Is Cassiar, B. C., a New Klondyke?

JEROME B. EBERTS May 1 1925

Is Cassiar, B. C., a New Klondyke?

JEROME B. EBERTS May 1 1925

Is Cassiar, B. C., a New Klondyke?

JEROME B. EBERTS

GOLD! The whisper has gone forth and reached out

with its million tentacles into the moss-country of the far north, into the southland clear to the Mexican border, and eastward to the seaboard of the Atlantic.

Gold! Free gold in the Cassiar!

Since the report came down from the north late last October, of the discovery made by Bill Grady and Hugh Ford of rich placer diggings on Gold Pan Creek, Cassiar District, Northern British Columbia, supply merchants of Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle have been stocking up in all those things a miner needs. Shop windows are displaying gold pans, number two shovels, round-nosed and long-handled, keen whipsaws for hand-sawing planks from logs, small oiled tents and tent-flies. Provision stores are expecting to do big business in flour and bacon and beans.

The trek into the new field started months ago, but the big stampede will not get under way until early in May when the ice goes out of the Stikine River.

Two hours after Bill Grady and his partner showed a poke of of dust at Telegraph Creek, following a hard trip from the country to the northeast of Dease Lake, men and dog-teams were on the trail. Residents of Telegraph Creek staked dozens of new claims on the snow

in the vicinity of the discovery claim, and when the news of the strike got through to Wrangel at the mouth of the Stikine, the two or three dozen male residents of that place followed in the tracks of the Telegraph Creek stampeders and staked their claims. Gold Pan creek and some of the other “pup” streams which flow into Eagle River, have been blanketed. Yet mile after mile of virgin, unprospected country remains open to the adventurer.

Grady’s action in showing three or four ounces of coarse gold to the men of Telegraph Creek was in itself a trivial thing, yet old-timers say men will be drawn to the strike from the ends of the earth, and they issue warnings to the unwary chechakos who will make up a large part of the human stream flowing into the North. In a gold stampede men must travel far and. risk life itself.

Gold Pan Creek and the unexplored region to the is east easily accessible compared to the gold-field of the Yukon, and the fact may lead men to start unprepared for the hardships which are bound to come. And, as in the past, there will be scores who are bound to lose.

While the valley of Gold Pan Creek is of small area, it always follows that the rush not only sweeps over the district which was responsible for it, but spreads afar. So it is reasonable to assume that the old diggings of ’75 on Dease Creek, and the old gold camp of Laketon, where still stand the ruins of saloons and dance halls, and even the old gallows where men were hanged, will

Free gold” has been the battle cry of adventurers the world over, and men are flocking to the Cassiar to chance their luck in this ancient gamble. What will they find there?

be revisited with the possibility of new finds, for what mining was done there in the early days made some men rich.

The town of Telegraph Creek, where the stream of the same name empties into the Stikine River, is the real jumping-off place for the new gold-fields. Telegraph Creek is one hundred and forty-six miles from Wrangel, on the Alaska coast, and is reached in about fifty hours travel by gas-boats up the Stikine River. The trail from Telegraph Creek to Dease Lake, a distance of seventy-two miles, has been converted into a fair wagon road along which supplies are hauled by tractor and automobile. The road ends at the head of Dease Lake and transportation on the lake then is by Hudson’s Bay Company scows propelled by “kickers” to Porter’s Landing at the north end. The lake is twenty-six miles long.

The discovery claim lies to the northeast of Dease Lake, a distance of about thirty miles, where gold has

been found on Gold Pan, Little Jimmie and Dome creeks. These are short, shallow streams which empty into Eagle River. The latter, as a matter of fact, is scarcely a river at all, but a creek many miles in length which empties into Dease River.

When the Gold Rush Begins

MAY first is the date set for the expected stampede. It is not a man-appointed date, but one set by the grim servant of nature that rules the northland. Sometime around May first the ice goes out of the Stikine River, the mighty watercourse that leads from Wrangel, Alaska, through the Coast Range Mountains which raise their white peaks along the border of eastern Alaska and British Columbia, and through the timbered hills beyond, to Telegraph Creek in Canadian territory. The Indians of the region have named the great waterway, “The Child of Glaciers.” White men use harsher terms to describe it.

Travelers who have made the journey by boat in the summer time from Wrangel to Telegraph Creek, speak in rapturous tones of its beauty. Its waters, fresh and sparkling from the throats of glaciers and mountain peaks, are as blue as the boasted skies of sunny Spain. In some places the great banks

sweep wide apart and the blue waters flow smoothly and easily on their way to the northern sea. In others the massive walls come close and frown down upon waters that growl with hidden menace and lash themselves into frothy whiteness against jagged rocks and against the puny, man-made boats that challenge their free passage to the broad Pacific.

Glaciers are passed; huge crawling monsters of white and green and dingy brown, that labor down from ancient valleys as yet unseen by man. Sharp reports like cannon-shots come occasionally from their mysterious caverns, and the drip of their icy waters into the river is like perpetual rain.

At some points in the river the current runs so fast that an eight-knot gasboat can barely make headway, and the wheelsman must be ever on the alert to head his craft into the proper channels and to keep out of the way of floating ice and occasional tree-trunks that some act of the river or one of its tributaries has torn from the earth.

Grim Child of Glaciers

THE Child of Glaciers is a thing of sheer beauty in the summer time. But in the winter! Men have cursed its blasting winds, its searing hardships and its treachery. Men have died on its frozen surface and have perished in its icy embrace. But the lure of gold

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Is Cassiar, B. CL, a New Klondyke?

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has been stronger than the fear of death and suffering, and when the whisper came out of the north last fall, men went over the Stikine winter trail and drove their stakes near Bill Grady’s discovery.

Old-timers of the Yukon and Alaska have mushed their dogs out of Nome and Dawson City and Whitehorse, and have worked down into the Cassiar overland via Atlin. Others have come down the coast to Wrangel and have braved the hardships of the Stikine trail. A few have struck out from Vancouver and Seattle, taking dogs with them on the steamers, and by this time have recorded their claims.

The lure of free gold strikes rich and poor, high and low alike, and those who are cursed, or blessed, with the itch of the wandering foot cannot resist its attraction. Men are not the only ones drawn into the north by the fever. The old trails could tell many tales of brave endeavor and fortitude on the part of women, and the names of some are mentioned reverently by many an old timer of the Klondike excitement and the Cassiar rush of ’75.

Last January there died in a Victoria hospital a little woman named Nellie Cashman, and if ever a musher of the north was reverenced surely it was she. Her funeral was one of the most impressive ever held in British Columbia’s capital city. Bent old men whose hands had grown hard and calloused through years of contact with the handle of shovel and pick, bared their heads as Miss Nellie Cashman was lowered into the ground. They had lost a pal, a dead game sport, a real soldier of the north.

Angel of the North

TN THE early ’70’s Nell Cashman took

part in the stampede to Dease Lake where the first placer strike in that

region had been made. Like Grady’s report, the news drifted down to the outside late in the fall. Did Nell Cashman wait for the ease and comfort of the summer trail? She did not. She was a passenger on a wrangel-bound boat in December, and in January she and a party of five men started up the river over the ice. The weather was bitterly cold; that winter the mercury used by miners at Dease Lake to catch flour gold, froze solid. Robert Sylvester, a freighter for the Sylvester Express Company, met the Cashman party on January 25, halfway between the Alaska-Canada border post and Telegraph Creek.

Miss Cashman was a nurse. The

country, or at least have a general idea of parts of it, and left it only when the news of the big strikes in the Klondike came through in ’98. They liked the Cassiar field at that time and many of them were quick to start out on the trail for the interior when the news of the strike came out last fall.

The discovery claim staked by Grady is situated on the western edge of a section of gold-bearing country estimated to be fifty miles wide and over a hundred long. This is a territory that has never been prospected, not even by the miners of the early ’70’s. There are bound to be great disappointments, and, in all probability, some important discoveries as well.

records do not show whether or not she had been trained, but her heart was right, and the fact was to bring her the deep gratitude of men, for when she arrived at Dease Lake in mid-winter it was to hear of an epidemic of scurvy in a camp further north. She hit the trail and in her capacity of nurse and bringer of civilized grub, she was the ministering angel of the camp.

The year 1877 found her in Arizona, where she followed the mining game with more or less success, grub-staking needy prospectors as well as herself. At the time of the Klondike excitement she was in the van of the stampede, and from the days of ’98 until her death most of her time was spent in the north. She staked and owned valuable mineral claims near Wiseman within the Arctic Circle, and on the strength of their possibilities she had organized “The Midnight Sun Mining Company” (no offices and no officers) and came outside in the winter of 1923-24 to raise money by sale of stock for development purposes. She was successful in her quest, and was on the long trail from Fairbanks into the diggings, when stricken with rheumatism which forced her to back-track and come outside for treatment. The outside trail proved to be her last, for she had grown old and she was forced to yield up her indomitable spirit. But wherever oldtimers foregather, mention of Nell Cashman will bring kindly thoughts into grey-heads.

The Trek of the Old Timers

THE stampede to Bill Grady’s discovery differs from other rushes in that scores of prospecters know the

Colors undeniably may be got in any and all the creeks of the Cassiar district; some of them husky enough to rattle in the pan, and the Indians of the region seem to have little difficulty in locating a specie bank somewhere in the district from which they can draw virgin gold when in need of its purchasable equivalents. It is somewhere in the Cassiar that the Indians, Simon Gun-a-Noot and Peter Ho-am-dan, brothers-in-law and companions in flight from the authorities, are reputed to have found rich placer during their exile from 1906 to 1919.

After their trial and acquittal, Guna-Noot banked a cash balance of $75,000. He claimed that he made this considerable fortune trapping in the hills during the years of his retirement. But it is recalled that the police for a considerable time kept him continually on the move so that he could have had little opportunity to attend properly an extended trap-line.

To his intimates Gun-a-Noot confided that he had placers of his own discovery upon which he could draw for the sinews of legal warfare; and when at last he determined to surrender himself to the authorities it wras not until he had secured counsel wholly to his liking.

Of course, as in every gold country, the north is filled with “lost mine” stories, and nearly every old sourdough with any encouragement at all, can spin off at least half a dozen. But it looks as though the Cassiar strike is far removed from the category of such yarns, and the smoke of many fires soon will mingle with the hunger-inducing aromas of frying bacon, boiling beans and burning bannocks.