Part of the trouble stems from Martin’s inability to see Hayes’ expertise. At Katalla a number of frontiersmen gather as in a gold rush looking to get rich quick on coal or oil claims. As these men watch Hayes pilot the small skiff in off the ocean through the breakers at the mouth of the river, all marvel at his skill with a boat – but not the boss of their little two-man expedition: “Martin never realizes any danger, being inexperienced and foolhardy.”

Nevertheless, the money is good and Alaska endlessly fascinating so Hayes will stick it. At Katalla the mineral wealth astounds him: He describes many coal seams six to eight feet in diameter, and one reaching 27 feet. Not to be outdone, Martin reports one 63 feet in diameter near the glacier line. In addition to coal, oil seeps from the ground in a pool covering several acres. Hayes dips up a gallon to be sent to Johns Hopkins for analysis.