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Alaska : its southern coast and the Sitkan Archipelago : with map and illustrations Scidmore, Eliza Ruhamah, 1856-1928 1885

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Array           ALASKA 
"Berlin, Sept. 5. — We have seen of Germany enough to show that its climate 
is neither so genial, nor its soil so fertile, nor its resources of forests and mines so 
rich as those of Southern Alaska."— William H. Seward—Travels Around the 
World, Part VI. chap. v. page 708. 
32. Franklin Street Copyright, by 

Electrotyped by 
C. J. Peters and Son, Boston. PREFACE.
These chapters are mainly a republication of the
series of letters appearing in the columns of the
Si. Louis Globe-Democrat during the summer of 1883,
and in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and the New
York Times during the summer of 1884. To readers
of those journals, and to many exchange editors, who
gave further circulation to the letters, they may carry
familiar echoes. The only excuse for offering them
in this permanent form is the wish that the comparatively unknown territory, with its matchless scenery
and many attractions, may be better known, and a
hope that those who visit it may find in this book
information that will add to their interest and enjoyment of the trip.
In rearranging the original letters many errors have
been corrected and new material incorporated. During brief summer visits it was impossible to make
any serious study, solve the mysteries of the native
people, or give other than fleeting sketches of their
out-door life and daily customs. Elaborate resumes
of the writings of Baron Wrangell and Bishop Venia-
minoff have been given by Professor Dall in his work
on "The Resources of Alaska," and by Ivan Petroff
in the Census Report of 1880 (Vol. IX.), and have IV
since been so often and so generally quoted as
hardly to demand another introduction to those
interested in ethnology. Such mention as I have
made of the traditions and customs of the Thlinkets
is condensed from many deck and table talks, and
from conversations with teachers, traders, miners, and
government officers in Alaska. Wherever possible,
credit has been given to the original sources of
information, and the "Pacific Coast Pilot" of 1883
and other government publications have been freely
consulted. The nomenclature and spelling of the
I Coast Pilot I have been followed, although to its
exactness and phonetic severity much picturesqueness
and euphony have been sacrificed.
The map accompanying the book is a reduced
section of the last general chart of Alaska published
by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, and
is reproduced here by the permission of the compiler,
Prof. William H. Dall.
Of the illustrations, the cut of the Indian grave at
Fort Wrangell was one accompanying an article
published in Harper s Weekly, August 30, 1884, and
other pictures- have been presented to readers of the
Wide Awake magazine of March, 1885. For views
of the Davidson glacier, the North River, and the top
of the Muir glacier, and the interior of the Greek
Church at Sitka, from which cuf?were made, I am
indebted to a daring and successful amateur photographer of San Francisco, to whom especial credit is
To the officers of the ship and agents of the
company I have to express appreciation of the favors
and  courtesies   extended by them  to  my  friends PREFACE.
and to myself. Each summer I bought my long
purple ticket, reading from Portland to Sitka and
return, with pleasurable anticipations ; and all of them
— and more — being realized, I yielded up the last
coupons with regret.
For information given and assistance rendered in
the course of this work I am under obligations to
many people. I would particularly make my acknowledgments in this place to Prof. William H.
Dall, Capt. James C. Carroll, Hon. Frederic W.
Seward, Prof. John Muir, Prof. George Davidson,
Capt. R. W. Meade, U.S.N., Capt. C. L. Hooper,
U.S.R.M., and Hon. J. G. Swan.
E.  R.  S.
Washington, D. C, March 15, 1885.  CONTENTS.
The  Start—Port  Townsend — Victoria — Na-
The British Columbia Coast and Tongass
Cape Fox and Naha Bay	
Kasa-an Bay	
Fort Wrangell and the Stikine    .   .   .
Wrangell Narrows and Taku Glaciers
Juneau,   Silver  Bow Basin, and Douglass
land Mines	
The Chilkat Country  ....
Bartlett Bay and the Hooniahs
Muir Glacier and Idaho Inlet
Sitka—The Castle and the Greek Churc
Sitka—The Indian Rancherie
Sitka—Suburbs and Climate
Sitka—An Historical Sketch
Sitka — History Succeeding the Transfer
Education in Alaska	
Peril Straits and Kootznahoo    .
klllisnoo and the land of kakes
The Prince of Wales Island
howkan, or kaigahnee    .'   .
The Metlakatlah Mission   .
Homeward Bound	
The Treaty and Congressional Papers
Map of Alaska Frontispiece
Three Carved Spoons and Shaman's Rattle  38
Totem Poles at Fort Wrangell  ci
Grave at Fort Wrangell eg
Silver Bracelets and Labrettes  61
A Thlinket Basket  90
The Davidson Glacier  103
Chilkat Blanket  106
Thlinket Bird-Pipe (Side and bottom)  127
Diagram of the Muir Glacier  133
River on North Side of the Muir Glacier  137
Glacier Bay—Front of the Muir Glacier  141
Section of the Muir Glacier (Top)  144
Section of the Muir Glacier (Front)  147
Sitka  155
The Greek Church at Sitka   ..."  162
Interior of the Greek Church at Sitka  165
Easter Decorations in the Greek Church at Sitka    . 167
Basket Weavers at Killisnoo  25
Indian Pipe  268
Totem Poles at Kaigahnee or Howkan  273
The Chief's Residence at Kaigahnee, showing Totem
Poles  274
Halibut Hook  276
ALTHOUGH Alaska is nine times as large as
the group of New England States, twice the
size of Texas, and three times that of California, a
false impression prevails that it is all one barren,
inhospitable region, wrapped in snow and ice the
year round. The fact is overlooked that a territory
stretching more than a thousand miles from north to
south, and washed by the warm currents of the Pacific
Ocean, may have a great range and diversity of climate within its borders. The jokes and exaggerations that passed current at the time of the Alaska
purchase, in 1867, have fastened themselves upon the
public mind, and by constant repetition been accepted
as facts. For this reason the uninitiated view the
country as a vast ice reservation, and appear to believe that even the summer tourist must undergo the
perils of the Franklin Search and the Greeley Relief
Expeditions to reach any part of Alaska. The official
records can hardly convince them that the winters at SOUTHERN ALASKA.
Sitka are milder than at New York, and the summers
delightfully cool and temperate.
In the eastern States less has been heard of the
Yukon than of the country of the Congo, and the
wonders of the Stikine, Taku, and Chilkat rivers are
unknown to those who have travelled far to view the
less' impressive scenery of the Scandinavian coast.
Americans climb the well-worn route to Alpine summits every year, while the highest mountain in North
America is unsurveyed, and only approximate estimates have been made of its heights. The whole
580,107 square miles of the territory are almost as
good as unexplored, and among the islands of the
archipelago over 7,000 miles of coast are untouched
and primeval forests.
The Pribyloff or Seal Islands have usurped all
interest in Alaska, and these two little fog-bound
islands in Behring Sea, that are too small to be
marked on an ordinary map, have had more attention
drawn to them than any other part of the territory.
The rental of the islands of St. Paul and St. George,
and the taxes on the annual one hundred thousand
sealskins, pays into the treasury each year more than
four per cent interest on the $7,200,000 originally
paid to Russia for its possessions in North America.
This fact is unique in the history of our purchased
territories, and justifies Secretary Seward's efforts in
acquiring it.
The neglect of Congress to provide any form of
civil government or protection for the inhabitants
checked all progress and enterprise, and kept the
country in the background for seventeen years. With
the development of the Pacific northwest, settlements, THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
mining-camps, and fisheries have been slowly growing,
and increasing in numbers in the southeastern part of
Alaska, adjoining British Columbia. The prospectors and the hardy pioneers, who seek the setting sun
and follow the frontiers westward, were attracted
there by the gold discoveries in 1880, and the impetus
then given was not allowed to subside.
Pleasure-travellers have followed the prospectors'
lead, as it became known that some of the grandest
scenery of the continent is to be found along the
Alaska coast, in the region of the Alexander or Sitkan
Archipelago, and the monthly mail steamer is crowded
with tourists during the summer season. It is one of
the easiest and most delightful trips to go up the
coast by the inside passage and cruise through the
archipelago ; and in voyaging past the unbroken wilderness of the island shores, the tourist feels quite
like an explorer penetrating unknown lands. The
mountain range that walls the Pacific coast from the
Antarctic to the Arctic gives a bold and broken front
to the mainland, and everyone of the eleven hundred
islands of the archipelago is but a submerged spur or
peak of the great range. Many of the islands, are
larger than Massachusetts or New Jersey, but none
of them have been wholly explored, nor is the survey
of their shores completed. The Yosemite walls and
cascades are repeated in mile after mile of deep saltwater channels, and from the deck of an ocean
steamer one views scenes not paralleled after long
rides and climbs in the heart of the Sierras. The
gorges and canons of Colorado are surpassed ; mountains that tower above Pike's Peak rise in steep incline from the still level of the sea; and the shores SOUTHERN ALASKA.
are clothed with forests and undergrowth dense and
impassable as the tangle of a Florida swamp. On
these summer trips the ship runs into the famous
inlets on the mainland shore and anchors before vast
glaciers that push their icy fronts down into the sea.
The still waters of the inside passage give smooth
sailing nearly all of the way; and, living on an ocean
steamer for three and four weeks, one only feels the
heaving of the Pacific swells while crossing the short
stretches of Queen Charlotte Sound and Dixon Entrance.
The Alaska steamer, however, is a perfect will o' the
wisp for a landsman to pursue, starting sometimes
from Portland and sometimes from San Francisco,
adapting its schedule to emergencies and going as
the exigencies of the cargo demand. It clears from
Puget Sound ports generally during the first days of
each month, but in midwinter it arranges its departure so as to have the light of the full moon in the
northern ports, where the sun sets at three and four
o'clock on December afternoons.
When the steamer leaves Portland for Alaska, it
goes down the Columbia River, up the coast of Washington Territory, and, reaching Victoria and Port
Townsend three days later, takes on the mails, and
the freight shipped from San Francisco, and then
clears for the north. The traveller who dreads the
Columbia River bar and the open ocean can go across
overland to Puget Sound, and thence by the Sound
steamers to whichever port the Alaska steamer may
please to anchor in.
The first time that I essayed the Alaska trip,
the steamship Idaho with its shining black hull, its THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
trim spars, and row of white cabins on deck, slipped
down the Columbia River one Friday night, and on
Monday morning we left Portland to overtake it. It
was a time of forest fires, and a cloud of ignorance
brooded over Puget Sound, only equalled in density
by the clouds of smoke that rolled from the burning
forests on shore, and there was an appalling scarcity
of shipping news. The telegraph lines were down
between the most important points, and the Fourth
of July fever was burning so fiercely in patriotic veins
that no man had a clear enough brain to tell us where
the ship Idaho was, had gone to, or was going to.
For two restless and uncertain days we see-sawed
from British to American soil, going back and forth
from Victoria to Port Townsend as we were in turn assured that the ship lay at anchor at one place, would
not go to the other, and that we ran the risk of losing
the whole trip if we did not immediately embark for
the opposite shore. The dock hands came to know
us, the pilots touched their hats to us, the agents
fled from their ticket-offices at sight of us, and I think
even the custom-house officers must have watched
suspiciously, when the same two women and one
small boy paced impatiently up and down the various
wharves at that end of Puget Sound. We saw the
Union Jack float and heard the American eagle
scream on the Fourth of July, and after a night of
fire-crackers, bombs, and inebriate chorus-singing,
the Idaho came slipping into the harbor of Port
Townsend as innocently as a messenger of peace,
and fired a shot from a wicked little cannon, that
started the very foundations of the town with its
echoes. mmmmmuM
Port Townsend, at the entrance of Puget Sound, is
the last port of entry and custom-house in the United
States, and the real point of departure for the Alaska
steamers. It was named by Vancouver in 1792 for
his friend, " the most noble Marquis of Townsend,"
and scorning the rivalry of the new towns at the -
head of Puget Sound, believes itself destined to be
the final railway terminus and the future great city of
this extreme northwest. The busy and thriving little
town lies at the foot of a steep bluff, and an outlying
suburb of residences stretches along the grassy
-heights above. A steep stairway, and several zig-zag
walks and roads connect the business part of" Port
Townsend with the upper town, and it argues strong
lungs and a goat-like capacity for climbing on the
part of the residents, who go up and down the stairway several times a day. A marine hospital flies the
national flag from a point on the bluff, and four miles
west on the curve of the bay lies Fort Townsend,
where a handful of United States troops keep up the
traditions of an army and a military post. Near the
fort is the small settlement of Irondale, where the
crude bog ore of the spot is successfully melted with
Texada iron ore, brought from a small island in the
Gulf of Georgia. The sand spit on which Port
Townsend society holds its summer clam-bakes, and
the home of the "Duke of York," the venerable
chief of the Clallam tribe, are points of interest
about the shores.
Across the Straits of Fuca there is the pretty
English town of Victoria, that has as solid mansions,
as well-built roads, and as many country homes
around it, as any little town on the home island.    It THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
has an intricate land-locked harbor, where the tides
rush in and out in a way that defies reason, and none
have ever yet been able to solve the puzzle and
make out a tide-table for that harbor. All Victoria
breathes the atmosphere of a past and greater grandeur, and the citizens feelingly revert to the time
when British Columbia was a separate colony by
itself, and Victoria the seat of the miniature court
of the Governor-General and commander-in-chief of
its forces. There is no real joy in the celebration
of "Dominion Day," which reminds them of how
British Columbia and the two provinces of Canada
were made one under the specious promise of a connecting railway. Recent visits of Lord Dufferin and
the Marquis of Lome stilled some of the disaffection, and threats of annexation to the United States
are less frequent now.
Victoria has " the perfect climate," according to the
Princess Louise and other sojourners, and there is a
peace and rest in the atmosphere that charms the
briefest visitor. Every one takes life easily, and
things move in a slow and accustomed groove, as if
sanctioned by the custom of centuries on the same
spot. Business men hardly get down town before ten
o'clock in the morning, and by four in the afternoon
they are striding and riding off to their homes, as if
the fever and activity of American trade and competition were far away and unheard of. The clerk at
the post-office window turns a look of surprise upon
the stranger, and bids him go across the street, or
down a block, and buy his postage-stamps at a stationer's shop, to be sure.
The second summer that my compass was set for 8 SOUTHERN ALASKA.
the nor'-norwest, our party of three spent a week at
Victoria before the steamer came in from San Francisco, and the charm of the place grew upon us every
day. The drives about the town, along the island
shores, and through the woods, are beautiful, and the
heavy, London-built carriages roll over hard and perfect English highways. Ferns, growing ten and
twelve feet high by the roadside, amazed us beyond
expression, until a loyal and veracious citizen of
Oregon assured us that ferns eighteen feet high could
be found anywhere in the woods back of Astoria; and
that he had often been lost in fern prairies among the
Cascade mountains, where the fronds arched far above
his head when he was mounted on a horse. Wild
rose-bushes are matted together by the acre in the
clearings about the town, and in June they weight the
air with their perfume, as they did a century ago,
when Marchand, the old French voyager, compared
the region to the rose-covered slopes of Bulgaria.
The honeysuckle attains the greatest perfection in
this climate, and covers and smothers the cottages
and trellises with thickly-set blossoms. Even the
currant-bushes grow to unusual height, and in many
gardens they are trained on arbors and hang their
red, ripe clusters high overhead.
For a few days we watched anxiously every trail of
smoke in the Straits of Fuca, and at last welcomed
the ship, one sunny morning, when the whole Olympic
range stood like a sapphire wall across the Straits,
and the Angels' Gate gave a clear view of more
azure slopes and snow-tipped summits through that
gap in the mountain front. Instead of the trim
propeller Idaho, the old side-wheeler, the Ancon, was THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
put on the Alaska route for the summer months,
and the fact of its having taken five days for the trip
up from San Francisco did not prepossess us with
any false notions of its speed. The same captain
and officers from the Idaho were on board, and after
making the tour of Puget Sound again, we were quite
resigned to the change of ships by the time we
finally left Victoria.
At Victoria the steward buys~ his last supplies
for the coming weeks of great appetites; for with
smooth water and the tonic of sea and mountain
air both, the passengers make great inroads on the
ship's stores. The captain often affects dismay at
the way the provisions disappear, and threatens to
take an account of stores at Sitka and bring the ship
down by the outside passage in order to save some
profit for the company. During the last hours at
the Victoria wharf, several wagon-loads of meat had
been put in the ice-boxes of the Ancon, when some
live beef came thundering down the wharf, driven
by hallooing horsemen. Each month the ship takes
up these live cattle and sheep, and leaving them to
fatten on the luxurious grasses of Sitka, insures a
fresh supply of fresh beef for the return voyage. It
was within half an hour of sailing-time when the
herders drove the sleek fellows down to the wharf,
and for an hour there was a scene that surpassed anything under a circus tent or within a Spanish arena.
The sailors and stevedores had a proper respect for
the bellowing beasts, and kept their distance, as they
barricaded them into a corner of the wharf. The
ship's officer who had charge of loading the cargo is "a
salt, salt sailor," with a florid complexion; and it was 10
his brave part to advance, flap his arms, and say
" Shoo !" and then fly behind the first man or barrel,
or dodge into the warehouse door. The crowd gathered and increased, the eighty passengers, disregarding all signs and rules, mounted on the paddle-boxes
and clung to the ratlines forward, applauded the
picador and the matador, and hummed suggestive airs
from Carmen. When the lasso was fastened round
one creature's horns, and his head was drawn down
close to a pile, there were nervous moments when we
waited to see the herder tossed on high, or else voluntarily leaping into the water to escape the savage
prods of the enraged beast. There was great delay
in getting the belts ready to put round the animals
so that they could be swung over into the ship, and
while the great bull-fight was in progress and the
hour of sailing had come, the captain rode down the
wharf in a carriage, strode on to the ship and demanded, in a stiff, official tone, " How long have these
cattle been here ?" | More than an hour, sir, replied
the mate. " Turn those cattle loose and draw in the
gang-plank," was the brief order from the bridge, and
the one warning shriek of the whistle scattered the
spectators and sent the excited beasts galloping up
the wharf. While the gang-plank was being withdrawn, two Chinamen came down on a dog trot,
hidden under bundles of blankets, with balanced baskets across their shoulders, and pickaxes, pans, antl
mining tools in their arms. Without a tremor the
two Johns walked out on the swaying plank, and,
stepping across a gap of more than two feet, landed
safely on deck, bound and equipped for the deserted
placer mines on Stikine River. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
We left Victoria at noon, and all the afternoon
the passengers gave their preliminary ohs ! and ahs !
strewed the decks with exclamation points, and buried
their heads in their pink-covered maps of British
Columbia, while the ship ran through narrow channels and turned sharp curves around the picturesque
islands for the possession of which England and
America nearly went to war. San Juan Island, with its
limekilns, its gardens, meadows, and browsing sheep,
was as pretty and pastoral a spot as nations ever
wrangled about, and the Emperor of Germany did
just the right thing when he drew his imperial pencil
across the maps and gave this garden spot of San
Juan to the United States. The beautiful scenery of
the lower end of the Gulf of Georgia fitly introduces
one to the beauties of the inland passage which winds
for nearly a thousand miles between the islands that
fringe this northwest coast, and even the most captious travellers forgot fancied grievances over state-
rooms, table seats, and baggage regulations. The
exhausted purser, who had been persecuted all day
by clamoring passengers and anxious shippers, was
given a respite, and all was peace, satisfaction, and joy
on board. In the nine o'clock gloaming we rounded
the most northern lighthouse that gleams on this
shore of the Pacific, and, winding in and through the
harbor of Nanaimo, dropped anchor in Departure
The coal mines of Nanaimo have given it a commercial importance upon which it bases hopes of a
great future; but it has no bustling air to it, to impress the stranger from over the border with that
prospect.    In early days it was an important trading- 12
post of the Hudson Bay Company, and a quaint old
block-house still stands as a relic of the times when
the Indian canoes used to blacken the beach at the
seasons of the great trades. The traders first opened
the coal seams near Nanaimo, and thirty years ago
used to pay the Indians one blanket for every eight
barrels of coal brought out.
Geologists have hammered their way all up the
Pacific Coast without finding a trace of true coal, and
on account of the recent geological formation of the
country they consider further search useless. The
nearest to true coal that has been found was the coal
seam on the Arctic shore of Alaska near Cape Lis-
burn. Captain Hooper, U. S. R. M., found the vein,
and his vessel, the Corwin, was supplied with coal
from it during an Arctic cruise in 1880. Otherwise,
the lignite beds of Vancouver Island supply the best
steaming coal that can be had on the coast, and a
fleet of colliers ply between Nanaimo and the chief
ports on the Pacific.
The mines nearest the town of Nanaimo were exhausted soon after they were worked systematically,
and operations were transferred to Newcastle Island
in the harbor opposite the town. A great fire in
the Newcastle mine obliged the owners to close and
abandon it, and the whole place stands as it was
left, the cabins and works dropping slowly to decay.
Even the quarry from which the fine stone was taken
for the United States Mint at San Francisco is abandoned, and its broken derricks and refuse heaps
make a forlorn break in the beauty of the mild
shores of the island.
Richard Dunsmuir found the Wellington mines at THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
Departure Bay by accident, his horse stumbling on a
piece of lignite coal as he rode down through the
woods one day. The admiral of the British fleet and
one other partner ventured £1,000 each in developing the mine, and at the end of ten years the admiral
withdrew with .£50,000 as his share, and a year since
the other partner sold out his interests to Mr. Duns-
muir for £150,000. At present the mines pay a
monthly profit of £8,000, and Yankee engineers claim
that that income might be doubled if the mines were
worked on a larger scale, as, with duty included, this
black lignite commands the highest price and is most
in demand in all the cities of California and Oregon.
Mr. Dunsmuir is the prime mover in building the
Island railway, which is to connect Nanaimo with the
naval harbor of Esquimault near Victoria. Charles
Crocker and Leland Stanford of the Central Pacific
road are connected with Mr. Dunsmuir in this undertaking, and to induce these capitalists to take hold of
it the colonial government gave a land grant twenty-
five miles wide along the whole seventy miles of the
railroad, with all the timber and mineral included.
The great Wellington mines have had their strikes,
and after the last one the white workmen were supplanted by Chinese, who, though wanting the brawn
and muscle of the Irishmen, could work in the sulphur
formations without injuring their eyes. By an explosion of fire-damp in May, 1884, many lives were lost,
and gloom was cast over the little settlement on the
sunny bay.
On this lee shore of Vancouver Island the climate
is even softer and milder than at Victoria, and during
my three visits Nanaimo has always been steeped in 14
a golden calm of steady, sunshine. While waiting for
the three or four hundred tons of coal to be dropped
into the hold, carload by carload, the passengers
amuse themselves by visiting the quiet little town,
stirring up the local trade, and busying the postmaster and the telegraph operator A small boy
steers and commands the comical little steam-tug that
is omnibus and street car for the Nanaimo and Wellington people, and makes great profits while passenger steamers are coaling.
When all the anglers, the hunters, the botanists
and the geologists had gone their several ways
from the ship one coaling day, the captain made a
diversion for the score of ladies left behind, by ordering out a lifeboat, and having the little tug tow us
around the bay and over to Nanaimo. When the
ladies had all scattered into the various shops, the captain made the tour of the town and found that there
was not a trout to be had in that market. Then he
arranged that if the returning fishermen came back
to the ship in the evening and laid their strings of
trout triumphantly on deck, a couple of Indians should
force their way into the admiring crowd" and demand
pay for fish sold to the anglers. Can any one picture that scene and the effect of the joke, when it
dawned upon the group ?
A great bonfire on the beach in the evening
rounded off that coaling day, and the captain declared the celebration to be in honor of Cleveland
and Hendricks, who had that day been nominated
at the National Democratic Convention in Chicago.
Although the partisans of the other side declined to
consider it a ratification meeting on British soil, they THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
helped heap up the burning logs and drift-wood until
the whole bay was lighted with the flames. With
blue lights, fire-crackers, rockets and pistol-popping
the f&te continued, the Republicans deriding all
boasts and prophecies of their opponents, until the
commander threatened to drop them on some deserted island off the course until after the election.
History has since set its seal upon the prophecies
then made, and some of the modest participants of
the Democratic faith think their international bonfire assisted in the result. 16
IF Claude Melnotte had wanted to paint a fairer
picture to his lady, he should have told Pauline
of this glorious northwest coast, fringed with islands,
seamed with fathomless channels of clear, green, sea
water, and basking in the soft, mellow radiance of this
summer sunshine. The scenery gains everything
from being translated through the medium of a soft,
pearly atmosphere, where the light is as gray and
evenly diffused as in Old England itself. The distant mountain ranges are lost in the blue vaporous
shadows, and nearer at hand the masses and outlines
show in their pure contour without the obtrusion of
all the garish details that rob so many western mountain scenes of their grander effects. The calm of the
brooding air, the shimmer of the opaline sea around
one, and the ranges of green and russet hills, misty
purple mountains, and snowy summits on the faint
horizon, give a dream-like coloring to all one's
thoughts. A member of the Canadian Parliament, in
speaking of this coast country of British Columbia,
called it the " sea of mountains " and the channels of
the ocean through which one winds for days are but as
endless valleys and steep canons between the peaks
and ranges that rise abruptly from the water's edge. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
Only the fiords and inlets of the coast of Norway,
and the wooded islands in the Inland Sea of Japan,
present anything like a counterpart to the wonderful
scenery of these archipelagos of the North Pacific.
From the head of Puget Sound to the mouth of the
Chilkat River there are se'ven hundred and thirty-two
miles of latitude, and the trend of the coast and the
ship's windings between and around the islands make
it an actual voyage of more than a thousand miles
on inland waters.
The Strait or Gulf of Georgia, that separates Vancouver's Island from the mainland, although widening
at times to forty miles, is for the most part like a
broad river or lake, landlocked, walled by high mountain ranges on both sides, and choked at either end
with groups of islands. The mighty current of the
Frazer River rolls a pale green flood of fresh water
into it at the southern entrance, and the river water,
with its different density and temperature floating on
the salt water, and cutting through it in a body, shows
everywhere a sharply defined line of separation. In
the broad channels schools of whales are often seen
spouting and leaping, and on a lazy, sunny afternoon,
while even the mountains seemed dozing in the wave-
less calm, the idlers on the after deck were roused by
the cry of "Whales !" For an hour we watched the
frolicking of the snorting monsters, as they spouted
jets of water, arched their black backs and fins above
the surface, and then disappeared with perpendicular
whisks of their huge tails.
Toward the north end of Vancouver's Island, where
Valdes Island is wedged in between it and the mainland shore, the ship enters Discovery Pass, in which 18
are the dangerous tide rips of Seymour Narrows. The
tides rushing in and out of the Strait of Georgia dash
through this rocky gorge at the rate of four and eight
knots an hour on the turn, and the navigators time
their sailing hours so as to reach this perilous place
in daylight and at the flood tide. Even at that time
the water boils in smooth eddies and deep whirlpools,
and a ship is whirled half round on its course as it
threads the narrow pass between the reefs. At other
times the water dashes over the rapids and raises
great waves that beat back an opposing bow, and the
dullest landsman on the largest ship appreciates the
real dangers of the run through this wild ravine,
where the wind races with the water and howls in
the rigging after the most approved fashion for thrilling marine adventures. Nautical gossips tell one of
vessels that, steaming against the furious tide, have
had their paddle wheels reversed by its superior
strength, and have been swept back to wait the favorable minutes of slack water. Others, caught by the
opposing current, are said to have been slowly forced
back, or, steaming at full speed, have not gained an
inch of headway for two hours. The rise and fall of
the tides is thirteen feet in these narrows, and although there are from twenty to sixty fathoms of
water in the true channel, there is an ugly ledge and
isolated rocks in the middle of the pass on which
there are only two and a quarter fathoms. Long before Vancouver carried his victorious ensign through
these unknown waters, the Indians had known and
dreaded these rapids as the abode of an evil spirit,
and for half a century the adventurous Hudson Bay
traders went warily through the raging whirlpools. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
Although the British Admiralty have made careful
surveys, and the charts are in the main accurate,
there have been serious wrecks on this part of the
coast. The United States man-of-war Saranac was
lost in Seymour Narrows on the 18th of June, 1875.
The Saranac was an old side-wheel steamer of the
second rate in naval classification, carrying eleven
guns, and was making its third trip to Alaskan
waters. There was an unusually low tide the morning the Saranac entered the pass, and the ship was
soon caught in the wild current, and sent broadside
on to the mid-rock. It swung off, and was headed
for the Vancouver shore, and made fast with hawsers
to the trees, but there was only time to lower a boat
with provisions and the more important papers before
the Saranac sunk, and not even the masts were left
visible. The men camped on shore while a party
went in the small boats to Nanaimo for help. No
attempt was ever made to raise the ship, and in the
investigation it was shown that the boilers were in
such a condition when they reached Victoria, that
striking the rock in Seymour Narrows was only one
of the perils that awaited those on board. No lives
were lost by this disaster, and Dr. Bessels, of the
Smithsonian Institute, who was on his way up the coast
to make a collection of Indian relics for the Centennial Exposition, showed a scientist's zeal in merely
regretting the delay, and continuing on his journey
by the first available craft. In April, 1883, the
steamer Grappler, which plied between Victoria and
the trading-posts on the west coast, took fire late at
night, just as it was entering Seymour Narrows.
The flames reached  the hempen rudder-ropes, and 20
the boat was soon helplessly drifting into the rapids.
Flames and clouds of smoke made it difficult to
launch the boats, and all but one were swamped.
The frantic passengers leaped overboard while the
ship was whirling and careening in the rapids, and
the captain, with life-preserver on, was swept off,
and disappeared in midstream. The Grappler finally
drifted in to the Vancouver shore, and burned until
daylight. Another United States war vessel, the
Suwanee was lost a hundred miles beyond the Seymour Narrows by striking an unknown rock at the
entrance to Queen Charlotte Sound.
In crossing this forty-mile stretch of Queen Charlotte Sound the voyager feels the swell, and touches
the outer ocean for the first time. If the wind is
strong there may be a chopping sea, but in general it
is a stilled expanse on which fog and mist eternally
brood. The Kuro Siwo, or Black Stream, or Japan
Current, of the Pacific, which corresponds to the
Gulf Stream of the Atlantic, touches the coast near
this Sound, and the colder air from the land striking
this warm river of the sea produces the heavy vapors
which lie in impenetrable banks for miles, or float in
filmy and downy clouds along the green mountain
shores. It is this warm current which modifies the
climate of the whole Pacific coast, bends the isothermal lines northward, and makes temperature
depend upon the distance from the sea instead of
upon distance from the equator. Bathed in perpetual
fog, like the south coast of England and Ireland,
there is a climatic resemblance in many ways between the islands of Great Britain and the islands of
the British Columbia shore.    The constant moisture THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
and the long days force vegetation like a hothouse,
and the density of the forests and the luxuriance of
the undergrowth are equalled only in the tropics.
The pine-trees cover the mountain slopes as thickly
as the grass on a hillside, and as fires have never
destroyed the forests, only the spring avalanches and
land-slides break their continuity. There is an inside passage between the mountains from Queen
Charlotte to Milbank Sound that gave us an afternoon and evening in the midst of fine scenery, but
for another whole day we passed through the grandest of fiords on the British Columbia coast.
The sun rose at three o'clock on that rare summer
morning, when the ship thrust her bow into the clear,
mirror-like waters of the Finlayson Channel, and at
four o'clock a dozen passengers were up in front
watching the matchless panorama of mountain walls
that slipped silently past us. The clear, soft light,
the pure air, and the stillness of sky, and shore, and
water, in the early morning, made it seem like the
dawn of creation in some new paradise. The breath
of the sea and the breath of the pine forest were
blended in the air, and the silence and calm added to
the inspiration of the surroundings. The eastern
wall of the channel lay in pure shadow, the forest
slopes were deep unbroken waves of green, with a
narrow base-line of sandstone washed snowy white,
and beneath that every tree and twig lay reflected in
the still mirror of waters of a deeper, purer, and softer
green than the emerald.
The marks of the spring avalanches were white
scars on the face of the mountains, and the course
of preceding landslides showed in the paler green of 22
the ferns, bushes, and the dense growth of young
trees that quickly cover these places. Cliffs of the
color and boldness of the Yosemite walls shone in
the sunlight on the opposite side, and wherever there
were snowbanks on the summits, or lakes in the
hollows and amphitheatres back of the mountain
ridge, foaming white cataracts tumbled down the
sheer walls into the green sea water. Eagles soared
overhead in long, lazy sweeps, and hundreds of
young ducks fluttered away from the ship's bow, and
dived at the sharp echoes of a rifle shot. In this
Finlayson Channel the soundings give from 50 to 130
fathoms, and from the surface of these still, deep
waters the first timbered slopes of the mountains rise
nearly perpendicularly for 1,500 feet, and their snow-
crowned summits reach 3,000 feet above their perfect
reflections. From a width of two miles at the entrance, the pass narrows one half, and then by a turn
around an island the ship enters Tolmie and Fraser
channels, which repeat the same wonders in bolder
forms, and on deeper waters. At the end of that
last fiord, where submerged mountain peaks stand as
islands, six diverging channels appear, and the intricacy of the inside passage up the coast is as marvellous now, as when Vancouver dropped his anchor in
this Wright Sound, puzzled as to which way he
should turn to reach the ocean. Finer even than the
three preceding fiords is the arrowy reach of Gren-
ville Channel, which is a narrow cleft in the mountain range, forty-five miles long, and with scarcely a
curve to break the bold palisade of its walls. In
the narrowest part it is not a quarter of a mile in
width ; and the forest walls, and bold granite cliffs. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
•rising there to their greatest height, give back an
echo many times before it is lost in long reverberations.
Emerging from Grenville Channel, the church and
houses of Metlakatlah, the one model missionary
settlement on the coast, and an Arcadian village of
civilized and Christianized Indians, were seen shining
in the afternoon sun. At that point the water is
tinged a paler green by the turbid currents of the
Skeena River, and up that river the newest El Dorado has lately been found. Miners have gone up in
canoes, and fishermen have dropped their lines and
joined them in the hunt for gold, which is found in
nuggets from the size of a pea to solid chunks worth
$20 and $60. "Jerry," the first prospector, took out
$600 in two days, and in the same week two miners
panned out $680 in six hours. One nugget, taken
from a crevice in a rock, was sent down to Victoria,
and found to be pure gold and worth $26. Other
consignments of treasure following, that quiet colonial town has been shaken by a gold fever that is
sending all the adventurous spirits off to the Lome
Creek mines.
Before the sunset hour we crossed Dixon Entrance-
and the famous debatable line of 590 40', and the
patriots who said the northern boundary of the
United States should be " Fifty-fime^Forty, or Fight,"
are best remembered now, when it is seen that the
Alaska possessions begin at that line. We were within
the Alaska boundaries and standing'on United States
soil again at the fishing station of Tongass, on Wales
Island. It is a wild and picturesque little place, tucked
away in the folds of the hills and islands, and the ship 24
rounded many points before it dropped anchor in
front of two new wooden houses on a rocky shore that
constituted Tongass. A cluster of bark huts and
tents further down the beach was the home of the
Indians who catch, salt, and barrel the salmon. There
was one white man as host at the fish house, a fur-
capped, sad-eyed mortal, who wistfully said that he
had not been i below " in seven years, and entertained
us with the sight of his one hundred and forty barrels of salmon, and the vats and scow filled with
split and salted or freshly caught fish. He showed
us a string of fine trout that set the amateur fishermen wild, and then gallantly offered to weigh the
ladies on his new scales. Over in the group of Tongass Indians, sitting stolidly in a row before their
houses, there was a | one-moon-old " baby that gave
but a look at the staring white people, and then sent
up one pitiful little barbaric yawp. A clumsy, flat-
bottomed scow was rowed slowly out to the steamer,
and while the salt, the barrel hoops, barrel staves, and
groceries were unloaded to it from the ship, a ball
was begun on deck. A merry young miner bound
for the Chilkat country gave rollicking old tunes on
his violin, and a Juneau miner called off figures that
convulsed the dancers and kept the four sets flying on
the after deck. | The winnowing sound of dancers'
feet" and the scrape of the fiddle brought a few Indian women out in canoes, and they paddled listlessly
around the stern, talking in slow gutturals of the
strange performances of the " Boston people," as all
United States citizens have been termed by them
since Captain Gray and John Jacob Astor's ships
first came to the Northwest coast.    At half-past ten THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
o'clock daylight still lingered on the sky, and the
Chicago man gravely read a page of a Lake Shore
railroad time-table in fine print for a test, and then
went solemnly to bed, six hundred miles away from
the rest of the United States. 26
FROM the Tongass fishery, which is some miles
below the main village of the Tongass Indians
and the deserted fort where United States troops
were once stationed, the ship made its way by night
to Cape Fox. At this point on the mainland shore,
beyond Fort Tongass, the Kinneys, the great salmon
packers of Astoria, have a cannery that is one of the
model establishments up here. Two large buildings
for the cannery, two houses, a store, and the scattered
line of log houses, bark houses and tents of the Indian village, are all that one sees from the water. In
the cannery most of the work is done by the Indians,
but a few Chinamen perform the work which requires
a certain amount of training and mechanical skill.
The Indians cast the nets and bring in the shining
silver fish with their deep moss-green backs and fierce
mouths, and heap them in slippery piles in an outside
shed overhanging the water. A Chinaman picks
them up with a long hook, and, laying them in a row
across a table, goes through a sleight-of-hand performance with a sharp knife, which in six minutes
leaves twenty salmon shorn of their heads, tails, fins,
and inwards. Experienced visitors to such places took
out their watches and timed him, and in ten seconds THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
a fish was put through his first rough process of trimming, and passed on to men who washed it, cleaned
it more thoroughly, scraped off a few scales, and by
a turn of revolving knives cut it in sections the
length of a can. Indian women packed the tins,
which were soldered, plunged into vats of boiling
water, tested, resoldered, laquered, labelled, and
"packed in boxes in quick routine. There was the
most perfect cleanliness about the cannery, and the
salmon itself is only touched after the last washing
by the fingers of the Indian women, who fill the cans
with solid pieces of bright red flesh. In 1883 there
were 3,784 cases of canned salmon shipped from
this establishment as the result of the first season's
venture. In the following year, 1,156 cases were
shipped by the July steamer, and the total for the
season was about double that of the preceding year.
Owing to the good salmon season and the steady
employment given them at the cannery, the Indians held their things so high that even the most
insatiate and abandoned curio-buyers made no purchases, although there has been regret ever since at
the thought of the wide old bracelets and the finely-
woven hats that they let escape them. At Cape
Fox a shrewd Indian came aboard, and spied the
amateur photographer taking groups on deck. Immediately he was eager to be taken as well, and followed
the camera around, repeating, " How much Siwash
picture ? " He was not to be appeased by any statements about the photographer doing his work for his
own amusement, and pleaded so hard that the artist
finally relented and turned his camera upon him.
The Indian stiffened himself into his most rigid atti- 28
tude, when directed to a corner of the deck between
two lifeboats, and when the process was over he could
hardly be made to stir from his pose. When we
pressed him to tell us what he wanted his picture for,
he chuckled like any civilized swain, and confessed
the whole sentimental story by the mahogany blush
that mantled his broad cheeks.
Up Revillagigedo Channel the scenery is more like
that of the Scotch lakes, broad expanses of water
walled by forest ridges and mountains that in certain
lights show a glow like blooming heather on their
sides. The Tongass Narrows, which succeed this
channel of the long name, give more views of canons filled with water,- winding between high bluffs
and sloping summits. It was a radiant sunny morning when we steamed slowly through these beautiful
waterways, and at noon the ship turned into a long
green inlet on the Revillagigedo shore, and cast anchor at the head of Naha Bay. Of all the lovely
spots in Alaska, commend me to this little landlocked
bay, where the clear green waters are stirred with the
leaping of thousands of salmon, and the shores are
clothed with an enchanted forest of giant pines, and
the undergrowth is a tangle of ferns and salmon-berry
bushes, and the ground and every log are covered
with wonderful mosses, into which the foot sinks at
every step.
The splash of the leaping salmon was on every-
side and at every moment, and the sight of the large
fish jumping above the surface and leaping through
the air caused the excitable passenger at the stern to
nearly capsize the small boat and steer wildly. As
the sailors rowed the boat up the narrow bay, where THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
the ship could barely swing round with the tide, the
Chicago man pensively observed: " There's a thousand dollars jumping in the air every ten minutes !".
The anglers were maddened at the sight of these
fish, for although these wild northern salmon can
sometimes be deluded by trolling with a spoon-hook,
they have no taste for such small things as flies, and
are usually caught with seines or spears, except during those unusual salmon runs when the Indians wade
in among the crowded fins and shovel the fish ashore
with their canoe paddles.
At the head of Naha Bay, over a narrow point of
land, lies a beautiful mountain lake, whose surface is a
trifle below the high-water mark, and at low tide there
is a fine cascade of fresh water foaming from between
the rocks in the narrow outlet. During the run of
salmon, the pool at the foot of the fall is crowded with
the struggling fish ; but the net is cast in the lake as
often as in the bay, and the average catch is eighty
barrels of salmon a day. The salmon are cleaned,
salted, and barrelled in a long warehouse overhanging
the falls, and a few bark houses belonging to the Indians who work in the fishery are perched picturesquely on the little wooded point between the
two waters. Floating across this lovely lake in a slimy
boat that the Indians had just emptied of its last
catch of salmon, the beauty of its shores was more
apparent, and the overhanging trees, the thickets of
ferns, bushes, and wild grasses, the network of fallen
logs hidden under their thick coating of moss; and
the glinting of the sunshine on bark and moss and
lichens, excited our wildest enthusiasm. In Alaska
one sees the greatest range of greens in nature, and 30
it is an education of the eye in that one color to study
the infinite shades, tints, tones, and suggestions of
that primary color. Of all green and verdant woods,
I know of none that so satisfy one with their rank
luxuriance, their beauty and picturesqueness; and one
feels a little sorrow for those people who, never having seen Alaska, are blindly worshipping the barren,
burnt, dried-out, starved-out forests of the East. In
still stretches of this lake at Naha there are mirrored
the snow-capped summits whose melting snows fill
its banks, and the echo from a single pistol-shot is
flung back from side to side before it dies away in
a roar. Beyond this lake there is a chain of lakes,
reached by connecting creeks and short portages,
and the few white men who have penetrated to the
farthest tarn in the heart of Revillagigedo Island say
that each lake is wilder and more lovely than the last
one. A mile below the fishery, and back in the
woods, there is a waterfall some forty feet in height;
and a mountain stream, hurrying down from the
clear pools and snow-banks on the upper heights,
takes a leap over a ledge of rocks and covers it with
foam and sparkling waters.
The fishery and trading-post at Naha Bay was established in 1883, and shipped 338 barrels of salted
salmon that first season. In 1884 over 500 barrels
were shipped, and throughout June and July the salmon were leaping in the bay so thickly that at the
turn of the tide their splashing was like falling rain. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
KASA-AN, or Karta Bay opens from Clarence
Strait directly west of Naha Bay, and the long
inlet runs in from the eastern shore of the Prince of
Wales island for twenty miles. There are villages
of Kasa-an Indians in the smaller inlets and coves
opening from the bay, and carved totem poles stand
guard over the large square houses of these native
settlements. The bay itself is as lovely a stretch of
water as can be imagined, sheltered, sunny, and calm,
with noble mountains outlining its curves, and wooded
islands drifted in picturesque groups at the end. It
was a Scotch loch glorified, on the radiant summer
days that I spent there, and it recalled one's best
memories of Lake George in the softer aspects of its
Smaller inlets opening from the bay afford glimpses
into shady recesses in the mountain-sides, and one
little gap in the shores at last gave us a sight of the
trader's store, the long row of lichen-covered and moss-
grown sheds of the fishery, with the usual cluster of
bark houses and tents above a shelving beach strewn
with narrow, black canoes. A group of Indians
gathered on shore, their gay blankets, dresses, and
cotton kerchiefs adding a fine touch of color to the 32
scene, and the men in the fishery, in their high rubber
boots and aprons, flannel shirts and big hats, were
heroic adjuncts to the picturesque and out-of-the-way
There was a skurrying to and fro and great excitement when the big steamer rounded slowly up to the
little wharf, and bow line, stern line, and breast lines
were thrown out, fastened to the piles and to the trees
on shore, and the slack hauled in at the stentorian
commands of the mate. Karta, or Kasa-an Bay has
•been a famous place for salmon for a score of years,
and is best known, locally, as the Baronovich fishery.
Old Charles V. Baronovich was a relic of Russian
days, and a character on the coast. He was a Slav,
and gifted with all the cunning of that race, and after
the transfer of the country to the United States, he
disturbed the serenity of the customs officials by the
steady smuggling that he kept up from over the
British border. He would import all kinds of stores,
but chiefly bales of English blankets, by canoe, and
when the collector or special agent would penetrate
to this fastness of his, they found no damaging proof
in his store, and only a peppery, hot-headed old pirate,
who swore at them roundly in a compound language
of Russian, Indian, and English, and shook his
crippled limbs with rage. He was also suspected of
selling liquor to the Indians, and a revenue cutter
once put into Kasa-an Bay, with a commander whom
smugglers seldom baffled, and who was bound to uncover Baronovich's wickedness. The wily old Slav
received the officers courteously. He listened to the
formal announcement of the purpose of their visit, and
bade them search the place and kindly do him the THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
honor of dining with him when they finished. Baronovich dozed and smoked, and idled the afternoon
away, while a watch kept a close eye upon him, and the
officers and men searched the packing-house, the Indian houses and tents, and the canoes on the beach.
They followed every trail and broken pathway into
the woods, tapped hollow trees, dug under the logs,
and peered down into the waters of the bay, and
finally gave up the search, convinced that there was
no liquor near the place. Baronovich gave them a
good dinner, and towards the close a bottle of whiskey was set before each officer, and the host led with
a toast to the captain of the cutter and the revenue
This queer old fellow married one of the daughters
of Skowl, the Haida chief who ruled the bay. She
is said to have been a very comely maiden when Baronovich married her, and is now a stately, fine-looking
woman, with good features and a creamy complexion.
While Baronovich was cleaning his gun one day, it
was accidentally discharged, and one of his children
fell dead by his own hand. The Indians viewed this
deed with horror, and demanded that Skowl should
take his life in punishment. As it was proved an
accident, Skowl defended his son-in-law from the
charge of murder, and declared that he should go
free. Ever after that the Indians viewed Baronovich
with a certain fear, and ascribed to him that quality
which the Italians call the " evil eye."
With the passion of his race for fine weapons and
fine metal work, Baronovich possessed many old arms
that are worthy of an art museum. A pair of duelling pistols covered with fine engraving and inlaying 34
were bought of his widow by one of the naval officers
in command of the man-of-war on this station, and
an ancient double-barrelled flint-lock shot-gun lately
passed into the hands of another officer. The shotgun has the stock and barrels richly damascened with
silver and gold, after the manner of the finest Spanish metal work, and the clear gray flints in the trigger
give out a shower of sparks when struck. Gunnell
of London was the maker of this fine fowling-piece,
and it is now used in the field by its new owner, who
prefers it to the latest Remington.
Baronovich was a man with a long and highly-colored history by all the signs, but he died a few years
since with no biographer at hand, and his exploits,
adventures, and oddities are now nearly forgotten.
The widow Baronovich still lives at Kasa-an, unwil'
ling to leave this peaceful sunny nook in the mountains, but the fishery is now leased to a ship captain,
who has taken away the fine old flavor of piracy and
smuggling, and substituted a rSgime of system, enterprise, and eternal cleanliness.
The wandering salmon that swarm on this coast by
millions show clear instincts when they choose, without an exception, only the most picturesque and
attractive nooks to jump in. They dart and leap up
Kasa-an Bay to the mouths of all the little creeks at
its head, and three times during the year the water is
alive with them. The best salmon run in June and
July, and in one day the seine brought in eighteen
hundred salmon in a single haul. Two thousand and
twenty-one hundred fish have weighted the net at dif-
erent hauls, and the fish-house was overrunning with
these royal salmon.    Indian women do the most of THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
the work in the fishery — cleaning and splitting the
fish and taking out the backbones and the worthless
parts with some very deft strokes from their murderous-looking knives. The salmon are washed thoroughly and spread between layers of dry salt in large
vats. Brine is poured over them, and they are left
for eight days in pickle. Boards and weights are laid
on the top of the vats, and they are then barrelled
and stored in a long covered shed and treated to more
strong brine through the bung-hole until ready for
shipment. Of all salt fish the salt salmon is the
finest, and here, where salmon are so plentiful, a barrelled dainty is put up in the shape of salmon bellies,
which saves only the fattest and most tender portions
of these rich, bright red Kasa-an salmon.
Over fifteen hundred barrels were packed in 1884,
and under the new regime the Kasa-an fishery has
distanced its rivals in quantity, while the quality has
a long-established fame.
These Kasa-an Indians are a branch of the Haidas,
the finest of the Indian tribes of the coast. They
are most intelligent and industrious people, and are
skilled in many ways that render them superior to
the other tribes of the island. Their permanent
village is some miles below the fishery, and their
square whitewashed houses, and the tomb and mortuary column of Skowl, their great chief, makes quite
a pretty scene in a shady green inlet near Barono-
vich's old copper mine. A few of their houses at the
fishery are of logs or rough-hewn planks, but the
most of them are bark huts, with a rustic arbor hung
full of drying salmon outside. These bits of bright-
red salmon, against the slabs of rough hemlock bark, 36
make a gay trimming for each house, and when a
bronzed old hag, in a dun-colored gown, with yellow
'kerchief on her head, stirs up the fire of snapping
fir boughs, and directs a column of smoke toward the
drying fish, it is a bit of aborigine life to set an
artist wild. Their bark houses are scattered irregularly along the beach above high-water mark, and a
fleet of slender, black canoes, with high, carved bows,
are drawn up on the sand and pebbles. The canoe
is the only means of locomotion in this region of
unexplored and impenetrable woods, and the Indian
is even more at home in it than on shore. No horseman cares for his steed more faithfully than the
Siwash tends and mends his graceful cedar canoe,
hewn from a single log, and given its flare and graceful curves by being steamed with water and hot
stones, and then braced to its intended width. The
Haida canoe has the same high, double-beaked prow
of the Chinook canoes of Puget Sound, but where
the stern of the latter drops in a straight line to the
keel, the Haida canoe has a deep convex curve. By
universal fashion all of these canoes are painted
black externally, with the thwarts and bows lined
with red, and sometimes the interior brightened with
that color. The black paint used to be made from
a mixture of seal oil and bituminous coal, and the red
paint was the natural clay found in places throughout
all Indian countries. Latterly the natives have
taken to depending on the traders' stores for paint,
but civilization has never grasped them so firmly as
to cause them to put seats or cross-pieces in their
canoes. They squat or sit flat in the bottom of their
dugouts for hours without changing position.     It THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
gives white men cramps, and stiff joints to look
at them, and sailors are no luckier than landsmen in
their attempts to paddle and keep their balance in
one of these canoes for the first time. The Indians
use a broad, short paddle, which they plunge straight
down into the water like a knife, and they literally
shovel the water astern with it. The woman, who.
has a good many rights up here that her sisters of
the western plains know not, sits back of her liege,
and with a waving motion, never taking the paddle
out of the water once, steers and helps on the craft.
Often she paddles steadily, while the man bales out
the water with a wooden scoop. When the canoes
are drawn up on the beach they are carefully filled
with grass and branches, and covered with mats or
blankets to keep them sound and firm. A row of
these high-beaked canoes thus draped has a very
singular effect, and on a gloomy day they are like so
many catafalques or funeral gondolas. Baronovich's
old schooner, the Pioneer of Cazan, lies stranded on
the beach in the midst of the native boats, moss
and lichens tenderly covering its timbers, and vagrant
grasses springing up in the seams of the old wreck.
The dark, cramped little cabin is just the place for
ghosts of corsairs and the goblins of sailors' yarns,
and although it has lain there many seasons, no
Indian has yet pre-empted it as a home for his
family and dogs.
The thrifty Siwash, which is the generic and common name for these people, and a corruption of the
old French voyagers' sauvage, keeps his valuables
stored in heavy cedar chests, or gaudy red trunks
studded with brass  nails;   the latter costly prizes 38
with which the Russian traders used to tempt them.
At the first sound of the steamer's paddle-wheels, —
and they can be heard for miles in these fiords, —j
the Indians rummaged their houses and chests and
sorted out their valuable things, and when the first
three carved spoons and shaman's rattle.
ardent curio-seeker rushed through the packinghouses and out towards the bark huts, their wares
were all displayed. The Haidas are famous as the
best carvers, silversmiths, and workers on the coast;
and there are some of their best artists in this little
band on Kasa-an Bay. An old blind man, with a
battered hat on his head and a dirty white blanket. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
trapped around him, sat before one bark hut, with a
large wooden bowl filled with carved spoons made
from the horns of the mountain goat. These spoons,
once in common use among all these people, are now
disappearing, as the rage for the tin and pewter utensils in the traders' stores increases, although many of
'them have the handles polished and the bowls worn
by the daily usage of generations. The horn is naturally black, and constant handling and soaking in
seal oil gives them a jetty lustre that adds much
to the really fine carvings on the handles. Silver
bracelets pounded out of coin, and ornamented with
traceries and chasings by the hand of "Kasa-an
John," the famous jeweller of the tribe, were the
prizes eagerly ^sought and contended for by the
ladies. The bangle mania rages among the Haida
maids and matrons as fiercely as on civilized shores,
and dusky wrists were outstretched on which from
three to nine bracelets lay in shining lines like jointed
mail. Anciently they pounded a single heavy bracelet from a silver dollar piece, and ornamented the
broad two-inch band with heraldic carvings of the
crow, the bear, the raven, the whale, and other emblematic beasts of their strangely mixed mythology.
Latterly they have become corrupted by civilized
fashions, and they have taken to narrow bands, hammered from half dollars and carved with scrolls, conventional eagles copied from coins, and geometrical
designs. They have no fancy for gold ornaments,
and they are very rarely seen ; but the fancy for silver
is universal, and their methodical way of converting
every coin into a bracelet and stowing it away in
their chests  gives  hope of there  being one place 40
where the surplus silver and the trade dollars may
be legitimately made away with.
In one house an enlightened and non-skeptical
Indian was driving sharp bargains in the sale of medicine-men's rattles and charms, and kindred relics of a
departed faith. His scoffing and irreverent air would
have made his ancestors' dust shake, but he pocketed
the chickamin, or money, without even a superstitious shudder. The amateur curio-buyers found
themselves worsted and outgeneralled on every side
in this rich market of Kasa-an by a Juneau trader,
who gathered up the things by wholesale, and, carrying them on board, disposed of them at a stupendous
advance. " No more spoon," said the old blind chief
as he jingled the thirteen dollars that he had received
from this trader for his twenty beautifully carved
spoons, and the tourists who had to pay two dollars a
piece for these ancestral ladles echoed his refrain and
began to see how profits might mount up in trading
in the Indian country. Dance blankets from the
Chilkat country, woven in curious designs in black,
white, and yellow wool, spun from the fleece of the
mountain goat, were paraded by the anxious owners,
and the strangers elbowed one another, stepped on
the dogs, and rubbed the oil from the dripping salmon overhead in the smoky huts, in order to see and
buy all of these things.
Old Skowl bid defiance to the missionaries while he
lived, and kept his people strictly to the faith and the
ways of their fathers. If they fell sick, the shaman or
medicine-man came with his rattles and charms, and
with great hocus-pocus and "Presto change" drove
away or propitiated  the evil  spirits that were tor- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
menting the sufferer. If the patient did not immediately respond to the treatment, the doctor would
accuse some one of bewitching his victim, and
demand that he should be tortured or put to death in
order to relieve the afflicted one. It thus became
a serious matter for every one when the doctor was
sent for, as not even the chiefs were safe from being
denounced by these wizards. No slave could become a shaman, but the profession was open to any
one else, regardless of rank or riches, and the medicine man was a self-made grandee, unless some great
deformity marked him for that calling from birth.
As preparation for his life-work he went off by himself, and fasted in the woods for many days. Returning, he danced in frenzy about the village, seizing
and biting the flesh of live dogs, and eating the
heads and tongues of frogs. This latter practice
accounts for the image of the frog appearing on all
the medicine men's rattles; and in the totemic carvings the frog is the symbol of the shaman, or speaks
of some incident connected with him. Each shaman
elected to himself a familiar spirit, either the whale,
the bear, the eagle, or some one of the mythological
beasts, and gifted with its qualities, and under the
guidance of this totemic spirit, he performed his
cures and miracles. This token was carved on his
rattles, his masks, drums, spoons, canoes, and all
his belongings. It was woven on his blankets, and
after death it was carved on bits of fossil ivory,
whale and walrus teeth, and sewed to his grave-
clothes. The shaman's body was never burned, but
was laid in state in the large grave boxes that are
seen  on the outskirts  of every village.    Columns 42
capped with totemic animals and flags mark these
little houses of the dead, and many of them have
elaborately carved and painted walls. The shaman's
hair was never cut nor touched by profane hands,
and each hair was considered a sacred charm by
the people. Captain Merrifnan, while in command
of the U. S. S. Adams, repeatedly interfered with .
two shamans, who were denouncing and putting to
torture the helpless women and children in a village
where the black measles was raging. He found the
victims of this witchcraft persecution with their
ankles fastened to their wrists in dark, underground
holes, or tied to the rocks at low tide that they
might be slowly drowned by the returning waters.
All threats failing, the two shamans were carried on
the Adams, and the ship's barber sheared and shaved
their heads. The matted hair was carried down to
the boiler room and burned, for if it had been
thrown overboard it would have been caught and
preserved, and the shamans could have retained at
least a vestige of authority. The Indians raised a
great outcry at the prospect of harm or indignity
being offered their medicine-men, but when the two
shaved heads appeared at the gangway, the Indians
set up shouts of derision, and there were none so
poor as to do them honor after that. A few such
salutary examples did much to break up these practices, and though their notions of our medicine are
rather crude, they have implicit faith in the white, or
"Boston doctors."
If these fish-eating, canoe-paddling Indians of the
northwest coast are superior to the hunters and
horsemen of the western plains, the Haidas are the THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
most remarkable of the coast tribes, and offer a fascinating study to anyone interested in native races
and fellow man. From Cape Fox to Mount St. Elias
the Indians of the Alaska coast are known by the
generic name of Thlinkets, but in the subdivision of
the Thlinkets into tribes, or kwans, the Haidas are
,not included. The Thlinkets consider the Haidas as
aliens, but, except in the language, they have many
things in common, and it takes the ethnologist's eye
to detect the differences. The greater part of the
Haida tribe proper inhabit the Queen Charlotte
Islands in the northern part of British Columbia, and
the few bands living in villages in the southern part of
Alaska are said to be malcontents and secessionists,
who paddled away and found homes for themselves
across Dixon Entrance. I have heard it stated, without much authority to sustain it, however, that old
Skowl was a deserter of this kind, and, not approving
of some of the political methods of the other chiefs
in his native village, withdrew with his followers and
founded a colony in Kasa-an Bay. This aboriginal
" mugwump," as he would be rated in the slang of the
day, was conservative in other things, and his people
have the same old customs and traditions as the Haidas of the original villages on the Queen Charlotte
Where the Haidas really did come from is an unending puzzle, and in Alaska the origin and migration of races are subjects continually claiming one's
attention. There is enough to be seen by superficial
glances to suggest an Oriental origin, and those who
believe in the emigration of the Indians from Asia by
way of Behring Straits, or the natural causeway of the 44
Aleutian Islands, in prehistoric times, find an array of
strange suggestions and resemblances among the
Haidas to encourage their theories. That the name
of this tribe corresponds to the name of the great
mountain range of Japan may be a mere coincidence,
but a few scholars who have visited them say that
there are many Japanese words and idioms in their
language, and that the resemblance of the Haidas to
the Ainos of northern Japan is striking enough to
suggest some kinship. Opposed to this, however, is
the testimony of Marchand, the French voyager, who
visited the Haidas in 1791, and recognizing Aztec
words and terminations in their speech, and resemblances to Aztec work in their monuments and picture-
writings, first started the theory that they were from
the south, and descendants of those who, driven out
of Mexico by Cortez, vanished in boats to the north.
To continue the puzzle, the Haidas have some Apache
words in their vocabulary, and have the same grotesque dance-masks, and many of the same dances
and ceremonies that Cushing describes in his
sketches of life among the Zunis in New Mexico.
Hon. James G. Swan, of Port Townsend, who has
given thirty years to a study of the Indians of the
northwest coast, has lately given much attention to
the Haidas of the Queen Charlotte Islands, and has
made large collections of their implements and art
works for the Smithsonian Institute. He found the
Haida tradition and representation of the great spirit,
— the Thunder Bird, — to be the same as that of the
Aztecs, and when he showed sketches of Aztec carvings to the Haidas they seemed to recognize and understand them at once.    Copper images and relics r
found in their possession were identical with some
silver images found in ruins in Guatemala by a British
archaeologist. Judge Swan has collected many
strange legends and allegories during his canoe journeys to the isolated Haida villages, and his guide and
attendant, Johnny Kit-Elswa, who conducts him to
the great October feasts and dances, is a clever
young Haida silversmith and a remarkable genius.
Judge Swan has written a memoir on Haida tattoo
masks, paintings, and heraldic columns, which was
published as No. 267 of the Smithsonian Contributions
to Knowledge, January, 1874. In The West Shore
magazine of August, 1884, he published a long article with illustrations upon the same subjects, and his
library and cabinet, his journals and sketch-books,
contain many wonderful things relating to the history
and life of these strange people. 46
THOSE who believe that all Alaska is a place of
perpetual rain, fog, snow, and ice would be
quickly disabused could they spend some of the ideal
summer days in that most lovely harbor of Fort Wrangell. Each time the sky was clearer and the air
milder than before, and on the day of my third visit
the fresh beams of the morning sun gave an
infinite charm to the landscape, as we turned from
Clarence Straits into the narrower pass between the
islands, and sailed across waters that reflected in
shimmering, pale blue and pearly lights the wonderful panorama of mountains. Though perfectly clear,
the light was softened and subdued, and even on
such a glorious sunny morning there was no glare nor
harshness in the atmosphere. This pale, soft light
gave a dreamy, poetic quality to the scenery, and
the first ranges of mountains above the water shaded
from the deep green and russet of the nearer pine
forests to azure and purple, where their further summits were outlined against the sky or the snow-covered peaks that were mirrored so faithfully in the long
stretches of the channel. The sea water lost its
deep green tints at that point, and was discolored and THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
tinged to a muddy tea green by the fresh current of
the Stikine River, which there reaches the ocean.
The great circle of mountains and snow-peaks, and
the stretch of calm waters lying in this vast landlocked
harbor, give Fort Wrangell an enviable situation.
The little town reached its half-century of existence
last summer, but no celebrations stirred the placid,
easy-going life of its people. It was founded in
1834 by order of Baron Wrangell, then Governor
of Russian America and chief director of the fur
company, who sent the Captain-Lieut. Dionysius
Feodorovich Zarembo down from Sitka to erect a
stockade post on the small tongue of land now occupied by the homes, graves, and totem poles of the
Indian village. It was known at first as the trading
post of St. Dionysius, and, later, it assumed the name
of Wrangell, the prefix of Fort being added during
the time that the United States garrisoned it with
two companies of the 21st Infantry. The Government began building a new stockade fort there immediately after the transfer of the territory in 1867, and
troops occupied it until 1870, when they were withdrawn, the post abandoned, and the property sold for
$500. The discovery of the Cassiar gold mines on
the head waters of the Stikine River in 1874 sent a
tide of wild life into the deserted street of Fort
Wrangell, and the military were ordered back in
1875 and remained until 1877, when General Howard drew off his forces, and the government finally
recalled the troops from alkthe posts in Alaska.
During the second occupation of the barracks and
quarters at Fort Wrangell, the War Department helped
itself to the property, and, assigning a nominal sum 48
for rent, held the fort against the protest of the owner.
The Cassiar mines were booming then, and Fort
Wrangell took on something of the excitement of a
mining town itself, and being at the head of ocean
navigation, where all merchandise had to be transferred to small steamers and canoes, rents for stores
and warehouses were extravagantly high. Every shed
could bring a fabulous price. The unhappy owner,
who rejoices in the euphonious name of W. King
Lear, could only gnash his teeth and violently protest against the monthly warrants and vouchers given
him by the commandant of the post. Since the
troops have gone, the Government has done other
strange things with the property that it once sold in
due form, and Mr. Lear has a just and plain claim
against the War Department for damages. The barracks and hospital of the old fort are now occupied by
the Presbyterian Mission. No alteration, repairs, or
improvements having been made for many years, the
stockade is gradually becoming more ruinous, weatherworn, and picturesque each year, and the overhanging block-house at one corner is already a most
sketchable bit of bleached and lichen-covered logs.
The main street of Fort Wrangell, untouched by
the hoof of horse or mule for these many years, is a
wandering grass-grown lane that straggles along for
a few hundred feet from the fort gate and ends in a
foot-path along the beach. The "Miners' Palace
Restaurant," and other-high-sounding signs, remain
as relics of the livelier days, and listless Indian
women sit in rows and groups on the unpainted
porches of the trading stores. They are a quiet,
rather languid lot of klootchmans, slow and deliberate THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
of speech, and not at all clamorous for customers, as
they squat or lie face downward, like so many seals,
before their baskets of wild berries. In the stores,
the curio departments are well stocked with elaborately carved spoons made of the black horns of the
mountain goat; with curiously-fashioned halibut hooks
and halibut clubs; with carved wooden trays and
bowls, in which oil, fish, berries, and food have been
mixed for years; with stone pipes and implements
handed down from that early age, and separate storerooms are filled with the skins of bears, foxes, squirrels, mink, and marten that are staple articles of trade.
Occasionally there can be found fine specimens of a
gray mica slate set full of big garnet crystals, like
plums in a pudding, or sprinkled through with finer
garnets that show points of brilliancy and fine color.
This stone is found on the banks of-a small creek near
the mouth of the Stikine River, and great slabs of it
are blasted off and brought to Fort Wrangell by the
boat-load to be broken up into small cabinet specimens
in time for the tourist season each summer. None of
the garnets are clear or perfect, and the blasting fills
them with seams and flaws. The best silver bracelets
at Fort Wrangell are made by a lame Indian, who
as the chief artificer and silversmith of the tribe has
quite a local reputation. His bracelets are beautifully chased and decorated, but unfortunately for the
integrity of Stikine art traditions, he has given up
carving the emblematic beasts of native heraldry on
heavy barbaric wristlets, and now only makes the
most slender bangles, adapted from the models in an
illustrated jeweller's catalogue that some Philistine
has sent him.    Worse yet, he copies the civilized 50
spread eagle from the half-dollar, and, one. can only
shake his head sadly to see Stikine art so corrupted
and debased. For all this, the lame man cannot
make bracelets fast enough to supply the market,
and at three dollars a pair for the narrower ones he
pockets great profits during the steamer days.
On the water side of the main street there is a
queer old flat-bottomed river-boat, stranded high and
dry, that in its day made $135,000 clear each season that it went up the Stikine. It enriched its
owner while in the water, and after it went ashore
was a profitable venture as a hotel. This Rudder
Grange, built over from stem to stern, and green
with moss, is so settled into the grass and earth that
only the shape of the bow and the empty box of the
stern wheel really declare its original purpose. There
is a bakeshop in the old engine-room, and for the
rest it is the Chinatown of Fort Wrangell. A small
cinnamon-bear cub gambolled in the street before this
boat-house, and it stood on its hind legs and sniffed
the air curiously when it saw the captain of the ship
coming down the street, bestowing sticks of candy on
every child in the way. Bruin came in for his share,
and formed the centre for a group that watched him
chew up mint sticks and pick his teeth with his sharp
little claws.
The houses of the Indian village string along the
beach in a disconnected way, all of them low and
square, built of rough hewn cedar and pine planks, and
roofed over with large planks resting on heavy log
beams. One door gives entrance to an interior, often
twenty and forty feet square, and several families live
in one of these houses, sharing the same fireplace in THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
the centre, and keeping peacefully to their own sides
and corners of the common habitation. Heraldic devices in outline sometimes ornament the gable front
of the house, but no paint is wasted on the interior,
where smoke darkens everything, the drying salmon
drip grease from the frames overhead, and dogs and
children tumble carelessly around the fire and over
the pots and saucepans. The entrances have sometimes civilized doors on hinges, but the aborigine
fashion is a portiere of sealskin or walrus hide, or of
woven grass mats. When one of the occupants of
a house dies he is never taken out by the door where
the others enter,, but a plank is torn off at the back
or side, or the body is hoisted out through the smoke
hole in the roof, to keep the spirits away.
Before many of the houses are tall cedar posts and
poles, carved with faces of men and beasts, representing events in their genealogy and mythology.
These tall totems are the shrines and show places
of Fort Wrangell, and on seeing them all the ship's
company made the hopeless plunge, into Thlinket
mythology and there floundered aimlessly until the
end of the trip. There is nothing more flexible or
susceptible of interpretations than Indian traditions,
and the Siwash himself enjoys nothing so much as
misleading and fooling the curious white man in
these matters. The truth about these totems and
their carvings never will be quite known until their
innate humor is civilized out of the natives, but
meanwhile the white man vexes himself with ethnological theories and suppositions. These totems are for
the most part picture writings that tell a plain story
to every Siwash, and record the great events in the 52
history of the man who erects them. They are only
erected by the wealthy and powerful members of the
tribe, and the cost of carving a cedar log fifty feet
long, and the attendant feasts and ceremonies of the
raising, bring their value, according to Indian estimates, up to one thousand and two thousand dollars. The subdivisions of each tribe into distinct
families that take for their crest the crow, the bear,
the eagle, the whale, the wolf, and the fox, give to
each of these sculptured devices its great meaning.
The totems show by their successive carvings the
descent and alliances of the great families, and the
great facts and incidents of their history. The representations of these heraldic beasts and birds are
conventionalized after certain fixed rules of their art,
and the grotesque heads of men and animals are
highly colored according to other set laws and limitations. Descent is counted on the female side, and
the first emblem at the top of the totem is that of
the builder, and next that of the great family from
which he is descended through his mother.
In some cases two totem poles are erected before a
house, one to show the descent on the female side,
and one to give the generations of the male side, and a
pair of these poles was explained for us by one of the
residents of Fort Wrangell, who has given some study
to these matters. The genealogical column of the
mother's side has at the top the eagle, the great totem
or crest of the family to which she belonged. Below
the eagle is the image of a child, and below that the
beaver, the frog, the eagle, the frog, and the frog for
a third time, show the generations and the subfamilies  of the female side.    By some interpreters THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
the frog is believed to indicate a pestilence or some
great disaster, but others maintain that it is the
recognized crest of one of the sub-families. The
male totem pole has at the top the image of the chief,
totem poles at fort wrangell.
wearing his conical hat, below that his great totem,
the crow. Succeeding the crow is the image of a
child, then three frogs, and at the base of the
column the eagle, the great totem of the builder's
mother. 54
In front of one chief's house a very natural-looking
bear is crouched on the top of a pole, gazing down at
his black foot-tracks, which are carved on the sides
of the column. A crossbeam resting on posts near
this same house used to show three frogs sitting in
line, and other grotesque fantasies are scattered about
the village. With the advance of civilization the
Indians are losing their reverence for these heraldic
monuments, and some have been destroyed and others
sold; for the richest of these natives are so mercenary
that they do not scruple to sell anything that belongs
to them. The disappearance of the totem poles
would rob these villages of their greatest interest for
the tourists, and the ethnologist who would solve the
mysteries and read the pictures finally aright, should
hasten to this rich and neglected field.
In their mythology, which, as now known, is sadly
involved through the medium of so many incorrect
and perverted explanations, the crow or raven stands
supreme as the creator and the first of all created
things. He made everything, and all life comes from
him. After he had made the world, he created woman
and then man, making her supreme as representative
of the crow family, while man, created last, is the head
of the wolf or warrior's family. From them sprang
the sub-families of the whale, the bear, the eagle, the
beaver, and the frog. The Stikine Indians have a
tradition of the deluge, in which the chosen pair were
given the shape of crows until the water had subsided, when they again returned to the earth and
peopled it with their descendants. No alliances are
ever made within the great families, and a crow never
marries a crow, but rather a member of the whale,  AVE AT FORT WRANGELL. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
bear, or wolf families. The man takes the totem of
his wife's family, and fights with them when the
great family feuds arise in the tribe.
On many of the totem poles the chiefs are represented as wearing tall, conical hats, similar to those
worn by certain classes in China, and this fact has
been assumed by many ardent ethnologists to give
certain proof of the oriental origin of these people,
and their emigration by way of Behring's Straits.
Others explain the storied hats piled one on top of
another, as indicating the number of potlatches, or
great feasts, that the builder has given. Over the
graves of the dead, which are square log boxes or
houses, they put full-length representations of the
dead man's totemic beast, or smooth poles finished
at the top with the family crest. One old chief's
tomb at Fort Wrangell has a very realistic whale
on its moss-grown roof, another a bear, and another
an otter. The Indians cremated their dead until the
arrival of the missionaries, who have steadily opposed
the practice. The Indian's idea of a hell of ice made
him reason that he who was buried in the earth or
the sea would be cold forever after, while he whose
ashes were burned would be warm and comfortable
throughout eternity.
These Thlinket Indians of the coast have broad
heavy faces, small eyes, and anything but quickness or
intelligence in their expression. They are slow and
deliberate in speech, lingering on and emphasizing
each aspirate and guttural, and any theories as to a
fish diet promoting the activity of the brain are
dispersed after watching these salmon-fed natives for
a few weeks.    Many of their customs are such a 58
travesty and burlesque on our civilized ways as to
show that the same principles and motives underlie
all human action. When those expensive trophies of
decorative art, the totem poles, are raised, the event
is celebrated by the whole tribe. A common Indian
can raise himself to distinction and nobility by giving
many feasts and setting up a pole to commemorate
them. After he owns a totem pole he can aspire to
greater eminence. That man is considered the
richest who gives most away, and at the great feasts
or potlatches that accompany a house-warming or pole-
raising, they nearly beggar themselves. All the
delicacies of the Alaska market are provided by the
canoe-full, and the guests sit around the canoes and
dip their ancestral spoons into the various compounded dishes. Blankets, calico, and money are
distributed as souvenirs on the same principle as
costly favors are given for the German. His rank
and riches increase in exact ratio as he tears up and
gives away his blankets and belongings; and the
Thlinket has satisfied pride to console himself with
while he struggles through the hard times that follow
a potlatch.
In the summer season Fort Wrangell is a peaceful,
quiet place; the climate is a soothing one, and Prof.
Muir extolled the " poultice-like atmosphere " which
so calms the senses. The Indians begin to scatter
on their annual fishing trips in June, and come back
with their winter supplies of salmon in the early fall.
Many of the houses were locked or boarded up, while
the owners had gone away to spend the summer at
some other watering-place. One absentee left this
notice on his front door : — THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
Over another locked door was this name and legend,.
which combines a well-witnessed and legal testament,
together with the   conventional  door-plate   of   the
white man: —
all that
a frienc
to the whites.
-      One
Death it bel
to my
Thus wrote Anatlash, a man of tall totems and
many blankets ; and stanzas in blank verse after the
same manner decorated the doorway of many Thlinket abodes.
The family groups within the houses were as interesting and picturesque as the totem poles without;
and strangers were free to enter without formality,
and study the ways of the best native society without hindrance. These people nearly all wear civilized
garments, and in the baronial halls of Fort Wrangell
there are imposing heaps of red-covered and brass-
bound trunks that contain stores of blankets, festal
garments, and family treasures. In all the houses the
Indians went right on with their breakfasts and domestic duties regardless of our presence; and the 60
white visitors made themselves at home, scrutinized
and turned over everything they saw with an effrontery that would be resented, if indulged in in kind
by the Indians. The women had the shrewdest eye
to money-making, and tried to sell ancient and
greasy baskets and broken spoons when they had
nothing else in the curio line. In one house two
giggling damsels were playing on an accordeon when
we entered, but stopped and hid their heads in their
blankets at sight of us. An old gentleman, in a
single abbreviated garment, crouched by the fireside,
frying a dark and suspicious-looking dough in seal
oil; and the coolness and self-possession with which
he rose and stepped about his habitation were admirable. He was a grizzled and surly-looking old fellow,
but from the number of trunks and fur robes piled
around the walls, he was evidently a man of wealth,
and his airy costume rather a matter of taste than
economy. Many of the men showed us buckskin
pouches containing little six-inch sticks of polished
cedar that they use in their great social games. These
gambling sticks are distinguished by different markings in red and black lines, and the game consists in
one man taking a handful, shuffling them around under
his blanket, and making the others guess the marks
of the first stick drawn out. These Indians are
great gamblers, and they spend hours and days at
their fascinating games. They shuffle the sticks to
see who shall go out to cut and gather firewood in
winter, and if a man is seen crawling out after an
armful of logs, his neighbors shout with derision at
him as a loser.
In addition to their silver bracelets, their silver ear- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
rings and finger rings, many of the women keep up the
old custom of wearing nose rings and lip rings, that no
amount of missionary and catechism, seemingly, can
break them of. The lip rings used to be worn by all
but slaves, and the three kinds worn by the women
of all the island tribes are marks of age that take the
place of family records. When a young girl reaches
marriageable age, a long, flat-headed silver pin, an
inch in length, is thrust through the lower lip. After
the marriage festival the Thlinket dame assumes a
bone or ivory button a quarter or half inch across.
This matronly badge is a mere collar-button compared to the two-inch plugs of wood that they wear
in their under lips when they reach the sere and
yellow leaf of existence.    This big labrette gives the 62
last touch of hideousness to the wrinkled and blear-
eyed old women that one finds wearing them, and it
was from the Russian name for this trough in the
lip — kolosh — that all the tribes of the archipelago
were known as Koloshians, as distinguished from the
Aleuts, the Innuits, and Esquimaux of the northwest.
Far less picturesque than the natives in their own
houses were the little Indian girls at the mission-
school in the old fort. Combed, cleaned, and marshalled in stiff rows to recite, sing, and go through
calisthenic exercises, they were not nearly so striking for studies and sketches aboriginal, but more
hopeful to contemplate as fellow-beings. Clah, a
Christianized Indian from Fort Simpson, B. C, was
the first to attempt mission work among the Indians at Fort Wrangell. In 1877 Mrs. McFarland
was sent out by the Presbyterian Board of Missions,
after years of mission work in Colorado and the west,
and, taking Clah on her staff, she labored untiringly
to establish the school and open the home for Indian
girls. Others have joined her in the work at Fort
Wrangell, and everyone on the coast testifies to good
results already attained by her labors and example.
She is known and reverenced among all the tribes,
and the Indians trust in her implicitly, and go to her
for advice and aid in every emergency. With the
establishment of the new industrial mission-school at
Sitka, Mrs. McFarland will be transferred to the
girls' department of that institution. The Rev. Hall
Young and his wife have devoted themselves to the
good cause at Fort Wrangell, and will continue there
in charge of the church and school.    The Presby- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
terian missions have the strongest hold on the coast,
and the Catholics, who built a church at Fort Wrangell, have given up the mission there, and the priest
from Nanaimo makes only occasional visits to his
dusky parishioners.
The steep hillside back of Fort Wrangell was
cleared of timber during military occupancy, and on
the lower slopes the companies had fine gardens,
which remain as wild overgrown meadows now. In
them the wild timothy grows six feet high, the blueberry bushes are loaded with fruit, salmon berries
show their gorgeous clusters of gold and scarlet, and
the white clover grows on lo'ng stems and reaches to
a fulness and perfection one can never imagine. This
Wrangell clover is the common clover of the East
looked at through a magnifying glass, each blossom
as large and wide-spread as a double carnation pink,
and the fragrance has a strong spicy quality with its
sweetness. The red clover is not common, but the
occasional tops are of the deepest pink that these
huge clover blossoms can wear. While the hillside
looked cleared, there was a deep and tangled thicket
under foot, the moss, vines, and runners forming a
network that it took some skill to penetrate; but
the view of the curved beach, the placid channel
sleeping in the warm summer sunshine like a great
mountain lake, and the ragged peaks of the snowy
range showing through every notch and gap, well
repaid the climb through it. It was a most perfect
day when we climbed the ridge, the air as warm and.
mellow as Indian summer, with even its soft haze
hung round the mountain walls in the afternoon, and
from those superior heights we gazed in ecstasy on 64
the scene and pitied all the people who know not
When Professor Muir was at Fort Wrangell one
autumn, he climbed to the summit of this first mountain on a stormy night to listen to the fierce music of
the winds in the forest. Just over the ridge he found
a little hollow, and gathering a few twigs and
branches he started a fire that he gradually increased
to quite a blaze. The wind howled and roared
through the forest, and the scientist enjoyed himself
to the utmost; but down in the village the Indians
were terrified at the glow that illuminated the sky
and the tree-tops. No one could explain the phenomenon, as they could not guess that it was Professor
Muir warming himself during his nocturnal ramble
in the forest, and it was with difficulty that the
minister and the teachers at the mission could calm
the frightened Indians.
On a second visit to Fort Wrangell on the Idaho,
there was the same warm, lazy sunshine and soft still
air, and as connoisseurs we could the better appreciate
the fine carvings and ornamental work of these aesthetic people, who decorate every household utensil
with their symbols of the beautiful. Mr. Lear, or
"King Lear," welcomed us back to his comfortable
porch, and as a special mark brought forth his great
horn spoon, a work of the highest art, and a bit of
bric-a-brac that cost its possessor some four hundred
dollars. Mr. Lear is that famous man, who "swears
by the great horn spoon," and this elaborately carved
spoon, made from the clear, amber-tinted horn of the
musk ox, is more than eighteen inches long,, with a
smooth, graceful bowl that holds at least a pint.   This THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
spoon constituted the sole assets of a bankrupt debtor,
who failed, owing Mr. Lear a large sum; and the
jocose trader first astonished us by saying that he
had a carved spoon that cost him four hundred dollars.
The amateur photographers on shipboard raved at
sight of the beautiful amber spoon with its carved
handle inlaid with abalone shell, and, rushing for
their cameras, photographed it against a gay background of Chilkat blankets. Mr. Lear has refused all
offers to buy his great horn spoon, routing one persistent collector by assuring him that he must keep
it to take his medicines in.
The skies were as blue as fabled Italy when the
Idaho " let go " from Fort Wrangell wharf that glorious afternoon, and we left with genuine regret. The
Coast-Survey steamer Hassler came smoking around
the point of an island just as we were leaving Fort
Wrangell; and our captain, who would rather lose his
dinner than miss a joke, fairly shook with laughter
when he saw the frantic signals of the Hassler, and
knew the tempestuous frame of mind its commander
was working himself up to. After giving the Hassler
sufficient scare and chase, the Idaho slowed up, and
the mails that she had been carrying for three months
were transferred to the Coast-Survey ship, while the
skippers, who are close friends and inveterate jokers,
exchanged stiff and conventional greetings, mild
sarcasm, and dignified repartee from their respective
bridges. The pranks that these nautical people play
on one another in these out-of-the-way waters would
astonish those who have seen them in dress uniforms
and conventional surroundings, and such experiences
rank among the unique side incidents of a trip. 66
A boat-race of another kind rounded off the day of
my third and last visit to Fort Wrangell, and the
Indians who had been waiting for a week made ready
for a regatta when the Ancon was sighted. It took
several whistles from our impatient captain to get the
long war-canoes manned and at the stake-boat; and,
in this particular, boat-races have some points in
common the world round. Kadashaks, one of the
Stikine chiefs, commanded one long canoe in which
sixteen Indians sat on each side, and another chief
rallied thirty-two followers for his war-canoe. It
was a picturesque sight when the boatmen were all
squatted in the long dug-outs, wearing white shirts,
and colored handkerchiefs tied around their brows.
While they waited, each canoe and its crew was
reflected in the still waters that lay without a ripple
around the starting-point near shore. When the
cannon on the ship's deck gave the signal, the canoes
shot forward like arrows, the broad paddles sending
the water in great waves back of them, and dashing
the spray high on either side. Kadashaks and the
other chief sat in the sterns to steer, and encouraged
and urged on their crews with hoarse grunts and
words of command, and the Indians, paddling as if
for life, kept time in their strokes to a savage chant
that rose to yells and war whoops when the two
canoes fouled just off the stake-boat. It was a most
exciting boat-race, and bets and enthusiasm ran high
on the steamer's deck during its progress. The
money that had been subscribed by the traders in
the town was divided between the two crews, and
at night there was a grand potlatch, or feast, in honor
The trade with the Cassiar mines at the head of the
Stikine River once made Fort Wrangell an important
place, but the rival boats that used to race on the
river have gone below, and the region is nearly abandoned. As early as 1862 the miners found gold dust
in the bars near the mouth of the river; but it was
" twelve years later before Thibert and another trapper,
crossing from Minnesota, found the gold fields and
quartz veins at the head-waters of the stream, three
hundred miles distant from Fort Wrangell, within the
British Columbia lines. Immediately the army of
gold-seekers turned there, leaving California and
the Frazer River mines, and in 1874 there were
two thousand miners on the- ground, and the yield
■ was known to have been over one million dollars.'
Light-draught, stern-wheel steamers were put on the
river, and the goods and miners transferred from
ocean steamers at Fort Wrangell were taken to
Glenora at the head of navigation, one hundred and
fifty miles from the mouth. From that point there
was a steep mountain trail of another one hundred
and fifty miles, and pack trains of mules carried
freight on to the diggings. Freights from Fort
Wrangell to the mines ranged at times from twenty
to eighty and one hundred and sixty dollars per ton '■>
and in consequence, when the placers were exhausted,
and machinery was necessary to work the quartz
veins, the region was abandoned.
The official returns as given by the British Columbia commissioners are not at hand for all of the years
since the discovery of these mines, but for the seven
years here given they show the great decrease in the
bullion yield of the Cassiar fields ;— 68 * SOUTHERN ALASKA.
Number of Gold
years. miners. product.
1874  2,000 $1,000,000
1875  800 1,000,000
1876  I,500 556,474
1877  1,200 499,830
1879  1,800            	
1883  1,000 135,000
During this year of 1884 the steamers have been
taken off the river, and Indian canoes are the only
means of transportation. There are few besides Chinamen left to work the exhausted fields, and another
year will probably find them in sole possession.
While the mines were at their best, Fort Wrangell
was the great point of outfitting and departure; and
after the troops were withdrawn, the miners made it
more and more a place of drunken and sociable hiber-
! nation, when the severe weather of the interior drove
them down the river. They congregated in greatest
numbers early in the spring, many going up on the
ice in February or March, before the river opened;
although no mining could be done until May, and the
water froze in the sluices in September.
The Cassiar mines being in British Columbia, the
rush of trade on the Stikine River caused many complications and infractions of the revenue laws of both
countries, and great license was allowed. The exact
position where the boundary line crosses the Stikine
has not yet been determined by the two governments, and in times past it has wavered like the isothermal lines of the coast. The diggings at Shucks,
seventy miles from Fort Wrangell, were at one time
in Alaska and next time in British Columbia; and the
Hudson Bay Company's post, and even the British «»-
custom house, were for a long time on United States
soil before being removed beyond the debatable region. The boundary, as now accepted temporarily,
crosses the river sixty-five miles from Fort Wrangell
at a distance of ten marine leagues from the sea in a
direct line, and, intersecting the grave of a British
miner, leaves his bones divided between the two
countries ; his heart in the one, and the boots in
which he died in the other.
Vancouver failed to discover the Stikine on his
cruise up the continental shore, and, deceived by the
shoal waters, passed by the mouth. It then remained
for the American sloop Dcgon, Captain Cleveland, to
visit the delta and learn of the great river from the
natives in 1799. The scenery of the Stikine River
is the most wonderful in this region, and Prof. John
Muir, the great geologist of the Pacific coast, epitomized the valley of the Stikine as "a Yosemite one
hundred miles long." The current of the river is so
strong that while it takes a boat three days at full
steam to get from Fort Wrangell up to Glenora, the
trip back can be made in eight or twelve hours, with
the paddle-wheel reversed most of the time, to hold
the boat back in its wild flight down stream. It is a
most dangerous piece of river navigation, and there
have been innumerable accidents to steamboats and
Three hundred great glaciers are known to drain
into the Stikine, and one hundred and one can be
counted from the steamer's deck while going up to
Glenora. The first great glacier comes down to the
river at a place forty miles above Fort Wrangell, and
fronting for seven miles on a low moraine along the 70
river bank, is faced on the opposite side by a smaller
e-lacier.    There is an Indian tradition to the effect
that these two glaciers were once united, and the
river ran through in an arched tunnel. To find out
whether it led out to the sea, the Indians determined
to send two of their number through the tunnel,
and with fine Indian logic they chose the oldest
members of their tribe to make the perilous voyage
into the ice mountain, arguing that they might die
very soon anyhow. The venerable Indians shot the
tunnel, and, returning with the great news of a clear
passageway to the sea, were held in the highest esteem forever after. This great glacier is from five
hundred to seven hundred feet high on the front, and
extends back for many miles into the mountains, its
surface broken and seamed with deep crevices. Two
young Russian officers once went down from Sitka
to explore this glacier to its source, but never returned from the ice kingdom into which they so
rashly ventured. Further up, at a sharp bend of the
r-iver called the Devil's Elbow, there is the mud
glacier, which has a width of three miles and a height
of two hundred or three hundred feet where it faces
the river from behind its moraine. Beyond this
dirt-covered, boulder-strewn glacier, there is the
Grand Canon of the Stikine, a narrow gorge two
hundred feet long and one hundred feet wide, into
which the boiling current of the river is forced, and
where the steamboats used to struggle at full steam
for half an hour before they emerged from the per-
pendicular walls of that frightful defile. A smaller
cafion near it is called the Klootchmans, or Woman's
Canon, the noble red man being always so exhausted THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
by poling, paddling, and tracking his canoe through
the Grand Canon as to leave the navigation of the
second one entirely to his wife. The Big Riffle, or
the Stikine Rapids, is the last of these most dangerous places in the river; and at about this point, where
the summit line of the mountain range crosses the
river, the mythical boundary line is supposed to lie.
The country opens out then into more level stretches,
and at Glenora and Telegraph Creek, the steamboats
leave their cargoes and start on the wild sweep down
the river to Fort Wrangell again. As the boats are
no longer running on the river, future voyagers who
wish to see the stupendous scenery of this region
will have to depend on the Indian canoes that take
ten days for the journey up, or else feast and satisfy
their imaginations with the thrilling tales of the old
Stikine days that can be picked up on every hand,
and study the topography of the region from the
maps of Prof. Blake. 72
IF there were not so many more wonderful places
in Alaska, Wrangell Narrows would give it a
scenic fame, and make its fortune in the coming
centuries when tourists and yachts will crowd these
waters, and poets and seafaring novelists desert the
Scotch coast for these northwestern isles. Instead
of William Black's everlasting Oban, and Staffa, and
Skye, and heroines with a burr in their speech, we
will read of Kasa-an and Kaigan, Taku and Chilkat,
and maidens who lisp in soft accents the deep, gurgling Chinook, or the older dialects of their races.
Wrangell Narrows is a sinuous channel between-
mountainous islands, and for thirty miles it is hard to
determine which one of the perpendicular walls at the
end of the strait will finally stop us with its impassable front. There are dangerous ledges and rocks,
and strong tides rushing through this pass, and the
average depth of from four to twelve fathoms is very
shallow water for Alaska. Although long known and
used by the Indians and the Hudson Bay Company's
traders, it was not considered a safe inside passage ;
and as Vancouver had not explored it, and there were
not any complete charts, it was little traversed by
regular commerce.    After United States occupation, THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
and the increased travel to Sitka, the perils of Cape.
Ommaney, off the south end of Baranoff Island, quite
matched any dangers there might be in the unknown
channel. Captain R. W. Meade, in command of the
U. S. S. Saginaw, made a survey of the Narrows
in 1869, and gradually the way through the ledges
and flats and tide rips became better known. In
1884 Captain Coghlan, commander of the U. S. S.
Adams carefully sounded and marked off the channel
with stakes and buoys, and the navigators now only
look for the favorable turn of the tide in going
through the picturesque reaches.
' Leaving Fort Wrangell in the afternoon, it was an
enchanting trip up that narrow channel of deep
waters, rippling between bold island shores and parallel mountain walls. Besides the clear, emerald tide,
reflecting every tree and rock, there was the beauty
of foaming cataracts leaping down the sides of snowcapped mountains, and the grandeur of great glaciers
pushing down through sharp ravines, and dropping
miniature icebergs into the water. Three glaciers
are visible at once on the east side of the Narrows,
the larger one extending back some forty miles, and
measuring four miles across the front, that faces the
water and the terminal moraine it has built up before
it. The great glacier is known as Patterson Glacier,
in honor of the late Carlisle Patterson, of the United
States Coast Survey, and is the first in the great line
of glaciers that one encounters along the Alaska coast.
Under the shadow of a cloud the glacier was a dirty
and uneven snow field, but touched by the last light
of the sun it was a frozen lake of wonderland, shimmering with silvery lights, and showing a pale ethe- 74
real green, and deep, pure blue, in all the rifts and
crevasses in its icy front.
With the appearance of this first glacier, and the
presence of ice floating in the waters around us, the
conversation of all on board took a scientific turn,
and facts, fancies, and wild theories about glacial
origin and action were advanced that would have
struck panic to any body of geologists. Being all
laymen, there was no one to expound the mysteries
and speak with final authority on any of these frozen
and well-established truths ; and we floundered about
in a sea of suppositions, and were lost in a labyrinth
of lame conclusions.
A long chain of snow-capped mountains slowly
unrolled as the ship emerged from Wrangell Narrows, more glaciers were brought to view, and that
strange granite monument, the " Devil's Thumb," as
named by Commander Meade, signalled us from a
mountain top.
Farther up, in Stephens Passage, floating ice tells
of the great glaciers in Holkam or Soundoun Bay,
and beside the one great Soundoun glacier flowing
into the sea, there are three other glaciers hidden
in the high-walled fiords that open from the bay.
One of the first and most adventurous visitors to the
Soundoun glacier was Captain J. W. White, of the
Revenue Marine, who anchored the cutter Lincoln in
the bay in. 1868. Seeing a great arch or tunnel in the
front of the glacier, he had his men row the small
boat into the deep blue grotto, and they went a hundred feet down a crystalline corridor whose roof was
a thousand feet thick. The colors, he said, were marvellous, and, like the galleries cut in the Alpine gla- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
ciers, showed fresh wonders with each advance. At
the furthest point the adventurous boatmen poured
out libations and drank to the spirits of the ice kingdom. In 1876 gold was discovered, and the Soundoun placers were the first ones worked in Alaska.
Professor Muir visited the glacier and mines of Soundoun Bay in 1879, and at Shough, a camp in a valley
at the head of the inlet, found miners at work with
their primitive rockers and sluices. In 1880 these
mines yielded $10,000, and the miners believed the
bed of gold-bearing gravel inexhaustible. The discovery of gold at Juneau drew the most of them
away, and the Soundoun placers have hardly been
heard of in later years.
Winding north, through a broad channel with
noble mountain ranges on either side, we passed the
old Hudson Bay Company's trading post of Taku,
and at mention of this name those who believe in the
Asiatic origin of the Alaska Indians cried out in
delighted surprise: " There is a Chinese city of the
same name and spelled in the same way as this—
Reaching the mouth of Taku Inlet, into which the
Taku River empties, the floating ice gave evidence of
the great glaciers that lie within; and, following up
this fiord for about fifteen miles to a great basin, we
came suddenly in sight of three glaciers. One sloped
down a steep and rather narrow ravine, and its front
was hidden by another turn in the overlapping hills.
The second one pushed down between two high
mountains, and, resting its tongue on the water,
dropped off the icebergs and cakes that covered
the surface of the dull, gray-green water.    The front 76
of this icy cliff stretched entirely across the half-mile
gap between the mountains, and its face rose a hundred and two hundred feet from the water, every foot
of it seamed, jagged, and rent with great fissures, in
which the palest prismatic hues were flashing. As
the tide fell, large pieces fell from this front, and avalanches of ice-fragments crashed down into the sea and
raised waves that rocked our ship and set the icefloes grinding together. On the other point of the
crescent of this bay there lay the largest glacier, an
ice-field that swept down from two mountain gorges,
and, spreading out in fan shape, descended in a long
slope to a moraine of sand, pebbles, and boulders.
Across its rolling front this glacier measured at least
o o
three miles, and the low, level moraine was one mile
in width. The moraine's slope was so gradual that
when the small boats were lowered and we started
for shore, they grounded one hundred feet from the
water-mark and there stuck until the passengers were
taken off one by one in the lightest boat, and then
carried over the last twenty feet of water in the
sailors' arms. It was a time for old clothes, to begin
with, and everyone wore their worst when they
started off; but at the finish, when the same set
waded through a quarter of a mile of sand and mineral mud left exposed by the falling tide, and were
dumped into the boats by the sailors, a near relative
would not have owned one of us. The landing of the
glacier pilgrims was a scene worthy of the nimblest
caricaturist, and sympathy welled up for the poor
officers and sailors who shouldered stout men and
women and struggled ashore through sinking mud
and water.    The burly captain picked out the slight- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
est young girl and carried her ashore like a doll; but
the second officer, deceived by the hollow eyes of one
tall woman, lifted her up gallantly, floundered for a
while in the mud and the awful surprise of her weight
and then bearer and burden took a headlong plunge.
The newly-married man carried his bride off on his
back, and had that novel incident to put down in the
voluminous journal of the honeymoon kept by the
young couple.  .
We trailed along in files, like so many ants, across
the sandy moraine, sinking in the soft "mountain
meal," stumbling over acres of smooth rocks and
pebbles, and jumping shallow streams that wandered
down from the melting ice. Patches of epilobium
crimsoned the ground with rank blossoms near the
base of the glacier, and at last we began ascending
the dull, dirty, gray ice hills.
There was a wonderful stillness in the air, and the
clear, sunny, blue sky brooded peacefully over the wonderful scene. The crunching of the footsteps on the
rough ice could be heard a long way, and from every
crevice came the rumble and roar of the streams
under the ice. Rising five hundred feet or more by
a gradual incline of half a mile, we were as far from
seeing the source of the glacier as ever; and the vast
snow-fields from which the streams of ice emerge were
still hidden by the spurs of the mountain round which
they poured. At that point there were some deep
crevasses in the ice, and leaning over we looked down
into the bottomless rifts. The young Catholic priest,
forgetting everything in the ardor of the moment and
the ice-fever, labored like a giant, hurling vast boulders into the depths, that we might hear the repeated W-
crashes as they struck from side to side, before the
splash told that they had reached the subterranean
river that roared so fiercely. In the outer sunshine
the ice sparkled like broken bits of silver, but in the
crevasses the colors were intensified from the palest
ice-green to a deeper and deeper blue that was lost
in shadowy purple at the last point. The travellers who had learned their glaciers in Switzerland sat
amazed at the view before them, and owned that the
glacier on which they were sitting was much larger
and more broken than the Mer de Glace, while nothing in the Alps could equal the smaller glacier beyond, that lay glittering like a great jewel-house and
dropping bergs of beryl and sapphire into the sea.
Where the two arms of the glacier united, the lines
of converging ice-streams were marked by great trains
of boulders and patches of dirt; and fragments of
quartz and granite, and iron-stained rocks were
souvenirs that the pilgrims carried off by the pocketful. We sat on rough boulders and looked down into
the ice-ravines on every side, and sighed breathlessly
in the ecstasy of joy. An earthly and material soul
roused the scorn of the young Catholic divine by
sitting down in that exalted spot to eat — to munch
soda crackers from a brown-paper bundle—while the
wreck of glaciers, the crash of icebergs, the grinding
of ice-floes, and world-building were g
going on about
We ran down the glacier slopes hand in hand, in
long lines that "snapped the whip" and went all-
hands-round on the more level places, or crept in cautious file along the narrow ridges between crevasses.
We drank from icy rills that ran in channels of clear THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
green ice, and crossing the moraine, we waded through
mud ankle deep and were carried to the boats. The
receding tide had obliged the sailors to push the boats
further and further off, and when one frail bark was
about full there was a crash, an avalanche of ice went
splashing into the sea from the smaller- glacier up the
bay, and a great wave curling from it washed
the boat back and left it grounded. Men without
rubber boots were then so well soaked and so
plastered with glacier mud that they just stepped
over the boat's side and helped the rubber-clad sailors
float it off. The lower deck and the engine-room
were hanging full and strewn with muddy boots and
drying clothes all day, and the stewards were heard to
wonder | what great fun there was in getting all
their clothes spoiled, that the passengers need take
on so over a glacier."
When Vancouver went to the head of Taku Inlet in
1794 he found "frozen mountains" surrounding it on
every side, and his boats were so endangered by the
floating ice, that his men gladly hurried away
from it. Prospectors have had their camps at the
mouth of the river at the head of the basin, and have
searched the bars and shores of Taku River for miles
across the mountain wall. Their evidence and that
of the fur traders, who give scant notice to such
things, prove the Indian traditions, that the ice is
receding rapidly, and that the ice mountain that now
sets back with a great moraine before it, came down
to the water's edge in their fathers' days.
That day on the Taku glacier will live forever as
one of the rarest and most perfect enjoyment. The
grandest objects in nature were before us, the prime- 80
val forces that mould the face of the earth were at
work, and it was all so far away and out of the everyday world that we might have been walking a new
planet, fresh fallen from the Creator's hand. The
lights and shadows on the hills, and the range of
colors, were superb,— every tiny ice-cake in the water
showing colors as rare and fleeting as the shades of
an opal, while the gleaming ice-cliff, from which these
jewels dropped, was aglow with all the prismatic lights
and tinted in lines of deepest indigo in the great
caverns and rifts of its front. The sunny, sparkling
air was most exhilarating, and we sat on the after-
deck basking in the,golden rays of the afternoon sun,
and looked back regretfully as the glaciers receded
and were lost to sight by a turn in the fiord. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
TURNING north from the mouth of Taku Inlet,
and running up Gastineaux Channel, we were
between the steepest mountain walls that vegetation
could cling to, and down all those verdant precipices
poured foaming cascades from the snow-banks on the
summits. This channel between the mainland shore
and Douglass Island is less than a mile in width, and
the mountains on the eastern shore rise to two
thousand feet and more in their first uplift from the
water's edge. The snowy summits of the ranges
back of it reach twice that altitude, and are the same
mountains that shelter the glaciers of the north
shore of Taku Inlet.
All of this Taku region is rich in the indications
of precious minerals, and prospectors have explored
miles of the most rugged mountain country in their
search for float and gravel. The presence of gold
along the shores of Taku River was long known,
but the Taku Indians, who guarded the mouth of the
river and kept the monopoly of the fur trade with the
interior Indians, were known to be hostile and kept
prospectors aloof. Prof. Muir found signs of gold
in every stream in the territory, ground by and swept 82
down from the higher ranges by the vast ice-sheet
that once covered this region, and by the glaciers
that are still at work in all the fiords and ravines.
He believed that the great mineral vein extending
up the coast from Mexico to British Columbia continued through Alaska and into Siberia. With British Columbian miners producing $1,000,000 and
$2,000,000 each year, and Siberia yielding its annual
$22,000,000, Professor Muir was certain that Alaska
would prove to be one of the rich gold fields of North
America. In one of his letters to the San Francisco
Bulletin in 1879, he gave it as his belief that the
richest quartz leads would be found on the mainland
shores east of Sitka, and that the true mineral belt
followed the trend of the continental shores. A
year later his prophecy was verified, and the present
mining town of Juneau, a hundred miles north and
east of Sitka in a direct line, promises soon to distance the capital and become the most important
town in the territorv.
The town of Juneau straggles along the beach
and scatters itself after a broken, rectangular plan,
up a ravine that opens to the water front. Lying at
the foot of a vertical mountain-wall, with slender
cascades rolling like silver ribbons from the clouds
and snow-banks overhead, and sheltered in a curve 6f
the still channel, Juneau has the most picturesque
situation of any town on the coast. There were
about fifty houses in 1884, and the place claimed between three hundred and four hundred white inhabitants, with a village of Taku Indians on one side of
the town, and Auk Indians on the other. The
Northwest Trading Company has a large store at THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO. 83
Juneau, and a barber's shop and the sign of " Russian Baths, every Saturday, fifty cents," shows that
the luxuries of civilization are creeping in.
As a mining camp, this settlement dates back but a
few years.    In  1879 the Indians  gave fine quartz
specimens to the officers of the U. S. S. Jamestown,
claiming to have found them on the shores of Gasti-
neaux Channel.    In the following summer a prospecting party was formed at  Sitka, and left there
headed by Joseph Juneau and Richard Harris.    They
camped on the present site of Juneau on Oct. 1 1880,
and followed up the largest of three creeks emptying
into the channel near that point.    Three miles back
on this'Gold Creek in the Silver Bow Basin, they
found rich placers and  outcropping  quartz ledges.
When they returned to  Sitka with their sacks  of
specimens, there was a stampede arid a rush for the
new El Dorado, and the camp, established in midwinter, has since grown into a town.    Harris took
up  a town   site  of  one hundred  and  sixty  acres,
and in the   spring  of   1881   miners   from   British
Columbia  and" from   Arizona  flocked to  the new
The place was first called Pilsbury, for one prospector; then Fliptown, as a miner's joke ; next Rockwell, for the officer of the U. I S. Jamestown, who
came down with a detachment of marines to keep
the camp in order; fourthly it was named Hams-
burg, and fifthly Juneau. This last name was formally adopted by the miners at a meeting held in
May, 1882, and in the same conclave resolutions
were passed ordering all Chinamen out of the district,
and warning the race to stay away; which they have 84
done. At the same time the miners perfected an
organization, elected a recorder, and adopted a code
of laws which should be enforced until the United
States should establish civil government and declare
it a land district. Even with this volunteer attempt
at law and order, the ownership of mining claims
was uncertain, as they belonged to the first and the
strongest ones who began work in the spring. For
want of a civil tribunal, miners' quarrels were settled
by fists, shotguns, or an appeal to the man-of-war at
Sitka. The whole town site and the Basin are staked
off and claimed by three and four first owners, and
lawsuits are impending over every piece of mining
property. Without surveys, titles, or protection, the
Juneau miners have done little more than the necessary assessment work each year, although some
of the placers have paid richly. With things in such
an insecure state, capitalists were not willing to venture anything in the development of these mines, and
owners did little boasting of the richness of their
lodes, lest more miscreants should be invited to
jump their claims. The newly established district
court,  whose  clerk  is  ex officio recorder of  deeds,
mortgages,  and  certificates   of  locat
claims, will be overwhelmed with mining suits at its
first sessions, and every claim will supply one or more
cases for trial.
It is very difficult to ascertain the exact amounts
produced by these mines, although from ten to fifty
thousand dollars in gold is sent down by each steamer
during the summer months. To avoid the heavy
express charges, many of the provident miners carry
down their own hard earnings in the fall, and buckskin THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
bags, tin cans, and bottles of gold dust are among the
curios put in the purser's safe. As far as known,
$135,000 was washed from the placers in 1881,
$250,000 in 1882, and about $400,000 in 1883.
After the first season's stir Juneau experienced a
slow and steady growth, and has not yet set up its
pretensions to a | boom." There is a calm and quiet
to the town that disappoints one who looks for the
wild and untrammelled scenes of an incipient Lead-
ville. The roving prospectors and the improvident
miners gather at Juneau when the frosts and snows
of winter drive them from the basins and valleys of
the mainland, and in that season Juneau comes nearest to wearing the air of a mining town with the fever
and delirium of a boom about to come on. Tales of
fabulous riches are then current, and around the contraband whiskey-bottle prospectors tell of finds that
put Ormus and the Ind, Sierra Nevada and Little
Pittsburg far behind.
The first time that I visited Juneau it was getting
a large instalment of its .annual rainfall of nine feet,
and it was only by glimpses through the tattered
edges of the clouds that one could see the slopes
of the steep, green mountains, with the roaring cascades waving like snowy pennants against the forest
screen. The ground was soaked and miry, and the
least step from the gravelly beach or the plank walks>
plunged one ankle-deep in the black mud. Of the two
beasts of burden in the town, the horse was busy
hauling freight from the wharf, and the mule struck
a melancholy pose beside an ancient schooner on the
beach and refused to move. Depending upon such
transportation, travel to the Basin mines was rather 86
limited, and a few miners and Indians descending the
steep trail from the forest, like Fra Diavolo in the
first act, quite excited the fancy. After a contest
with the best two hundred feet of the three miles of
the steep yet miry trail, we were convinced that the
mines would not pay on that drizzly afternoon. With
the trees dripping around us and little rills running
down on every side, it was rather paradoxical to have
a wayfarer tell us that the miners were doing very
little just then, for want of water. It was strange
enough in a country of perpetual rain, with streams
dropping down from eternal snows, that the system
of reservoirs, ditches, and flumes should be incomplete. A sociable miner, with his' hands in his
pockets as far as his elbows, engaged us in conversation on a street corner, and we surrounded him
with a cordon of dripping umbrellas and listened to
his apologies for the state of the weather, couched
in many strange idioms.
"We haven't any Indian agents, or constables, so
there's never any trouble between us peaceable white
men and the natives," said the miner. "There's no
caboose and no tax-collector; and as fish is plenty,
it's as good a place as any for a poor miner. Want
of whiskey is the greatest drawback to the development of this country, and something will have to be
done about it. Congress and them folks in Washington don't pay much attention to us, but we had an
earthquake a while ago, so the Lord ain't forgotten
us, if the government has," said the friendly miner,
with a solemn smile. He promised to bring some
quartz specimens to the ship for the ladies; but we
never saw that friend again. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
The miners thus failing us in picturesqueness and
thrilling incidents, the Indians came in for a full
share of attention. One village wanders along the
beach below the wharf, and the other settlement is
hidden behind a knoll at the other side of the town.
In the latter, Sitka Jack has a summer-house as well
as at Fort Wrangell, but, instead of finding this
potentate at home, his door was locked, and the
neighbors said that he had gone up to Chilkat for
the salmon fishing. On one of the largest houses in
the village was the sign: "Klow-kek, Auke Chief."
Over another doorway was written :
" Jake is a good boy, a working man,
Friend of the whites, and demands protection."
The Indians came from both villages and huddled
in groups on the wharf. Nearly all of them were
barefooted, for those rich enough to afford shoes
take them off and put them away when the ground is
wet or muddy. They seemed quite unconscious of
the weather, and, though unshod, were wrapped in
blankets and in many cases carried umbrellas. The
women and children tripped down in their bare
feet, and sat around on the dripping wharf with a
recklessness that suggested pneumonia, consumption,
rheumatism, and all those kindred ills from which
they suffer so severely. Nearly all the women had
their faces blacked, and no one can imagine anything
more frightful and sinister on a melancholy day than 88
to be confronted by one of these silent, stealthy figures, with the great circles of the whites of the eyes
alone visible in the shadow of the blanket. A dozen
fictitious reasons are given for this face-blacking.
One Indian says that the widows and those who have
suffered great sorrow wear the black in token thereof.
Another native authority makes it a sign of happiness, while occasionally a giggling dame confesses
that it is done to preserve the complexion. Ludicrous as this may seem to the bleached Caucasian
and the ladies of rice-powdered and enamelled countenances, the matrons of high fashion and the swell
damsels of the Thlinket tribes never make a canoe
voyage without smearing themselves well with the
black dye, that they get from a certain wild root of
the woods, or with a paste of soot and seal oil. On
sunny and windy days on shore they protect themselves from tan and sunburn by this same inky coating. On feast days and the great occasions, when
they wash off the black, their complexions come out
as fair and creamy white as the palest of their Japanese cousins across the water, and the women are
then seen to be some six shades lighter than the tan-
colored and coffee-colored lords of their tribe. The
specimen women at Juneau wore a thin calico dress
and a thick blue blanket. Her feet were bare, but
she was compensated for that loss of gear by the
turkey-red parasol that she poised over her head with
all the complacency of a Mount Desert belle. She
had blacked her face to the edge of her eyelids and
the roots of her hair; she wore the full parure of
silver nose-ring, lip-ring, and ear-rings, with five
silver bracelets on each wrist, and fifteen rings orna- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
menting her bronze fingers; and a more thoroughly
proud and self-satisfied creature never arrayed herself
according to the behests of high fashion. The children pattered around barefooted and wearing but a
single short garment, although the day was as cold
and drear as in our November. Not one of these
poor youngsters even ventured on the croopy cough,
that belongs to the civilized child that has only put
his head out of doors in such weather. One can
easily believe the records and the statements as to
the • terrible death rate among these people, and
marvel that any ever live beyond their infancy. So
few old people are seen among them as to continually
cause remark, but by their Spartan system only the
strongest can possibly survive the exposure and hardships of such a life. Consumption is the common
ailment and carries them away in numbers, yet they
have no medicines or remedies of their own, trust
only to the incantations and hocus-pocus of their
medicine-men, and take not the slightest care to
protect themselves from exposure. Great epidemics
have swept these islands at times, and forty years ago
the scourge of smallpox carried off half the natives
of Alaska. The tribes never regained their numbers after that terrible devastation, and since then
black measles and other diseases have so reduced
their people that another fifty years may see these
tribes extinct. The smoke of their dwellings and
the glare from the snow in winter increases diseases
of the eye, and most interesting cases for an oculist
are presented in every group.
Indian women crouched on the wharf with their
wares spread before them, or wandered like shadows 90
about the ship's deck, offering baskets and mats
woven of the fine threads of the inner bark and roots
of the cedar, and extending arms covered with silver
bracelets to the envious gaze of their white sisters.
There was no savage modesty or simplicity about the
prices asked, and their first demands were generally
twice what the articles were worth. They are keen
traders and sharp at bargaining, and no white man
outwits these natives. Conversation was carried
on with them in the Chinook jargon, the language
compounded by Hudson Bay Company traders from
French, English, Russian, and the dialect of the
Chinook tribe once living at the mouth of the Columbia River. The Indians from California to the Arctic
Ocean understand more or less of this jargon, and in
Oregon and Washington Territory Chinook is a most
necessary accomplishment.
At the traders' stores in town we found whole THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
museums of Indian curios, and revelled in the oddities and strange art-works of the people. The round
baskets of split cedar, woven so tightly as to be waterproof, and ornamented in rude geometrical designs
in bright colors, are the first choice for souvenirs
among tourists. After that the carvings, the miniature totems and canoes, the grotesque masks and
dance rattles, take the eye. There were, too, the fine
ancestral spoons made from the horns of mountain
goat and musk ox, and finished with handles carved
in full and high relief, and inlaid with bits of abalone-
shell, bears' teeth, and lucky stones from the head of
the codfish. Of furs and skins every store held a
great supply, and when bearskins and squirrel robes
had. no effect the traders would bring out their treasures of otter, fox, and seal, and show the bales of furs
that awaited transportation to the south. A robe of
gray squirrel two yards square was bought for one dollar and fifty cents, and sealskins at eight dollars, silver-
fox skins for twenty-five dollars, and sea-otter skins for
one hundred dollars, continued the ascending scale of
• prices. The real entertainment of the day came after
we had bought our baskets and spoons and carvings
at the traders' stores, and were enjoying a few dry
hours in the cabin. Then the Indian women came
tapping at the windows with their bracelets, and the
keen spirit of the trade having possessed us, we made
wonderful bargains with the relenting savages. A tap
on the window, and the one word " Bracelet!" or the
Chinook " Klickwilly," would bring all the ladies to
their feet, and the mechanical "how much" that
followed became so automatic during the day, that
when the porter rapped at night for lights to be put 92
out, he was greeted with a " how much " in response.
For each bracelet the Indians wailed-out a demand
for "mox tolla," two dollars in our tongue. They
finally came down to "id tolla sitcum," or one dollar
and fifty cents, and rapidly disposed of their treasures. Some lucky purchasers happened upon the
•unredeemed pledges in the pawn branch of a jolly
old trader's store, and for "sitcum tolla," or fifty
cents, walked off with flat silver bracelets a quarter
of an inch wide, carved in rude designs of leaves and
Even Indian society is dull in the summer time, as
they all go off in great parties to catch their winter
supplies of fish. While the salmon are running no
Indian wants to stay at home in the village, but no
angler can imagine that they need go far to drop the
line, when one copper-colored Izaak dropped his halibut hook off the Juneau wharf and pulled up a fish
weighing nine hundred pounds. Being clubbed on
the head and hauled up with much help, the monster halibut was sold for two, dollars and fifty cents,
which statement completes about as remarkable a
fish story as one dares to tell, even at this distance.'
Halibut of ninety and one hundred pounds have
been caught over the ship's side in these channels,
and Captain Cook tells of one weighing five hundred
pounds, and other navigators of those weighing nine
hundred pounds. Halibut is a staff of life to the
Indians, and their menu always comprises it. They
catch the halibut with elaborately-carved wooden
hooks made of red cedar or the heart of spruce roots,
fastened to lines of twisted cedar bark, or braided
seaweed.    Clubs carved with the fisherman's totem THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
and other designs are used to kill them with when
drawn up to the side of the canoe. At many of the
fisheries a great deal of halibut is salted and packed
before the salmon season begins, and halibut fins are
choice morsels that command a higher price by the
barrel than salmon bellies.
The second time that I saw Juneau it was like
another place in the last golden glow of the afternoon
sun. They had been having clear weather for weeks,
and under a radiant blue sky Juneau was the most
charming little mountain nook and seashore village
one could look for. The whole summit ranges of the
mountains on the Juneau shore and on the island
were visible, and at a distance the little white houses
of the town looked like bits of the snowbanks, that
had slid three thousand feet down the track of the
cascades to the beach. We determined on an early
start for the mines the next morning, anxious to
see the places that baffled the pilgrims the first time.
The site of the mining camp in the Silver Bow
Basin is even more picturesque, and the trail from
Juneau leads straight up the mountain side, then
down to a second valley, and along the wild canon
of Gold Creek and into the basin of the Silver Bow.
All the way it leads through dense forests and luxuriant bottom land, where the immense pine-trees, the
thickets of ferns and devil's club, and the rank undergrowth of bushes and grasses, continually excite one's
wonder. We rose at half past five in order to go
out to the basin and get back before the ship sailed
at ten o'clock, and in the fresh, dewy air and the pure
light of the early morning it was a walk through an
enchanted forest and a happy valley. The trail wound u
up to fifteen hundred feet, dropped by long jumps
and slides to the first level of the canon and reached
fifteen hundred feet above the sea again in the Basin.
The devil's club, a tall, thorny plant with leaves
twelve and more inches across, grew in impassable
clumps in the woods, and the sunlight falling on these
large leaves gave a tropical look to the forest. The
devil's club is the prospectors' dread, and the thorny
sticks used to do to switch witches with in the Indians'
old uncivilized days. Echinopanax horrida is the
botanist's awful name for it, and that alone is caution
enough for one to avoid it. There were thickets of
thimbleberry bushes covered with large, creamy-
white blossoms ; and clusters of white ranunculus,
white columbine, blue geranium, and yellow monkey
flowers grew in patches and dyed the ground with
their massed colors. The ferns were everywhere,
and under bushes and beside fallen logs, delicate
maidenhair ferns, with fine ebony stems, were gathered by the handful. We met a few well-dressed
Indians hurrying to town, and an occasional miner,
who gave us a cheery greeting.
Blue jays flitted down the path'before us, flashing
their beautiful wings in the sunshine ; and where the
canon grew steeper and narrower, Gold Creek roared
like a muddy Niagara. High up in a ravine a melting snowbank disclosed a great cave underneath, and
its edges were fringed with waving grasses and flowers. Even hydraulic mining cannot scar and disfigure this country, where a mantle of green clothes
every bare patch in a second season, and mosses and
lichens cover the stones and boulders. The moss or
sphagnum, that covers  the  ground, is as great an THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
obstacle to the prospectors' search as the thickets of
"devil's club." A campfire built on this moss,
gradually burns and sinks through, and the miner,
returning to his open fire, often finds it lying deep
in a well-hole that it has made for itself. In view of
the obstacles encountered, the discovery of these
mining regions is most remarkable, and is the greatest monument to the prospectors' zeal.
We passed picturesque little log cabins and crossed
the debris of hydraulic mines, watched the men in a
narrow gulch cleaning up their sluices, and going
around the corner of Snowslide Gulch, just this side of
Specimen Gulch, we met Mr. B. and his dog. Down
we all sat, dog included, and indulged in the light and
dry repast that we carried in our pockets. Mr. B. was
a typical and ideal miner, and in his high boots, canvas trousers, flannel shirt, big felt hat, and heavy
gold watch chain, made exactly the figure for the
landscape, as he rested on a big boulder beside the
roaring creek. We started to tell him the great
news that Alaska at last had a governor and a government, and, bethinking ourselves of the little side
incident of Presidential nominations, began to tell him
about them. He manifested so little excitement over
Blaine and Logan that we asked if his seven years
without seeing the polls had made him so indifferent.
" Oh ! Lord no ; I 'm a Democrat though, I guess,
ma'am," said Mr. B., apologetically.
" Then we '11 never tell you who they have nominated, if you are on that side," said a Republican,
firmly, and Mr. B.'s Homeric laugh made that mountain glen ring before he was enlightened as to Cleveland and Hendricks. 96
Our miner told us of a piece of quartz that he had
found the day before, that looked " as if the gold had
been poured on hot and had spattered all over it,"
and then we had to part with him and hurry on in
different ways.
Silver Bow Basin is a place to delight an aesthetic
miner with in the way of landscape, and any one with
a soul in him would surely appreciate that little round
valley sunk deep in the heart of great mountains,
with snow-caps on every horizon line, a glacier slipping from a great ravine, and waterfalls tumbling
noisily down the slopes. A little cluster of cabins is
set in the middle of this Basin, and tiny cabins, dump
piles, and lines of flumes can be seen on the sides of
the steep mountains. The camp had fallen away in
numbers since the preceding year, and the mining
community dwindled from two hundred to less than
one hundred workers. As the placers showed signs
of exhaustion, the roving adventurers had left, and the
most of those living in the basin were chiefly occupied
in holding down their quartz claims until the reign of
law and the rush of capitalists should begin. Placer
claims that had yielded thirty dollars and fifty dollars
a day to .the man were abandoned, as the debris from
the old glaciers and land-slides came to an end.
Across the range in Dix Bow Basin the same conditions existed. Returning on the trail, we met a few
miners going back to their cabins and claims, and
one sociable fellow stopped for-a time to talk to us.
He complimented the small party on our energy in
taking that early stroll, and in the most regretful
way apologized for the roughness and wildness of the
very surroundings with which we were so enraptured. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
A jolly old fellow with a shrewd twinkle in his eye
came up the trail swinging his coat gayly, and, planting himself in the pathway, took off his hat with a
fine flourish and said to me, "Madam, I was told to
watch out for you on this road, and to look you
squarely in the eye and tell you to hurry back to the
ship or you would be left." There was a shout all
round at this unmistakable message of the skipper,
and the gay miner enjoyed it most of all. Timing
ourselves by our watches, we lingered long on the
last mile, sitting on a log in the cool shade of the
forest, where the trail almost overhung the little
town. We could watch the people walking in the
streets beneath, and in the still, slumbering sunshine
almost catch the hum of their voices. Pistol-shots
raised crashing echoes between the high mountain
walls, and set all the big ravens to croaking in hoarse
On the east shore of Douglass Island, opposite
Juneau, the group of Indian huts and canoes on the
beach, and the skeleton of a flume stalking across a
gorge and down to the water, tell of the mining
camp there. Running across the narrow channel,
the ship anchored off the Treadwell mine, on Douglass Island, and while the miners' supplies were being
put in the lighter, we all went ashore and climbed the
steep and picturesque trail to the mill. The superintendent took his lantern and marshalled the file
into the tunnel to see the air-drill at work, and
then we all filed out again. The Treadwell is one of
the remarkable mines on the Pacific coast, and said
to be one of the largest quartz ledges in the world.
The vein is over four hundred feet wide, cropping 98
out on the surface and crossed by three tunnels. The-
ore is not high grade, but is easily mined and milled,
and the supply is inexhaustible. The owners are
Messrs. Treadwell, Frye, Freeborn, and Hill, of San
Francisco, and Senator J. P. Jones of Nevada. So
far only a small 15-stamp mill has been at work on
the ore, but the owners have decided to erect a
120-stamp mill this year and develop the property
systematically The progress of the Treadwell mine
has been carefully watched by miners and capitalists,
and its success has done much to encourage others to
hold on to their properties in the face of all the discouragements they have had to undergo through government neglect.
The Bear Ledge, owned by Captain Carroll and
his partners, adjoins the Treadwell or Paris claim,
and is a continuation of the same rich vein; and from
the richness and extent of these and other mines, it
is believed that a large town will eventually spring up
on the island. A town-site was located and called
Cooperstown, in 1881, soon after the discovery of
gold on the island, but so far only the tents of placer
miners have marked it. For two seasons lawless
bodies of men worked the placers on the surface of
the Treadwell lode, and, as there was no power to
appeal to, the Treadwell company were forced to endure it. During the summer of 1883, over twenty-
five thousand dollars was taken from the surface of
the ledge in this way. The miners pounded up the
rich, decomposed quartz in hand-mortars, and as it
was impossible to extract all the gold by the rude
process employed, they dumped over into the channel richer quartz, in many instances, than had been THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
worked in the Treadwell mill. The deposit of decomposed quartz on the top of the ledge was in some
places ten feet deep, and in working it the squatters
took the water of the Paris, or Hayes Creek, and shut
off the mill supply entirely. There was a sharp
contest between the mill-owners and the hydraulic
miners, and the man-of-war at Sitka had to be sent
for before the matter was adjusted. They pledged
themselves, " until such time as they should have civil
law," to let the mill have the use of the water for
twelve hours and the miners for the other twelve
hours of each twenty-four, and the squatters were not
to blast the lode, but only wash the surface ground.
An island gold field is a rarity in mining annals,
but all Douglass Island is said to be seamed with
quartz lodes, and it is ridged with high mountains
from end to end of its twenty-mile boundaries. It
was eighty-seven years after Vancouver's surveys before the prospectors found the gold on its shores, but
the miners have retained the old nomenclature, and
the island is still Douglass Island, as Vancouver
named it in honor of his friend, the Bishop of Salisbury. 100
JUNEAU is far enough north to satisfy any reasonable summer ambition, and with its latitude
of 58° 16' N., the young mining town and future
metropolis is but little above the line of Glasgow,
Edinburgh, Copenhagen, and Moscow. The deep
waters of Gastineaux Channel are obstructed by
ledges just north of Juneau, and the eighteen feet
fall of the regular tides leaves islands and reefs visible in mid-channel. For this reason the ship had
to return on its course, and round Douglass Island,
before it could continue further north, and when that
island of solid gold quartz was left behind, the vessel
entered a maze of smaller islands and threaded its
way into the grand reaches of Lynn Canal. Vancouver named this arm of the sea for the town of
Lynn, in Norfolk, England, the place of his nativity,
and his explorers began the song of praise that is
chanted by every summer traveller who follows their
course up the high-walled, glacier-bound fiord. The
White Mountains present bold barriers on the west,
and along the eastern shores the great continental
range fronts' abruptly on the water. Each point or
peak passed brought another glacier into view, nine- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
teen glaciers in all being visible on the way up the
canal. The great Auk glacier was first seen, and
then the Eagle glacier, toppling over a precipice
three thousand feet in air, their frozen crests and
fronts turning pinnacles of silver and azure to the
radiant sun.
Not even " the blue Canary Isles " could have offered a more " glorious summer day " than the one
that we enjoyed while the Idaho steamed straight
up Lynn Canal, headed for the north pole. The sun
shone so warmly on deck that we laid aside wraps, and
sat 'under the grateful shade of an umbrella. There
was a sparkle and freshness to the air, and under an
ecstatic blue sky fleecy white clouds drifted about the
mountain summits and mingled their vapory outlines
with the fields of snow. We revelled in the beauties
of the scenes, and appreciated at the moment that
this passage leading to the Chilkat country is perhaps
the finest fiord of the coast. Lynn Canal slumbered
as a sapphire sea between its high mountain walls,
with scarcely a ripple on its surface. The blue expanse was streaked with a greenish gray where the
turbid streams poured in from the melting glaciers,
and was marked with a distinct line where the azure
water changed to green, and then it faded away into
gray again, where the fresh waters of the Chilkat
River flowed in.
At the head of Lynn Canal a long point juts out
into the current, with the Chilkat Inlet opening at
the left, and the Chilkoot Inlet at the right. Opposite
this tongue of land on the Chilkat side is the great
Davidson glacier, sweeping down a gorge between
two mountains, and spreading out like an opened fan.
J 102
The glacier is three miles across its front and twelve
hundred feet high, where it slopes to reach the level
ground, and it is separated from the waters of the
inlet by a terminal moraine covered with a thick
forest of pines. The symmetry of its outlines< and
the grand slope of its broken surface are most impressive, and this mighty torrent, arrested in its
sweep, shows in every pinnacle and crevice all the
blues of heaven, the palest tints of beryl and glacier
ice, and the sheen of snow and silver in the sunshine.
It is worthily named for Professor George Davidson,
the astronomer, and its lower slopes were explored
by him during his visits to the Chilkat country on
government and scientific missions.
Rounding a sharp point beyond the glacier, the
Idaho swept into a circling, half-moon cove, where
a picturesque Indian camp nestled at the foot of
the precipitous Mount Labouchere, not named for the
witty editor of the London Truth, but for one of the
Hudson Bay Company's steamers that first penetrated
these waters and anchored regularly in this Pyramid
Harbor. The cannon-shot, which was such an important feature in the progress of the Idaho, gave a
tremendous echo from mountain to mountain, and
glacier to glacier, and thundered and rolled down the
inlet for uncounted seconds, as the anchor dropped.
The tents and bark huts, and the trader's store of the
little settlement;showed finely against the deep green
mat at the foot of the vertical mountain, and in the
early afternoon all lay in clear shadow, and the mountain seemed to almost overhang the ship as she swung
round from her anchor chain. There was an excited
rushing to and fro on shore; dogs and Indians gath-   THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
ered at the beach, and canoes put  off before  the
ship's boats were lowered to'take us ashore.
The Northwest Trading Company's large store and
salmon cannery were quite overlooked in the travellers' hasty rush for the Indian tents, that were scattered in groups along the narrow clearing between
tide-water and.mountain wall. Before each tent and
cabin were frames, hung with what looked to be bits
of red flannel at a distance, but proved to be drying
salmon when we reached them. It was a gaudy and
effective decoration, and a Chilkat salmon is as bright
a color, when caught, as a lobster after it has been
boiled. Though a warlike and aggressive people, the
Chilkats practise many of the arts of peace, and the
wood-carvings and curios that they had for sale were
eagerly bought. Miniature totem poles and canoes,
pipes, masks, forks, and spoons changed ownership
rapidly, and Indians and' passengers regretted that
there were no more. Bone sticks, used for martin-
traps by the Tinneh tribes of the interior, were to
be had, with every stick topped with some totemic
beast, and there were queer little fish and toys of
soapstone, made by the same peaceful natives. Copper bracelets, covered with Chilkat designs, were
offered by a lame rascal, who said, " Gold ! gold ! " to
the eager curio-seekers who snatched at his shining
wares. Copper knives and arrow-tips were also displayed, and articles of this metal are distinctly Chilkat work, as the art of forging copper was long a
secret of theirs. Relics of the stone age were
brought forth, and granite mortars and axes, and
leather dressers of slate, offered for sale. Stone-
age implements are being rapidly gathered up in this 106
country, and a trader, who has received and filled large
orders for eastern museums and societies, threatens
to bring up a skilled stonecutter to supply the increasing demands of scientists, now that the Indians
have parted with most of their heirloom specimens.
In one tent two women were at work weaving a
large Chilkat blanket on a primitive loom. These
blankets, woven from the long fleece of the mountain
goat, have been a specialty of the Chilkats as long, as
white men have known them. The chiefs who met
Vancouver were wrapped in these gorgeous totemic
blankets or cloaks, and in early days they were commonly worn by the chiefs and rich men. Since the traders
have introduced the woollen blankets of commerce,
the native manufactures have been neglected, and
now that the art is dying out, the'few that remain in
the possession of the natives are highly valued and THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
only taken from their cedar boxes on the occasion of
great feasts and ceremonies. These blankets are
found among all the Thlinket tribes, and the Haidas
at Kasa-an Bay had many Chilkat cloaks and garments stored away in their cabins. The blankets
average two yards in width and about one yard in
depth, and are bordered at the ends and across the
bottom with a deep fringe. The colors are black,
white, and yellow, with occasional touches of a soft,
dull blue. 'Soot, or bituminous coal, gives the base for
the black dye, and they get the pure, brilliant yellow
from a moss that grows on the rocks. The blue is
made by boiling copper and seaweeds together. They
make fine trophies for wall decorations, or, as rugs or
lambrequins, are superior to the Navajo and Zuni
blankets of the New Mexico Indians. The totemic
figures woven in these cloaks tell allegories and
legends to the natives, and the conventionalized
whales, eagles, and ravens are full of meaning, recording the great battles between the clans, the incidents
of family history, and deeds at arms. The price of a
blanket ranges from twenty to forty dollars; the fineness of the work, the beauty of the design, and the
anxiety of the purchaser all helping to increase the
As in all Indian villages, the fierce, wolfish-looking
dogs showed an inclination to growl and snap at the
white people, but the hard-featured, strong-minded
women of the Chilkat tribe silenced them with a
word, or a skilfully thrown brand snatched from the
family camp fire. The children and the dogs were
always getting under foot and crowding into each
group, and in the Alpine valley, where the afternoon 108
shadows brought a pleasant sharpness to the air, the'
youngsters were as scantily clad as in the tropics.
They sat on the damp ground and stole handfuls of
rice from the pots boiling on the fires, or furtively
dipped the spoons into the mess one minute and hit
the dogs with the table utensil the next. One boy,
who had sold a great many little carved toys to the
visitors, dashed off into a thicket of wild roses, and
gallantly brought back fragrant pink blossoms for his
customers. Sitka Jack's carved canoe was drawn up
on shore, and that grandee at last appeared to us,
and after selling his own pipe and carved possessions,
he wandered about and interfered in every one's bargains by urging the natives to ask more for their
Of the white celebrities residing at Pyramid Harbor,
there was one with the enviable fame of being " the
handsomest man in Alaska," and when he went
gliding out to the ship in a swift native canoe, and
appeared on deck as if just stepped aside from a
Broadway stroll, there was a perceptible flutter in the
ladies' cabin. Another fine-looking man of distinguished manner, found wandering on shore, proved to
be a French count, who, having dissipated three
fortunes in the gayeties of a Parisian life, has hidden
himself in this remote corner of the world to ponder
on the philosophy of life, and wait for the favorable
stroke that shall enable him to return and shine once
more among his gay comrades of the boulevard, the
Bois and the opera foyer.
At Pyramid Harbor the ship reached the most
northern point on her course and the end of the inside
passage.    At 590 11' N. we were many degrees distant THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
from the Arctic Circle, but, although it was mid-July,
the sun did not set until half past nine o'clock by
ship's time, and the clear twilight lasted until the
royal flush of sunrise was bathing the summits of the
higher mountains. At midnight fine print could be
read on deck, and at the hour when churchyards yawn
the amateur photographers turned their cameras upon
the matchless panorama before them, and the full
witchery of that serene northern night was felt when
the crescent of the young moon showed itself faint
and ethereal in the eastern sky.
We had been watching a rocky platform up on the
mountain side, in the hopes of seeing the bear with
her cubs, who/living in some crevice near there, was
said to promenade on her airy perch at all hours of
the day and look down defiantly on the settlement.
We were tiring of that cuckoo-clock amusement,
when a shaggy man came on the scene and said to
the photographers, —
" You ought to have been here in June, if you
wanted to see long days. You never would know
when it was time to go to bed then."
" Does n't it ever get dark here ?" we yawned at
him in chorus.
" Sometimes," he answered. " 'Bout long enough
to get your overcoat off, I reckon."
A year later there was the same beautiful trip up
Lynn Canal, and as a mark of growth and progress
the Ancon found a large wharf to tie up to at Pyramid
Harbor. The cannery building had been enlarged,
and the Indian tents replaced with log and bark
houses. The cannery, that had been a losing venture
in the first year, gave promise of better returns, and 110
I :i
Pyramid Harbor wore quite a prosperous air. The
Indians and their curios were again the sole distracting interest of the passengers, and the Chilkats, as
before, sold everything desirable that they owned.
A strapping young Indian seized upon us as we
were wandering on shore, rattled off the few words,
I My papa, Sitka Jack, my papa heap sick," and soon
we were chasing over grass and gravel, at the heels of
this young Hercules, to his neat log house. The son
of Sitka Jack showed first the curios he had for sale,
and then his pretty wife, who wore a yellow dress and
a bright blue blanket, and had a clean face illuminated
by soft black eyes and rosy cheeks. Lastly he led us
at a quickstep to the place where his venerable papa
sat crouched in a blanket. The son spoke English
well, but so rapidly, that he brought himself up breathless every few minutes, and the docile, infantile way
in which this six-footed fellow spoke of his " papa"
more than amused us.
The "papa" is one of the head chiefs of the Sitka
tribe, but goes to Chilkat Inlet every summer to visit
his wife's relations during the salmon season. He
is an arrant old rascal, and has made a great deal
of trouble at times; but in his feeble old age he
has a kindly and pleasant smile, and a quiet dignity
that is in great contrast to his vehement, impetuous
young son. Mrs. Sitka Jack is the sister of Doniwak,
the one-eyed tyrant who rules the lower Chilkat
village, and now that her liege is becoming helpless,
her influence is more supreme than ever. She sat
like a queen, kindly relaxing some of the grimness of
her expression when she saw that we had been buying from her son, but everything indicated that she THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
had the most eloquent and obstreperous chief of the
Sitkans completely disciplined. One. of her Chilkat
nephews was introduced to us by her glib son, and
the hulking young savage fairly crushed our civilized
hands in his friendly grasp, and critically examined
our purchases.
A wild-looking old medicine-man, with long red hair,
hovered on the outskirts of the group, and finally
showed us, with innocent pride, a naval officer's letter
of credentials, which testified to his having a good
ear for music, since he neither flinched nor winked,
when a large cannon was slyly touched off at his
elbow, during one of his visits on board a man-of-war.
Three-Fingered Jack, a celebrity of another order,
wandered about the camp arrayed in the cast-off
uniform of a naval officer, with his breast pinned full
of tin and silver stars, like a German diplomat.
Sitka Jack's son looked quite unconscious while the
three-fingered lion passed by; but when we directed
his attention to him, the son of his papa gave a pitying, contemptuous look and declared that he did not
know who it was. As well might we have asked one
of the Capulets who Romeo was.
Kloh-Kutz, or Hole-in-the-Cheek, the head chief of
the Chilkats, appeared to us only in flying glimpses,
as he ran up and down the steps of the trader's store.
He is a wrinkled old fellow now, and the hole left in
his cheek by a wound is decorated by a large bone
button similar to those that the women wear in their
cheeks. When Professor Davidson, of the Coast
Survey, went to the Chilkat country in 1867, on the
revenue cutter Lincoln, Capt. J. W. White commanding, to gather material for a report upon the topo- SOUTHERN ALASKA.
graphy, climate, and the resources of Alaska, called
for by the Congressional committees having the matter of the purchase of the territory in charge, he first
made the acquaintance of Kloh-Kutz, then in his
In 1869 Professor Davidson revisited the Chilkat
country to observe the total eclipse of the sun, and,
by invitation of Kloh-Kutz, established his observatory at the village of Klu-Kwan, twenty miles up the
Chilkat River. The station was called Kloh-Kutz in
honor of the distinguished patron and protector of
the scientists, who gave them the great council-house
for a residence. In the ardor of his-hospitality Kloh-
Kutz was going to have the name I Davidson "
tattoed on his arm, but at the suggestion of the
astronomer gave up that elaborate design, and had
a Seward " traced across his biceps with a needle
and thread dipped in soot and seal oil and drawn
through the flesh. He was quite willing to wear his
name when he learned that Seward was the great
Tyee, or chief, who bought the country of the Russians and thereby raised the price of furs so greatly.
In advance of the eclipse, Professor Davidson told
his host what would happen; that the sun would be
hidden at midday, and darkness fall upon the land
on the 7th of August, and that it would come as a
great shadow sweeping down the valley of the Chilkat. The Indians had always • gathered and silently
watched the white men when they pointed their
strange instruments at the sun each day, but they fled
in terror when the great darkness began to come, and
did not return until the eclipse was over. They
regarded Professor Davidson with the greatest awe, THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
as a • wonderful medicine-man who could perform
such great miracles at will; and Kloh-Kutz, delighted
with the great trick of his friend, made a serious
offer of all his canoes, blankets, and wives, if the
astronomer would tell him "how he did it," and
divulge the secret confidentially to a brother conjurer.
The evening before the eclipse, word reached Professor Davidson that Secretary Seward and his party
were at the mouth of the Chilkat River, to convey
him back to Portland on their steamer, as soon as
his observations were completed. Kloh-Kutz was
invited to come down and meet the great Tyee, and
hold a council with Gen. Jeff. C. Davis, the military
commandant, who had gone up from Sitka with the
Seward party. Kloh-Kutz chose the flower of Chilkat chivalry to' go below with his great war canoe
and carry a letter from Professor Davidson to Mr.
Seward, urging him to " come up hither" and see
the territory he had bought; and luring on the ex-
premier by saying that he had discovered an iron
mountain, the ore of which was seventy per cent
iron. Referring to this fact in a speech made at a
public meeting in Sitka afterwards, Mr. Seward
said :
'■'When I came there I found very properly he had
been studying the heavens so busily that he had but
cursorily examined the earth under his feet; that it
was not a single iron mountain he had discovered,
but a range of hills, the very dust of which adheres
to the magnet, while the range itself, 2,000 feet high,
extends along the east bank of the river thirty
miles." 114
Mr. Seward and his son, and General Davis, with two
staff officers, and others of the party, left the ship in
three canoes early on the morning of the day of the
eclipse. They were half way up to Klu-Kwan village,
when the shadow began to cross the sun, and the
■ weird, unearthly light fell upon the land. The In
dians in the canoe said the sun I was very sick and
wanted to go to sleep," and they refused to paddle any
further. The canoes were beached quickly, and the
visitors made a sociable camp-fire for themselves, and
cooked their dinner by its blaze. Late in the afternoon they reached the village, and that evening Kloh-
Kutz made a call of ceremony upon the guests in the
council-house. There was an array of Chilkat chiefs
and Chilkat women to witness the meeting of the
Tyees, and after a speech of welcome, Kloh-Kutz
drew up his sleeve dramatically and showed the
I Seward " tattoed with his totems on his arm.
The great diplomat was quite astonished and bewildered, and the handwriting on the wall hardly
made a greater sensation in Belshazzar's court.
The next morning the wa-wa, or official council,
was held with the aid of two interpreters, one to
translate English into Russian, and the other to
translate Russian into Chilkat. Believing that if
Mr. Seward bought Alaska, he must still own it in
person, Kloh-Kutz ignored Gen. Davis, as being only
the great Tyee's servant, and addressed himself
directly to the supposed ruler of the whole country.
His grievance was that, ten years before, three
Chilkats had been killed at Sitka, and how, "What
is the great Tyee going to do about it ?" Kloh-
Kutz was not to be put off by the diplomatic answer THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
that the murder had happened during Russian days.
He said that " the Tyee of the Russians was so poor
that he could not keep his land and had to sell it,"
but for all that he must have reparation for the loss
of his three Chilkats. To his mind one Chilkat was
worth three Sitkans, and if the Tyee would let him
kill nine Sitkans, the account would be squared.
With a finesse worthy of a diplomat who had dealt
with all the great nations of the earth, Mr. Seward
finally brought Kloh-Kutz down to accepting forty
blankets as an indemnity, and he arid his sub-chief
Colchica and their wives led the guard of honor that
escorted the great Tyee back to his ship. Captain
C. C. Dall, who commanded the steamer Active
during that memorable cruise, gave a great entertainment to the chiefs on board, and fireworks rounded
off that memorable evening. Mr. Seward presented
a flag to the Chilkat chief, and at the banquet in
the cabin, he and Professor Davidson gave astronomy
by easy lessons to their Chilkat visitors, and disclaimed any agency in the eclipse as an accompaniment of the Tyee's visit.
' Kloh-Kutz is delighted yet to show his Seward tattoo mark to any one, and to tell of the visit of the great
Tyee. He is a chief of advanced and liberal notions,
a high-strung, imperious old fellow, and has a fine
countenance, marred only by the wound in his cheek,
which was received at the hands of one of his own
tribe during some internecine troubles. His assailant
held a revolver close to Kloh-Kutz's head, and when
the chief looked scornfully at it, the trigger was
snapped. Weak powder prevented the ball from
inflicting any more serious injuries than to enter his 116
cheek and tear away a few teeth. Kloh-Kutz swallowed his teeth and handed the bullet back to his
assailant with a fine gesture, saying : I You cannot
hurt me.    See ! "
A few years since a young German was sent up to
establish the trading post at Pyramid Harbor, and
was introduced to Kloh-Kutz as a great Tyee. When
the agent failed to recognize, or understand the
meaning of the "Seward" on his arm, Kloh-Kutz
was disgusted, and refused to treat with him as anything but a mere trader.
I How can he be a Tyee, if he does not know the
chief of all the Tyees?" scornfully said Kloh Kutz.
On the east shore of Chilkat Inlet, opposite
Pyramid Harbor, is the rival trading station of
Chilkat, where Kinney, the Astoria salmon packer,
has another cannery. In the rivalry and competition
of the first year (1883) btween the Pyramid Harbor
and Chilkat canneries, the price of salmon rose from
two to fifteen cents for a single fish, and the Indians,
once demoralized by opposition prices, refused to
listen to reason when the canneries had to, and
Chinese cheap labor was imported. There has been
wrath in the Chilkat heart ever since the Chinese
cousins went there, and old Kloh-Kutz indignantly
said : " If Indian know how to make hoochinoo (whiskey) out of an oil can and a piece of seaweed, he
knows enough to can salmon."
During its first year the Kinney cannery shipped
sixty barrels of salt salmon and 2,890 cases of canned
salmon, working at a great disadvantage for want of
proper nets. In 1884 the amount of salmon shipped
Chilkat and Pyramid Harbor are rivals also in the
fur trade, and at Chilkat especially, the skins and
furs shown were finer than had been seen at any
of the other trading places. The shrewd Chilkats
are as hard bargainers as the old Hudson Bay Company people ever were, and they get the furs from
the interior tribes for a mere trifle in comparison
to what they demand for the same pelts from the
traders. In Hudson Bay Company trades, the cheap
flint-lock muskets used to be sold to the Indians, by
standing the gun on the ground and piling up marten
skins beside it, until they were even with the top of
the gun-barrel. That hoax is equalled now by the
tricks of the Chilkats, who sell gunpowder to the
unsophisticated men of the interior tribes at an average rate of twenty-five dollars a pound, and boast of
their smartness at this kind of bargaining which brings
a profit of one hundred and even two thousand per
cent. Only one tourist was ever known to get the
better of a Chilkat at a bargain, and that was when a
common red felt tennis hat, bought for half a dollar
at Victoria, was exchanged for a silver bracelet by a
Chicago man, who regretted for the rest of his trip
that he had not bought a box of hats to trade for
Back of the Chilkat cannery a few miles, and facing on Chilkoot Inlet, is the mission station of Haines,
named for a benevolent lady of Brooklyn, N. Y, who
supports the establishment, presided over by the Rev.
E. S. Willard and his wife.
Either the Chilkat, or the Chilkoot Inlet gives entrance to a chain of rivers and lakes, that, leading
through gorges  and mountain passes, conducts the P^
prospector by a final portage to Lewis River, one of
the head tributaries of the Yukon. The Chilkat Indians, with a fine sense of the importance of their
position, have always closely guarded these approaches
to the interior, and prevented the Indians of the. back
country from ever coming down to the coast and the
white traders. They have thus held the monopoly of
the fur trade of the region, and, while keeping "the
interior Indians back, have been quite as careful not
to let any white men across.
On account of this guard, Vancouver's men experienced some of the hospitable attentions of the Chilkats when they were exploring the channel in 1794.
A canoe-load of natives bore down upon Whidby's
boat, and urged the Englishmen to accompany them
on up the Chilkat River to the great villages, where
eight chiefs of consequence resided. Vancouver's
men declined the invitation, and the chief, commanding the first canoe, made hostile flourishes with the
brass speaking-trumpet and other nautical insignia
that he carried. They followed the boats out to the
mouth of the channel, and alarmed the Englishmen
greatly, as they feared an attack by the whole tribe
at any moment.
The Russian and Hudson Bay Company's ships
traded with the Chilkats for a half century without
ever dealing directly with one of the natives of the
interior, from whom came the vast stores of furs
that were exchanged each year. The Chilkats met
the men of the Tinneh (interior) tribes at an established place many miles from the mouth of the river,
and occasionally, as a matter of diplomacy, they
would bring a great Tinneh chief down under escort, THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
and allow him to look at the " fire ship" of the
The first man to run the gauntlet of the Chilkoot
Pass was a red-headed Scotchman in the employ of
the Hudson Bay Company, who left Fort Selkirk in
1864 and forced his way alone through the unknown
country to Chilkoot Inlet. The Indians seized the
adventurer and held him prisoner until Captain Swan-
son, with the Hudson Bay Company steamer La-
bouchere, came up and took him away. In 1872 one
George Holt dodged through the Chilkoot Pass, and
went down the Lewis River to the Yukon. In 1874
Holt again crossed the Chilkoot Pass, followed the
Lewis River to the Yukon, and then down that mighty
stream to a place near its mouth, where he crossed
by a portage to the Kuskokquin River, and thence
to the sea.
In 1877 a party of miners set out from Sitka under
the leadership of Edmund Bean, and attempted to
cross by the Chilkoot Pass, but the Indians obliged
them to turn back.
In 1878 and in 1880, prospecting parties left Sitka
for the head waters of the Yukon, and the latter company, through the clever diplomacy and active interest
of Captain Beardslee, commanding the U. S. S. Jamestown, were hospitably received by the Chilkats and
guided through their country, when convinced that
they would not interfere with their fur trade. They
found indications of gold all the way, and large gravel
deposits. This party descended the Lewis River to
Fort Selkirk and there divided, one set of prospectors
going down to Fort Yukon, and the others up the
Pelly River and thence to the head waters of the .120
Stikine River and the Cassiar region of British Columbia.
In the spring of 1882 a party of forty-five miners,
all old Arizona prospectors, left Juneau for the head
waters of the Yukon. They returned in the fall, and
reported discoveries of gold, silver, copper, nickel,
and bituminous coal in the region between the Copper and Lewis Rivers.
In the spring of 1883 one Dugan led a party from
Juneau over the divide. In September they sent back
by Indians for an additional supply of provisions, intending to remain in the interior all winter. They
reported placer mines yielding one hundred and fifty
dollars a day to the man, but another party, that left
Juneau soon after Dugan, returned in September
without having found any placers that yielded more
than twenty-five dollars a day.
Altogether more than two hundred prospectors
crossed from Lynn Canal to the Yukon country during the first three years after the Chilkats raised their
blockade. The Chilkats kept control of the travel,
and charged six and ten dollars for each hundred
pounds of goods that they packed across the twenty-
four-mile portage intervening between the river and
the chain of lakes.
In May, 1883, Lieut. Schwatka and party crossed
this same divide, and made a quick journey of more
than two thousand miles by raft down the Lewis
River to the Yukon, and down the Yukon to St. Michael's Island in Behring Sea, and thence to San
Francisco by the revenue cutter Corwin.
In April, 1884, Dr. Everette, U. S. A., and two
companions went over the Chilkat Pass to work their THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
way westward to Copper River and descend it to its
mouth. In June, Lieut. Abercrombie, U. S. A., and
three companions were landed at the mouth of Copper River, with orders to ascend that stream and
descend the Chilkat to Lynn Canal. These expeditions were sent out by order of General Miles, commanding the Department of the Columbia, who
visited Alaska in 1882, and has since manifested a
great interest in the Territory.
The present maps of this upper region of the
Yukon give only the general courses of the rivers, and
have not changed in any important details the Russian charts. A unique map of the country is one
drawn by Kloh-Kutz and his wife for Professor Davidson, and which was made the basis and authority
for one official chart, the original remaining in Professor Davidson's possession at San Francisco. Kloh-
Kutz has known the Yukon route from childhood, and,
lying face downward, he and his wife drew on the back
of an old chart all the rivers, with the profile of the
mountains as they appear on either side of the watercourses. The one great glacier in which the Chilkat
and the Lewis branch of the Yukon River head, is
indicated by snow-shoe tracks to show the mode of
progress, and the limit of each of the fourteen days'
journey across to Fort Selkirk is marked by cross
lines on this original Chilkat map. The father of
Kloh-Kutz was a great chief and fur-trader before
him, and was one of the party of Chilkats that went
across and burned Fort Selkirk in 1851, in retaliation for the Hudson Bay Company's interference
with their fur trade with the Tinnehs.
The Doctors Krause, of the Geographical Society 122
of Bremen, who spent a year at the mouth of the
Chilkat lately, made some explorations of the region
about the portages of the Yukon, and their maps and
publications have been of great value to the Coast
Survey. There are dangerous rapids and canons on
the watercourses leading to the Yukon, and none but
miners and the most adventurous traders will probably ever avail themselves of this route ; although by
going some six hundred miles up to Fort Yukon,
which is just within the Arctic Circle, the land of
the midnight sun is reached. Professor Dall, who
spent two years on the Yukon, has fully described
the country below Fort Yukon in his " Resources of
Alaska;" and the Schiefflin Brothers, of Tombstone,
Arizona, who followed his path on an elaborately
planned prospecting expedition in 1882, added little
and almost nothing more to the general knowledge of
the region. The Schiefflins found gold, but considered
the remoteness from the sources of supplies, and the
long winters, too great obstacles for any mines to
be ever successfully worked there. There are fur-
traders' stations all along the two thousand miles of
the great stream, and within the United States boundaries, the Alaska Commercial Company, and the
Western Fur Company of San Francisco, buy the
pelts from the Indians, and divide the great fur trade
of this interior region. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
FROM Pyramid Harbor the ship went south to
Icy Straits and up the other side of the long
peninsula to Glacier Bay, so named by Captain
Beardslee in 1880. At the mouth of it, in unknown
and unsurveyed waters, began the search for a new
trading station in a cove, since known as Bartlett
Bay, in honor of the owner of the fishery, a merchant
of Port Townsend.
Vancouver's boats passed by Glacier Bay during his
third cruise on this coast, and his men saw only
frozen mountains and an expanse of ice as far as the
eye could reach. It is only within a decade that anything has been known of the extent of the great bay
at the foot of the Fairweather Alps, and no surveys
have been made of its shores to correct the imperfect
charts now in use. Revenue cutters, men-of-war, and
traders' ships had gone as far as the entrance, but
were prevented from advancing by adverse winds
and currents, floating ice, and shoaling waters. The
old moraine left by the ice-sheet that once covered
the whole bay forms a bar and barrier at its mouth,
and the channel has to be sought cautiously.
Skirting the wooded shores and sailing through ice
floes, every glass was brought into requisition for signs 124
of life on land. Towards noon a white man and two
Indians were sighted signalling from a canoe, and the
steamer waited while they paddled towards it. They
had been off on an unsucessful hunt for the sea
otter, and gladly consented to have their canoe hauled
up on deck and to impart all their knowledge of Bartlett Cove. At three o'clock a resounding bang from
the cannon announced to the Hooniahnatives onshore,
that the first ship that had ever entered that harbor
was at hand. A canoe came rapidly paddling towards
us, and a wild figure rose in the stern and shouted to
the captain to " go close up to the new house and anchor
in thirteen fathoms of water." This was Dick Wil-
loughby, the first American pioneer in Alaska, a local
genius, and a far-away, polar variety of " Colonel Sellers," most interesting to encounter in this last region of No-Man's Land. Dick Willoughby came to
this northwest coast in 1858, emigrating from Virginia
by way of Missouri. Since that time he has ranged
the Alaskan shores from the boundary line to Ben-
ring's Straits, trading with the Indians, and prospecting for all the known minerals. Willoughby's mines
and possessions are scattered all up and down the
coast, and there is not a new scheme or enterprise in
the territory in which he has not a share. His mines,
if once developed to the extent he claims possible,
would make him greater than all the bonanza men,
and in crude and well-stored gold, silver, iron, coal,
copper, lead, and marble he is fabulously rich. In all
the twenty-five years he has spent here, Dick Willoughby has gone down to San Francisco but once,
and then was in haste to get back to his cool northern
A little Indian camp edged the beach below Wil-
loughby's log house and store, and the natives came
out to look at us, with quite as much interest as we
went on shore to see them. A small iceberg, drifted
near shore, was the point of attack for the amateur
photographers, and the Indian children marvelled with
open eyes at the " long-legged gun " that was pointed
at the young men, who posed on the perilous and picturesque points of the berg. Icebergs drifting down
the bay, and small cakes of ice washing in shore with
the rising tide, secured that luxury of the summer
larder to the Indians, and in every tent and bark
house on shore there was to be found a pail or basket
of ice-water. In Willoughby's store there were curios
and baskets galore, and after his long and quiet life in
the wilderness the poor man was nearly distracted,
when seven ladies began talking to him at once, and
mixed up the new style nickel pieces with the money
they offered him.
The packing-house had just been built, and the
ship unloaded more lumber, nets, salt, barrel-staves
and hoops, and general merchandise and provisions
for the new station. The small lighters and canoes
in which the freight was taken ashore made unloading a slow process, although the whole native popula-.
tion assisted. The small boys joined in the carnival,
and little Indians of not more than six years trooped
over the rocky beach barefooted, and carried bundles
of barrel-staves and shingles on their heads.
We roamed the beach, hunting for the round, cup-,
like barnacles that the whales rub off their tormented
sides, and the children, quick to see what we -were
looking for, trooped up the beach ahead of us, and 126
soon returned with dozens of them that they sold for
a good price. Back in the little valley and natural
clearing, the ground was covered with wild flowers
and running strawberry vines, and the botanist was
up to his shoulders in strange bushes, up to his
ankles in mire, and in wild ecstacy at his finds.
When we complimented Dick Willoughby upon the
promising appearance of his little vegetable garden,
and the great crop of strawberries coming on, he
assured us that in a few weeks the ground would be
red with fruit, and that he did not know but that he
would be canning the wild strawberries by another
In one tent the best Indian hunter lay dying
from the wounds received in an encounter with a
bear, his face being stripped of flesh by the clawing
of the fierce animal, and his body frightfully mangled.
The Indians, to whom remnants of their superstition
cling, viewed him sadly as one punished by the
spirits. Their old shamans taught them that the
spirit of a man resided in the black bear, and it was
sacrilege to slay this animal, representing their great
totem. The old men mutter prayers whenever they
find the tracks of a bear, and cannot be induced to
bring in the skin entire. It is rare to find an Alaska
bear skin with the nose on, the Indians believing
that they have appeased the spirit if they leave that
sacred particle untouched. The black, the grizzly,
and the rare St. Elias silver bear are found in this
Hooniah country, and their skins at the trader's store
ranged in price from eight to twenty dollars.
The mountain goat — Aplocerus Montana by his full
name—disports himself on all  the   crags   around THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
Glacier Bay, and leaps through the glacial regions of
the Fairweather Alps. He has a long, silvery white
hair, that is not particularly fine, but his sharp, little
black horns are great trophies for the hunter, and
are carved into spoon handles by the expert craftsmen of all the Thlinket tribes.
MatoiM   M,fi
The cool waters of Glacier Bay, filled with floating
ice, are the great summer resort for the wary sea otter
and the hair seal. The fur seal is occasionally found,
but not in such numbers as to make it a feature of
the hunting season; and as the pelts are stretched
and dried before being brought in by the Indians,
they are valueless to the furrier. The Hooniahs
inhabiting this bay and the shores of Cross Sound
and  Icy  Straits  claim  the   monopoly  of   the  seal 128
and otter fisheries, and have had great wars with the
other tribes who ventured into their hunting grounds.
Indians even came up from British Columbia, and a
few years ago the Hooniahs invoked the aid of the
man-of-war to drive away the trespassing "King
George men."
The seal is food, fuel, and raiment to them, and
square wooden boxes of seal oil stand in every
Hooniah tent. Age increases its qualities for them,
and rancid seal oil and dried salmon, salmon eggs,
or herring roe, mixed with oil, and a salad of seaweed dressed with oil, are the national dishes of all
the Thlinket tribes. Boiled seal flippers are a great
dainty, and in one Hooniah tent we peered into the
family kettle, and saw the black flippers waving in
the simmering waters like human hands. It looked
like cannibalism, but the old man who was superintending the stew said: "Seal! Seal all same as hog."
The Chinook term for seal is cocho Siwash, or, literally, I Indian hog," and it quite corresponds to
American pork in its universal use.
In one smoky tent, a native silversmith was hard
at work, pounding from half dollar pieces the silver
bracelets which are the chief and valued ornaments
of the Thlinket women. This Tiffany of the Hooniah
tribe nodded to us amiably, carefully examined the
workmanship of the bracelets we wore, and then
went on to show us how they were made. We sat
fascinated for nearly an hour in the thick smoke that
blew in every direction from the fire, to watch this
artist make bracelets with only the rudest implements.
He first put the coin in an iron spoon and set it on
the coals for some minutes, and when he drew out THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
the spoon, and took the silver disk between a pair of
old pincers, he nodded his head to us and muttered
Klimmiii—the Chinook word for soft. Holding it
with the pincers, he hammered it on an old piece
of iron, and heating it, turning it, and pounding away
vigorously, he soon laid a long slender strip of silver
before us. Another heating, a deft hammering and
polishing, and the bracelet was ready to be engraved
with a clumsy steel point in simple geometrical
designs, or with the conventionalized dog-fish, salmon,
seals, and whales of Hooniah art. After that it was
heated and bent into shape to fit the wrist.
For these Klickivillies, or bracelets, the white
visitors were asked three dollars a pair, while the
native rule is to pay the silversmith just twice the
value of the coins used. He was an amiable old
fellow, this Hooniah silversmith, and he kept no
secrets of his art from us, bringing out finger rings,
nose rings, long silver lip pins, and earrings to
show us. The Indian women in his tent were well
bedecked with silver ornaments, and if all three of
them were his wives, the silversmith's trade must be a
profitable one. Each women had her wrists covered
with rows of closely fitting bracelets, always in odd
numbers, arid double rows of rings were on their
fingers. The men of these tribes sport the nose
rin°" as well as the women, and are not satisfied with
wearing one pair of earrings at a time, but pierce
the rim of the ear with a succession of holes, and
wear in each one a silver hoop, a bead, or a charm, in
memory of some particular deed.
The Hooniahs are next to the Haidas in skill and
intelligence, and in the graves of their medicine men 130
are found carvings on bone, and fossil ivory, mountain goat horns, and shells, that prove that they
once possessed even greater skill in these things.
On the grave cloth of one shaman buried near a village on Cross Sound, were lately found some flat
pieces of ivory and bone, four and six inches long,
carved with faces and totemic symbols. Age had
turned them to a deep rich yellow and brown, and a
slight rubbing restored the brilliant polish, that
enhanced them when they were first sewed to the
blankets and wrappings of the dead shaman. His
rattles, masks, drums, and implements of his profession, buried with him, were of the finest workmanship,
and proved the superiority of the ancient carvers.
The Hooniah women weave baskets from the fine
bark of the cedar and from split spruce roots, and
ornament them with geometrical patterns" in brilliant
colors, but the weaving that we saw was not as fine
as that of some of the more southern tribes. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
WHEN Dick Willoughby told of the great glacier thirty miles up the bay, the thud of
whose falling ice could beheard and felt at his house,
and declared that it once rattled the tea-cups on his
table, and sent a wave washing high up on his shore,
the captain of the Idaho said he would go there,
and took this Dick Willoughby along to find the place
and prove the tale. Away we went coursing up
Glacier Bay, a fleet of one hundred and twelve little
icebergs gayly sailing out to meet us, as we left our
anchorage the next morning. Entering into these
unknown and unsurveyed waters, the lead was cast
through miles of bottomless channels, and when the
ship neared a green and mountainous island at the
mouth of the bay, the captain and the pilot made me
an unconditional present of the domain, and duly
entered it on the ship's log by name. It is just off
Garden Point, and for a summer resort Scidmore
Island possesses unusual advantages. Heated and
suffering humanity is invited to visit that emerald
spot in latitude 580 29' north, and longitude 1350 52'
west from Greenwich, and enjoy the July temperature of 450, the seal and salmon fishing, the fine
hunting, and the sight of one of the grandest of the 132
many great glaciers that break directly into the sea
along the Alaska coast.
The gray-green water, filled with sediment, told
that glaciers were near, and icebergs, from the size of
a house down to the merest lumps; circled around us,
showing the ineffable shades of pale greens and
blues, and clinking together musically as the steamer
passed by. The tides rush fiercely in and out of
Glacier Bay, and heavy fogs add to the dangers of
navigation, and Captain Beardslee and Major Morris,
who entered it in the little steamer Favorite in 1880,
were obliged to put back without making any explorations. The charts as they now appear are very
faulty, the sketches having been made from information given by Mr. Willoughby and Indian seal hunters,
and from brief notes furnished by Professor Muir.
At the head of every inlet around the great bay there
are glaciers, and Mr. Willoughby said that in five of
these fiords there are glaciers a mile and a half wide,
with vertical fronts of seamed ice rising two hundred
and four hundred feet from the water. In one of
them a-small island divides the ice cataract, and
Niagara itself is repeated in this glacial corner of the
north. At low tide, bergs and great sections of the
fronts fall off into the water, and Glacier Bay is filled
with this debris of the glaciers, that floats out from
every inlet and is swept to and fro with the tides.
Dick Willoughby stood on the bridge with the
navigators, and gave them the benefit of his experience. After a while he came back to the group
of ladies on deck, and, sitting down, shook his head
seriously and said : —
" You ladies are very brave to venture up in such THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO. 133
a place. If you only knew the risks you are running
— the dangers you are in ! " And the pioneer's voice
had a tone of the deepest concern as he said it.
We received this with some laughter, and expressed
entire confidence in the captain and pilot, who had
penetrated glacial fastnesses and unknown waters
before. A naval officer, on* board echoed the Willoughby strain, and declared that a commander would
never attempt to take a man-of-war into such a dangerous place, and deprecated Captain Carroll's daring
and  rashness.     The  merchant  marine was able to
"■*4£^fr*^^^Jsr««   -fe- ^
retaliate when this naval comment was repeated, and
Glacier Bay was suggested as the safest place for a
government vessel's cruise, on account of the entire
absence of schooners.
The lead was cast constantly, and the Idaho veered
gracefully from right to left, went slowly, and stopped
at times, to avoid the ice floes that bore down upon
it with the outgoing tide. Feeling the way along
carefully, the anchor was cast beside a grounded iceberg, and the photographers were rowed off to a
small island to take the view of the ship in the midst
of that Arctic scenery. Mount Crillon showed his
hoary head to us in glimpses between the clouds, 134
and then, rounding Willoughby Island, which the
owner declares is solid marble of a quality to rival
that of Pentelicus and Carrara, we saw the full front
of the great Muir Glacier, where it dips down and
breaks into the sea, at the end of an inlet five miles
The inlet and the glacier were named for Professor
John Muir, the Pacific coast geologist, who, as far as
known, was the first white man to visit and explore
the glaciers of the bay. Professor Muir went up
Glacier Bay, with the Rev. S. Hall Young, of Fort
Wrangell, as a companion, in 1879. They travelled
by canoe, and Professor Muir, strapping a blanket on
his back, and filling his pockets with hard tack, started
off unarmed, and spent days of glacial delight in the
region. These were the only white men who had
preceded us, when Captain Carroll took the Idaho up
the bay in 1883, on what was quite as good as a real
voyage of exploration.
Of all scenes and natural objects, nothing could be
grander and more impressive than the first view up
the inlet, with the front of the great glacier, the
slope of the glacial field, and the background of lofty
mountains united in one picture. Mount Crillon and
Mount Fairweather stood as sentries across the bay,
showing their summits fifteen thousand feet in air,
clear cut as silhouettes against the sky, and the stillness of the air was broken only by faint, metallic,
tinkling sounds, as the ice floes ground together, and
the waters washed up under the honeycombed edges
of the floating bergs. Steaming slowly up the inlet,
the bold, cliff-like front of the glacier grew in height
as we approached it, and there was a sense of awe as THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
the ship drew near enough for us to hear the strange,
continual rumbling of the subterranean or subglacial
waters, and see the avalanches of ice that, breaking from the front, rushed down into the sea with
tremendous crashes and roars. Estimates of the
height of the ice cliff increased with nearness, and
from a first guess of fifty feet, there succeeded those
of two hundred and four hundred feet, which the
authority of angles has since proven as correct.
The Idaho was but an eighth of a mile from the
front of the glacier, when the anchor was cast in
eighty-four fathoms of water at low tide, and near us,
in the midst of these deep soundings, icebergs loaded
with boulders lay grounded, with forty feet of their
summits above water. Words and dry figures can
give one little idea of the grandeur of this glacial
torrent flowing steadily and solidly into the sea, and
the beauty of the fantastic ice front, shimmering with
all the prismatic hues, is beyond imagery or description.
According to Professor Muir, the glacier measures;
three miles across the snout, or front, where it breaks
off into the sea. Ten miles back it is ten miles wide,
and sixteen tributary glaciers unite to form this one
great ice-river. Professor Muir ascended to the
glacier field from the north side, and, following its
edges for six miles, climbed the high mountain around
which the first tributary debouches from that side.
He gives the distance from the snout of the glacier
to its furthest source in the great neve, or snow-fields,
as forty miles. Detailed accounts of Professor Muir's
canoe journeys in glacier land were given in his
letters  to  the   San   Francisco   Bulletin,  and  they 136
abound in the most beautiful and poetic descriptions
of the scenery. His paper on "The Glaciation of
the Arctic and Sub-Arctic Regions, visited by the
U. S. S. Corwin in the year 1881," accompanies the
report of Captain C. L. Hooper, U. S. R. M., published
by the government printing office at Washington in
1885, and contains Professor Muir's observations and
deductions upon the glaciation of the whole Pacific
coast from California to the Arctic.
No attempt has yet been made to measure the rate
of progress of the Muir glacier, although Captain
Carroll has several times promised himself to stake
off and mark points on the main trunk, and note
their positions from month to month during the
summer. Mr. Willoughby said that the Indians told
him that two years previously the line of the ice wall
was a half mile further down the inlet, and that
in their grandfathers' time it extended as far as
Willoughby Island, five miles below. The old moraine that forms the bar at the mouth of the bay is
sufficient evidence to scientists that the ice sheet
covered the whole bay within what Professor Muir
calls "a very short geological time ago." The
Hooniah goat-hunters told Mr. Willoughby that the
first tributary glacier connected with the Davidson
glacier in Lynn Canal, and that they often made the
journey across it to the Chilkat country. Kloh-Kutz
told Professor Davidson that it was a one day's
journey on snowshoes —about thirty miles — over
to this bay of great glaciers, and thirty days' journey
thence, through a region of high mountains and snow
fields, to the ocean at the foot of the Mount St. Elias
Alps.  11
The vast, desolate stretch of gray ice visible across
the top of the serrated wall of ice that faced us had
a strange fascination, and the crack of the rending
ice, the crash of the falling fragments, and a steady
undertone like the boom of the great Yosemite Fall,
added to the inspiration and excitement. There was
something, too, in the consciousness that so few had
ever gazed upon the scene before us, and there were
neither guides nor guide books to tell us which way
to go, and what emotions to feel.
We left the stewards cutting ice from the grounded
bergs near the ship, and, putting off in the lifeboats,
landed in the ravine on the north side of the glacier.
We scrambled over two miles of sand and boulders,
along the steep, crumbling banks of a roaring river,
until we reached the arch under the side of the
glacier from which the muddy torrent poured. Near
that point, on the loose moraine at the side, there was
the remnant of a buried forest, with the stumps of
old cedar-trees standing upright in groups. They
were stripped of their bark, and cut off six and ten
feet above the surface, and pieces of wood were
scattered all through the debris of this moraine.
The disforesting of the shores of Glacier Bay is the
mystery that baffles Professor Muir, as on all this
densely wooded coast, this one bay lacks the thick
carpet of moss and the forests that elsewhere conceal
the evidences of glacial action. Patches of crimson
epilobium covered the ground in spots, and flourished
among the boulders at the edge of the ice sheet,
where only a thin layer of dirt covers buried ice.
Reaching the sloping side of the ice-field, we
mounted, and went down a mile over the seamed 140
and ragged surface towards the broken ice of the
water front. The ice was a dirty gray underfoot,
but it crackled with a pleasant mid-winter sound, and
the wind blew keen and sharp from over the untrodden miles of the glacier field. The gurgle and hollow
roar of the subterranean waters came from deep rifts
in the broken surface, and in the centre and towards
the front of the glacier, the ice was tossed and broken
like the waves of an angry sea. The amateur photographers turned their cameras to right and left, risked
their necks in the deep ravines and hollows in the
ice, and climbed the surrounding points to get satisfactory views. Every one gathered a pocketful of
rounded rocks and pebbles, and shreds of ancient
cedar trees carried down by the ice flood, and then,
having worn rubber shoes and boots to tatters on the'
sharp ice, and sunk many times in the treacherous
glacier mud, we reluctantly obeyed the steamer's
whistle and cannon-shot, and started back to the
A nearer sweep towards the long ice-cliff showed
that the line of the front was broken into bays and
points, the middle of the glacier jutting far out into
the water, and the sides sweeping back in curves, as
the cliffs decreased in height, and finally sloped down
to the level of the side moraines. At points along
the front, subterranean rivers boiled up, and, in the
deep blue crevasses, cascades ran down over icy beds.
In the full sunlight the front of the glacier was a dazzling wall of silver and snowy ice, gleaming with all
the rainbow colors, and disclosing fresh beauties
as each new crevasse or hollow came in sight.
A magnificent sunset flooded the sky that night,   m
and filled every icy ravine with rose and orange
lights. At the last view of the glacier, as we
steamed away from it, the whole brow was glorified
and transfigured with the fires of sunset ; the blue
and silvery pinnacles, the white and shining front
floating dreamlike on a roseate and amber sea, and
- the range and circle of dull violet mountains lifting
their glowing summits into a sky flecked with crimson and gold.
It was a chill, misty morning, a year later, when the
watch again sighted " Scidmore Island, one mile off
the starboard beam," and its long, green undulating
shore was visible through the rain. Entering Muir
Inlet, the Ancon went cautiously through the floating
ice and anchored in the curve of the south end of the
glacier's front, but a few hundred yards from a long
shelving beach that would have shone with its golden
sand in sunlight. There were the same -deep soundings near the front, as on the other side of the
inlet, but the Ancon's anchor was dropped nearer the
moraine shore, where the lead gave only twenty-five
Under the dull gray sky all dazzling effects o'f
prismatic light were lost, but the fretted and fantastic
front showed lines and masses of the purest white
and an infinite range of blues. Avalanches of crumbling ice and great pieces of the front were continually
falling with the roar and crash of artillery, revealing
new caverns and rifts of deeper blue light, while
the spray dashed high and the great waves rolled
along the icy wall, and, widening in their sweep,
washed the blocks of floating ice up on the beaches
at either side.    The ship's cannon was loaded and 144
fired twice point blank at the front of the glacier.
The report was followed by a second of silence, and
then an echo came back that intensified the first ring
many times, and was followed by a long, sharp roll as
the echo was flung from cavern to cavern in the ice.
The small boats landed us on a beach strewn with
ice cakes, and lines of stranded shrimps marked the
wash of the waves raised by the falling ice. Some
shrimps two and three inches long were found, but
the most of them were delicate little pink things not
an inch in length. The crimson epilobium blossoms
nodded to us from every slope and hollow of the long
lateral moraine that lay between the water and the
high mountain walls. Over sand and boulders, and
across a roaring stream that issued from the side of
the glacier, the pilgrims crept to the foot of the slope, THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
and then up a long incline of boulders and dirty ice
to a first level where they could look out over the
frozen waste and across the broken front. Deep
crevasses seamed the ice plain in every direction, as
on the north side of the frozen river ; but, although
the view is not so extended as on the other side, the
level of the ice field is reached more easily, and it is a
steep but only a short climb up over the buried
ice to the top of the glacier. The treacherous gray
glacier mud—" the mineral paste, and mountain meal"
of Prof. Muir — engulfed one at every careless step,
and rocks would sink under one, and land even the
high-booted pilgrims knee-deep in the fine, sticky
compound. A half-mile from what appeared to be
the bank of the frozen river, there was clear solid
ice underlying the rocks and mud, and occasionally
caves in this side wall enticed the breathless ones to
rest themselves in the pale shadows of the glacier
ice. Fragments and rounded pebbles of red and
gray granite, limestone, marble, schistose slate,
porphyry and quartz were picked up on the way,
and many of the bits of quartz and marble were deeply
stained with iron. The Polish mining engineer with
the party assured us that all Glacier Bay was rich in
the indications of a great silver-belt, and held up carbonates, sulphates, and sulphurets to prove his assertion.
From this south-side landing we easily approached
the base of the ice cliffs by following up the beach to
the ravine that cut into the ice at the edge of the
moraine. We got a far better idea of the height
and solidity of the walls by standing like pigmies in
the shadow of the lofty front, and looking up to the 146
grottoes and clefts in the cobalt and indigo cliff. It
was dry and firm on the beach, and the golden sand
was strewn with dripping bergs of sapphire and
aquamarine that had been swept ashore by the
spreading waves. These huge blocks of ice on the
beach, that had looked like dice from the ship, were
found to be thirty and forty feet long and twenty
feet high.
The nearer one approached, the higher the ice walls
seemed, and all along the front there were pinnacles
and spires weighing several tons, that seemed on the
point of toppling every moment. The. great buttresses of ice that rose first from the water and
touched the moraine were as solidly white as marble,
veined and streaked with rocks and mud, but further
on, as the pressure was greater, the color slowly
deepened to turquoise and sapphire blues. The
crashes of falling ice were magnificent at that point,
and in the face of a keen wind that blew over the icefield we sat on the rocks and watched the wondrous
scene. The gloomy sky seemed to heighten the
grandeur, and the billows of gray mist, pouring over
the mountains on either side, intensified the sense of
awe and mystery. The tide was running out all of
the afternoon hours that we spent there, and the
avalanches of ice were larger and more frequent all
of the time. When the anchor was lifted, the ship
took a great sweep up nearer to the glacier's front,
and as we steamed away there were two grand
crashes, and great sections of the front fell off with
deafening roars into the water. We steamed slowly
down the inlet, and out into Glacier Bay, stopping,
backing, and going at half speed to avoid the floating   THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
ice all around us, that occasionally was ground and
crunched up by the paddle-wheels with a most uncomfortable sound. With each thump from the ice,
and the recurrence of the noise in the paddle-box,
and then the sight of some red slats floating off on
the water, Dick Willoughby's concern was remembered ; and • the advantages of the screw propeller,
and the merits of the favorite and original Idaho,
were appreciated.
While we cruised away in the mist and twilight,
the children, who never could be made to keep ordinary bedtime in that latitude, celebrated the birthday
of one of their number with high revel. While they
danced around the cake on the cabin table, and blew
out the eight candles one by one with ari accompanying wish, the last boy wished that the happy youngster
might | celebrate many more birthdays in Glacier
Bay," and the elders applauded him.
After the Idaho had made its first visit to the
Muir Glacier, and returned Dick Willoughby to his
Hooniah home and his strawberry farm, we had a
seven hours' enforced anchorage, on the succeeding
day, in a narrow fiord on the north end of Chicagoff
Island, which that same Willoughby had described
as an unknown channel, "a hole in the mountain,"
and a short cut to the open ocean, that he had travelled many times himself. Following up his forty-
fathom channel, the lead marked shoaling waters, and
before we knew it the Idaho ran her nose on a
sloping bank, and stayed there until the returning
tide floated her off.
There had not been a canoe in sight, nor a sign of
life along the shores all that morning, but the ship's 150
officers had hardly settled the fact that they were
hard aground before several canoes were seen in the
wake, and the gangway was surrounded with bargaining Hooniahs, who held up furs, baskets, and trophies
for' us to buy. More and more of them came paddling down the narrow lane of emerald water, and
family groups in red blankets were soon at home
around blazing camp fires on, the narrow ledges of
the shore, and* added greatly to the picturesqueness
of the scene. Of all the little fiords we had been
into, this one was the most beautiful, and even Naha
Bay cannot surpass it. The narrow channel has
steep, wooded hills on either side, and a rugged,
snow-covered mountain stands sentry at the head
of the fiord, and the clear, green water was so still
that every tree and twig was clearly reflected; the
ship rested double, and the breasts of the soaring
eagles were mirrored in all the shadings of their
plumage. The silence was profound, and every voice
or sound on deck was echoed from the mountains,
and could be heard for a long distance up the inlet.
Had it not been for the Hooniah canoes following so
promptly, we might have supposed ourselves explorers, who had penetrated into some enchanted
region, or dreamers who were seeing this beautiful valley in a strange sleep. It was exploration to
the extent that all our course up the inlet was across
the dry land of all the charts then published, and the
Idaho was aground in the woods according to the
authorized maps.
This Idaho Inlet, as it is now put down, is the
sportsman's long-sought paradise. The stewards, who
went ashore with the tank-boats for  fresh water, THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
startled seven deer as they pushed their way to the
foot of a cascade, and the young men who went off in
an Indian canoe caught thirteen large salmon with
their inexperienced spearing. Mr. Wallace, the first
officer, took a party off in the ship's small boats, and
we swept gayly up the inlet, over waters where the
salmon and flounders could be seen darting in schools
through the water and just escaping the strokes of
the oar. At the mouth of the creek at the head of
the inlet, the freshening current was alive with fish,
and some of the energetic ones landed there, and,
pushing ahead for exploration, were soon lost to sight
in the high grass and the underbrush thai: fringed the
forest. It began to rain about that time, and a dripping group remained by the boats, watching the rainbow fish playing in the waters, and enjoying the dry
Scotch humor of the officer, who had led us off on
this water picnic. Clouds rolled over our snow-capped
mountain and blurred the landscape, and after an
hour of quietly sitting in the rain, even the amphibious Scot began to wish, too, that the wanderers would
return, lest the falling tide should leave us on the
wrong side of the shallows at the mouth of the creek.
As he took a less humorous view of the situation, all
the rest joined in the strain and began to berate the
Alaska climate with its constant downpour. Some
one was impelled to ask the genial Scotchman if it
was really true that the summit of Ben Nevis is never
seen oftener than twice a year. He nearly upset the
boat to refute that slander, and his emphatic " No !"
may be still ringing and echoing around the north
end of Chicagoff Island.
After the first officer had returned his boatloads of 152
damp but enthusiastic passengers to the ship, the
stories of fish, and boasts of the great bear-tracks
seen on shore, disturbed the tranquillity of the anchorage. The captain of the ship took his rifle and was
rowed away to shallow waters, where he shot a salmon,
waded in, and threw it ashore. While wandering along
after the huge bear-tracks, that were twelve inches
long by affidavit measure, he saw an eagle flying off
with his salmon, and another fine shot laid the bird of
freedom low. When the captain returned to the ship
he threw the eagle and the salmon on deck, and at
the size of the former every one marvelled. The outspread wings measured the traditional six feet from tip
to tip, and the beak, the claws, and the stiff feathers
were rapidly seized upon as trophies and souvenirs
of the day. A broad, double rainbow arched over us
as we left the lovely niche between the mountains in
the evening, and then we swept back to Icy Straits
and started out to the open ocean, and down the
coast to Sitka, having a glimpse, on the way, of the
vast glacier at the head of Taylor Bay, that Vancouver and his men visited while his ships lay at
anchor in Port Althorp, just west of our Idaho Inlet. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
AT six o'clock in the morning the water lay
still and motionless as we rounded the point
from which Mount Edgecombe lifts its hazy blue
slopes, and threaded our way between clearly reflected islands into this beautiful harbor, which is the
most northern on the Pacific Coast. In the mirror
of calm waters the town lay in shimmering reflections, and the wooded side of Mount Verstovaia, that
rises sentinel over Sitka, was reflected as a dark
green pyramid that slowly receded and shortened as
the ship neared the shore. By old traditions the
ravens always gather on the gilded cross on the dome
of the Greek church when a ship is in sight, and one
lone, early riser flapped his big black wings and
croaked the signal before the ship's cannon started
the echoes. A steam launch put out quickly from
the man-of-war Adams to carry the mail bags to that
ship, and a sleepy postmaster came down to look after
his consignments. There were signs of life in the Indian village, or rancherie, further up shore, and one by
one the natives assembled on the wharf with their baskets and bracelets for sale, or, wandering down with
the blankets of the couch wrapped about them, and
lying face downward with their  heads propped on 154
their hands, yawned and studied the scene: They
sprawled there like seals, and some of the members of
this leisure class remained on the wharf for hours and
for nearly all day without stirring.
The queer and out-of-the-way capital of our latest
Territory seemed quite a metropolis after the unbroken wilderness we had been journeying through,
and the rambling collection of weather-beaten and
moss-covered buildings that have survived from Russian days, and the government buildings, in their coats
of yellow-brown paint, smote us with a sense of
urban vastness and importance. At a first look
Sitka wears the air and dignity of a town with a history, and can reflect upon the brilliant good old days
of Russian rule, to which fifteen years of American
occupancy have only, given more lustre by contrast.
It is a straggling, peaceful sort of a town, edging
along shore at the foot of high mountains, and sheltered from the surge and turmoil of the ocean by
a sea-wall of rocky, pine-covered islands. The moss
has grown greener and thicker on the roofs of the
solid old wooden houses that are relics of Russian
days, the paint has worn thinner everywhere, and
a few more houses tumbling into ruins complete
the scenes of picturesque decay. Twenty years ago
there were one hundred and twenty-five buildings in
the town proper, and it is doubtful if a dozen have been
erected since. The aesthetic soul can revel in the
cool, quiet tones of weather-worn and lichen-stained
walls, and never be vexed with the sight of raw boards,
shingles, and shavings in this far northern capital. A
gravelled road leads straight from the wharf to the
front of the Greek church, the board walk beside it   THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
painted with lines of white on either edge, to guide
the wayfarer's steps on the pitch-dark nights, that set
in so early and last so long during the winter season.
The barracks, the custom house and the governor's castle form a group of public buildings on
the right of the landing-wharf, and the small battery
at the foot of the castle terrace is quite imposing.
The castle is a heavy, plain, square building, crowning
a rocky headland that rises precipitously from the
water on three sides, and turns a bold embankment
to the town on the other. According to Captain
Meade, this eminence was called Katalan's Rock by
the early Russian settlers, in memory of the chief
who lived on it, and the governors made it a perfect
fortress, with batteries and outer defences and sentries
at all the approaches. This colonial castle is in latitude only 17' north of Queen Victoria's summer home
at Balmoral. Two buildings have crowned Katalan's
Rock before the present one, the first rude blockhouse being destroyed by fire, and the second one
by an earthquake. The castle is one hundred and
forty feet long and seventy feet wide, built of heavy
cedar logs, while copper bolts pierce the walls at
points, and are riveted to the rock to hold it fast
in the event of another earthquake. The Russian
governors of the colony resided in the castle, and
many traditions of social splendor hang to this forlorn
and abandoned old building. The Russian governors
were usually chosen from the higher ranks of the
naval service and of noble families at home. These
captain-counts, barons, and princes deputed to rule
the colony maintained a miniature court around them,
and lived and entertained handsomely.    Lutke, Sir 158
Edward Belcher, Sir George Simpson, and other
voyagers of the early part of this century, give
charming pictures of the social life at Sitka. State
dinners were given by the governor every Sunday,
and a round of balls and gayeties made a visitor's stay
all too pleasant.
Baron  Wrangell's  wife  was  the  first  chatelaine
of  the  castle  who   left  a  social fame.     She was
succeeded in  her pleasant rule by the wife of Governor Kupreanoff, who accompanied her husband to
Sitka  in   1835,  crossing   Siberia   on  horseback  to
Behring Sea.    It was Madame Kupreanoff who entertained Captain Belcher, and after a line of many
charming women   there  came  the  second  wife  of
Prince Maksoutoff, a beautiful chatelaine, who made
.the castle the abode of a gracious hospitality, and left
many social traditions to attest her tact and charm.
Society was more democratic in her days than it has
been at any time since, and the noble Russian hostess
overlooked rank and class, and welcomed all to the
castle on an equality.    The admiral of the fleet and
the pilot were on the same social plane while under
the governor's roof, and at a ball the governor made
it his duty to lead out every lady, and the princess
danced with every one who solicited the honor, no
matter how humble his station.    Caviare and strong
punches marked every banquet board, and at the beginning of a ball the ladies were first invited out by
themselves to partake of strong and pungent appetizers, and then the gentlemen gathered around the
side   tables  and  took their tonics.     A big brass
samovar was always boiling in the drawing-room, and
day or night a glass of the choicest caravan tea was THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
offered to visitors. Some beautiful samovars were
brought out from Russia by the families of tlie higher
officers, and after the brass foundry was established,
they were manufactured at Sitka. Some of these old
Sitka samovars are still to be found by the curio-
hunters, and, as they grow rarer, they are the more
highly prized.
The governors brought all their household goods
with them from Russia; and surrounded themselves
with comfort and luxury. The castle was richly
furnished, the walls of the drawing-room were
lined with mirrors, and its interior appointments
were all that Muscovite ideas could suggest. When
it was turned over to the United States as government property seventeen years ago, the castle was
well furnished and in perfect condition, but after the
troops left, it was neglected like everything else, and
has been stripped, despoiled, and defaced. Every portable thing has been carried off, the curiously wrought
brass chandeliers, the queer knobs and branching
hinges on the doors, and all but the massive porcelain
stoves in the corners of the large apartments. The
lantern, and even the reflector, that used to send beacons to the mariner from the castle tower, have gone,
and the place is little better than a ruin. The hall
where the governors received and entertained the Indian chiefs is a rubbish hole; of the carved railing that-
fenced off a little boudoir in the great drawing-room,
not a vestige remains ; and not a relic is left of the
old billiard-room to prove that it ever existed.
The signal officer has rescued two rooms on the
ground floor for his use, but otherwise the only
tenant of the castle is the ghost of a beautiful Rus- 160
sian, whose sad story is closely modelled on that of
the Bride of Lammermoor. She haunts the drawing-
room, the northwest chamber, where she was murdered, and paces the governor's cabinet, where the
swish of her ghostly wedding-gown chills every listener's blood. Twice a year she walks unceasingly and
wrings her jewelled hands.
At Easter time she wanders with sorrowful mien
from room to room, and leaves a faint perfume as of
wild roses where she passes. Innumerable young
officers from the men-of-war have nerved up their
spirits and gone to spend a solitary night in the
castle, but none have yet held authentic converse
with the beautiful spirit, and learned the true story of
her unresting sorrow. By tradition, the lady in black
was the daughter of one of the old governors. On
her wedding night she disappeared from the ball-room
in the midst of the festivities, and after long search
was found dead in one of the small drawing-rooms.
Being forced to marry against her will, one belief
was that she voluntarily took poison, while another
version ascribes the deed to an unhappy lover; while,
altogether, the tale of this Lucia of the northwest
isles gives just the touch of sentimental interest to
this castle of the Russian governors. The Russian
residents' cannot identify this ghost with any member of the governors' families, and say that the whole
thing has been concocted within a few years to keep
sailors and marauders away at night, and to entertain
the occasional tourist.
The room is pointed out in the castle that was
occupied by Secretary Seward during his visit, and
the same guest-chamber has an additional interest in THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
the memory of Lady Franklin's visit. It is possible
that with the arrival of a territorial governor the
castle may again become an official residence; and if
repaired and restored to its original condition, it could
be made quite a pleasant place.
The Custom House building also shelters the postmaster, whose office, not being a salaried one, does
not offer great temptations to any aspiring citizens as
yet. His compensation was a little over one hundred
dollars for the last year, and by the quarterly
accounts, which all the Alaska postmastejrs are dilatory
about sending to the department, the Sitka post-
office has only about the same amount of business
as the Juneau and Wrangell offices.
A detachment of marines from the man-of-war in
the harbor was quartered in the old barracks at the
opposite side of the steps leading down from the castle
terrace. Every morning while we were there, about
eight men went through guard mount and inspection
with as much military precision and form as if a company or regiment were deploying on the parade ground.
The houses that were.used for officers' quarters during
the time that a garrison was maintained were burned
by the Indians, after the soldiers were withdrawn, and
there is a blank on that side of the green quadrangle.
The Indian village is reached through a gate in the
stockade fence at one side of the parade ground, and
in the Russian days the gate was closed every night,
and the Indians obliged to remain outside until morning. Under United States rule they have been permitted to roam as they pleased, and during the time between the withdrawal of the troops and the arrival of a
naval ship, they held the inhabitants at their mercy. 162
The buildings on the main street are all heavy log
houses, some of them clapboarded over, and a few of
them whitewashed, but decay has seized upon many,
and their roofs are sinking under the weight of moss.
Both at the Northwest Trading Company's store on
the wharf, and in the large, rambling stores on this
street, there were curios by the roomful, and everything from canoes to nose rings were to be seen.
Though the prices were higher, as befits a capital,
the Sitka traders had the most tempting arrays of
carved and painted woodwork, and baskets, and
bracelets in endless designs.
At the end of the main street, fronting on the small
square or court, stands the Russian Orthodox Church THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
of St. Michael. It has the green roof, the bulging
spire, the fine clock, and the chime of bells, that might
distinguish any shrine in Moscow. In these days of
its decadence, much of the glory has been stripped
from the Sitka church, and the faded walls and roof,
almost destitute of paint, tell a sad tale. It was once
a cathedral, presided over by a resident bishop, and
when dedicated in 1844, the venerable Ivan Venian-
imoff, Metropolite of Moscow, who had labored for
years as priest and bishop at Ounalaska and Sitka,
sent richest vestments, plate, and altar furnishings to
this church. Since the purchase of Alaska by the
United States, the richer and better class of Russians
have left, -and there are only three families of pure Russian blood to worship in the church. Of the Creoles,
or half-breeds, the emancipated serfs, and the converted natives, who once crowded the church on Sundays and saints' days, not a third remain, and decreasing numbers bow before the altar of St. Michael's
each year.
The Russian government, in its protectorate over
the Greek church, assumes the expenses of the
churches at Sitka, Ounalaska, and Kodiak, and about
$50,000 are expended annually for their support.
With the diminishing congregations, it is merely a
question of time when the Alaska priests will be
recalled, as the abandonment of the Russian chapel
in New York is significant of the coming change.
After the transfer of the territory, the Russian
bishop moved his residence to San Francisco, and,
taking charge of the chapel there, made annual visits
to the Sitka, Kodiak, and Ounalaska churches. The
last incumbent of the office, Bishop Nestor, was lost 164
overboard while returning from Ounalaska to San
Francisco in May, 1883, and at Moscow no one has
been found willing to be sent out to this diocese.
Father Mitropolski, now in charge with one assistant,
was formerly at the Kodiak church.
The exterior of the church is not imposing, as
the paint has worn and flaked off the walls, and the
panelled picture of St. Michael over the doorway is
dim and faded. The chime of six sweet-toned bells
in the tower were sent from Moscow as a gift, and
they retain their clear and vibrant tones, and still ring
out the hours. Our watches, that had been keeping
Astoria or ship's time, were forty-five minutes ahead
of the true local time indicated by the ornamental
dial of the church clock, and for the first time we
realized that the ship had veered to the westward
considerably while apparently going due north. A
more serious difference of time had to be contended
with at the time of the transfer, as the Russian Sabbath, which came eastward from Moscow, did not
correspond to the same day of the week in our
calendar travelling westward. It took official negotiations to settle this difference and set aside the old
Julian calendar.
The interior of the cruciform church is richly decorated in white and gold. In either transept are side
altars, and the main altar is reached through a pair of
open-work bronze doors set with silver images of the
saints. In this inner sanctuary no woman is allowed
to tread, and on the smaller altars there the richest
treasures of the church are kept. Over the bronze
doors is a large picture of the Last Supper, the faces
painted on ivory, and the figures draped in robes of THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
silver. On either side are large paintings of the saints,
covered with robes and draperies of the same beaten
silver, and the halos, surrounding their heads, of gold
and silver set with brilliants. Heavy chandeliers and
silver lamps hang from the ceiling, and tall candlesticks  and  censers  are before  the pictured saints.
There is a small chapel in the north transept, where
services are held in winter, and on one of the panels of the altar there is an exquisite painting of the
Madonna. The sweet Byzantine face is painted on
ivory, and a silver drapery is wrapped about the head
and shoulders. St. Michael, St. Nicholas, and the
glorious company of apostles and angels on the same
altars are robed in silver garments with jewelled ha- 166
los. This chapel and the whole church still wore
the lavish Easter decorations of wreaths, festoons,
evergreen trees, and streamers of bright ribbons, both
July weeks that I visited it.
On the Sunday morning that the Idaho lay at the
Sitka wharf we all attended morning service at the
church, and were seated on benches at one side while
the congregation stood throughout the long service,
which was chanted by a male chorus concealed behind
a carved screen near the altar. The men stood on
one side of the church, and the women on the other,
and at places in the service they knelt and prostrated
themselves until their foreheads touched the floor, and
made the sign of the cross constantly. One aged man
especially interested me with the devout manner in
which he bowed and continually made the sign of the
cross during the service. He was poorly clad, and in
appearance he was one of Tourgenieff's serfs to the
life, as one pictures them from the pages of his novels.
On the following Monday — July 16, 1883 — we
heard the church bells chiming in full chorus at an
unwonted hour in the morning, and, hurrying to the
square, we found that the Czar's manifesto was to be
read, and a grand Te Deum sung in honor of the
coronation of Alexander III. Although the Ruler of
Holy Russia had donned his imperial coronet weeks
before, the official papers notifying the priest of that
event only came up with the mails of our steamer.
The usual morning service was elaborated in many
ways. The choir of male voices chanted all the Te
Deums appointed for such special occasions, the
priest wore his most sumptuous vestments of cloth
of gold and cloth of silver, the incense was wafted   THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
in clouds through the wreathed and garlanded church,
and the kneeling congregation rose one by one and
went forward to kiss the richly-jewelled cross that
the priest extended towards them. At the close, a
joyous peal rang out from the six sweet-toned bells
in the steeple, and the devout souls went about the
church kneeling and crossing themselves before the
altars, and kissing the silver and ivory bas-relief
images of the saints. Having doffed his splendid
robes and his purple velvet cap, Father Mitropolski
came forth and greeted his visitors, and had his
assistant bring out some of the ancient treasures
and vestments to show us. There were jewelled
crosses, chalices of silver and gold, jewelled caskets,
and quaint illuminated books in precious covers. The
bishop's cap shown us was a tall, conical structure
lined with satin, and covered with pearls, amethysts,
rubies, and enamelled medallions in filigree settings.
The crowns held over the heads of the bride and
groom during the marriage service were fine pieces of
Russian workmanship, and the silver basin .for holy
water was well executed. Rich vestments of old damask, of heavy velvets embroidered with bullion and
set with small stones, and robes of cloth of gold and
cloth of silver, were displayed, together with the draperies used on the altar on various occasions, and the
embroidered pall thrown over the coffin at funeral
services. The choicest of the church treasures,
including an enamelled cross set with diamonds and
fine stones, and a book of the Scriptures with an
elaborately wrought silver cover weighing twenty-
seven pounds, were taken to the San Francisco
church after the transfer.    The bishop's robes and 170
special belongings were taken there also, and after
Bishop Nestor's death the richest of them were sent
back to Russia. In 1869 the church was robbed of
much of its plate and treasures, by some discharged
soldiers of the garrison, it was thought, and only a
few of the valuables were recovered.
During our first stay the assistant priest found a
chest of old bronze medals, crosses, and enamelled
triptychs in the garret of the church, and the visitors
contributed well to the poor fund in order to obtain
these relics. It was certified that all the small
crosses and medals had been blessed at Moscow
before being sent out to the colony, and these ikons
or images were given to the soldiers and others on
their saints' days. A small bronze medal with the
image of St. Nicholas fell to my lot, with the head of
Christ in one corner, that of the Virgin in another,
and their names raised in old Slavonic characters
above them. It has a loop to be hung by a ribbon,
and St Nicholas' face is worn smooth by the reverent
lips that have touched it. These medals, — common
enough and to be bought for a few coppers in Russia,
— were highly valued by us among our other Sitkan
The priest of the Sitka church, Father Mitropolski,
is broad and liberal in his views, and quite astonishes
some narrower sectarians by his mode of life and
participation in ordinary amusements. His tolerance
and liberal tendencies were proved by his recently
reading the Episcopal marriage service before the
altar of the Greek Church, uniting at the time a
naval officer of Unitarian faith to a teacher at the
Presbyterian mission.     Father Mitropolski, a wife, THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
and a family of little daughters — Xenia, Nija, and
Alexandra — keep life and sunshine in the rambling, half-ruined house, which, as the bishop's residence, was formerly the finest dwelling after the
castle. The roof was then bright emerald green, and
this and the green dome and roof of the church
showed well in the cluster of red roofs that covered
the other buildings in the town. With diminished
church revenues and a lessening congregation, the
building has slowly fallen into sad decay, the galleries
and porches have dropped off, and only a part of the
house is now occupied. The drawing-room contains
a few pieces of rich furniture as relics of its former
days, and the portraits of the czars, and the shining
samovar, declare it the home of loyal Russians. An
ancient guitar, made of some finely grained wood that
is hardly known to modern 'makers of that instrument, was for a long time in the possession of Father
Mitropolski, having descended, with the residence
from the line of bishops and priests. It is very
curious in its shape and details, one end of it being
rounded in a great curve, and the keyboard not resting on the body of the guitar at all. It has a sweet,
melancholy tone, and accompanies appropriately some
of the strange little Russian songs that are sung to
it. There is a private chapel off the drawing-room,
which contains a beautifully decorated altar, and
family service is held there daily.
A Lutheran church, facing the Greek church on
the square, was founded by Governor Etolin, in
1844, for the Swedes and Finns employed by the
fur company, and in the foundries and shipyard
at Sitka.     During the stay of  the United States 172
troops the Lutheran church was used by the post
chaplain, a Methodist. The abandoned church is
now in the last stage of ruin, the roof sunken in,
and the walls dropping apart. The pipe-organ,
brought from Germany forty years ago, was rescued
by a young officer of musical tastes, and by clever
repairing it was put in good condition, and found to
be a very fine instrument.
Facing on this same church square is the warehouse and the office of the old Russian-American
Fur Company. The solid log buildings have stood
the ravages of time and the damp climate, and a
mining-engineer and assayer has taken possession of
it for his office. Quite appropriately the headquarters
of the fur trade, which constituted the most valuable
interest of the early days, is now the laboratory of
an assayer, who tests the minerals upon which so
much of the future importance of the territory
The officers' club-house, back of the Greek church,
is still in a fair condition, but the tea-gardens and the
race-course have vanished in undergrowth. A sturdy
little fir-tree, rooted in the crevice of a great boulder
or outcropping ledge of rocks in front of the clubhouse, is one of the curiosities of Sitka, and has
been growing in that solid granite as long as anyone
now living there can remember.
The sawmill, with its large water-wheel, is dropping to decay, the hospital building was burned while
used as a mission-school, and it is hard to trace
the site of the old shipyard, that was a most complete establishment in its day. For a long time it
was the only yard on the coast, and vessels of all THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
nationalities put in there for repairs. The Russians
had one hundred and eighty church holidays during
the year, and observed them all carefully. English
naval commanders, by keeping their own Sabbath, and
having the Russian Sabbath and holidays celebrated
by closing the shipyards and stopping work, used to
have long stays in the harbor; and the impatient
navigators, in view of the whirl of social life that
marked the visit of a strange ship, fairly believed
that the delays were managed by the governor's
authority. At the foundries, ploughs were made and
exported to the Mexican possessions south of them,
and the bells of half the California mission churches
were cast at the Sitka foundry.
At the end of the scattered line of houses that
fringe the shore, the Jackson Institute, a Presbyterian
mission-school and home, occupies a fine site, facing
the harbor. The mission was founded in 1878, and
named for the Rev. Sheldon Jackson, who has charge
of the Presbyterian missions in Alaska, and the
building is soon to be enlarged, to accommodate a
larger number of pupils than were first gathered in
it, under the care of Mr. and Mrs. Austin. 174
THE doorway of the Greek church, and the dial
on its tOwer, face toward the harbor, and command the main street. Beyond the houses at the
right there is a little pine-crowned hill, with the broken
and rusty ruins of a powder-magazine on its slope, and
on a second hill beyond is the graveyard where the
Russians buried their dead. An old block house, that
commanded an angle of the stockade, stands sentry
over the graves, and the headstones and tombs are
overgrown with rank bushes, ferns, and grasses. Prince
Maksoutoff's first wife, who died at Sitka, was buried
on the hill, and a costly, elaborately carved tombstone
was sent from Russia to mark the spot. After the
transfer and withdrawal of troops,' the Indians, in
their maraudings, defaced the stone, and attempted
to carry it off. It was broken in the effort, and left
in fragments on the ground. Lieutenant Gilman,
in charge of the marines during the stay of the
Adams, became interested in the matter, hunted for
the grave in the underbrush, and undertook the work
of replacing the tombstone. Beyond the Russian
cemetery, on the same overgrown hillside, are the
tombs of the chiefs and medicine-men of the Sitka
kwan.    The grotesque images and the queer little THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
burial boxes are nearly hidden in the tangle of bushes
and vines, and their sides are covered with moss.
The Russians had a special chapel out on this hill
for the Indians to worship in, as shown in old illustrations of Sitka, but the building has disappeared.
There was a heavy stockade wall also, separating the
Indian cemetery and village from the white settlement, but it has nearly all been torn down and carried off by the Indians during the years of license
allowed them after the troops left, and only fragments of it remain in places.
Entering through the old stockade gate, the Indian
rancherie presents itself, as a double row of square
houses fronting on the beach. Each house is numbered and whitewashed, and the ground surrounding it gravelled and drained. The same neatness
marks the whole long stretch of the village, -and
amazement at this condition is only ended when one
learns that the captain of the man-of-war fines each
disorderly Indian in blankets, besides confining him in
the guard-house, and that the forfeited blankets are
duly exchanged for paint, whitewash, and disinfectants.
Police and sanitary regulations both are enforced,
and the Indians made to keep their village quiet and
clean. When all the Indians are home from their
fishing and trading trips, and congregated here in the
winter, they number over a thousand, and all goes
merry at the rancherie. There are no totem poles, or
carved, grotesquely-painted houses to lend outward
interest to the village, and the Indians themselves are
too much given to ready-made clothes and civilized
ways to be really picturesque.
Annahootz,   Sitka   Jack,  and   other  chiefs  have SOUTHERN ALASKA.
pine doorplates over their lintels, to announce where
greatness dwells, but the palace of Siwash Town is
the residence of " Mrs. Tom," a painted cabin with
green blinds, and a green railing across the front
porch. Mrs. Tom is a character, a celebrity, and a
person of great authority among her Siwash neighbors, and wields a greater power and influence among
her people, than all the war chiefs and medicine-men
put together. Even savage people bow down to
wealth, and Mrs. Tom is the reputed possessor of
$10,000, accumulated by her own energyand shrewdness. We heard of Mrs. Tom long before we reached
Sitka, and, realizing her to be such a potentate among
her people, we were shocked to meet that lady by the
roadside, Sunday morning, offering to sell bracelets
to some of the passengers. The richest and greatest
chiefs are so avaricious that they will sell anything
they own.
Mrs. Tom invited us to come to her green-galleried
chalet in Siwash town, "next door to No. 17," at
any time we pleased. On the rainiest morning in all
the week we set our dripping umbrella points in that
direction, and found the great Tyee lady at home.
.It was raw and chill as a New York November, but
Mrs. Tom strolled about barefooted, wearing a single
calico garment, and wrapping herself in a white
blanket with red and blue stripes across the ends.
Her black hair was brushed to satiny smoothness,
braided and tied with coquettish blue ribbons, and
her arms were covered with bracelets up to her
elbows. She is a plump matron, fat, fair, and forty
in fact, and her house is a model of neatness and
order.    On gala occasions she arrays herself in her THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
best velvet dress, her bonnet with the red feather, a
prodigious necktie and breastpin, and then, with two
silver rings on every finger, and nine silver bracelets
on each arm, she is the envy of all the other ladies of
Siwash town. When she came to the ship to be
photographed by an admiring amateur, she had, besides her ordinary regalia, a dozen or more pairs of
bracelets tied up in a handkerchief, and we began to
believe her wealth as boundless as her neighbors say
it is. Like all the Indians she puts her faith mostly
in blankets, and her house is a magazine of such
units of currency, while deep in her cedar boxes she
has fur robes of the rarest quality.
Mrs. Tom has acquired her fortune by her own
ability in legitimate trade, and each spring and fall
she loads up her long canoe and goes off on a great
journey through the islands, trading with her people.
On her return she trades with the traders of Sitka,
and always comes out with a fine profit. A romance
once wove its meshes about her, and on one of her
journeys it was said that Mrs. Tom bought a handsome
young slave at a bargain. The slave was considerably her junior, but in time her fancy overlooked that
discrepancy, and after a few sentimental journeys in
the long canoe she duly made him Mr. Tom, thus
proving that the human heart beats the same in
Siwash town as in the Grand Duchy of Gerolstein.
This interesting bit of gossip, duly vouched for by
some of the white residents, is opposed by others, who
say that Mr. Tom is a chief of the Sitka kwan in his
own right, and that he made the m/salliance when
he wedded his clever spouse, and that he owns a
profitable potato-ranch further down Baranoff Island. 178
Any one would prefer the first and more romantic
biography, but, anyway, Mr. Tom is a smooth-faced,
boyish-looking man, and evidently well trained and
managed by his spouse. In consideration of their
combined importance, he was made one of the delegated policemen of Siwash town, and he makes malefactors answer to him, as he has learned to answer to
his exacting wife.
On the occasion of another morning call, Mrs.
Tom was meditating a new dress, and the native
dressmaker who was to assist in the creation was
called in to examine the cut of our gowns, when
we called upon her that time. There was a funny
scene when Mrs. Tom discovered that what appeared
to her as a velvet skirt on the person of one of her
visitors, was merely a sham flounce that ended a few
inches under a long, draped overskirt. Her bewildered look and the sorry shake of her head over this
evidence of civilized pretence amused us, and in slow,
disapproving tones she discussed the sham and swindle with her dressmaker. She showed us her accor-
deons, and gave us a rheumatic tune on one of them,
and we were afterwards told that she gives dancing
parties in winter to the upper ten of Siwash town,
who dance quadrilles to the accordeon's strains.
Sitka Jack's house is a large square one fronting
directly on the beach, and during his absence at
Pyramid Harbor the square hearthstone in the middle was being kept warm by the relatives he had left
behind him. When this house was built, in 1877, it
was warmed by a grand potlatch, or feast and gift distribution, that distanced all previous efforts of any
rivals.    An Alaska chief is considered rich in propor- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
tion as he gives away his possessions, and Sitka Jack
rose an hundredfold in Siwash esteem when he gave
his grand potlatch. All his relatives assisted in building the house, and this same community idea entitles
them to live in it. Over five hundred blankets were
given away at his potlatch, and the dance was followed by a great feast, in which much whiskey and
native hoochinoo figured. Ben Holladay, Sr., with a
large yachting party, was in the harbor at the time,
and lent interest to the occasion by offering prizes
for canoe races and adding a water carnival to the
other festivities. Sitka Jack nearly beggared himself
by this great house-warming, but his fame was settled
on a substantial basis, and he has since had time to
partly recuperate. He has aged rapidly of late years,
and now he delights to crouch by his fireside in winter evenings and relate the story of his great potlatch
of seven years ago, which was such an event that even
the white residents date by it. i Another great potlatch made the summer of 1882 historical, and the
presence of the Dakota, with General Miles and his
regimental band aboard, stirred the rancherie to redoubled efforts.
Jack and Kooska, the silversmiths of the Sitka
kwan, are very skilful workmen, and one can sit beside
their work benches and watch them fashion the bracelets that are in such demand. During the summer
months they can sell their ornaments faster than they
can make them, and in two hours after a steamer's
arrival their stock is exhausted, and they work nigTit
and day on special orders while the vessel is at the
wharf. If you give them the order in the morning
the bracelets are ready in the afternoon, as carefully 180
finished and engraved as any of the others of their
make. In one doorway we saw a woman crouching
or lying face downwards, and slowly engraving a
silver finger ring. She had a broken penknife for an
engraver's tool, and she held it in her closed hand,
blade down, and drew it towards her as she worked.
Her attitude, and the management of the steel, set
the oriental theorists off into speculations again, and
they decided that she herself must have come straight
across from Japan, so identical were her proceedings
with those of the embroiderers and art workers in the
kingdom of Dai Nippon.
She was quite unconscious and self-possessed while
we stood chattering about her, and continued to
chew gum in the most nonchalant manner. Inside
of this barred doorway, the other members of the family were sitting about the fire, taking their morning
meal. For their ten o'clock breakfast they were enjoying smoked salmon with oil, and an unhealthy looking
kind of dough, or bread, washed down by very bad
tea, judging from the way in which the tin teapot
was allowed to boil and thump away on the coals.
They are none of them epicures, and even in the
matter of salmon they make no distinction, and cure
and eat the rank dog salmon almost in preference to
the choicer varieties. Although they are expert hunters, and bring in all the venison and wild fowl for the
Sitka market, they seldom ea!t game themselves. It
takes away a civilized appetite to see them eat the
cakes of black seaweed, the sticks and branches
covered with the herring roe that they whip from the
surface of the water at certain seasons, and the dried
salmon eggs that they are so particularly fond of. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
They eat almost anything that lives in the sea, and
the octopus, or devil-fish, is a dainty that ranks with
seal flippers for a feast. Clams of enormous size,
found on the beaches through the islands, and mussels are other staple dishes.
The Sitka Indians, we were assured by a resident,
" are the sassiest and most rascally Siwashes to be
found in the country," but outwardly they differed very
little from the other tribes that we had seen. They
have the-same broad, flat faces, and from generations
of canoe-paddling ancestors have inherited a magnificent development of the shoulders, chests, and arms.
This development is at the expense of the rest of the
frame, and, from sitting cramped in their canoes, the
lower limbs are dwarfed and crooked, and their bodies
affect one with the unpleasant sense of deformity.
They are stumbling and shambling in their gait, and
toe in to exaggeration; and these amphibious, fish-
eating natives are as different as possible from the
wild horsemen of the plains, or the pastoral tribes of
the southwest. The Sitkans have the same mythology
and totemic system as the rest of the Thlinket tribes,
and reverence the spirits of the raven, the wolf, the
whale, bear, and eagle ; and their worship of the spirits
and ashes of their ancestors is quite equal to the
Chinese. They cremate their dead, with the exception of the medicine men, who are laid away in state,
and the poles and fluttering rags set up around the
village indicate the sacred spots where the ashes
lie. ; They worship the spirits of the earth, air, and
water; and the spirits of the departed ones, now occupying the bodies of the ravens that fly overhead,
exempt those huge croakers  from  shot and  snare. 182
They show some belief in a future state by saying
that the flames of the aurora borealis are the spirits
of dead warriors dancing overhead. When a chief dies
his wives pass to his next heir, and unless these
relicts purchase their freedom with blankets, they are
united to their grandsons, or nephews, as a matter of
course. High-strung young Siwashes sometimes
scorn these legacies, and then there is war between
the totems, all the widows' clan resenting such an
outrage of decency and established etiquette. Curiously with this subjection of the women, it is they
who are the family autocrats and tyrants, giving the
casting-vote in domestic councils, and overriding the
male decisions in the most high-handed manner.
Hen-pecking is too small a word to describe the way
in which they bully their lords, and many times our
bargain with the ostensible head of the family was
broken up by the woman arriving on the scene, and
insisting that he should not sell, or should charge us
more. Woman's rights, and her sphere and influence, have reached a development among the Sitkans,
that would astonish the suffrage leaders of Wyoming
and Washington Territory. They are all keen, sharp
traders, and if the women object to the final price
offered for their furs at the Sitka stores, they get into
their canoes, and paddle up to Juneau, or down to
Wrangell, and even across the border to the British
trading posts. They take no account of time or
travel, and a journey of a thousand miles is justified
to them, if they only get another yard of calico in
exchange for their furs. All the Thlinkets are great
visitors, and canoe loads of visiting Indians can
always be iound at a village.     The Sitka and the m
Stikine kwans seem to affiliate most, but visits
from members of all the tribes make the Sitka
rancherie an aborigine metropolis. Busybodies and
cosmopolitans, like Sitka Jack, live all over the archipelago, and it was this roaming propensity that gave
the military forces so much trouble during garrison
days at Sitka. The land forces could do nothing
with the scornful Indians in their light kanims, and
when the order was given to let no Indian leave the
rancherie, they snapped their fingers at the challenging and forbidding sentries, and paddled away at their
pleasure. They have a great respect for a gunboat with its ceremony, pomp, and strict discipline,
and its busy steam launches, that can follow their
canoes to the most remote creeks and hiding-places
in the islands. The Indians employed on the Adams
were diligent and faithful servitors, and were much
pleased with their sailors' caps and toggery, and the
official state surrounding them.
Indian legends and traditions can be had by the
score at Sitka, but it is hard to verify any of them,
and the myths, rites, and folk-lore of the people are
not to be gathered with exactness during the touch-
and-go excitement of a summer cruise. Bishop
Veniaminoff mastered their language, and translated
books of the Testament, hymns, and catechism, and
published several works on the Koloshians. Baron
Wrangell also wrote a great deal concerning them,
and abstracts from these two writers have been given
by Dall and ' Petroff. No ethnologists have made
studies among the Thlinkets since Veniaminoff and
Wrangell, a half century ago, and the field lies ready
for some northern Cushing. SOUTHERN ALASKA.
ENTHUSIASTS who have seen both, declare
that the Bay of Sitka surpasses the Bay of
Naples in the grandeur and beauty of its surroundings. The comparison is instituted between these
two distant places, because the extinct volcano, Mount
Edgecumbe, rears its snow-filled crater above the bay,
as Vesuvius does by the curving shores of the peerless
bay of the Mediterranean. Nothing could be finer
than the outlines of this grand old mountain that rises
from the jutting corner of an island across the bay,
and in the sleepy, summer sun, Edgecumbe's slopes are
bluer than lapis lazuli or sapphire, and the softest, filmiest gray clouds trail across the ragged walls of the
crater. It is more than a century since it poured forth
its smoke and lava, but jets of steam occasionally rise
from it now,- and if an exploration of its unknown
slopes is ever made, some signs of active life will
doubtless be found. Great patches of snow lie within
the crater's rim, and, standing as a sentinel on the
very edge of the great Pacific, Edgecumbe is perpetually wreathed with the clouds that float in from the
sea. The Indians have fastened many of their
legends and myths to it, and the Creator and the
original crow are supposed to have come from its
depths and to still dwell therein, while Captain Cook,
the great navigator, gave it the name which it now
A hundred little islands lie in the harbor of Sitka,
within the great sweep of the Baranoff shores, whose
curve is greater than a semicircle at this point.
Each one is a tangled bit of rock and forest, and
their dense, green thickets and grassy slopes are
bordered with mats of golden and russet seaweeds, that at low tide add the last fine tone to a
landscape of the richest coloring. Every foot of
island shore off Sitka is sketch able, and a picture in
itself; and the -clear, soft light, the luminous transparent tones, would be the rapture of a water-color
artist. Japonski, which is the largest of this group
of little islands, lies directly abreast of Sitka, and
the Russians maintained an observatory on it during their ownership. At the time of the transfer,
all of the larger islands of the harbor were marked
off as government reservations, but during these
seventeen years nothing has been done to maintain
the government's claim, and settlers have lived on,
cleared, and cultivated the land without molestation.
The old observatory on Japonski Island has dropped
to ruins, the last vestige of it has disappeared under
the dense cover of vegetation, and the squatter who
now occupies it raises fine Japonski potatoes for the
Sitka market.
During the time that the Russians kept their care- 186
ful meteorological records at the Japonski Observatory and on shore, the thermometer went below zero
only four times, and the variation between the summer and winter temperature is no greater than on
the California coast. It is the warm current of the
Kuro Siwo, or Black Stream of Japan, pouring full on
this shore, that modifies the temperature, and brings
the fogs and mists that perpetually wreath the
mountains, so that Fort Wrangell, though south
of Sitka, is colder in winter and warmer in summer
on account of its distance from the ocean current.
The Sitka summer temperature of 51 ° and 5 5 ° pleases
the fancy of dwellers in the east, quite as much as
the even and temperate chill of 310 and 380 in midwinter. Ice seldom forms of any thickness, and
skating on the lake back of the church at Sitka is a
rarity, in the winter amusements. While St. John's
in Newfoundland is beleaguered by icebergs in summer, and its harbor frozen solid in winter, Sitka,
ten degrees north of it, has always an open roadstead.
As compared with the climate of Leadville, or some
of the torrid spots in Arizona, the miners at Sitka
and Juneau have nothing to complain of, and never
have to contend against the fearful odds that opposed
the miners during the first rush to the Cceur d'Alene
The mean temperature of the air and of the surface
sea water, and the precipitation for each month of
the year at Sitka, as given in the tables in the Alaska
Coast Pilot for 1883, are as follows: — THE SITKAN
March   .
May .    .
June .    .
July Wm
August .
Year .    I
The only drawback to this cool and equable climate
is the heavy rainfall, which even a Scotchman says
makes it " a wee hair too wet." One soon gets used
to it, and goes around unconcernedly in a panoply of
rubber and gossamer cloth, and rejoices that Sitka is
not Fort Tongass, where the rainfall was 118.30 inches
a year, for the time that the drenched and half-drowned
officers kept the records. With all this downpour
there is little dampness in the air, and, contradictory
as this may seem,.it is proven by the fact that clothes
will dry under a shed during the heaviest rains.
Boots and shoes do not mould, clothing does not get
musty as in other climates, and on shipboard it is
noticeable that kid gloves and shoes show no reluctance at being pulled on on the wettest mornings.
The snow lies on the mountain tops and sides all 188
the year through, though in a warm, dry summer
it retreats to the summits and higher ravines. In
winter the snow seldom lasts long on the level, and
mist and rain, coming after each snowfall, soon reduce
it to slush. These contradictions of climate are quite
at variance with the accepted ideas of Alaska, and
although its enemies say that it can never be made
to support a population since grain and vegetables
will not grow there, vegetables continue to be raised
in this part of the territory, as they have for more than
fifty years, and wild timothy and grasses grow three
and four feet high in every clearing. No very intelligent methods of cultivating the soil have ever been
attempted, and drainage is an unknown science.
Vancouver found the Indians cultivating potatoes
and a kind of tobacco, and there are little plantations
back in sheltered nooks of the archipelago, where the
Indians go each year to plant and gather their potatoes. The Siwash sows his potatoes as a farmer does
his grain, and very fine tubers cannot be expected
from such farming. So far the residents of the territory have been like those dwellers on western
cattle ranches, who count their cattle by thousands
and use condensed milk and imported butter, and
the tin can is oftener seen than the hoe or garden
tools among them.
Although hay cannot be cured in the natural way
in this rainy region, scientific farmers think it feasible to cut and salt in trenches all the hay that
will be needed for the cattle for many years. Sleek
cows are grazing in the streets and open places
around Sitka, and the residents point with pride
to two venerable mules that were left by the quarter- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
master, when the garrison was abandoned, and that
for seven years ran wild and " rustled " for themselves summer and winter. They weathered all the
wet seasons, foraged for themselves in the winters,
and rioted in sweet grasses as high as their ears
during the perfect, luxuriant summers, and are good
mules now.
The fine little sponges and the delicate coral
branches that are occasionally found in the harbor
puzzle one with another hint of the tropics in this
high latitude. Great fronds of seaweed and kelp as
large as banana leaves drift on the rocks with the
rushing tides, and the long, snaky algce that float
on the water are often found eighty and one hundred
feet long. It is of these tough, hollow pipes that the
Indians make the worms for their rude hoochinoo distilleries, or, splitting and twisting it, make fishing
lines many fathoms in length. The same little teredo
that eats up ship timbers and piles in southern
oceans is as destructive here in the harbor of Sitka
as anywhere in the tropics. The piles of the wharf
only last five years at the longest, and the merfftless
borers eat up the timbers of the old wrecks and
hulks with which the first foundations for a wharf
were begun, and nothing but the yellow cedar of the
archipelago is said to withstand the teredo.
Among other things that Sitka can boast of as an
attraction is a promenade, a well-gravelled walk that
the Russians built along the curving line of the beach,
and through the woods, to the banks of the pretty
Indian River. Up and down this walk the Russians
used to stroll, and during the stay of the mail steamer
the walk to Indian River is taken once and twice a 190
day by the passengers, who are enraptured by the
scenery, and given such an opportunity to see the heart
of the woods and the mysteries of the forest growth.
In seasons past, many primitive and picturesque little
bridges have spanned the rushing current of this crystal
clear stream, but high waters have swept them away
season after season. Lieut. Gilman, in charge of the
marines attached to the Adams, who rescued Princess
Maksoutoff's tombstone, and was general director of
public works and improvements, took his men and a
force of Indians belonging to the ship's crew, and
cleared a new pathway from the beach to the river, in
1884. He led paths up either side of the stream for
a half mile or more; bridged the stream twice, and
threw two picturesque bridges across the ravines on
the river bank. A great deal of taste and ingenuity
was shown in choosing the route along the river, so as
to bring in view all the best points of scenery, and the
rustic bridges in fantastic designs add greatly to many
of the glimpses from under the greenwood trees. All
along Indian River the ferns run riot, covering the
ground in every clearing, and curling their great
fronds up with the huge green leaves of the " devil's
club," that would make parasols for people larger
than elfs or fairies. The moss covers everything
under foot with a close, springy carpet six inches
deep, and moss and lichens, ferns and grasses envelop
every fallen log and twig, and convert them into things
of beauty. Giant firs and pines rise above the prostrate trunks of other large trees, whose wood is
still sound at the heart, although the roots of a tree
seventy feet high are arched and knotted over them.
These overgrown trunks of prostrate trees are scat- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
tered all through the woods, and on one side of the
river there is a fallen tree that would excite wonder even in the groves of California. Where the
upturned roots are exposed, they are matted into a
broad flat base on which the tapering trunk without
tap-roots once stood like a candle on a candlestick.
The fallen trunk is over ten feet in diameter, and
a man six feet high is dwarfed when he stands beside the root. A second forest of ferns, bushes, and
young trees has sprung up on top of this overturned
tree, and its giant outlines will soon be lost in the
tangle of vegetation.
The size of the cedar-trees in the archipelago has
long been a matter of record. Army officers tell that
cedars eight feet in diameter were cut down when
they built the post at Fort Tongass, and Mr. Seward
often boasted of the great planks, four and five feet
wide, hewn by stone hatchets, that he measured in
Kootznahoo and Tongass villages.
One bridge hangs its airy trestles over Indian River
at a point where the main branch comes tumbling
down in cascades, and a side stream pours in its
sparkling, clear waters. Beyond that bridge, the path
winds out into a clearing, and past an old brewery
that flourished and made fortunes for its owners under
Russian rule. The United States has prevented the
manufacture and importation of all kinds of liquors in
Alaska, and the brewery has been abandoned for many
years. All the acres of the clearing in which it stands
are covered thickly with blueberry bushes and rose
bushes, while white clover lies like snow-drifts on either
side of the corduroy road that leads into the town. The
salmon berries, that wave their clusters of golden and 192
crimson fruit in the woods and along the steep river
bank, disappear at the edge of this clearing, and the
blueberries are thicker than anything else that can
grow on a bush. Big ravens croak in the tall tree-tops
in the woods, inviting a shot from a sportsman, but,
when hit, they fall into such thickets that the most experienced bird dogs could never retrieve one. Tiny
humming-birds, with green and crimson throats, nest in
the woods along the river, and the drumming of their
little wings is the first warning of their presence. All
that woodland that borders Indian River is a part of
an enchanted forest, and more lovely than words can
Where the path again reaches the beach and brings
in view the harbor and its islands, a large square block
of stone lies beside the path. It is popularly known
as the Blarney Stone, and dowers the one who kisses
it with a charmed tongue. All the men-of-war and
revenue cutters that have visited the harbor have left
their names and dates cut in the rock, and some
strange old Russian hieroglyphs antedate them all
and give a proper touch of mystery to it. Captain
Meade speaks of this Blarney a favorite rock
I on which Baranoff, the first governor, used to sit on
fine afternoons and drink brandy, until he became so
much overcome that his friends had to take him home."
There are several improbable and 'manufactured legends attached to it, but since the Indians have ^aken
to gathering around it and sitting on it in groups,
faith in the miraculous power of the stone has decreased among the white people.
In connection with this woodland walk along Indian
River, a tragic little story was told, to a company sip- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
ping tea around a shining samovar one night, that
invests even the garrison days that succeeded the
transfer with something of romantic incident. The
captain and a lieutenant of one "of the companies
stationed at Sitka in the first year of United States
possession fell desperately in love with the same
beautiful Russian. She was a most charming woman,
with soft, mysterious eyes, a pale, delicate face, and a
slow, dreamy smile that set the two warriors wild.
All the garrison knew of their fierce rivalry, so marvelled not a little when their old friendship appeared to
be restored, and the two suitors started off on a hunting expedition together. One haggard man returned
two days later, and said that his companion had been
attacked and gored to death by an enraged buck in
the forest. He was gloomy and strange in his manner, and at nightfall went to the house of the Russian
lady to break the news of his rival's death. The
friends of the lost officer talked the thing over, and,
suspecting that a duel had been fought, decided to go
out the next day and search for the body. In the
morning the surviving rival was found dead in bed,
with a look of agony and horror on his face. One
story was that his victim had appeared to him, and
he had died of fright and terror; the other was that
some unknown and subtle poison had been administered to him in a cup of tea, and the official report
ascribed his death to heart-disease. The body of the
lost rival was found at the foot of a steep bank on the
shore of Indian River, where a tangle of ferns, bushes
and grasses shaded and almost covered the clear, still
pool in which he lay. His rifle was near him, and a
bullet-hole in the heart told the sad truth, that his 194
friends had suspected. His death was. officially attributed to the accidental discharge of his own rifle
while hunting, and under these two verdicts the real
truth was concealed. The family of the Russian
beauty disappeared from Sitka in a few months, and
the story had been half forgotten until the recent
opening of a path along Indian River recalled it to
some of those who lived at Sitka at the time.
All around Sitka and its beautiful bay there are
sylvan spots where the sportsman and the angler
rejoice. The late Major William Gouverneur Morris,
who lived at Sitka for several years, and was collector
of customs at the time of his death, was an enthusiastic fisherman, and could tell tempting tales of his
exploits with the rod. A small lake, a few miles
back from the town, was his favorite resort, and on
one occasion the Major's party caught four hundred
and three trout in *three hours. At Sawmill Creek a
party of visiting anglers hooked sixty pounds of trout
one morning, and the little Indian boys land salmon-
trout from any place along Indian River.
At old Sitka, nine miles north of the present town,
a salmon cannery was established in 1879 by the
Messrs. Cutting of San Francisco. The Sitka Indians offered great objections to the landing of the
Chinamen who were sent up to start the work in
the cannery, and their spirit was so hostile at first,
that the agent feared he would have to abandon the
Chinamen or the whole project. The chiefs were
finally pacified by being assured that the Chinese
had only been brought to teach them a new process
of salmon-canning, and after a short time all but a
few of the Chinamen were sent back, and over one THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
hundred Indians were employed at the cannery.
After four years the cannery was moved to a point
further north, and the Bay of Starri Gavan settled
into its old deserted way. Over twenty-one thousand cases of canned salmon were shipped from the
new cannery in 1884, and the owners felt justified
in following the prospectors' advice to go further
South of Sitka the bay is indented with many
inlets, and ten miles below the town are the Hot
Springs, destined to again become a resort and sanitarium, when Sitka regains the size and importance
of old. The springs are situated in a beautiful bay,
and the waters, impregnated with iron, sulphur, and
magnesia, are efficacious in cases of rheumatism and
skin diseases. The Russian Fur Company erected a
hospital there for its employees, but in late years
only the Indians, occasional hunters, and prospectors have patronized the springs to any extent. An
eccentric old lady, who writes blank-verse letters
to the President and the Secretary of the Navy when
things go wrong in Sitka, spent some weeks in solitude
at the springs one summer, and was highly indignant
when the naval commander sent down and insisted
upon her return to the settlement, as they were all
alarmed for her safety. The lazy Indians who go to
the springs are said to sit in the pools of warm water
all night, rather than gather the wood for a camp-fire,
and they have great faith in the powers of the medicated waters. Some of the enthusiasts, who have
the glory of the territory at heart, foresee the day
when the Hot Springs will be famous, and a summer
hotel, with all civilized accompaniments, draw visit- 196 SOUTHERN ALASKA.
ors from all parts of the globe. Professor Davidson,
in an article in " Lippincott's Magazine," of November, 1868, tells of a glacier hidden away near the
bay, which will, of course, add to the attractions of
this summer resort of the next century.
At Silver Bay, nearly' south of Sitka, the earliest
indications of gold were found in the archipelago.
Soon after the California discoveries of 1848, the
Emperor of Russia became convinced that there
must be mineral wealth in his possessions in America.
The directors of the fur company ignored all his first
suggestions about undertaking a search expedition,
and, as they did not want their own business interfered
with, gave the hostility of the natives always as an
excuse for not making any attempts. Their course
was quite the same as that followed later by the Hudson Bay Company's agents, when gold was discovered
on the Frazer River and in the Cariboo regions of
British Columbia. The Emperor, persisting in his
notion, sent out from St. Petersburg, in 1854, a
promising and adventurous young mining engineer,
named Dorovin, who, beginning at Cook's Inlet,
searched the coast down to Sitka without making
any great discoveries. Arrived at Sitka, the gay
northwest capital, he plunged into all the social dissipations, and, after a year's idleness, sent back a
report condemning the country. He made no attempt
to search for minerals on Baranoff Island, and some
years later, when a Russian officer found a piece of
float gold in Silver Bay, the governor quieted the
interest without resorting to the knout, as old Baranoff did. Years afterwards a United States soldier
found float gold in the same place, and, getting help THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
from the garrison, discovered  the  quartz ledge of
Baranoff Island.
On Round Mountain, southeast of Sitka, are situated the Great Eastern, the Stewart, and other mines,
that attracted great attention at the time of their discovery in 1871 and 1872. The pioneers in this mining
district were Doyle and Haley, two soldiers, who had
lived in the mining districts of California and Nevada.
Nicholas Haley is the most energetic of miners, and
has carefully prospected the region about Sitka. He
has found stringers of quartz on Indian River, and
has more valuable claims at the head of Silver Bay
than on the long ledge cropping out on the slopes of
Round Mountain. The mines on this ledge have had
many vicissitudes, have' changed hands many times,
have been involved in lawsuits, while no one could
hold a valid title to a foot of mineral land in Alaska;
and finally, through unfortunate management, the
work was stopped, and the mills have stood idle for
years. The want of civil government, or adequate
protection for capitalists, has prevented the owners
from risking anything more in the development of
these mines, although the assays and the results of
working proved these Sitka mines to be valuable
properties. SOUTHERN ALASKA.
FOR a town of its size, strange, old, tumble-down,
moss-grown Sitka has had an eventful history
from first to last. Claiming this northwestern part
of America by right of the discoveries made by Beh-
ring and others in the last century, the Russians
soon sent out colonies from Siberia. The earliest
Russian settlements were on the Aleutian Islands,
and thence, moving eastward, the fur company, whose
president was the colonial governor, and appointed
by the Crown, established its chief headquarters at
Kodiak Island in 1790. Kodiak still lives in tradition of the Russian inhabitants of the archipelago as
a sunny, summery place, blessed with the best climate
on this coast.
Tchirikoff, the commander of one of Behring's ships,
was the first white man to visit the site of Sitka, and
two boatloads of men were seized and put to death
by the savage Sitkans, July 15, 1741.
The first settlement was made in 1800 at Starri
Gavan Bay, just north of the present town, and
the place was duly dedicated to the Archangel
Gabriel and left in charge of a small company of
Russians. In the same year, when the rest of the
world was shaken with the great battles of Marengo THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
and Hohenlinden, the Indians rose and massacred the
new settlers and destroyed their buildings. Baranoff
was then governor of the colony, a fierce old fellow,
who began life as a trader in Western Siberia, and was
slowly raised to official eminence. He established the
settlement at Kodiak before he made the venture at
Sitka, and when he heard of the destruction of his new
station, immediately arranged to rebuild it. In 1804
he tried it over again, building the chief warehouse
on the small Gibraltar of Katalan's Rock where the
castle now stands, and dedicating the place to the
Archangel Michael. Baranoff was ennobled, and,
moving his headquarters to Sitka, remained in charge
until 1818. He opened trade and negotiations with
the United States and many countries of the Pacific ;
he welcomed John Jacob Astor's ships to this harbor
in 1810, and made with them contracts for the Canton
trade, that were sadly interrupted by the war of 1812
between our country and England.
In Washington Irving's " Astoria " there is a lifelike sketch. of this hard-drinking, hard-swearing old
tyrant, and the picture does not present an attractive
view of life at New Archangel, or Sheetka. In 1811
Baranoff sent out the colony under Alexander Kuskoff,
and established a settlement at Fort Ross, in California, in the redwood country of the coast north of
San Francisco. Grain and vegetables were raised
there in great quantities for the northern settlements for the space of thirty years, when the Czar
ordered his subjects to withdraw from Mexican territory.
Baranoff ruled the colony with a rod of iron, and
his absolute power of life and death over those under 200
him, and the free use of the knout, kept the turbulent
Indians, Creoles, and Siberian renegades in good
order. He died at sea on his way home to Russia,
and succeeding him as governor came Captain Hague-
meister, and then a long line of noble Russians, generally chosen from among the higher officers of the
Under Russian rule the colony ran along in pleasant routine ; the southeastern coast was for a time
leased to the Hudson Bay Company, and their proximity and the slow encroachments of the English in
trade soon aroused Russia to a realization of the danger that threatened this distant colony in the event
of a war. Russian America was first offered for sale
to the United States during the Crimean war in
1854, by Baron Stoeckl, who afterwards concluded
the treaty of purchase in 1867. In 1854 the English threatened the town of Petrapaylovski on the
Kamschatkan coast, and the Russians foresaw the
blockading and bombarding of their towns on the
American side. This first offer was declined by
President Pierce, and later negotiations came to
naught in President Buchanan's day, when an offer
of $5,000,000 was declined by Russia. Robert J.
Walker, who assisted in drawing up the legal documents of transfer when we did finally buy the territory, stated once that during Polk's administration the
Czar offered Russian America to the United States
for the mere payment of government incumbrances
and cost of transfer. Wily old Prince Gortschakoff
had to tell it, too, when his envoy made such a shrewd
sale for him, that his master was for years anxious to
get rid of this distant and unprotected colony at any THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
sacrifice, provided, always, that it did not fall into the
hands of the English, who wanted it so badly.
In 1861 Russia and the United States held council
in regard to establishing a telegraph line from this
country to Europe, via Russian America, Behring
Straits, and Siberia. Four years later an expedition
was sent out by the Western Union Telegraph Company, and several ships and a large corps of engineers,
surveyors, and scientists, were engaged in exploring
the coast from the United States boundary line northward to the Yukon country, and along the Asiatic
coast to the mouth of the Amoor River. Over
$3,000,000 were expended in these surveys, and a telegraph line was erected for some hundred miles up the
British Columbia coast, reaching to a point near the
mouth of the Skeena River, that brought Sitka within
three hundred miles of telegraphic communication
instead of eight hundred and fifty miles, as has been
its condition since the scheme was given up. After
two years' work, the company abandoned the undertaking and recalled its surveying parties. The
demonstrated success of the Atlantic cable, and
the difficulty of maintaining the line through the
dense forest regions of the coast and the uninhabited
moors of the North, induced the company to give
up the plan. Prof. Dall, of the Smithsonian Institute ; Whymper, the great English mountain climber;
Prof. Rothrocker, the botanist, and Col. Thomas W.
Knox, who accompanied different parties of the
Western Union Telegraph Company expedition,
have written interesting books of their life and
travels while connected with this great enterprise.
As the time approached for the expiration of the Ill
lease by which the Hudson Bay Company held the
franchise of the Russian-American Fur Company,
great desire was manifested by citizens on the Pacific
coast that the United States should purchase the
colony. The legislature of Washington Territory sent
a memorial to Congress in January, 1866, urging the
purchase of the Russian possessions, and it was followed by earnest petitions from all parts of the
Pacific coast. A syndicate of fur traders even proposed to buy the country of Russia on their private
account, and sent a representative to Washington to
consult with Secretary Seward in regard to having
the United States establish a protectorate over their
domain in that case. The Hudson Bay Company's
lease was to expire in June, 1867, and in the spring
of that year the plan of purchase by the United
States government assumed definite shape. Negotiations were entered into by Secretary Seward and
Baron Stoeckl, the Russian minister, and, though
conducted with great secrecy, were soon rumored
about. At that time President Johnson was plunging into the most stormy part of his career, threats
of impeachment were in the air, and the articles had
even been discussed by the House of Representatives
before its adjournment, March 4, 1867. All of the
preceding winter Washington had been full of rumors
of great schemes, looking to a drain on the Treasury,
and the House had grown wary and vigilant. Mexican patriots, from three different camps, were
beseeching the aid of Congress and the State Department. The Jaurez and Ortega factions were imploring loans of from $50,000,000 to $80,000,000, and
Maximilian's emissaries were doing their best in the THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
way of diplomacy to aid the fortunes of their imperial
master, who had just taken the field against the insurgents. With such discords at home, Secretary
Seward projected a brilliant stroke of foreign policy,
and counted upon drawing off some of the hostile
fires, and thrilling patriotic breasts by this purchase
of Russian America, which should carry the stars
and stripes to the uttermost limits of the north, and
extend our dominion 3,000 miles west of the Golden
Gate of California to that last island of Attu in the
Aleutian chain, " o'er which the earliest morn of
Asia smiles."
On the evening of the 29th of March, Baron
Stoeckl went to Secretary Seward's residence on
Lafayette Square, joyfully waving the cable message
that gave the Czar's approval to the plan, as then
outlined. Baron Stoeckl proposed that they should
draw up the treaty on the following day, but the
Secretary said, " No ! we will do it now, and send it
to the Senate to-morrow."
There were no telephones at the capitol then, and
messengers were sent in every direction to summon
Secretary Seward's assistants, and open and light
the building at Fourteenth and S Streets, then occupied by the State Department. Baron Stoeckl hunted
up his secretaries and chancellor, and at midnight
the company assembled, including Senator Charles
Sumner, Chairman of the Senate Committee on
Foreign Relations. Leutze has preserved the scene
in a painting owned by Hon. Frederick W. Seward, of
Montrose, N. Y Secretary Seward and his assistants, Messrs. Hunter and Chew, and M. Bodisco,
Secretary of the Russian Legation, form a central 204
group. Baron Stoeckl stands beside the large globe
of the world, and the lights of the chandelier overhead fall full upon Russian America, to which Baron
Stoeckl is pointing his hand. Senator Sumner and
Mr. Frederick Seward occupy a sofa in a corner back
of this group, holding a school atlas before them.
The signatures were affixed to the treaty at four
o'clock on the morning of March 30. The illumination of the State Department at that unusual
hour attracted suspicious attention, and it was known
that something of import was going on. It was
intended to keep the matter wholly secret until the
Senate had ratified the treaty, but journalistic enterprise ran high, and a New York reporter shadowed
the Secretary of State, and, hanging on to the back
of his carriage as he drove home with Baron Stoeckl
that night, caught an inkling of the terms of the
treaty and gave them to the world.
On the same day the treaty was sent to the Senate,
then convened in extra session, and, discussed in
secret conclaves, was confirmed on the 10th of April,
chiefly through the agency of Charles Sumner, who,
although not favorable to the measure at first, arose
on the tenth day and delivered a speech, which was
one of the finest efforts of his life, and an epitome of
all that was known and had been written up to date
concerning Russian America. Every chart, every
narrative of the old discoverers, every scientific work
and special report, was consulted by that great scholar,
and his speech "on the cession of Russian America"
is still a work of authority and reference to those
who would study the question.
There was great surprise when the terms of the THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
treaty were made known. The wits went to work
with their jokes on the " Esquimaux Acquisition
Treaty," and Sir Frederick Bruce, the British Minister, was so chagrined at the news, that he telegraphed
to the Earl of Derby for instructions to protest
against the acceptance of the treaty. It was ratified
by the Senate by a vote of thirty yeas and two nays,
the opposing- twain being Senators Fessenden and
While the matter was pending there were many
conclaves and dinner councils at the residence of the
Secretary of State. The "polar bear treaty ",and the
" Esquimaux senators " were common names at the
capital, and of the Secretary's dinner parties one scribe
wrote: " There was roast treaty, boiled treaty, treaty
in bottles, treaty in decanters, treaty garnished with
appointments to office, treaty in statistics, treaty in
military point of view, treaty in territorial grandeur
view, treaty clad in furs, ornamented with walrus
teeth, fringed with timber, and flopping with fish."
Other menus gave "icebergs on toast," "seal flippers
frappee," and "blubber au nature!."
It was a great puzzle for a while to know what
name should be given to the new territory, as
Russian America would no longer do. The wits
suggested "Walrussia," "American Siberia," "Zero
Islands," and "Polaria," but at Charles Sumner's
suggestion it was called "Alaska," the name by which
the natives designated to Captain Cook "the great
peninsula on the south coast, and which, translated,
means "the great land." The articles were exchanged
and the treaty proclaimed by the President, June 20,
1867.    Secretary Seward was more than delighted 206
with the success of his efforts, and the day after the
proclamation said : " The farm is sold and belongs to
us." He felt sure that he had the advantage of his
enemies this time, and had gone far enough north to
counteract any leaning or sentiment toward the
South, that he had been accused of harboring. He
proposed to make General Garfield, then fresh in his
military honors, a first Governor of the Territory,
and later he intended to divide the country into six
territorial governments.
The President and his premier lost no time in
clinching the bargain, and immediately set about to
receive and occupy the Territory, without waiting for
the House of Representatives to appropriate the
$7,200,000 of gold coin to pay for it with. Brigadier-
General Lovell H. Rousseau was furnished with a
handsome silk flag and many instructions by Secretary Seward, and left New York the same August
in company with Captain Alexis Pestchouroff and
Captain Koskul, who acted as Commissioners on the
part of Russia. Gen. Jefferson C. Davis, in command of 250 men, was ordered to meet him at San
Francisco, and left there at the same time as the
Commissioners, on September 27. Gen. Rousseau
and his colleagues were taken on board the*man-of-war
Ossipee, then in command of Captain Emmons, and
when they reached Sitka, on the morning of October 18, 1867, found the troop ships already at anchor
there. Three United States ships, the Ossipee under
Captain Emmons, the Jamestown under command of
Captain McDougall, and the Resaca under Captain
Bradford, were flying their colors in the harbor that
gay October morning, and the Russian flag fluttered THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
from every staff and roof-top. At half past three
o'clock in the afternoon the United States troops, a
company of Russian soldiers, the group of officials,
some citizens and Indians, assembled on the terrace
in front of the castle. The ceremony of transfer was
very simple, the battery of the Ossipee starting the
national salute to the Russian flag, when the order
was given to lower it, and the Russian water battery
on the wharf returning, in alternation of shots, the
national salute to the United States flag, as it was
raised. The Russian flag caught in the ropes coming
down, wrapped itself round and round the flagstaff, and although the border was torn off, the body
clung to the staff of native pine. The Russian
soldiers could not reach it until a boatswain's chair
was rigged to the halyards, and then one of them
untwisting the flag, and not hearing Captain Pest-
chouroff's order to bring it down, flung it off, and it
fell like a canopy over the bayonets of the Russian
The rain began then, and the beautiful Princess
Maksoutoff wept when the Russian colors finally
fell. The superstitious affected to find an omen
in this incident, but the American flag ran up gayly,
and when the bombardment of national salutes
was over, Captain Pestchouroff said: " By authority
of his Majesty the Emperor of Russia, I transfer to
the United States the Territory of Alaska!" Prince
Maksoutoff handed over the insignia of his office as
governor, and the thing was done. There was a
dinner and a ball at the castle, an illumination and
fireworks .that flight, and the bald eagle screamed on
all the hill tops.     The  Russian  citizens began  to 208
leave straightway, and in a few months fifty ships and
four hundred people had sailed away from Sitka, and
the desolation of American ownership began. Only
three families of the educated class and of pure Russian blood now live there, to remember and relate
the tales of better days. After this formal transfer,
garrisons of United States troops were established
at Fort Tongass, near the southern boundary line, at
Fort Wrangell, at Sitka and Kodiak, under orders
of the Department of the Columbia; but the ship
carrying the troops to establish a fort on Cook's Inlet
struck a rock and went to pieces when near its destination. All the lives were saved, and the project of
a fort at that point was then abandoned.
Immense sums were paid by the government for
the transportation of troops and freight in the few
months after the occupancy, and, by the time Congress met, the United States had a firm hold on the
new possession. There were exciting times at Sitka
for a few months, and the first rush of enterprising
and unscrupulous Americans quite astonished the departing Russians, who were unused to the tricks of
the adventurers, who always hurry to a new country.
Professor George Davidson was sent with eight
assistants to make a report on the general features
and resources of the country, and from July to November he cruised along the coast on the revenue
cutter Lincoln. He was mercilessly cross-examined
by the special committee of Congress during the
exciting winter that followed at Washington.
Secretary Seward trod a thorny pathway, and he
and his newly-acquired Territory were the theme of
every wit and joker in the public prints.   Congress was THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
in an ugly frame of mind, and even the party leaders
in the House of Representatives felt dubious about
getting an appropriation to pay for Alaska. The
wildest reports of the country and its resources were
current, and while one sage represented it as a garden of wild roses, and a place for linen dusters, the
next one said the only products were icebergs and
furs, and the future settlers would cultivate their
fields with snow-ploughs.
The irrepressible Nasby wrote : " The dreary relic
of diplomacy to the south of the North Pole is a land
reservation for the Blair family," and he advised
President Johnson to "swing around the circle," and
visit "this land of valuable snow and merchantable
In a less humorous vein a Democratic editor said :
"Congress is not willing to take $10,000,000 from
the Treasury to pay for the Secretary of State's
questionable distinction of buying a vast uninhabitable desert with which to cover the thousand mortifications and defeats which have punished his pilotage
of Andrew Johnson through his shipwrecked policy
of reconstruction. The treaty has a clause binding
us to exercise jurisdiction over the Territory and give
government to forty thousand inhabitants now crawling over it in snow-shoes. Without a cent of revenue.
to be derived from it, we will have to keep regiments
of soldiers and six men-of-war up there, and institute a Territorial government. No energy of the
American people will be sufficient to make mining
speculation profitable in 6o° north latitude. Ninety-
nine one-hundredths of the territory is absolutely
worthless." 210
In this spirit the thing went on through all of that
stormy winter. The impeachment trial was held, and
President Johnson acquitted May 17, 1867. On the
following day General N. P. Banks introduced a bill
appropriating $7,200,000 to pay for Alaska, and as it
hung uncertain for weeks, it was determined to get the
appropriation through in a deficiency bill, if the Banks
bill failed. At a night session on the 30th of June,
with the House in committee of the whole, and
General Garfield in the chair, General Banks made a
most eloquent speech, painting Alaska in glowing
colors and luxuriant phrase, and winning the suffrages
of the disaffected ones on his own side by the audacity
of his genius. Judge Loughbridge, of Iowa, opposed
the bill, and three Democrats (Boyer of Pennsylvania,
Pruyn of New York, and Johnson of California),
made ringing speeches in its favor. The next day
C. C. Washburn made a severe speech against it,
and Maynard, of Tennessee, spoke for it. Then the
grand " old commoner," Thaddeus Stevens, made an
oration in its favor, ending up with a fish story of the
skipper who ran his ship aground on the herring in
Behring Sea, and ran it so high and so dry on the wriggling fish, that it broke in two. On the 14th of July
the bill passed by ninety-eight yeas, forty-nine nays.
Fifty-three members not voting, endangered its success, but the House showed its temper by a clause
insisting that hereafter it should take part in the
consideration of treaties, as well as the Senate. Two
weeks later the Czar was chinking his bags of Ameri-
o o
can gold, when dust again rose from the State Department.     The cost of the cable messages sent by
the two governments, in regard to the negotiations THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
and the transfer, amounted to nearly $30,000. When
their share of the bill was presented to the Russian
government, they refused to pay it, claiming that the
treaty provided that the United States should pay
$7,200,000 and all the expenses of transfer. There
were polite messages between the diplomats, but at
last the cable company reduced the bill, and our
State Department paid for all of it.
In the end many statements and prophecies concerning the Territory have been disproved, but we
received a country of 580,107 square miles, equal in
area to one sixth of the whole United States, and for
this great empire we paid at the rate of one and
nineteen-twentieths of a cent per acre. The Alexander archipelago itself, comprising 1,100 islands,
and an area of 14,142 geographical square miles,
will soon prove itself worth the purchase-money
alone, when it is explored, developed, and settled.
Of the strip of main land, thirty miles wide and three
hundred miles long, off which the islands are anchored, Sir George Simpson, Governor-in-Chief of
the Hudson Bay Company, once said that all the
British possessions in the interior, adjacent to it,
were useless, if this coast strip were not leased to
them. For years Great Britain made overtures to
buy this strip, and hordes of its mining adventurers
made threats to drive the Russians away; yet, by
the hooks and crooks of diplomacy, it came into the
possession of the United States, while the southern
border of this strip is distant six hundred and forty
miles from our once northern boundary, the forty-
ninth parallel. By leasing those tiny Seal Islands,
in Behring Sea, to the Alaska Commercial Company, 212
the government has derived a revenue of over $300,000
per annum, and the Territory has, in this way, paid a
fair percentage of interest on the purchase-money,
since it has been virtually at no expense to protect it,
or keep up a form of government. In view of the
later mineral discoveries, it is said that Douglass Island alone is worth all that the United States gave
for the Territory, and events are slowly proving the
foresight and wisdom of Mr. Seward in acquiring it.
The Russians knew almost nothing of the topography or resources of the country when they passed
it over to us, as the directors of the fur company,
having absolute* control, had made everything subservient to their interests and trade. A clause in
their lease provided that the government should have
the right to all mineral lands discovered, so that they
took good care to discourage explorers and prospectors. Baranoff is even said to have given thirty
lashes to a man who brought in a specimen of gold-
bearing quartz, and warned him of worse punishment
if he found any more ore. All the records and
papers of the fur company were turned over to the
United States, and the archives at St. Petersburg
were searched for any documents or reports pertaining to Russian America. Two shelves in the State
Department Library at Washington are filled with
these manuscript records of early Alaskan events.
They are written in clear Russian text, as even as
print, and forty of the volumes are archive reports
of the directors and agents of the fur company.
Fifty of them are office records and journals, and one
bulky volume contains the ships' logs that were of
sufficient value and interest to warrant their preser- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
vation. None of them have been translated, except
as students and specialists have made notes from
them for their own use. Mr. Ivan Petroff gave
these archives a thorough inspection in gathering the
materials for his valuable Census Report of 1880. 214
A GREAT event in the history of Sitka after the
transfer was the visit of Ex-Secretary Seward
and his party, and their stay was the occasion of the
last gala season that the place has known. Mr.
Seward and his son had gone out to San Francisco
by the newly-completed lines of the Union and
Central Pacific Railroad, intending to continue their
travels into Mexico. He casually mentioned before
Mr. W. C. Ralston, the banker, that he hoped some
time to go to his territory of Alaska. Within a few
hours after that Mr. Ralston wrote him that there were
two steamers at his service, if he would accept one
for a trip to Alaska. The fur company offered their
steamer, the Eideliter, and Mr. Ben Holladay put the
steamer Active at the disposal of Mr. Seward and his
party. Mr. Holladay's offer was accepted, and his
best and favorite commander, Captain C. C. Dall, was
given charge of the Active, and everything provided
for a long yachting trip. The others invited by Mr.
Seward to partake of this magnificent hospitality
were his son Frederick W. Seward and his wife,
Judge Hastings, of San Francisco, Mr. and Mrs.
Smith, of St. Louis, Hon. W. S. Dodge, revenue
collector and mayor of Sitka, Hon. John H. Kinkead, THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
postmaster and post trader at Sitka, and Captain
Franklin of the British Navy, a nephew of the
lamented Sir John Franklin. They left San Francisco on the 13th of July, 1869, and, touching at
Victoria, reached Sitka July 30. The Ex-Secretary
was received with a military salute on landing, and
went to the house of Mayor Dodge. He kept the
Russian Sabbath by attending service in the Greek
church on our Saturday, and the American Sabbath,
by listening to the post chaplain in the Lutheran
church on the following day. Like many visitors
since then, Mr. Seward said, at the end of his second
day, that he had met every inhabitant, and knew all
about them and their affairs. On another day General
Davis gave a state reception at the castle, and Mr.
Seward being dissuaded from his original plan of
going up to Mount St. Elias, lest, after the voyage
across a rough sea, he should find the monarch of the
continent hidden in clouds, made up a party for the
Chilkat country instead. General Davis and his
family, two staff officers, and a few citizens, were
invited to join them, and they went in by Peril Straits
to Kootznahoo, and then up to the mouth of the
Chilkat River. The incidents of their visit to Kloh-
Kutz in his village have been related in a preceding
chapter. Adding Professor Davidson and his assistants to their party, the Active returned to Kootznahoo, and visited the coal mine near Chief Andres
village, and spent another day on a fishing frolic in
Clam Bay. On his return to Sitka Mr. Seward was
the guest of General Davis at the castle, and on the
evening before his departure he addressed the assembled citizens in the Lutheran church.    He took 216
leave with regret, and sailed away with a military
salute on a clear and radiant day. They touched
at the Takou glacier and Fort Wrangell, went up
the Stikine River to the mining camps on the bars
near the boundary line, and last visited Fort Tongass. The adjoining village of Tongass Indians, with
its many fine totem poles and curious houses, was
very interesting to them, and the old chief Eb-
bitts paid great honors to the Tyee of all the Tyees.
Mr. Seward carried away a large collection of Alaska
curios and souvenirs, and his lavish purchases quite
shook the curio markets of those days. By the
etiquette of the country the fur robes laid for him to
sit on in the chief's lodges were his forever after, and
the exchange of gifts consequent upon such hospitalities made his visits memorable to the chiefs by
the potlatches left them. Mr. Seward carried home
a dance cloak covered with Chinese coins, that the
Russians had probably gotten during the days of their
large trade with China, and sold to the Indians for furs.
When the Chinese embassy visited Mr. Seward at
Auburn, they gave him the names of the coins, and
some of them dated back to the twelfth and fifth centuries, and to the first years of the Christian era. A
quantity of Alaska cedar was taken east, and, in combination with California laurel, was used in the panellings and furnishings of the Seward mansion at
A year later Lady Franklin went to Sitka on the
troop-ship Newbern, and for three weeks was entertained at the castle, and occupied the same corner
guest-chamber already made historic by Mr. Seward.
At that time, 1870, she was nearly eighty years of THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
age, but she was a most active and wonderful woman.
She was accompanied by her niece, Miss Cracroft,
who was her private secretary, and her object in
visiting Alaska was to trace rumors that she had
heard of the finding of relics of her husband. It
was a fruitless search, and the widow of Sir John
Franklin only lived for five years after this second
trip to the Pacific coast in quest of tidings of the lost
With the exception of these incidents, Sitka grew
duller and more lifeless by a slow-descending scale,
with every year that succeeded the transfer of the
territory to the United States. The officers of the
garrison chafed under the isolation from even the remote frontiers of Washington Territory and Oregon,
and the soldiers kept tumult rising in the Indian village. After ten years' occupation the military sailed
away one day in 1877, and as no civil government
was established to succeed their rule, the inhabitants
were in despair. In a short time the Indians began
to presume upon their immunity from punishment,
and distilling their hoochinoo openly and without hindrance, soon had pandemonium raging in the rancherie and overflowing into the town. They burned
the deserted quarters and buildings on the parade
ground, killed and mutilated cattle, and the Russian
priest was powerless to prevent the defilement of his
church by crowds of lazy, indolent Indians, who lay
on the church steps and gambled on any and every
day. Trouble was precipitated by the Indians murdering a white man in November, 1878. The murderers were arrested by some friendly Indians and put in
the guard-house, and immediately the whole village SOUTHERN ALASKA.
was in arms. The white citizens, who had been
appealing for the protection of their own government
before this, were virtually in a state of siege and at
the mercy of the enraged Siwashes. The murderers
were sent to Oregon for trial, but still their people
raged. The three hundred white people were outnumbered two and three times by the Indians,
and all winter they were in momentary dread of a
final uprising and a massacre. The Russians arranged to gather at the priest's house at any sign of
disturbance, and the collector of customs prepared
to send his family below.
When all hope of help from their own government
was gone, the citizens made a last, desperate appeal
for protection to the British admiral at Victoria.
Without waiting for diplomatic fol-de-rol, Captain
A'Court, of H. M. S. Osprey, made all haste to
Sitka on his humane errand. He reached there in
March, 1879, anc^ quiet was immediately restored.
Three weeks later the little revenue cutter Oliver
Wolcott came in, and anchored under the protecting
guns of the big British war ship. The Indians
laughed in scorn, and the British captain himself felt
that it would be wrong to leave the people with such
small means of defence at hand. Early in April the
United States steamer Alaska came, and then the Osprey left. The captain of the Alaska declared his presence unnecessary, the Indian scare groundless, and,
cruising off .down the coast and back to more attractive regions, left the people again at the mercy of the
Indians. The naval authorities, after receiving the
report and recommendations of Captain A'Court, had
the grace to order the Alaska back, and it remained THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
in the harbor of Sitka until relieved by the sailing
ship Jamestown, June 14.
The Jamestown was commanded by Captain Lester
A. Beardslee, who instituted many reforms, cruised
through all parts of the archipelago, kept the Indians
under control, and finally made an official report,
which is one of the most valuable contributions to
the recent history of Alaska. He was succeeded in
command of the Jamestown by Captain Glass, an
officer who displayed marked abilities in his management of the charge entrusted to him. He exhibited
a firmness that kept the natives in check, and exercised justice and humanity in a way to win the approval of those cunning readers of character. He
made the Indians clean up their rancherie, straighten
out the straggling double line of houses along shore,
and then he had each house numbered, and its occupants counted and recorded. By his census of Sitka,
taken Feb. 1 1881, there were 1,234 inhabitants;
840 of these were in the Indian village, and only 394
souls composed the white settlement. He had a
"round-up " of the native children one day, and each
little redskin was provided with a tin medal, with
a number on it, and forthwith ordered to attend the
school, at peril of his parents being fined a blanket
for each day's absence. Aside from this benevolent
and paternal work, the big Tyee of the Jamestown
used to terrify the natives by his sudden raids upon
the moonshiners, who made the fiery and forbidden
hoochinoo with illicit stills.
He supervised treaties of peace between the Stikine and Kootznahoo tribes, between the Stikine and
Sitka tribes, and kept a naval protectorate over the 220
infant mining camp at Juneau, until he was relieved
by Commander Lull, with the steamer Wachusett, in
1881. The fascination of the north country brought
Captain Glass back, in command of the Wachusett, in
three months' time, and he remained at the head of
Alaskan affairs for another year.
In October, 1882, Captain Merriman was detailed
for the Alaska station, in command Of the Adams,
and for a year he and his ship played an important
part in local history. He visited all the points in the
archipelago, fought the great naval battle of Kootznahoo, and cruised off to the settlements on the
Aleutian Islands. Peace and order reigned in the
rancherie at Sitka, the Indians and miners of Juneau
were chastised when they deserved it, and protected
in what few rights they or any one had in the abandoned territory, and crooked traders and distillers of
hoochinoo had an unfortunate time of it.
The Adams was the only visible sign of the nation's
power for which the Indians had any great respect,
and the nation's importance was advanced tenfold
when the "big Tyee" silenced the unruly Kootz-
nahoos. He was called upon to act as umpire,
referee, probate and appellate judge, and arbiter in
all vexed questions, in addition to his general duties
as protector and preserver of the peace. With the
Naval Register and the United States Statutes for
code and reference, Captain Merriman exercised
a general police duty about the territory. He maintained a paternal government and protectorate over
•*the Indians, and the judgment of Solomon had often
to be paralleled in deciding the issues of internecine
and domestic wars.    He had often to put asunder THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
those whom Siwash ceremonies or the missionaries
had joined together, to protect the young men who
refused to marry their great-uncles' widows, to interfere and save the lives of those doomed to torture and
death for witchcraft, to prevent the killing of slaves
at the great funerals and potlatches, and to look after
the widows' and orphans' shares in the blankets of
some great estate. For these delicate and diplomatic
duties Captain Merriman was well fitted. The dignity and ceremony that marked all his intercourse
with the natives raised him in their esteem, and his
firm and impartial judgment, his kindness and consideration, so won them, that there were wailing
groups on the wharf when he sailed away from
Sitka, and they still chant the praises of this good
Tyee, who will always be a figure in history to
Captain J. B. Coghlan succeeded him in command
of the Adams, and the Indians having been in the
main peaceful, and the mining camp all quiet, Captain
toghlan gave a great deal of time to careful surveying of the more frequented channels of the inside passage. He marked off with buoys the channel through
Wrangell Narrows, marked the more dangerous rocks
and the channel in Peril Straits, corrected the erroneous position of several bays and coves, examined and
reported new anchorages, and designated unknown
rocks and ledges in Saginaw Channel and Neva Strait.
In addition to this practical part of his profession,
Captain Coghlan looked to the other interests confided to him. He visited all the Indian settlements,
looked up their abandoned villages, encouraged prospectors and kept a keen eye on all mineral discover- 222
ies. An especial want in Alaska is a good coal
mine, and although there are seams of it all through
the islands, none of it is valuable for steaming purposes, and the Nanaimo coal has to be relied upon.
Early voyagers discovered coal a half century ago,
and a vein on Admiralty Island has been regularly
discovered and announced to the world by every
skipper who has touched there since. Captain
Coghlan was keenly alive to the importance of finding
good coal in this favored end of the territory, and he
told the story of the latest discovery in a way to
make his listeners weep from laughter.
While out on a survey trip one day, an Indian came
to him mysteriously and said : " Heap coal up stream
here," at the same time stealthily showing a lump of
the genuine article. Quietly, and so as to attract as
little attention as possible, the captain, two sporting
friends, and the Indian started off, ostensibly duck-
hunting. After they left the harbor of Sitka the
Indian led the way up a narrow channel, and turned
into St. John the Baptist's Bay, where careful and
extensive surveys had been conducted but a short
time before. The officers began to look amazed, but
the Indian led on until he beached his canoe and
triumphantly showed them a pile of anthracite coal
stored under the roots of the tree. The coal-hunters
recognized it as some of the anthracite coal that had
been sent from Philadelphia, and this lot had been
stored there for the convenience of the steam
launches, on their trips between the ship and points
where they were surveying in Peril Straits. Securing
the quiet of the Indian, the officers went back to the
ship, and after a few days gave specimens of coal to THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
different experts on board. Tons of the same article
lay in the bunkers under them, but the experts went
seriously to work with their clay pipes and careful
tests. None of them agreed about it. One of them
declared it good coal, of good steaming quality and
pure ash. Another one said it was lignite, and of no
value, and never could be used for steaming. Rumors
of the discovery of a coal mine soon spread through
Sitka, and one man started out to follow up what he
supposed had been the course of the coal-hunters, with
the evil intent of jumping that mine. The ship was
just starting off on a cruise, so followed the jumper,
and overtaking him in his lone canoe at Killisnoo,
the coal-hunter turned pale and nearly died with fright
lest he should be punished with naval severity for his
wicked designs. The joke on the coal-hunters, the
coal experts, and the would-be jumper of the coal
mine made the ship ring when it was told.
In August, 1884, the Adams sailed away from
Sitka, and its place was taken by the Pinta, under
the command of Captain H. E. Nichols, who for
several years did most valuable work in the southern
part of the archipelago while in command of the coast-
survey steamer Hassler. His surveys were the basis
for many of the new charts of that region that accompanied the Alaska Coast Pilot of 1883, compiled by
Prof. W. H. Dall, and his return with the Pinta allows
him to continue his surveys.
The Pinta is one of fifteen tugs or despatch boats
built during the war for use at the different navy
yards. It did service for many years at the Brooklyn
yard, but became notorious about two years ago
while undergoing repairs at the Norfolk yard.    An 224
unconscionable sum was spent in repairing; a local
election was helped on, or rather off, by this means,
and the board of officers called to survey and report
upon the Pinta when the work was completed unhesitatingly condemned it, and declared it unsea-
worthy. A second survey was called in this awkward
dilemma, and on the trial trip the much-tinkered
ship made about four knots an hour. It went up to
Boston, ran into the brig Tally-Ho that lay at anchor
there, and more of its officers were brought up before
a court of inquiry. A daring officer was at last found
willing to peril his life in taking the Pinta around
the Horn, and to attempt this hazardous exploit the
armament was dispensed with until it should reach
the Mare Island navy yard in California. It started
the latter part of November, and reached San Francisco at the end of May, where more repairs were
made, its guns mounted, and it then cleared for its
new station. Its detail comprises seven officers and
forty men, and a detachment of thirty marines quartered at Sitka for shore duty.
These naval officers connected with Alaska affairs
have received great commendation for the course
pursued by them in the Territory, and the history of
the naval protectorate is in bright contrast to the
less creditable operations of military rule. As the
character of the country has become known, the use-
lessness of a land force has been appreciated, and
it is most probable that a man-of-war will always be
stationed in this growing section of the territory.
Several naval officers, enjoying and appreciating the
beautiful country, have made special requests to be
returned to the Alaska station, and are enthusiastic THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
over the region that knows neither newspapers nor
high hats. They have many compensations for the
larger social life they are deprived of, and are envied
by all the tourists who meet them. For the sportsmen there are endless chances for shooting everything from humming-birds to ducks, eagles, deer, and
bear. The anglers tell fish stories that turn the
scales of all the tales that were ever told, and the
lovers of nature feast on scenes that ordinary travellers cannot reach, and but dimly dream of in this
hurried touch-and-go of an Alaskan cruise. In
the curio line they have the whole Territory where-
from to choose, and the stone, the copper, and the
modern age yield up their choicest bits for their
collections. A practical man has told me that there
is the place where the officers can save their money,
wear out their old clothes, and learn patience and
other Christian virtues by grace of the slow monthly
mail. Some few amuse themselves with a study of
the country and its people; and the origin, tribal
relations, family distinctions, and mythology of the
Indians open a boundless field to an inquiring mind.
They come across many odd characters and strange
incidents among the queer, mixed population, and
gather up most astonishing legends. One frivolous
government officer, stationed for a long time in the
Territory, once electrified some Alaska enthusiasts
in a far-away city by putting out his elbows, and
drawling with Cockney accent: " Ya-as ! Alaska is
all very well for climate, and scenery, and Indians,
and that sort of thing, but a man loses his grip on
society, you know, if he stays there long !"
It took seventeen years to date from the signing 226
of the treaty until the Congress of the United States
grudgingly granted a skeleton form of government
to this one Territory that has proved itself a paying
investment from the start. Every year the President
called the attention of Congress to the matter, and
once the commander of a Russian man-of-war on the
Pacific coast announced his intention of going up to
Sitka to examine into the defenceless and deplorable
condition of the Russian residents, to whom the
United States had not given the protection and civil
rights guaranteed in the treaty. He never carried out
his intentions, however, and the neglected citizens
had to wait. .
After innumerable petitions and the presentation
in Congress of some thirty bills to grant a civil government to Alaska, the inhabitants were on the point
of having the Russian residents of the Territory unite
in a petition to the Czar, asking him to secure for
them the protection and the rights guaranteed in
the treaty of 1869. The Russian government would
doubtless have enjoyed memorializing the United
States in such a cause, after the way the republic
has taken foreign governments to task for the persecutions of Jews, peasants, and subjects within European borders.
Senator Harrison's bill to provide a civil government for Alaska was introduced on the 4th of
December, 1883, and, with amendments, passed the
Senate on the 24th of January, 1884. It was approved by the House of Representatives on the 13th
of May, and, receiving President Arthur's signature,
Alaska at last became a Territory, but not a land district of the United States, anomalous as that may
Hon. John H. Kinkead, ex-Governor of Nevada,
and who had once resided at Sitka as postmaster and
post trader, was made the first executive. The other
officers of this first government were : John G. Brady,
Commissioner at Sitka; Henry States, Commissioner
at Juneau; George P. Ihrie, Commissioner at Fort
Wrangell; Chester Seeber, Commissioner at Ounalaska ; Ward MacAllister, jr., United States District
Judge; E. W. Haskell, United States District Attorney; M. C. Hillyer, United States Marshal for the
District of Alaska; and Andrew T. Lewis, Clerk of
Court. These officers reached their stations in September, 1884, and the rule of civil law followed the
long interregnum of military, man-of-war, and revenue
government in the country that was not a Territory,
but only a customs district, and an Indian reservation
without an agent.
The most sanguine do not expect to see Alaska
enter the sisterhood of States during this century,
but they claim with reason that southeastern Alaska
will develop so rapidly that it will become necessary
to make it a separate Territory with full and complete
form of government, and skeleton rule be confined to
the dreary and inhospitable regions of the Yukon
The citizens who have struggled against such tremendous odds for so many years were rather bitter
in their comments upon the tardy and ungracious
action of Congress in giving them only a skeleton
government; and the Russians and Creoles are more
O '
loyal to the Czar at heart, after experiencing these
seventeen years in a free country. To a lady who
tried to buy some illusion or tulle in a store at Sitka, 228
the trader blurted out, " No, ma'am, there's no illusion in Alaska. It's all reality here, and pretty hard
at that, the way the government treats us."
The dim ideas that the outside world had of the
condition of Alaska was evinced by the stories Major
Morris used to tell of dozens of letters that were
addressed to "The United States Consul at Sitka."
Governors of States and more favored Territories
regularly sent their Thanksgiving Proclamations to
"The Governor of Alaska Territory," long before
the neglected country had any such an official as a
governor, or any right to such a courteous appellation
ALTHOUGH the pride of this most advanced
and enlightened nation of the earth is its public school system, the United States has done nothing for education in Alaska. According to Petroff's
historical record, from which the following resume' is
made, the Russian school system' began in 1874,
when Gregory Shelikoff, a founder and director of
the fur company, established a small school at Kodiak. He taught only the rudiments to the native;
Aleuts, and his wife instructed the women in sewing
and household arts. Through Shelikoff's efforts the
empress, Catherine II., by special ukase of June 30,
1793, instructed the metropolite Gabriel to send missionaries to her American possessions. In 1794 the
archimandrite, Ivassof, seven clergymen, and two laymen reached Kodiak. Germand, a member of this'
party, established a'school on Spruce Island, and for
forty years gave religious instruction and agricultural
and industrial teachings to the natives.
In 1820 a school was established at Sitka, and'
instruction given in the Russian language and re-'
ligion, the fundamental branches, navigation, and the
trades; the object in all these schools maintained by 230
the government and the fur company being to raise
up competent navigators, clerks, and traders for the
company's ranks.
In 1824 Ivan Veniaminoff landed at Ounalaska,
and began his mission work among the Aleuts. He
translated the Scriptures for them, and compiled a
vocabulary of their language, and in 1838 he went
back to Irkutsk and was made bishop of the independent diocese of Russian America. Returning to
Alaska, he established himself at Sitka, founded the
Cathedral church, and undertook the conversion of
the Koloschians, or Thlinkets. He studied their language, translated books of the Testament, hymns,
and a catechism, and wrote several works upon the
Aleuts and Thlinkets, which are still the authority
upon all that relates to their peculiar rites, superstitions, beliefs, and customs.
In the year 1840 Captain Etolin, a Creole, educated
in the colonial school at Sitka, became governor and
chief director of the fur company, and, during his administration of affairs, educational matters received
their full share of attention. A preparatory school
was founded by Etolin, who adopted the wisest measures for its success. Religious teachings were given
in all the schools, and arithmetic, astronomy, and navigation were considered important branches. Etolin
himself was a fine navigator, and, while in command
of the company's ships, he made a survey of the
coast, and a map which is still considered authority.
His wife established a school for Creole girls, educating them in the common branches and household duties, and furnishing them with dowries when they
married the company's officers  or employees.    In THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
1841 Veniaminoff founded a theological seminary at
Sitka, and it was maintained until the transfer of the
territory and the removal of the bishop's see to Kam-
schatka. In i860 the school system was reorganized
by a commission, the scope and efficiency of the institution increased, and thorough training in the sciences and higher branches afforded.
In 1867 the territory passed into the possession of
the United States, the Russian support was withdrawn from the schools, and educational affairs have
been at a standstill ever since. No rights were reserved for the Indians in the treaty of 1867, so that
there is no real "Indian Question" involved. The
Treasury regulations forbidding the importation or
sale of intoxicating liquors makes the whole Territory
an Indian reservation in one sense ; but there have
never been any treaties with the tribes ; there are no
Indian agents within the boundaries ; and, uncontami-
nated by the system of government rations and annuity goods, the parties have been left free, with but
one exception, to work out their own civilization.
In leasing the Seal Islands to the Alaska Commercial Company, the government bound the company
" to maintain a school on each island, in accordance
with said rules and regulations, and suitable for the
education of the natives of said islands, for a period
of not less than eight months in each year." Government agents have seen that the company kept its
promises for " the comfort, maintenance, education,
and protection of the natives of said islands," and
having provided carefully for these essentials on
those few square miles of land, the general government omitted to do anything for the rest of the 232
great country and its 33,246 native inhabitants, who
are certainly as much entitled to educational aid as
the inhabitants of the nearer Territories and the
Southern States. The Alaska Commercial Company
has maintained schools on St. Paul's and St. George's
islands as agreed, and, becoming interested in the
rapid progress made by one very bright and clever
young Aleut at St. Paul's, the company sent him to
Massachusetts to complete his studies. They paid
all his expenses for five years, and he left the Massachusetts State Normal School with credit, and is now
in charge of the schools at the Seal Islands, an intelligent and highly esteemed young man, in whom the
company takes a natural pride.
According to the census report of 1880, the native
population of Alaska numbers 33,246. Of this number 7,225 are Thlinkets and Haidas, inhabiting the
southeastern part of the Territory, and Petroff gives
the following enumeration of the tribes : —
Chilkat  988
Hooniah  908
Kootznahoo  666
Kake  568
Auk  640
Taku  269
Stikine        317
Prince of Wales Id. (West Coast)   .... 587
Tongass  273
Sitka  721
Yakutat  soo
Haida :   . 788
20 o
While the military garrison was at Sitka, the wives
of the officers taught classes of the natives every
Sunday, and when General O. O. Howard's attention was directed to the matter, during a trip through
the country, he reported the condition of affairs to
the mission boards. The Presbyterian Board was the
first to enter the field, Mrs. McFarland establishing
the school at Fort Wrangell in 1877. ^n ^8y8 a
school was started at Sitka; in 1880 one was established at Chilkoot Inlet, and after that, one among
the Hooniahs of Cross- Sound, and at Howkan ami
Shakan, among the Haidas. A school for Russiar
and Creole children was maintained at Sitka in 1879.
under the protection of Captain Glass, U.S.N., whose
efforts in the cause of Indian education have already
been recorded.
The Indians are quick to learn and anxious to b-
taught, and,'appreciating the practical advantages of
-an education, they unceasingly beg for teachers and
schools. The only drawback to their upward progress is their want of all moral sense or instincts.
The missionary teachers sent out by the Presbyterian Board have been well received by the Indians,
but, on account of a few unfortunate instances, are
not popular with' the white residents. The native
chiefs have often given up the council-houses and
their own lodges to them for school-rooms, and taken
the instructors under their special protection.
Recognition was at last given to the rights and the
wants of these people in 1884, and in section 13 of
the "Act providing a civil government for Alaska,"
an appropriation of $25,000 was made for the education of all children of school age, without reference to 234
race. The public schools contemplated in this act
are yet to be established, as the civil officers have
first to inspect, and make their reports and suggestions as to the wisest disposal of the fund.
At the same session of the forty-eighth Congress,
the Indian appropriation bill made this provision:
I For the support and education of Indian children of
both sexes at industrial schools in Alaska, $15,000."
The Presbyterian Board of Missions, through the Rev.
Dr. Kendall, made application for a portion of this
fund in 1884, and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, in his letter recommending that it should be
granted, said: —
I In the total neglect of the government (since
Alaska was purchased) to provide for the educational
needs of Alaska Indians, they have been indebted
for such schools as they have had solely to religious
societies, and for most of these schools they are indebted to the society which Dr. Kendall represents.
For the establishment and support of its schools that
society, last year, expended over $20,000, and also
expended nearly $5,000 for mission work. In the enlargement of their educational work in Alaska, they
have therefore the first claim to assistance from the
appropriation recently made by government for the
support of schools in Alaska. Moreover, they have
now on the ground officers and employees who can
carry on the work."
A contract was therefore made with the mission
authorities at Sitka for the education and care of one
hundred pupils, at an expense to the government of
$120 per capita per annum, the expenditure to be
made* in quarterly payments from the appropriation THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
named above. It was estimated that for the first
year the whole expenditure would not exceed $9,000
or $10,000. The contracts are temporary, and can
be annulled at two months' notice should a different
policy prevail at headquarters; and the original intention of establishing a government industrial school
after the plan of the successful institution at Carlisle
Barracks, Pa., will probably not be carried out for
some time.
The Roman Catholics built a chapel at Fort Wrangell some years ago, but it has been closed for a long
time, and there are no missions of that church now
maintained in southeastern Alaska at least. It would
seem as though this were a field particularly adapted
to the efforts of the Jesuits, who have always been so
successful among the native tribes of the Pacific
Two Moravian missionaries from Bethlehem, Pa.,
the Rev. Adolphus Hartman and the Rev. William
Weinland, were taken up to the Yukon region by the
U. S. S. Corwin in the spring of 1884, and will devote
themselves to mission work among the Indians of
the interior. 236
WHEN the steamer gets ready to leave Sitka,
there is always regret that the few days in that
port could not have been weeks. There are always
regrets, too, at not seeing Mount St. Elias, when the
passengers realize that the ship has begun the return
voyage. Mr. Seward was most desirous of seeing
Mount St. Elias from the sea, but was deterred from
carrying out his plan by the stories of the rough
water to be crossed, and the certainty of fogs and
clouds obscuring his view when he reached the bay
at the base of the great mountain. There are seldom any passengers or freight billed for Mount St.
Elias, and the mail contract does not require the
steamer to run up that three hundred miles to northwestward of Sitka and call at the mountain each
month. The U. S. S. Adams carried some prospectors up to Yakutat Bay in 1883, and its officers took
that opportunity of visiting the great glacier that
fronts for seventy miles on the coast at the foot of
the giant peak of North America. One of the officers
made a series of admirable water-color sketches, but
no angles were taken to determine the exact height
of the mountain, and the elevation of the untrodden
summit is not yet determined with precision. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
In June, 1884, the Idaho went up to the mouth
of Copper River to land Lieutenant Abercrombie,
U. S. A, and his exploring party, and the pilot's story
of the radiantly clear sky, and the view of Mount St.
Elias, one hundred and fifty miles away, added poignancy to the regrets of .the July passengers. From
a height of 17,500 feet, the mountain has now risen
to 19,500 feet, according to the latest " Coast Pilot,"
and somewhere it has been given an elevation of
23,000 feet above the sea. Fame and glory await the
mountain-climber who reaches its top, and every
American who rides up the Righi, or has a guide pull
him up other Alpine summits, should blush that a
grander mountain in his own country, the highest
peak of the continent, too, has never yet been accurately measured, or explored, or ascended.
When, as the log says, " the ship lets go from
Sitka wharf," there are two routes to choose in starting southward. One leads out through the beautiful
Sitka Sound, and past Mount Edgecumbe, to the
open sea, and then the course is down the shore of
Baranoff Island and around Cape Ommaney to the
inside waters. The mountain outlines'of the Baranoff
shore are particularly fine from the ocean, but a landsman finds more beauty in the peaks and ranges as
seen from the quiet waters of Chatham Strait on the
other side of the island. Cape Ommaney, in rough
weather, is more dreaded by mariners than the Columbia River bar, and wits and punsters take liberties
with its name when they round Cape Ommaney in a
head wind and chop sea. The Pacific raises some
mighty   surges  off  that  point, and there are small
O        J O a j
islands and hidden rocks on all sides of it.   Vancouver 238
had to anchor for several days in a little bight before
he could venture around the cape, and in later times
it has been a place of peril and anxiety to the navigators of the coast.
' The other route from Sitka leads around the north
end of Baranoff Island, and through Peril Straits
across to Chatham Strait. Peril Straits is a narrow
gorge or channel between the two mountainous
islands of Chicagoff and Baranoff, and is strewn
through all of its tortuous way with rocks and ledges
over which the rushing tides pour in eddies and
rapids. Several wrecks have occurred in this dangerous passage, and in May, 1883, the freight steamer
Eureka struck a rock, and was beached near shore in
time to save it from complete destruction. All lives
were saved, and the crew and salvage corps had a
camp near the wreck for three weeks, before the
ship was raised and taken to San Francisco for
It was aptly named Peril, or Pogibshi, Strait, by the
Russians, though Petroff says that it was called that
on account of the death of one hundred of Baranoff's
Aleut hunters, who were killed by eating poisonous
mussels there, rather than on account of its reefs and
furious tides. It takes a daring and skilful navigator
to carry a ship through that dangerous reach, arid it
is something fine to watch Captain Carroll, when he
puts extra men at the wheel and sends his big steamer
plunging and flying through the rapids. The yard-
arms almost touch the trees on the precipitous shores,
and the bow heads to all the points of the compass in
turn, as 1 the salt, storm-fighting old captain " stands
on the bridge, with his hands run deep in his great-coat THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
pockets, and drops an occasional "Stab'bord a bit!"
" Hard a stab'bord ! " or " Port your helm !" down the
trap-door to the men at the wheel. Aside from its
evil fame, it is a most picturesque and beautiful channel, the waters a clear, deep green, and the shores
clothed with dense forests of darker green.
Captain Coghlan made a survey of Peril Straits before leaving Alaska, and marked off the channel with
buoys. He found so many rocks and reefs that had
been unsuspected, that the mariners said that they
would never dare to venture through Peril Straits
again, after learning how rock-crowded and dangerous
it was.
Down Chatham Strait, green and snow-covered
mountains rise on either side, and on the shores of
Admiralty Island marble bluffs show like patches of
snow on the long shore line of eternal green.    The
o o
old Indian village of Kootznahoo, the "Bear Fort" of
the natives, lies in a cove on the Admiralty shore,
and, from first to last, the Kootznahoo tribe have
proved an unruly set. They made hostile demonstrations to Vancouver's men when they explored
the strait, and in 1869 the authorities had to deal
severely with them, destroying a village and carrying
the chief away as hostage, or prisoner, on the U. S. S.
Saginaw. In Oqtober, 1882, the shelling of this
Kootznahoo village by Captain Merriman, U. S. N.,
made a great stir, and editors six thousand miles
away heaped vituperation and invective upon the
head of that officer, without waiting to know of anything but the bare fact of the shelling. The docility
of the Indians since then, and the expressed approval
of the Tyee's action by the chiefs of the tribe, prove 240
how efficacious his course was at the battle of Kootznahoo. In Alaska, where the history of that bombardment is still fresh, and the survivors are walking
about in paint and nose rings, the whole thing wears
a different aspect, and fragments that one remembers
of those blazing editorials appear now as most laughable. Every scribe brought in a ringing sentence
about the "eternal ice and snows of an arctic winter;"
but they don't have arctic winters in this part of
Alaska, as a study- of the Japan Current and the
isothermal lines will show, and while the battle raged
the thermometer stood higher than it did in New
York. Other errors were bound to creep in where
the fires of enthusiasm were kindled with so little information, and to the officers and people of Sitka the
newspapers were a source of unending entertainment
when the.bombardment of Kootznahoo began to reach
their columns.
As related on the spot, that Kootznahoo story of the
torpedo and the whale is Homeric in its simplicity.
Some Indians went out in a canoe with the white men
employed by the Northwest Trading Company at Kil-
lisnoo. While paddling towards a whale, one of the
bombs attached to a harpoon exploded and killed an
Indian. If it- had been a common Indian, nothing
would ever have been heard of the incident, but when
the natives saw their great medicine man laid low, they
raised an uproar. Going back to first causes, they
demanded two hundred blankets from the trading
company as compensation for their loss. The company natu-ally ignored this tax levied by the coroner's
jury, and straightway there were signs of war.
The Indians' demand for blood or ransom was made THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
stronger by their capturing one of the white men and
holding him as hostage, but when they found that he
was one-eyed they tried to send him back for exchange. They claimed that he was cultus (worthless), and demanded a whole and sound man for their
dead shaman. They made ready to murder all the
white men at the adjoining station, 'intending, however, to spare the agent's wife and children, as they
afterwards confessed. As the signs of the coming
trouble were more apparent, the little steamer Favorite was sent to Sitka with the agent's family,
and an appeal made for help to the Adams. Captain
Merriman returned in the Favorite, accompanied by
the revenue cutter Corwin.
A great wa-wa was held with the ringleaders and
marauders, and to their bold demand for the two hundred blankets, Captain Merriman responded with a
counter-demand, that the Indians should bring him four
hundred blankets, and forever after keep the peace,
or he would shell their village. Mistaking his word for
that of a common Indian agent, the red men went
their riotous way, and at dusk of a November afternoon the Corwin anchored outside the reef and sent
the shot hurtling through the village. The Indians
gathered up their blankets and their stores of winter
provisions, and took to'the woods, but the bombardment was not so severe, but that a few rascally
Kootznahoos stayed in the village and plundered the
abandoned houses. The tribute of blankets was paid,
the Kootznahoos humbled themselves before the big
Tyee, or their "good father," and a more docile, penitent, and industrious community does not exist than
those same obstreperous Indians. 242
The liquor that the Hudson Bay Company and the
Russian traders furnished to the Indians was very
weak and very expensive, and the Kootznahoos rest
some of their claims to distinction on the fact that
the native drink, or hoochinoo, was first distilled by
their people. A deserter from a whaling-ship taught
them the secret, and from molasses or sugar, with
flour, potatoes, and yeast, they distil the vilest and
most powerful spirit. An old oil can and a musket
barrel, or a section of the long, hollow pipe of the
common seaweed (nereiocistum) furnish the apparatus, and the hoochinoo, quickly distilled, can be use,d
at once. After any quantity of it has been made,
its presence is soon declared, and the Indians are
frenzied by it. Hoochinoo is the great enemy of
peace and order, and the customs officers can much
easier detect a white man smuggling whiskey than
catch the Indians in the distilling act. It is apparent enough when they have imbibed the rank and
fiery spirit, but it is impossible to watch all the
illicit stills that they set up in their houses, or hide in
lonely coves and places in the woods. The man-of-
war is always on the lookout for indications of hoochinoo, and at the first signs a raid is made on a village,
the houses and the woods searched, and the stills and
supplies destroyed. With the cunning of a savage
race they have wonderful ways of hiding it in underground and up-tree warehouses, and many exciting
stories are told by the naval officers of the great hoochinoo raids they have taken part in.
Lumme or rum, these children of nature sometimes call the forbidden fluid, as, like their Chinese
cousins, the Thlinkets are unable to pronounce the THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
letter r, and give the /-sound as its equivalent in
every case. There are many points of resemblance
between the Kootznahoos and the Orientals ; and
in writing of the origin of these Thlinket tribes of
the archipelago, Captain Beardslee, in his official
report, says: —
"All of the tribes mentioned except the Kootznahoos seem to have sprung from a common origin; they
speak the same language and have similar customs
and superstitions, and from these the Kootznahoos
differ so slightly that a stranger cannot detect the
difference. Their legend is that originally all lived
in the Chilkat country; that there came great floods
of ice and water, and the country grew too poor to
support them, and that many emigrated south ; that
the Auks are outcasts from the Hoonah tribes, and
the Kakes from the Sitkas, and both tribes deserve
to be still so considered ; that the Kootznahoos came
from over the sea, and the Haidas, who live on Vancouver's Island, from the south. I have imbibed an
impression, which, however, I could not obtain much
evidence to support, that all of the tribes except the
Haidas are Oriental, — in every respect they resemble the Ainos of Japan far more than they do our
North American Indians, — and that the Kootznahoos
are of Chinese origin; while the Haidas, who are
superior to all of the others in intelligence and skill
in various handicrafts, are the descendants of the
boat-loads whom Cortez drove out of Mexico, and
who vanished to the north."
All this part of Admiralty Island is a coal field,
and veins and outcroppings of lignite have been
found on every side of it, and along the inlets and
aii 244
creeks leading to the interior. A good coal mine
would be worth more than a gold mine, in Alaska,
and though seams have been discovered with regularity since 1832, none of the explorers seem to have
found just the thing yet. In 1868 Lieutenant-Commander Mitchell explored Kootznahoo Inlet, leading
into the heart of Admiralty Island, and at the head
of the perilous channel opened a coal seam. In the
following year, Mr. Seward's party went up to the
Mitchell mine, and they were enthusiastic over its
promises. The coal burned beautifully in the open
air, but when the real tests were put to it, and it was
tried in the boiler-room of the ship, it was found to
contain so much crude resin that it was destruction to boiler iron. Geologically, the country is too
young to have even any very good lignite beds, but
the archipelago is now swarming with coal prospectors and coal experts, and there is such a general
craze for coal that it may yet be forthcoming. At
present the Nanaimo coal is depended upon entirely
for steaming purposes, and the mail-steamer has to
carry its own supply for the whole round trip, and
take as freight the coal needed for the government
ships at Sitka.
After Captain Hooper's mine of true coal at Cape
Lisburn, on the Arctic coast, the most promising
indications are at Cook's Inlet and around the Kenai
peninsula.- Although irrelevant in this connection, it
perhaps naturally follows in this lignite vein to mention a coal mine accidentally discovered by an English yachtsman, Sir Thomas Hesketh, while cruising
about Kenai. He treed an eagle on a hunting trip,-
and, other means failing to dislodge it, the sportsman THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
set fire to the tree. The roots ran down into a coal
seam, that, taking fire, was burning two years later,
when the last ship touched there. Another escapade
of the yachting party was to set a dead monkey
adrift in a box, and when it washed ashore near
Kodiak, the Indians, who had had a tradition that
the evil spirit would come to earth in the shape of
a little black man, fled that part of the island in terror and never went back.
lit 246
AROUND the point from Kootznahoo, a sharp
turn leads through a veritable needle's eye of
a passage to Koteosok Harbor, made by the natural
breakwater of a small island lying close to the Admiralty shore. This island was named by Captain Meade
as Kenasnow, or " near the fort," as the Kootznahoos
designated it to him. It is a picturesque, fir-crowned
little island, and its dark, slaty cliffs are seamed with
veins of pure white marble. Its ragged shores hold
hundreds of aquariums at low tide, and in the way of
marine curios there are, besides the skeletons of
whales, myriads of star fish and jelly fish and barnacles strewing the beach; the acres of barnacles giving
off a chorus of faint little clicking sounds as they
hastily shut their shells at the sound of any one
On this little island of Kenasnow, the Northwest
Trading Company has its largest station, Killisnoo,
where codfish are dried, herring and dogfish converted into oil, and the air weighted with the most
horrible smells from the fish guano manufactured
there. The company has- extensive warehouses,
works, and shops on Kenasnow, and around the buildings there are gathered quite a village of Kootznahoo THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO:
Indians, who are employed at the fishery. This station represents an investment of over $100,000, the
oil works alone having cost $70,000, and extravagant
management having doubled all the necessary expenses of the first plant. As there was no water
supply on the solid rock of Kenasnow, a reservoir
with a storage capacity of 90,000 gallons of water
was constructed; and, with cedar forests on every
side, every bit of lumber used was brought by freight
from below.
Killisnoo was first established as a whaling station,
but many causes decided the company to abandon
that branch of fishery. There is a tradition that the
Indians once regarded their great totemic beast, the
whale, with such veneration that they would never
kill it, nor eat of its flesh and blubber. The Kootznahoos have grown skeptical in many ways, and they
made no objections to harpooning the whale, until
the bomb exploded in 1882; and after the troubles
following upon that impious adventure, the company
decided that whaling was not a profitable business,
and began to fish for cod and smaller fry.
The codfish are caught in the deeper waters of
Chatham Strait around the island, the Indians going
out in the fleet of small boats to fish, and turning
their catch into large scows, which are towed in by
the two steam launches that are kept constantly
busy. Connoisseurs pronounce this cod remarkably
fine, firm, and white, and as neither hake nor haddock are ever found there, the Killisnoo codfish is
not open to the same suspicions as rest on so many
Eastern fish. They average in weight from three to
five pounds, and the Indians are provided with boats 248
and paid two cents apiece for every codfish caught. A
difficulty in the way of drying in the open air in this
moist climate has been solved by building a drying-
house, where the process is accomplished artificially.
There seems to be no limit to the quantity of fish that
can be caught, and during one visit at Killisnoo a scow
was towed in from Gardner Point loaded with, eight
thousand fine large cod, and 1,576 boxes of the dried
fish were ready to be shipped south.
From the end of August into January, the waters
of Chatham Strait are black with herring. The Indians used to catch them with primitive rakes, made
by driving nails through the end of a piece of board,
and with this rude implement they could quickly fill
a canoe with herring, each nail catching two and
three fish. Seines have supplanted the aborigine's
hand-rake, and a thousand barrels of silver herring
have been taken at a single haul, although the average
haul is about half as many barrels, and requiring
eleven men to each net then. Each barrel of fish
yields about three gallons of oil at the oil works,
which are managed by men who have had charge
of menhaden fisheries on the Atlantic coast. As
the result of the first year's work, 82,000 gallons of
herring oil were shipped below in 1883, selling at the
rate of thirty cents per gallon. Within the year an
attempt was made towards supplying the cod-liver oil
of pharmacy, and five cases of it sent below for trial
received the highest indorsement from physicians.
More picturesque and less fragrant than the buildings of the company were the log and bark houses of
the Indians, who have abandoned their old village
and fort of Kootznahoo, and settled around the Kil- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
lisnoo station. The local celebrity is the famous old
head chief of the Kootznahoos, Kitchnatti or Saginaw
Jake, who, for the iniquities of his tribe, was carried
off as a hostage in the man-of-war Saginaw in 1869.
He was a prisoner for a long time on board that ship
at the Mare Island Navy Yard in California, and
when he was afterward returned to his people, he became an apostle of peace and the greatest friend of
the white man. He is a crooked, bow-legged old fellow, and he superintended the tying up of the ship in
a most energetic way. He lurched and tacked across
the dock, waving his cane wildly to his underlings,
and giving hoarse, guttural words of the fiercest command. He wore a derby hat with a gold band, and
the uniform coat of a captain of the navy, while two
immense silver stars on his breast gave his name and
rank as the Killisnoo policeman, and a dangerous-
looking billy was suspended from his shoulder by a
variegated sash.
Besides being a hostage of war, Kitchnatti was
once denounced by a terrible shaman, who had an
incurable patient on hand. The chief was found
bound and tied for torture, and barely rescued in
time by naval friends. He has now no respect for
his own medicine-men, and proved it once by telling
one of the curio collectors that he knew where there
was a shaman's grave full of beautiful carvings and
trophies. He was bidden to get them, and offered a
price for his grave-robbing. In a few days Jake reappeared, looking sad and despondent. He mentioned the name of a sub-chief, and, with a tone of
severe disapproval, said : —
" Heap bad Indian. He rob medicine-man's grave.
Sell curios to trader.    Bad man." SOUTHERN ALASKA.
When Jake spied the photographers on shore, he
made wild signals, ran off to his cabin, and reappeared clad in fuller regalia; then, drawing an old
cutlass, braced himself up in a " present-arms " attitude before the camera, and nodded for the operator
to go on. He then led them to his neatly whitewashed house, and showed them a cigar-box full of
letters of credentials and testimonials of character
given him by naval officers, ship captains, traders,
and missionaries. All of these Indians have a great
fancy for these letters. They beg them from every one
in power, and carry them around tenderly wrapped in
paper, to show them as certificates of their worth,
character, and importance. Some of Jake's letters
were profusely sealed with great splotches of red
wax, and there is a story that he for a long time
innocently showed a testimonial, which ran: " The
bearer of this paper is the biggest scoundrel in
Alaska. Believe nothing that he says, and look out,
or he will steal everything in sight." These poor
old men of letters have many funny jokes played on
them in this way, and it is really touching to see
the innocent pride with which they display these
Jake pointed with pleasure ,to a row of illuminated
posters and portraits of theatrical celebrities that
decorated one wall of his cabin, and explained that
they were pictures of his friends. The faces were
those of Nat Goodwin, Gus Williams, John McCul-
lough, Thomas Keane, and others, and the high colors and grand attitudes much pleased the old chief.
In quite another vein Jake pointed to a small box
tomb on the other side of the channel, where he had   THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
buried his little daughter a few days before. A flagpole, with a small United States flag at half-mast,
gave mute testimony to Jake's ideas of patriotism
and mourning etiquette. His wife betrayed her state
of grief by wandering about in a black dress, with a
black umbrella held down closely over her head all of
the time.
At Killisnoo blackened faces were almost the rule,
and every other native woman had her face coated
with a mixture of seal oil and soot. A group of
these blackamoors made a picture, as they sat inside
a cabin door weaving their pretty baskets of the fine
inside bark and roots of the cedar. One younger
woman wore a silver pin sticking out through her
under lip, another had a large wooden labrette in
her lip ; and when the photographer tried to take the
group, their neighbors ran up and joined in the
At Killisnoo, once, the anglers baited their lines
and hung them overboard, as inducements to the codfish. The lunch-gong summoned them below, but
they tied their lines and trusted to some fish swallowing the hooks while they were gone. When the
first angler came up and touched his line, his face
glowed, and he began pulling in the weighty prize.
When the line left the water a bottle was dangling
on the end of it, tied with a sailor's knot, and hook
and bait intact. The second angler drew up a dried
codfish, and then, when they looked around for the
captain of the ship, he was nowhere to be found.
There are a few Kake Indians among the fishermen and workmen at Killisnoo, and their old home
or proper domain is on Kouiu Island, further down !..!-
Chatham Straits. The Kakes are outcasts and renegades among the tribes, and, from early days, there
has been reason for the bad name given them. They
were hostile, treacherous, and revengeful, and were
dealt with warily by the old traders. In 1857 a war
party paddled a thousand miles down to Puget Sound,
and at Whidby Island murdered Mr. Ebey, a former
collector of customs at Port Townsend, in retaliation
for an indignity put upon their men in the preceding
year. They carried his head back with them, and
great war dances followed the return of the avenging
At the north end of Kouiu Island are the ruins of
the three villages destroyed during the Kake war, in
1869. The origin and incidents of this war are thus
sketched in a private letter by Captain R. W. Meade,
U. S. N., who commanded the U. S. S. Saginaw, at
that time in Alaskan waters : —
"The war was due originally to the killing of a
Kake Indian at Sitka by the sentry on guard at the
lower end of the town. There had been some trouble with the Indians outside the stockade, and General Jeff C. Davis, who commanded the department,
with headquarters at Sitka, had given orders to prevent all Indians from leaving Sitka during the night
— I think it was New Year's night. He had asked
me to co-operate with him, and my patrol-boats sent
several canoes back to the Indian village. About
daylight a canoe was discovered leaving the village.
The soldier nearest the canoe hailed and ordered the
canoe back, and as it did not go back after a third or
fourth hail, fired, killing a Kake Indian. The canoe
still continued to paddle off, and, though pursued by THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
the boats of the Saginaw, that had seen the firing,
escaped. Subsequently, in revenge for this, the Kake
Indians murdered two Sitka traders, Messrs. Maugher
and Walker, and General Davis determined to punish
them by destroying their villages. I was asked to
co-operate, and, although I think the trouble could
have been avoided in the first place, yet, after the
wanton murder of two innocent men, I felt it my
duty to give the Kake tribe — a very ugly one — a
lesson. We therefore took on board some twenty-
five soldiers from the garrison at Sitka, and went to
the Kake country. The Indians abandoned their villages on our approach, and three villages were destroyed by fire and shell. A stockaded fort was also
destroyed by midshipman, now Lieutenant Bridges,
of the Saginaw. The Indians were dismayed, and
no further trouble, I believe, has occurred with them.
There was no loss of life on either side — it was a
bloodless war."
The Kakes have never returned to these villages,
and in diminished numbers they roam the archipelago, creating trouble and disturbances wherever
they draw up their canoes. Their visits are dreaded
equally by the natives and whites, and Captain
Beardslee peremptorily ordered them out of Sitka
when several war canoes, filled with a visiting party,
came abreast of the rancherie, shouting and singing
their peculiar songs. Their unpleasant reputation
has, doubtless, kept settlers away from Kouiu Island,
and there is not yet as much as a salmon cannery or
packing house on its shores. The island is over sixty
miles long, with an irregular, indented shore, and
wherever the surveyors have followed its lines they 256
have seen forests of yellow cedar. This timber will,
in time, make Kouiu and the adjoining island of
Kuprianoff the most valuable land sections in this
part of the Territory. The yellow cedar is said to
be the only good ship timber on the Pacific coast,
and is the only wood that can resist the teredo,
which eats up the pine piles under wharves in two
years from the time they are driven. The trees are
found five and seven feet in diameter, and attain the
height of one hundred and fifty feet, and the fine,
closely grained, hard, yellow wood was once exported
to China in large quantities by the Russians. The
Chinese valued it for its fine, hard texture, and they
carved it into chests and small articles, and exported
it as camphor wood. Its odor is by some said to
resemble sandal wood, and, by others, garlic, but it
takes a beautiful satiny polish, and will be as valuable
as a cabinet wood as for ship timber. Some of it
that has been sent to Portland has been sold' at
seventy-five dollars a thousand feet, and Mr. Seward
prized very" highly the fine cedar that he carried
home with him. As there has always been complaint
of the quality of the Oregon timber, and vessels built
of its pine could not be insured as A i but for three
years, it may seem strange that no attempts have
been made to utilize the vast forests of cedar scattered through the archipelago. Seven years ago a
bill was introduced in Congress asking that one hundred thousand acres of timber land on Kouiu Island
should be sold to a company, that guaranteed to establish a shipyard and build a vessel of twelve hundred*
tons burthen within two years. The same inscrutable reasons that for a long time prevented anything THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
being done for the development of Alaska prevented
the bill from becoming a law. Even the present
act establishing a form of civil government does not
make the Territory a land district, and nothing could
seem more perverse than this action. Timber lands
can neither be bought nor leased, and as settlers can
in no way acquire an acre, there are few saw mills in
the Territory, and their owners are guilty of stealing
government timber, and liable to prosecution if the
new officials press things to the finest point. Want
of lumber has been a serious hindrance and obstacle
to settlers, and the miners at Juneau had to pay
freight on, and await the monthly consignments of,
Oregon pine that were shipped to a country crowded
with better timber. 258
LIKE Kouiu and Kuprianoff islands, the Prince
of Wales Island is another home of the yellow
or Alaska cedar. It.was named by Vancouver, and
when the Coast Survey changed his name of the
George III. Archipelago to the Alexander Archipelago, this largest island of the group retained its
former designation. It is from one hundred and fifty
to two hundred miles long, and from twenty to sixty
miles wide, but the surveys have never been complete enough to determine whether it is all one island
or a group of islands. Great arms of the sea reach
into the heart of the island, and dense forests of cedar
cover its hills and dales. The salmon are found in
the greatest numbers on every side of it, and the pioneer and most successful cannery and packing houses
are on its shores. On account of its timber and its
salmon, it was once proposed to declare the island a
government reservation of ship timber for the use of
the navy yards on the Pacific coast, and to lease the
valuable fisheries. The very mention of Alaska has
been provocative of roars of laughter in the houses of
Congress, and though the reservation would have
been larger than the State of New Jersey, and its THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
value incalculable, the wits took their turn at the
measure and nothing was done. A citizen of Alaska,
who has chafed under the neglect and indignities put
upon this Territory, made scathing comments upon
the debates of both House and Senate, brought about
by these cedar reservation bills and the bill for a
Territorial government.    His final shot was this : —
" If those Senators and Congressmen don't know
any more about the tariff, and the other things that
they help to discuss, than they do about Alaska, the
Lord help the rest of the United States. Their ignorance of the commonest facts of geography would disgrace any little Siwash at the Fort Wrangell School.
What have they paid for all these special government
reports for, if they don't ever read them when they
get ready to speak on a foreign subject, to say nothing of what can be found in the encyclopaedias and
geographies ?"
These Alaskans are keenly critical of all that is
written about their Territory, and they scan newspaper
accounts with the sharpest eyes for an inaccuracy or
a discrepancy. The statesmen who have assailed the
Territory in speeches and debates in Congress are
condemned with a certain thoroughness and sweep;
and to introduce a copy of The Congressional Record,
containing such efforts, causes even worse explosions
than the one quoted. It was one of these revengeful
jokers who laid the scheme for having an eminent
senator introduce a bill to build a wagon road from
Fort Wrangell to a point on the Canadian Pacific
Railroad on the eastern slope of the Rocky Moun-
taius. An appropriation of $100,000 was asked for,
and every married citizen was to receive six hundred 260
and forty acres of agricultural or grazing land in the
Territory. As the contemplated highway would lead
for a thousand miles across British Columbia, through
the densest woods and over the roughest country,
and from the island town of Fort Wrangell only ten
leagues of the route would be within the Alaska
boundaries, some of the joke can be discovered.
On the west shore of Prince of Wales Island there
•is a large salmon cannery and saw-mill at Klawak,
belonging to Messrs. Sisson, Crocker, & Co., of San
Francisco. It was established in 1878, and the shipments of salmon are made direct by their own
schooners to San Francisco, or by their steam launch,
which makes frequent trips to Kaigahnee and Fort
Wrangell, the nearest post offices and landings of the
mail steamer. In 1883 the Klawak cannery shipped
10,000 cases of salmon to San Francisco, and in 1884,
8,000 cases were sent below. The Klawak settlement is off the regular line of the steamer, and rarely
visited by it, now that the cannery is well established
and furnished with its own boats ; but it is described
as one of the many beautiful places in the archipelago
where the silver salmon run in greatest numbers.
For salmon fisheries and salmon canneries there
exists a perfect craze all along the Pacific coast, and
from the Columbia River to Chilkat such establishments are projected for every possible place. At
the most northern point of our cruise we picked up a
piratical-looking man, in flannel shirt and tucked-up
trousers, who had been sent to Alaska "to prospect
for salmon," by the owners of one of the large canneries at Astoria, Oregon. This piscatorial prospector had for years been a pilot on the Columbia THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
River, and this fact, together with his buccaneer air,
made him quite a character on deck. The prospector was the kindest and best-natured man that
ever lived, with a bushy head and beard, and a mild,
twinkling blue eye. Months of strolling in the mud
and moisture of Alaska soil had taught him to roll
his trousers well up at the heel, and he continued
that cautious habit after he came on board, often
pacing the dry and spotless decks of the Idaho with
his checked trousers rolled halfway to his knees, and
the gay facings of red leather streaking his nether
limbs like the insignia of the knightly order of the
garter. Confidentially he said to the mate one day,
" Did you notice the terrible cold I had when I came
up with you ?    Well, it was all because my wife made
me wear that white shirt."    The sincerity and
earnestness with which he said this sent his accidental
listeners off convulsed, and the prospector's latest
remarks passed current in the absence of daily papers
and humorous columns.
Not all of the " salmon prospectors " are as worthy
and reliable as this shipmate, and in their solitary
quests they have time to gather and manufacture
some fish stories that leave all the Frazer River yarns
far behind. At every place that we touched we were
shown or told about "the biggest liar in Alaska."
These great prevaricators and embroiderers of the
truth were not always in the salmon business, and
quite as often were searching for coal or the precious
metals. One pretty bay was famous as the residence
of such a man, who had beguiled capitalists below
into letting him sink $10,000 in a fishery. When the
ship anchored off his lodge in the wilderness early
I! 262
one rainy morning, a hirsute man on shore ran down
the beach, and, making a trumpet of his hands, conversed with the officers on deck. He had sent word
previously that he had eighty barrels of salmon ready
for shipment, but when the inquisitive men from the
steamer went off to his packing house, not more than
four hundred salmon lay pickling in the vats, with
not a barrel ready. This Mulberry Sellers followed
them back to the small boats, talking volubly all the
way, and the last that we saw, as the anchor chains
rattled in and the ship moved off, was the mendacious fisherman standing in the rain, and talking
through his hand trumpet. " Captain ! can't you
wait a while ?" was the farewell plea that we heard
wafting over the water, and all of that afternoon in
the cabin, while the rain pelted overhead, we were
entertained with anecdotes of this same celebrity and
other champion prevaricators of the Territory.
When we left Sitka on the Ancon, and went out
over the rolling main and around Cape Ommaney,
the first stopping-place was at the north end of the
Prince of Wales Island, where a narrow winding
channel, not more than twice the width of the ship's
beam, leads into the beautiful basin of Red Bay.
This intricate little place was known to the Russian traders long ago, and called Krasnaia Bay, but
it was only in 1884 that a packing-house was built
and the shining silver salmon decoyed into seines.
It is a beautiful little place, hidden away on the
edge of the great island, and its air must be restful to the nerves. The beating of the ship's paddle-wheels could be heard for miles in such quiet
land-locked waters, and the steamer's whistle gave THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
warning of its presence long before it rounded
the last bends of the bay. Nevertheless, there were
no signs of life or" excitement about the fishery, and
the two men in sight and at work on the beach did
not even turn their heads to look at the large ocean
steamer bearing down towards them. No freight
seemed ready, neither boats nor canoes put out, and
the passengers longed to be listeners when the captain and purser went ashore in the first gig and held
parley with the easy-going fishermen on the beach.
When we followed in the next boats the spicy part of
the interview was over, and we simply found that
Red Bay was the most awful smelling place in Alaska,
the beach a dirty quagmire covered with kelp and
heads and tails of salmon, and the Indians a hard and
fierce-looking set. The captain had only the pleasure
of the scenery and the excitement of some skilful
pilot practice for going in there, as the lone fishermen had no salmon ready to ship after all the requests for the steamer to call on the July trip.
Once out of the tortuous channel and along the
shore some miles, we anchored at the mouth of
Salmon Creek, where a lighter lay ready loaded at
the packing-house, and three hundred and twenty-five
barrels of salted salmon were towed out to the ship
and put on board as the result of the first catch of
the first year of this new fishery. There was an
energetic proprietor running that establishment, and
he welcomed the boat-load of visitors on shore and led
them over a half-acre of shavings into the side door
of the packing-house. A prying man of the party
spied a great string of salmon trout on the floor and
raised hysterical shrieks.   "Oh! that's nothing," said 264
the proprietor coolly, "a little mess that I caught for
the captain of the ship. The creek is full of them
out here. This Injun will get you some lines." A
veritable war-whoop followed the announcement, and
the anglers broke into a war-dance, circling at all
hands round, doing the pigeon-wings and chains in
such a frenzied manner that the astonished Indians
crept up on the barrels and sat gaping and trembling
in their blankets at the sight of their uncivilized
white brethren.
The Indians brought the fish lines, with common
hooks and small stones tied on for sinkers, and the
anglers were rowed out in an old scow and anchored
not fifty feet from the front of the packing-house.
It was not artistic fishing with fancy flies, and anglers
with patent reels and nets would have looked scorn
at the little group steadily pulling in all the hungry
trout that snapped at the bits of salmon or salmon
eggs hung out to them. An old Indian and a small
boy came paddling around in a leaky canoe, and were
pressed into service to cut bait for the busy fishermen. As the trout flopped into the scow faster than
one a minute, wild shouts rent the air, and the
Siwash adjutants joined in the yells that would have
frightened off anything else in scales but these
untutored Alaska trout. The flapping fish splashed
and spoiled the clothes of the fishermen, but they
never heeded that, and a tally-keeper was installed
on the flour bags and barrels at the end of the scow.
The excitement was communicated to the idlers who
had stayed on the ship, and soon a second boat put
out for the fishing ground, full of wild-eyed anglers
anxious to join in the carnival.    They anchored near THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
the scow, and their efforts were received with shouts
of derision as they began pulling in devil-fish, toad-
fish, sculpin, skate, and marine curios enough to stock
a museum, before a single trout was hooked. The Indians came down and sat in solemn rows on the logs
on shore to watch the crazy white fishermen, and they
made picturesque groups that were repeated in the
glassy mirror of water before them. One old fellow in
a red blanket made a fine point of color against the
thick golden-green wall of spruce-trees on the shore,
. and children and dogs gave a characteristic fringe to
all the groups. When the last lighter put out for the
ship the lines were wound up, and the tally-keeper on
on the flour bags read the record written on the barrel
tops. The two men, one small boy, and the brave
creature in six-button gloves who baited and tended
her own hook, caught altogether one hundred and ten
trout in the hour and a quarter at anchor in the old
scow. The weight was sixty pounds, and the fishermen were wild with glee. The one fair angler and
the tally-keeper having mopped the slimy boat and
the pile of fish with their dresses, and then seated
themselves on flour bags, had full view of the fishing
scene photographed on every breadth of their gowns.
" What shall I do with my ■ dress ?" asked one of
them when she reached the calm and well-dressed
company on deck, and a cheerful woman said briskly:
" I guess you 'd better fry it, now that it is dipped in
Sailing southward through Clarence Straits, a trader
long resident in the country told us of many Indian
superstitions, among others repeating that of their
belief that the aurora flames are the shadows of the 266
spirits of dead warriors dancing in the sky, and that
a great display of northern lights portends a war between the tribes.
The folders of the Pacific Coast Steamship Company head the notice jof the Alaska route with the
inspiring line ; " Glaciers, Majestic Mountains, Inland
Seas, Aurora Borealis, and Nightless Days." All of
this official promise had come to pass according to
schedule, with the exception of the aurora, and although the sky never grew dark, even at midnight,
we clamored for one display of northern lights.
The captain told us to wait and take the trip in
December if we wanted to see the arches of flame
spanning the sky, and jets of brilliant color flashing
to the zenith like spray from a fountain. He further
wrought our fancies to the highest pitch by his
descriptions of the marvellous auroras that he had
seen on his mid-winter cruises, and the dazzling
moonlight effects, when each snow-covered peak and
range shone and glistened like polished silver in the
flood of light, and the still waters repeated the
enchanted scene. Bright as the midnight sky was
with the lingering twilight of the long day, we had an
aurora that night as we steamed down along the
shores of the Prince of Wales' Island. The pilot
roused the enthusiasts to see the promised display in
the northern sky, and the arches and rays of pale
electric light were distinct enough to maintain the
word of the steamship company. The stars twinkled
in the ghostly gray vault overhead, and the wan*
white light flashed and faded in fitful curves, broad
rays and waving streamers, that rested like a vast
halo above the brows of the grand mountains lying
in black shadows at our left. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
The inexorable law of ship's duty only permits it
to linger at a harbor for the time necessary to load
or unload cargo, or for the time specified in • the
mail contract, and in this same hard practical vein it
makes little difference whether a place is reached by
night or day. It is light enough these summer
nights to carry on all outdoor work, and the rare
visits of the steamer are enough to set all the
inhabitants astir at any hour, while the constant
excitement of the trip, and the strange spell of the
midnight light, makes the tourist indifferent to his
established customs. Once on the Idaho we were at
anchor in Naha Bay only from five to six o'clock in
the morning, but it was barely two o'clock on a clear,
still morning when the rattling of the Ancon's anchor
chains again broke the silence of Naha Bay. Although we lay there for five hours, few passengers
could be roused to watch the sunrise clouds, the
leaping salmon, and the brilliant green and gold of
the sun-touched woods and water. In the dew and
freshness of the early morning, Naha Bay was more
lovely than ever, and the little black canoes seemed
to float in emerald air, so clearly green were the
calm waters under them.
Fof another perfect summer afternoon the Ancon
lay at the wharf in Kasa-an Bay, and, in the mellow,
Indian summer sunshine, we roamed the beach, buying the last remaining baskets, bracelets, pipes, and
spoons of the Indians, and pulling hard at the
amateur's oar as we trailed across the bay in small
boats to watch the fishermen cast and draw the net.
The huge skeleton wheels on which the nets are
dried had raised many comments at every fishery, 268
but we had never been lucky enough to catch the
men doing anything but winding the nets on these
reels to dry. The fishermen had dropped the weighted net when we reached the cove on the opposite
shore, and the line of bobbing wooden floats showed
how this fence in the water was being gradually drawn
in, and the area limited as it crept toward the beach.
The sun was hot on the water, and the far away peal
of the lunch gong, sounding in the stillness of the
mountain bay, caused us to turn back to the ship
before all the shining salmon were drawn up and
thrown into the scows.    The fascination of the water
was too great to resist, and in the warmer sun of the
afternoon we followed the shores of Baronovich's
little inlet, rowing close in where the menzie and
merton spruce formed a dense golden-green wall and
threw clear shadows and reflections upon the water.
We dipped into each little shaded inlet, posed in the
boat for the amateur's camera to preserve the scene,
and floated slowly over the wonderland that lay
beneath the keel. It was with real regret that we
saw the last barrel of salmon dropping into the hold,
and, steaming down the beautiful bay in full sunshine,
had a glimpse of the inlet where the village of Karta
and its totem poles lies, before we turned into
THUS in its commercial mission the steamer
wandered among the islands, touching at
infant settlements and trading posts, and anchoring
before Indian villages with traditions and totem poles
centuries old. Rounding the southern end of the
Prince of Wales Island to Dixon Entrance, the fog
and mist crept upon us as we neared the ocean. It
was a wet and gloomy afternoon when the Idaho
anchored in the little American Bay on Dall Island,
not more than a mile from Howkan, an ancient
settlement of the Kaigahnee Haidas and a place of
note in the archipelago. Howkan has more totem
poles than any other village, and is one of the most
interesting places on the route; but as Kaigahnee
Strait before the village is thickly set with reefs,
and swift currents and strong winds sweep through
the narrow channel, it is dangerous for vessels to go
near. The fur traders used always to anchor in the
little bays on the opposite shore, and to one of them,
American Bay, the Northwest Trading Company was
about to move its stores. Only a small clearing had
been made, and two buildings put up, at the time of
that first visit, and it looked a very dreary and forlorn 270
place, as we picked our way about in the rain, climbing over logs and sinking in the wet moss.
After the cargo had been discharged, the captain
obligingly took the ship over to the nearest safe
anchorage off the village, and we had a warm
welcome on shore from the five white residents. For
two years the missionary's wife and sister had met
but one white woman, until the boatload of ladies
went ashore from the Idaho, and overwhelmed them
with a superfluity. We all gathered in the trader's
house and store at first, and these two white residents
of Howkan were none other than the Russian Count
Z and his pretty black-haired Countess, a couple
interesting in themselves and their history, and all
the more extraordinary in their being found in this
remote end of the world. The Count is a man of
fascinating address and appearance, polished manners
and cultivated tastes, and, being exiled for Nihilistic
tendencies, he chose Alaska in preference to Siberia,
and made his way across the friendly chain of islands
to "the home of the free and the land of the brave."
He married a charming Russian lady at Sitka, and,
with the calm of a philosophic mind and the patience
of a patriotic heart, he waits the time when amnesty or
anarchy shall permit his return to holy Russia. Adversity and years in the savage wilderness have not
robbed these people of their ease and grace of manner,
and the handsome Count had all the charm and spirit
that must have distinguished him in the gay world of
his native capital. The little Countess was unfeign-
edly glad to see a few fellow creatures, and in the
dusk of that dreary, wet night welcomed us to her
simple home, and showed us her treasures, from the
big blue-eyed baby to a wonderfully painted dance
blanket. When we expressed curiosity at the latter,
the pretty Russian seized the great piece of fringed
and painted deerskin, and, wrapping it about her
shoulders, threw her head back with fine pose, and
stood as an animated tableau in the dusk and firelight of her Alaska chalet. "This was a cultus potlatch," she said, with a dainty accent, as she explained
the way it came into her possession, and we all
laughed at the way the Chinook jargon interprets
that dilettante word as meaning "worthless." The
Countess told us, a better one about her asking a
trader what had become of a man who used to live at
Sitka, and the trader answering her that he was
"cultusing around here somewhere." This Russian
family was most interesting to us, and, setting aside
all traditions of his rank, the Nihilist Count talked
business with the captain in a most American
manner, and, but for the inherent accent and air, a
listener might have taken him for the most practical
of business men, whose whole life had been spent in
commercial marts, or as agent for a great trading
All of these kind people helped to show us about the
place, and give us bits of local history on the way,
and from them we learned that the Indian name
Howkan means a fallen stone, and this village was
called so on account of a peculiar boulder that lay on
the beach. Like other places in Alaska, it has several
names, and several ways of spelling each of them.
The traders call it oftener Kaigahnee than Howkan,
although old Kaigahnee, the original village of that
name, is many miles distant from this place of the 272
fallen stone. The missionaries named it " Jackson "
in honor of the Rev. Sheldon Jackson, the projector
and manager of Presbyterian missions in Alaska, and
the Post Office Department recognized it as " Haida
Mission" when the blanks and cancelling stamps
were sent out for the small post-office. A request
was made by the mission people to have the place
put down as Jackson on the new charts, since issued
by the Coast Survey, but the commander of the
surveying steamer opposed it as an act of vandalism,
and on the maps it still retains the harsh old Indian
name by which it has been known for centuries.
The village fronts on two crescent beaches, and a
long, rocky point running out into the water fairly
divides it into two villages, so separate are their water
fronts. A fleet of graceful Haida canoes was drawn
up on the first and larger beach, all of them carefully
filled with grass and covered over, and their owners
joined in receiving the visitors, and accompanied us
on our sight-seeing tour. The houses at Howkan are
large and well built, and the village is remarkably
clean. Some of the chiefs have weatherboarded their
houses and put in glass windows and hinged doors,
but before or beside nearly every house rises the tall,
ancestral totem poles that constitute the glory of the
Skolka, one of the great chiefs, has a large house
guarded by two totem poles, and at his offer the
house had been occupied for two years as a schoolroom by the mission teacher. A flagstaff and a
skeleton bell-tower were added to the exterior decorations of his house in consequence, and Skolka was
the envy of all the Kaigahnees.   Skolka is a wise and THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
liberal chieftain, and a member of the Eagle family.
Effigies of that totemic bird surmount the poles
before his house, and on one pole appears the whiskered face of a -white man, capped by an eagle, and
finished with the images of two children wearing the
steeple-crowned mandarin hats of the Tyees. Skolka
explains these images as telling the story of one of his
ancestors, who was a famous woman of the Eagle clan.
She went out for salmon eggs one day, and when she
drew up her canoe on the beach upon her return, she
had several baskets filled. Not seeing her two little
children, she called to them, but they ran and hid.
Later she called them again, and they answered her
from the woods with the voices of crows. Her worst
fears were realized when she found that a white man,
"a Boston man," had carried them off in a ship.
These two orphans never returned to their people.
Such is the simple kidnapping story that has been
handed down in Skolka's family for generations, and 274
this whiskered face on the totem pole is said to be
almost the only instance of a Boston man attaining
immortality in these picture-writings.
■ Mr. John" is another fine-looking chief, who
dresses in civilized style, and is rather proud of his
advanced ways of living and thinking.    He lives in a
large house near Skolka, and has a grand old totem
pole before his doorway. In his queer idiom he
tells one, " I am a Crow, but my wife is a Whale;"
and as Mrs. John is of generous build, there is lurking sarcasm in his statement.
The deceased chief, Mr. Jim, left some fine totem
poles behind him, and on the second beach of the
village there is a semicircle of ancient moss-grown
totem poles standing guard over ruined and deserted
houses. The mosses, the lichens, and the vines cling
tenderly to these strange old monuments of the
people, and, in the crevices of the carvings, grasses, THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO. 275
ferns, and even young trees have taken root and
thrive. Back in the dense undergrowth rise the
mortuary poles, the carved totems and emblems that
mark the graves of dead and gone Haidas. Skolka's
father and uncles have fine images over their burial
boxes, and from the head of the Eagle on one of
these mortuary columns, a small fir-tree, taking root,
has grown to a height of eight or ten feet. In this
burying ground there are large boxes filled with the
bones and ashes of those said to have died when the
great epidemics raged among the islands a half century ago.
We found the Howkan ship-yard under a large
shed, and the canoe builder showed us two cedar
canoes that were nearly completed. The high-beaked
Haida canoes are slender and graceful as Venetian
gondolas, and the small, light canoes that they use in
hunting sea otter are marvels of boat-building. The
shapely skiffs that the boat builder showed us had
been hewn from single logs of red cedar, and were
ready to be braced and steamed into their graceful
curving lines. Our admiration of the work caused
him to offer a light, otter-hunter's canoe for fifty
dollars, but not one of the company made a purchase.
In one house we found a paralyzed man lying on a
couch in the middle of the one great room, and the
relatives gathered about him soon brought out their
treasures and offered them for sale.
Like all of their tribe, these Kaigahnee Haidas are
an intelligent and superior people, skilled in the arts
of war and the crafts of peace, and their carvers
have wrought matchless totem poles, canoes, bowls,
spoons, halibut clubs and  hooks, from  time imme- 276
morial. These carvings show finer work and better
ideas than the art relics of the other tribes, and in
silver work they quite surpass the rest of the
Thlinkets; although it is now claimed that they are
not Thlinkets, differing from them materially in their
language and traditions, while they have the same
totemic system, familiar spirits, and customs.    The
Haida women were all adorned with beautifully made
bracelets, and the superiority of Haida workmanship
and designs is proven by the way that the Indians, even
at Sitka, boast pf their bracelets being Haida- work
Kenowin is the chief silversmith, and his daughter wore
a pair of broad gold bracelets carved with the Eagle
totem. Gold is very rarely worn by the Indians, and
they hardly seem to value the yellow metal, although
some Haida silversmiths have worked in jewellers' THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
stores in Victoria successfully, and learned the processes of acid treatments. The Haida rules of art, by
which they conventionalize any animal they depict, are
very exact, and on the large bracelet, shown in a previous illustration, the cinnamon bears represented as
advancing in profile are joined in one full, grinning
face which is recognized as the Haida crest. Their
totemic Eagle has now degenerated into a base copy
of the bird on American coins, but otherwise their
art rules and traditions are unperverted. The key
and original idea in many of their designs is the
strange marking like a peacock's eye found on the
back of the skate fish or sculpin, and besides carving
it on all their solid belongings, they tattoo the
emblem on their bodies.
These Kaigahnees have a curious tradition, related
to us by the resident teacher, that quite resembles
the biblical story of the ark and the flood. One old
Indian now claims to have the bark rope which held
the anchor of the big canoe when it rested on the
high mountain back of Howkan. They have also a
story resembling that of Lot's wife, only Sodom and
Gomorrah were on Forrester Island, and a brother
and sister, fleeing from a pestilence, were turned to
stone, because the woman looked back while crossing
the river. Their houses were petrified as well, and
the petrified bodies of the disobedient ones still stand
in the river to tell the tale.
When Wiggin's storms were being promised to the
whole North American continent, in March, 1882, a
white man at Kasa-an Bay read the prophecies, and
explained them to the Indians. The warning spread
rapidly from island  to island, and  at Howkan the 278
natives began moving their things to the high ground,
and were carrying up water and provisions for one
whole afternoon. They believed that the promised
tidal wave was coming, and at the time set for the
storm, began to say, "Victoria all gone." There was
a heavy storm outside that March night, and the
agent of the trading company, returning from the
Klinquan fishery in a whale-boat, was drowned by a
wave upsetting the boat as he let go the tiller to furl
the sail.
It was at Port Bazan, across Dall Island, that one of
the Kaigahnees, whom we saw, found the remains of
Paymaster Walker, who was lost with the steamer
George S. Wright, in February, 1873. The loss of
the Wright was one of the tragedies of the sea, and
is still a current topic in Alaska. The steamer left
Sitka on its return trip to Portland with several army
officers and their families and residents on board.
It was last seen at Cordova Bay, on the south end of
Prince of Wales Island, and, in the face of warnings,
the captain put out to sea in a heavy storm, — as he
was hurrying to Portland for his wedding. It is supposed that the ship foundered, or struck a rock in
Queen Charlotte Sound. The most terrible anxiety
prevailed as week after week went by, with no tidings
of the Wright, and the feeling was intensified when
the rumor was started that it had been wrecked near
a village of Kuergefath Indians, and that the survivors had been tortured and put to death. Two
years after the disappearance of the Wright, the bodv
of Major Walker was found in Port Bazan, recogni-
* O
zable only by fragments of his uniform, that had
been held to him by a life-preserver.    Other remains THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
and fragments of the wreck were then found in the
recesses of the ocean shores of the island, and the
mystery of the Wright was at last solved.
Further up this coast, beyond the Klawock cannery, the mission has a branch station and a sawmill, and, in time, will establish a school in this
Shakan Island.
On my second visit to Kaigahnee Straits, the Ancon dropped anchor at two o'clock in the morning,
and it was up and off again before five o'clock. A
few enthusiasts did manage to row over to Howkan
and back, but the rest of us were contented with one
sleepy glance at the little settlement that, in a year's
time, had surrounded the Northwest Trading Company's stores in American Bay. It was with great
regret that we woke again to find the ship sailing
over the most placid of waters, as it coursed up
Dixon Entrance. It touched at Cape Fox, where we
enjoyed the last of our delights and experiences on
Alaska shores, stopped in a twilight rain at Tongass,
and then slipped across the boundary line at night,
and gave us all over again those enchanting days
along the British Columbia coast. 280
ON occasional trips the steamer anchors off Metla-
katlah, the model mission-station of the northwest coast, and an Arcadian village of civilized
Indians, built round a bay on the Chimsyan Peninsula, in British Columbia. Metlakatlah is just below
the Alaska boundary line, and but a little way south
of Fort Simpson, the chief Hudson Bay Company
trading post of the region, where the great canoe
market, and the feasts and dances of the Indians,
enliven that centre of trade each fall.
It was a rainy morning when the Idaho anchored
off Metlakatlah, and the small boats took us through
the drizzle and across a gentle ground-swell to the
landing wharf at the missionary village. We were
met there by Mr. Duncan, one of the noblest men
that ever entered the mission field. He left mercantile life to take up this work, and was sent out by
the English Church Missionary Society in 1857. He
spent the first four years in working among the
Indians at Fort Simpson, but the evils and temptations surrounding such a place quite offset his efforts,
and he decided to go off by himself and gather the
Indians about him at some place where they would be THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
safe from other influences. Fifty Chimsyans started
with him to found the village of Metlakatlah, and, in
the twenty-odd years, they have built up a model
town that they have reason to be proud of. When
they first went there, a strip of the land was marked
off for church purposes, and the rest of it divided
among the Indians. It was considered a doubtful
experiment at first, but Mr. Duncan put his whole
heart and soul into the enterprise, and every Indian
who went with him signed a temperance pledge,
agreed to give up their medicine-men as advisers in
sickness, and to do no work on the Sabbath. His
faith has been proven in the results attained, and the
self-respecting, self-supporting community at Metlakatlah proves that the Indian can be civilized as well
as educated in one generation, if the right man and
the right means are employed.
At the end of twenty-three years there is a well-
laid-out village, with two-story houses, sidewalks,
and street lamps. A large Gothic church has been
built, with a comfortable rectory adjoining, and around
the village-green a school-house, a public hall, and a
store are prominent buildings. All of these structures have been built by the Indians, and, with their
own saw-mill and planing-mill, they have turned out
the lumber and woodwork required for the public
buildings and their own houses. Mr. Duncan has
taught them all these necessary arts, working with
them himself, and dividing the profits of their labors
among the Indians. Under his management the
Indians have established their cannery and store as a
joint-stock company, and these once savage islanders
understand the scheme, and draw their dividends as 282
gravely as if their ancestors had always done so before them. The cannery is a model of neatness, the
salmon being headed and cleaned on an anchored
boat far off shore, and brought to the cannery all
ready to be cut and fitted into tins. Everything is
done by the Indians themselves, from making the
cans to filling, soldering, heating, varnishing, labeling, and packing, and the Metlakatlah salmon bring
the highest price in the London market, and each
year handsome dividends are paid to the islanders.
An average of six thousand cases are shipped every
year, and each visitor that morning bought a can of
the Skeena River salmon to carry off as a souvenir of
The women have been taught to spin and weave
the fleece of the mountain goat into heavy cloths,
shawls, and blankets. Boots, shoes, ropes, and leather
are also made at Metlakatlah, and there is a good'
carpenter shop in the town. A telephone connects
the village store with the saw-mill a few miles distant, and the Indians ring up the men at the other
end of the wire, and "hello" to their brother Chim-
syans in the most matter-of-fact manner. The steam-
launch belonging to the cannery is engineered by
one of their number, and the village compares favorably with any of the small saw-mill settlements of
whites on Puget Sound.
While we wandered about the village under the
escort of Mr. Duncan and his faithful David, the
members of the brass band gathered themselves together and played " Marching Through Georgia,"
I Yankee Doodle," and other of our national anthems
in honor  of  the American  visitors.     Twenty stal- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
wart Indians comprise the full band, and, although
nearly half of the musicians were off salmon fishing,
those left did some most excellent playing on horn,
cornet, and trombone, and sent farewell strains over
the water as we got into the small boats and were
pulled away to the ship. The Indians keep a visitors' house at the landing for the entertainment of
friends in the adjoining tribes, and on the night preceding our arrival there had been a grand banquet
and ball in honor of some canoe-loads of Haidas, who
had come to pass a few days at these guest-houses of
Metlakatlah. We found the Haidas looking much
dilapidated on the morning after the ball, and among
the picturesque groups sitting about the great square
fireplace there was the most beautiful Indian maiden
seen on the coast. The Haida beauty had a warm,
yellow skin, with a damask bloom on her cheeks,
a pair of large, soft, black eyes, and dazzling teeth.
She gave a shy smile, and dropped her eyes before
the admiring gaze and the exclamations of the party,
and the susceptible young men from the ship-immediately offered to stop off and stay with Mr. Duncan
for a while. The Haidas had many curious things
with them, and evinced a proper desire, to make
trade. One woman wore a pair of wide, gold bracelets, engraved with the totemic eagle and the Haida
crest, and, putting her price at eighty dollars, sat
stoical and silent through all the offers of smaller
sums. They had fine silver bracelets, horn spoons,
and carved trifles of copper and wood with them, but
the desirable things were some miniature totem poles
carved out of black slate stone, and inlaid with pieces
of abalone shell to represent green and glistening 284
eyes for each heraldic monster. These little totem
poles are made of a soft slate found near Skidegate
on the Queen Charlotte Islands. When first quarried it is very soft and easily worked, but hardens in
a short time, and will crack if exposed to the sun or
heat. It takes a fine polish, and for the small slate
columns, fourteen and eighteen inches high, the Indians asked seven and ten dollars. We afterwards
saw dozens and scores of these slate totems at the
curio stores in Victoria, and though there seemed to
be a sufficient supply of them for all the tourists of a
season, the prices ranged from twenty to eighty
dollars, and for plaques and boxes of carved slate
the demand was proportionately higher.
It was with real regret that we parted with Mr.
Duncan at the wharf, and it was not until we were
well over the water that we learned of the serpent or
the skeleton in this paradise. Though Metlakatlah
might rightly be considered Mr. Duncan's own particular domain, and the Indians have proved their
appreciation of his unselfish labors by a love and •
devotion rare in such races, his plainest rights have
been invaded and trouble brewed among his people.
Two years ago a bishop was appointed for the diocese, which includes Fort Simpson, Metlakatlah, and
a few other missions. Fort Simpson is the older
and larger mission settlement, and the higher officers
of the church have always resided there, but Bishop
Ridley, disapproving of Mr. Duncan's Low Church
principles, went to Metlakatlah and took possession
as a superior officer. Mr. Duncan moved from the
rectory, and the bishop took charge of the church
services.    In countless ways a spirit of antagonism THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
was raised that almost threatened a war at one time.
The bishop informed the Indians that their store
and warehouse was situated on ground belonging to
the church. Instead of compromising, or leaving it
there under his jurisdiction, the matter-of-fact Met-
lakatlans went in a body, pulled down the building,
and set it up outside the prescribed limits. In endeavoring to prevent this, the bishop was roughly
handled, and as he appreciated the hostile spirit of
the greatest part of the community he sent to Victoria, asking the protection of a British man-of-war.
The whole stay of the bishop has been marked by
trouble and turbulence, and these scandalous disturbances in a Christian community cannot fail to have
an influence for evil, and undo some of the good
work that has been done there. Mr. Duncan made
no reference to his troubles during the morning that
we spent at Metlakatlah, and his desire that we
should see and know what his followers were capable
of, and understand what they had accomplished for
themselves, gave us to infer that everything was
peace and happiness in the colony. One hears nothing but praise of Mr. Duncan up and down the coast,
and can understand the strong partisanship he inspires among even the roughest people. His face
alone is a passport for piety, goodness, and benevolence anywhere, and his honest blue eyes, his kindly
smile, and cheery manner go straight to the heart of
the most savage Indian. His dusky parishioners
worship him, as he well deserves, and in his twenty-
seven years among them they have only the unbroken record of his kindness, his devotion, his
unselfish  and   honorable  treatment  of   them.    He 286
found them drunken savages, and he has made them
civilized men and Christians. He has taught them
trades, and there has seemed to be no limit to this
extraordinary man's abilities. When his hair had
whitened in this noble, unselfish work, and the fruits
of his labor had become apparent, nothing could have
been more cruel and unjust than to undo his work,
scatter dissension among his people, and make Metlakatlah a reproach instead of an honor to the society
which has sanctioned such a wrong. An actual crime
has been committed in the name of Religion, by this
persistent attempt to destroy the peace and prosperity of Metlakatlah and drive away the man who
founded and made that village what it was. British
Columbia is long and broad, and there are a hundred
places where others can begin as Mr. Duncan began,
and where the bishop can do good by his presence.
If it was Low Church doctrines that made the Metlakatlah people what they were a few years since, all
other teachings should be given up at mission stations. Discord, enmity, and sorrow have succeeded
the introduction of ritualism at Metlakatlah, and
though it cannot fairly be said to be the inevitable
result of such teachings, it would afford an interesting comparison if the Ritualists would go off by
themselves and establish a second Metlakatlah as a
A later expression of opinion on the troubles of
Metlakatlah appears in the last annual report (1884)
to the Dominion Government, by Colonel Powell,
Superintendent of Indians in British Columbia. He
writes as follows : —
11 am exceedingly sorry to state that serious trou- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
ble and the most unhappy religious rancor still exists
at Metlakatlah, dividing the Indians, and causing infinite damage to Christianity in adjacent localities,
where sides are taken with one or other of the contending parties. The retirement of either or both
would seem the only true solution of the difficulties,
and if the latter alternative is not desirable, and as
fully nine tenths of the people are unanimous and
determined in their support of Mr. Duncan, the withdrawal of the agents of the' society to more congenial
headquarters would, I think, be greatly in the interests of all concerned. Since the schism has occurred,
the larger following of Mr. Duncan have resolved
themselves into an independent society, with that
gentleman as their guide and leader. The forms of
the Anglican Church have been discarded, and they
have designated themselves ' The Christian Church
of Metlakatlah,' each member of which subscribes to
a declaration pledging themselves to exclusively follow the teachings of the.Bible as the rule of faith,
and that they will, to the utmost of their power, prevent any divisions among the villagers, and do their
utmost to promote the spiritual and temporal prosperity of the community. This association includes
all" the young and active residents of the village,
hence they are all enthusiastic and determined in
their desire for success. In addition to the large
store, which, I was told, belonged to the Indians,
and was a co-operative arrangement, Mr. Duncan has
devoted his spare energies to the establishment of a
salmon cannery, which, he informed me, was placed
upon the same footing. This has afforded employment for a great  majority of  the inhabitants, and 288
has kept them so busy for the last few months that
happily they have had no time to give to contention.
The secret of Mr. Duncan's great popularity with the
Indians at Metlakatlah is his desire and fondness
for inaugurating industries, which, after all, is the
strongest bond that can be made to unite these people.
The present difficulties, however, at Metlakatlah cannot continue much longer without culminating in
serious consequences, means to avert which, of whatever nature they may be, should be promptly and
effectually enforced." it'
LIFE on the waveless arms of the ocean has a
great fascination for one on these Alaska trips,
and crowded with novelty, incidents, and surprises as
each day is, the cruise seems all too short when the
end approaches. One dreads to get to land again and
end the easy, idle wandering through the long archipelago. A voyage is but one protracted marine
picnic and an unbroken succession of memorable
days. Where in all the list of them to place the red
letter or the white stone puzzles one. The passengers
beg the captain to reverse the engines, or boldly turn
back and keep up the cruise until the autumn gales
make us willing to return to the region of earthly
cares and responsibilities, daily mails and telegraph
wires. The long, nightless days never lose their spell,
and in retrospect the wonders of the northland appear
the greater. The weeks of continuous travel over
deep, placid waters in the midst of magnificent
scenery might be a journey of exploration on a new
continent, so different is it from anything else in
American travel. Seldom is anything but an Indian
canoe met, for days no signs of a settlement are seen
along the quiet fiords, and, making nocturnal visits to 290
small fisheries, only the unbroken wilderness is in
sight during waking hours. The anchoring in strange
places, the going to and fro in small boats, the queer
people, the strange life, the peculiar fascination of the
frontier, and the novelty of the whole thing, affect
one strongly. Each arm of the sea and the unknown,
unexplored wilderness that lies back of every mile of
shore continually tempt the imagination.
Along these winding channels in " the sea of mountains," only the rushing tides ever stir the surface of
the waters where the surveyor's line drops one hundred, two hundred, and four hundred fathoms without
finding bottom, and the navigator casts his lead for
miles without finding anchorage. All piloting is by
sight, and when clouds, fogs, or the long winter nights
of inky darkness obscure the landmarks, the fog
whistle is kept going according to regulation, and the
ship's course determined by the echoes flung back#
from the hidden mountains. Such feats in time of
fog gave zest to ship life, and Captain Carroll, who
performed them, was accused of being the original of
Mark Twain's man, who made a collection of echoes.
At every place in Alaska he had a particular echo that
he brought out with the cannon's salute. At Fort
Wrangell the hills repeated the shot five times ; and
at Juneau it came back seven times, before dying
away in a long roll. At Sitka there was the din of a
naval battle when the cannon was fired point blank
at Mt. Verstovaia, and up among the glaciers, the
echoes drowned the thunder of the falling ice.
Captain Carroll, for so many years in command of
the mail steamer on this Alaska route, is a genius in
his way, and a character, a typical sea captain, a fine THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
navigator, and a bold and daring commander, whose
skill and experience have carried his ships through
the thousand dangers of the Alaska coast. He is
a strict disciplinarian, whose authority is supreme,
and the etiquette of the bridge and quarter-deck is
severely maintained. When he leaves the deck and
lays aside his official countenance, the children play
and tumble over him and cling to him, and he is a
merciless joker with the elders. He is possessed of
a fund of stories and adventures that would make
the fortune of a wit or raconteur on shore, and their
momentary piquancy, as of salt water and stiff winds,
makes it impossible for one to repeat them well.
His fish stories are unequalled, and the despair of
the most accomplished anglers. He leaves nothing
undone to promote the pleasure and comfort of his
(passengers, who are in a sense his guests during the
three or four weeks of a summer pleasure trip, and
gold watches and several sets of resolutions have
expressed appreciation of his courtesy and attentions
to travellers. He is deeply interested in the welfare of the region that he has seen slowly awakening
to the march of progress, and, being so identified
with these early days and the development of the
territory, is destined to live as an historic figure in
Alaskan annals.
The pilot, Captain George, is everyone's friend,
and his patience and good nature have to stand the
strain of a steady questioning and cross-examination
from the beginning to the end of a cruise. He is
appealed to for all the heights, depths, distances, and
names along the route; and finally, when everyone
has bought a large  Hydrographic  Office  chart  of 292
Alaska, Captain George is asked to mark out the ship's
course through the maze of island channels. He has
been pilot for twenty years on the northwest coast,
and Mr. Seward and many others who saw the country
under his guidance speak of him as a Russian. As
his early home in "the States " was at Oshkosh, one
can understand how that foreign-sounding name misled people. He, as well as all of the ship's officers,
keeps a log of each cruise, and Captain George has
furnished many notes and notices for the Coast Survey publications, and helps the memory of the tourists,
who keep some of the most remarkable journals and
diaries for the first few days of the cruise.
A character in the lower rank on one trip was the
captain's boy, "John," a faithful henchman and valet,
whose devotion and attachment to his master were
quite wonderful. John is a Swede by birth, and his
pale-blue eyes, fair complexion, and light hair were
offset by a continuous array of spotlessly white jackets
and ties. In the most Northern latitudes John would
trip about the deck with his spry and jaunty tread,
clad in these snowy habiliments of the tropics, and
after a ramble among Indian lodges on shore, John
would appear to our enraptured eyes as the very
apotheosis of cleanliness and starchy perfection. At
luncheon one day John set two pies before the captain, and announcing them as " mince and apple,"
withdrew deferentially behind his master's chair.
" Which is the apple pie, John ?" asked the captain,
as he held a knife suspended over a disk of golden
crust. "The starboard pie, sir," said John respectfully, and with a seriousness that robbed the thing
of any intention. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
Two deck passengers that enlivened the return trip
of the Idaho were small black bear cubs four or five
months old. There was always high revel on the
hurricane deck during the " dog watches " when the
bears were fed, and cakes and lumps of sugar from
the cabin table enticed them to play pranks. The
treacherous young bruin bought at Chilkat grew fat
on the voyage, and was twice the size of a little
stunted cub bought of a trader at Fort Wrangell. The
Chilkat cub climbed the rigging like a born sailor after
a fortnight's training, but much teasing made him
surly and suspicious, and he would run for the ratlines at sight of a man. For the ladies, who fed them
on sugar and salmon berries, both bears showed a great
fondness, and the two clumsy pets would trot around
the deck after them as tamely as kittens, and stand
up and beg for sugar plainly. The little Fort Wrangell
bear would crawl up on a bench beside one, and make
plaintive groans until it was petted, and it would sun
itself contentedly there for hours. They were amiable
playfellows together, but they were puzzled and bewitched by the agile little toy-terrier "Toots," who
lived on an afghan in the captain's cabin. That aristocratic little mite of a dog delighted to caper around
and bewilder the bears with his quick motions, and it
was a funny by-play to watch these young animals together. One evening in the Gulf of Georgia, we lingered on deck to watch a stormy, crimson sunset, and
after that, when the moon rose like a fiery ball from
the water, and faded to pale gold and silver in the
zenith, the company grew musical and sang in enthusiastic chorus all the good old sea songs. With
the first notes of the music the bears came pattering 294
out, and, circling gravely before the singers, lay down,
folded their forepaws before them in the most human
attitude and listened attentively to "Nancy Lee" and
"John Brown." Two young fawns, caught as they
were swimming the channel near Fort Wrangell one
morning, were quartered on the lower deck. In
captivity their soft black eyes were sadly pathetic,
and they were visited daily and fed on all the dainties
for deer that could be gathered on shore. Foxes,
strange birds, Esquimaux dogs, and other pets have
been passengers on the return trips of the steamer,
and the officers of the ship have done their share in
presenting animals to different city gardens and parks.
As the end of Vancouver Island drew near, the
scenery of the British Columbia coast gained in
beauty, with the prospect of so soon losing our wild
surroundings. After leaving Metlakatlah there was
not a sign of civilization for two days, and in spite of
Buff on and Henry James, Jr., we grew the more
enthusiastic over the " brute nature " that so offends
those worldlings.    The days were clear, but one night
O J o
the fog promised to be so dense that the ship made
an outside run from the Milbank to Queen Charlotte
Sound, over waters so still that none suspected that
we had left the narrow inside channels.
We never met the oulikon, or " candle fish " of this
coast, except as we saw the piscatorial torch at
grocers' stores in Victoria ; but we sailed for four
hours through a school of herring one afternoon, as
we neared the Vancouver shore. Sharks were following them by dozens, and sea-gulls flew overhead,
ready to swoop upon the unlucky herring that jumped
to the enemy in the air to escape the one in the water. THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
Both times on the return voyage we slipped through
Seymour Narrows without knowing it, so smoothly was
the water boiling at the flood tide, and so absorbed
were we once in the soft poetic sunset that finally left
a glowing wall of orange in the west, against which the
ragged forest line of the summits and the mountain
masses were as if carved in jet. Looking upwards,
even the masts and spars were sharply silhouetted
against the glorious amber zenith, and it was hours
before it faded to the pure violet sky of such midsummer nights.
Besides Mt. St. Elias, the Alaska passengers always
beg for a view of Bute Inlet, which opens from the
network of channels there at the head of the Gulf of
Georgia, and runs far into the heart of the mountain
range that borders the mainland shore. We hung
over the captain's charts of the inlet with the greatest interest, and, with his explanations, imagination
could picture that grand fiord, not a quarter of a mile
in width, and with vertical mountain walls that rise
from four thousand feet at the entrance, to eight
thousand feet above the water's level at the head of
the inlet.    Soundings of four hundred fathoms are
o y
marked on the chart, and with cascades and glaciers
pouring into the chasm, little is left for a scenic artist
to supply. A trail was once cleared from the head of
the inlet to the Cariboo mining district on the Frazer
river, and surveys were made looking to a terminus of
the Canadian Pacific Railroad, but both have been
abandoned, and Bute Inlet is not accessible by any
established line of boats. Lord Dufferin and the
Marquis of Lome visited it on British men-of-war, and
carried its fame to England, by extolling its  scenery 296
as the grandest on any coast. When Lord Dufferin
had gone further up and into Alaska, he made his
prophecy that this northwest coast, with its long
stretch of protected waters, would in time become one
of the favorite yachting grounds of the world.
J o   o
If the beautiful Gulf of Georgia is wonderland and
dreamland by day, it is often fairyland by night, and
there was an appropriate finale to the last cruise, when
the captain came down the deck at midnight and
rapped up the passengers. " Wake up ! The whole
sea is on fire " said the commander. We roused and
flung open stateroom doors and windows to see the
water shining like a sheet of liquid silver for miles on
every side. The water around us was thickly starred
with phosphorescence, and at a short distance, the
million points of lights mingled in a solid stretch of
miles of pale, unearthly flame. It lighted the sky
with a strange reflection, and the shores, which there,
off Cape Lazro, are twenty miles away, seemed near
at hand in the clear, ghostly light. A broad pathway
of pale-green, luminous water trailed after us, and the
paddle-wheels threw off dazzling cascades. Under
the bows the foaming spray washed high on the black
hull, and cast long lines of unearthly, greenish white
flame, that illuminated the row of faces hanging over
the guards as sharply as calcium rays. A bucket
was lowered and filled with the water, and the marvel
of the shining sea was repeated in miniature on deck,
each time the water was stirred. It was a most
wonderful display, and many, who had seen this glory
of the seas in the tropics, declared that they had
never seen phosphorescent waters more brilliant than
those of the Gulf of Georgia.
With such an illumination and marine fireworks we
brought the last cruise virtually to an end, and another
morning found the ship tied to the same coal wharf
in Departure Bay. The pleasure travellers laid their
plans for other trips, and in a few days the company
was scattered.
Those who went up the Frazer River to its canons
said later: " The best of the Frazer only equals
Grenville Channel, and the dust and heat are intolerable after the northern coast."
Those who went down past Mt. Tacoma, Mt. Hood,
and Mt. Shasta, and into the Yosemite, said : " If we
had only seen these places first, and not after the
Alaska trip."
All agreed in the summing up of an enthusiast,
who had travelled the fairest scenes of Europe and
his own country, and wrote : " Take the best of the
Hudson and the Rhine, of Lake George and Killarney,
the Yosemite and all Switzerland, and you. can have
a faint idea of the glorious green archipelago and the
Alaska coast."
My first journey on the Idaho in 1883 ended with
our staying by the ship, and going around outside
from Puget Sound to the Columbia River> and then
we were tied up for three days at the government
wharf at Tongue Point, near Astoria, while three
hundred tons of Wellington coal was slowly unloaded.
The smoke of forest fires and the summer fogs hid
all the magnificent shores and headlands at the
mouth of the great river, and the hundreds of little
fishing-boats, with their pointed sails, that set out at
sunset, soon vanished in the opaline mists. After
dark a thousand tiny points of flame could be dimly 298
seen on the water, as the fishermen lighted the fires
in their boats to cook their suppers, or set their
lanterns in the bows as they sailed slowly back to the
canneries with their loads of salmon. Five days
after we crossed the Columbia River bar, the ship
reached Portland, and the journey was over.
The second cruise, which was blessed with clear
sunshiny weather from beginning to end, was concluded at Port Townsend, where for three weeks we
enjoyed such perfect summer days as are known no-
'where but on Puget Sound. With Mt. Baker on one
side as a snowy sentinel, and the broken range of the
Olympic Mountains a violet wall against the western
sky, it needed only the foreground of water and the
immaculate silver cone of Mt. Tacoma rising over
level woodlands, to make the view from Port Town-
send's heights the finest on Puget Sound. When a
great full moon hung in the purple sky of night,
miles of trie waters of the bay were pure, rippling
silver; and, like a vision in the southern sky, glistened
a faint, ethereal image, the peak of Mt. Tacoma, sixty
miles away.
Appreciating all that was overhead and around us,
we found a wonderland under foot one morning by
rowing and poling a small boat far in under the
wharf, at the low tide. The water having receded
thirteen feet, the piles for that distance were covered
with the strangest and most fanciful marine growths.
Star fish, pink, yellow, white, and purple, clung to the
piles, many of them with eighteen and twenty-one
feelers radiating from their thick fleshy bodies, that
were twelve inches and more in diameter. There
were   slender,   skeleton-like   little   starfish   of   the THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
brightest carmine, and bunches of snow-white and
pale yellow anemones (actinia) that looked like large
cauliflower blossoms when opened fully under the
water. Long brown pipes, growing in clusters on
the piles, hung out crimson petals and ragged streamers until it seemed as though thousands of carnation
pinks had been swept in among the piles. The
serpula, that lives in this pipe-stem house, is valued
for fish bait, and the voyage under the wharf was
not wholly, for studies in zoology. Huge jelly-fish
floated by, opening and shutting their umbrella-like
disks of pink and yellow, as if some wind were blowing rudely the petals of these wonderful blossoms
of the sea. Shells of the " Spanish dollar" lay on
the sands at the bottom, and at the water line little
jelly-fish could be seen shimmering like disks of ice
in the clear light of the early summer morning. A
scientist would have been wild at sight of that natural
aquarium, and to any one it would appear as a part of
wonderland, a beautifully decorated hall for mermaids'
revels, and a model for a transformation fairy scene in
some spectacular drama. The woods and drives, the
scenes and shores about Port Townsend, excite the
admiration of every visitor, and when the aquarium
under the wharf is regularly added to its list of
attractions, that charming town will have done its
whole duty to the travelling public. 300
I HAVE never been to the Seal Islands myself,
and have no desire to cross the twenty-six hundred miles of rough and foggy seas that lie between
o oo^
San Francisco and the Pribyloff Islands, in Bering
Sea. Considering that there are so many good people who think that the Seal Islands constitute
Alaska, or that all Alaska is one Seal Island, it has
been urged that I must include something about the
seal fisheries if I mention Alaska at all. In deference to the prejudice which exists against having
people write of the regions they have never visited,
all apologies are offered for this reprint of a rambling
letter about the Seal Islands and sealskins, and containing a few facts for which I am indebted to
members of the Alaska Commercial Company of
San Francisco, and others who have been to the
islands and are interested in the fur trade.
For all that has been written concerning the Seal
Islands, many very intelligent people have the vaguest
ideas of their position, size, and condition, and few
women who own sealskin garments even know that
the scientist's name for the animal that first wears
that fine pelt is Callorhinus ursinus, or are acquainted THE SITKAN  ARCHIPELAGO.
with any of the other remarkable facts and statistics concerning the sealskin of commerce. Such an
absurd misstatement as the following lately appeared
in a journal published at the national capital in an
article entitled " Our Northern Land," and worse
errors are frequently made : —
" The seal fisheries are situated near Sitka, and on
the first of July (1884) a railway will be begun between the two points."
When we first started for Alaska we expected to
find Sitka the centre of information about everything
in the rest of the Territory, but at that ancient capital less was known about the seal fisheries than at
San Francisco. The Seal Islands, discovered by the
skipper Gerassim Pribyloff in 1788, lie to the north
and west of the first of the Aleutian chain of islands.
St. Paul, the largest of these four little rocky islets in
Bering Sea, is fourteen hundred and ninety-one
miles west of Sitka, and between two and three
hundred miles from the nearest mainland. All
communication with these islands is by way of San
Francisco, and the company leasing them permit none
but government vessels, outside of their own fleet, to
touch at St. Paul and St. George. The Alaska Commercial Company's vessels make four trips a year,
their steamers going in ten days generally, but the
Jeannette, when starting on its Arctic expedition,
fell behind all competitors in a slow race by taking
twenty-five days to steam from San Francisco to St.
At the time of the Alaska purchase, in 1867, the
most ardent supporters of the measure laid no stress
upon the value of these  Seal  Islands, and  Senator 302
Sumner made no reference to them in his great
speech which virtually decided the destiny of Alaska,
and made it a possession of the United States.
Hayward Hutchinson was one of the first of our
countrymen to engage in the fur trade after the transfer, and, with a company of San Francisco capitalists,
bought the buildings and goodwill of the old Russian-
American Fur Company. He went from Sitka across
to the Pribyloff Islands in 1868, and there encountered
Captain Morgan, of New London, Conn., who, like
himself, had gone up to look over the possibilities of
the new Territory in the interests of home capitalists.
They joined forces, and, returning to San Francisco,
had long and quiet consultations with their partners.
Through their efforts, Congress passed a law in 1869,
declaring the Seal Islands a government reservation,-
and prohibiting any one from killing fur seals, except
under certain restrictions. On the first of July,
1870, the islands of St. Paul and St. George were leased
for a term of twenty years to the Alaska Commercial
Company of San Francisco. The lease was delivered
August 31, 1870, and is signed on behalf of the
company by its president, John F. Miller, previous
to that time collector of the port of San Francisco,
and, since his retirement from the presidency of the
company, a United States senator from California.
Beginning with the first day of May, 1870, they had
sole right to the seal fisheries. The annual rent of
the islands was fixed at $55,000, the payment to be
secured by the deposit of United States bonds to
that amount. They were also required to pay a tax
of two dollars sixty-two and one-half cents upon
each of the one hundred thousand skins of the fur THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
seal permitted to be taken each year. Fifty-five
cents was to be paid for each gallon of seal oil obtained, and the company was to furnish the inhabitants of the islands with a certain amount of food
and fuel, to maintain schools for the children, and to
prevent the use of fire-arms on or near the sealing-
grounds. A bond of $500,000 was required of them,
and the original firms of Hutchinson, Kohl, & Co.,
of San Francisco, and Williams, Havens, •& Co., of
New London, were merged into this Alaska Commercial Company.
Although 269,400 sealskins are said to have been
exported from the islands from 1868 to 1869, it is
claimed that the company had up-hill work for three
years in getting themselves established and introducing their goods to the market. Since that time they
have ridden on fortune's topmost wave, and been the
envy of all the short-sighted rivals who might have
done the same thing had they been shrewd enough.
None of the original members have left the company,
save by death, and, it being a close corporation, they
keep their financial statements, their books, their
profits, and affairs to themselves; and the outer world,
compelled to guess at things, puts a fabulous estimate
upon the sum annually divided among the stockholders. The officers of the company only smile
with annoyance, and shrug their shoulders, if one repeats to them the common gossip of San Francisco,
about each of the twelve shares of the stock paying
an annual dividend of $90,000, and they laugh aloud
if one appeals to them for the confirmation of it.
There will be a great scramble and competition
among rival traders in 1890, when the present lease 304
of the islands terminates, and by the bids and statements made then, more light may be cast upon the
value of the franchise, unless fickle woman puts sealskin out of fashion by that time, and the tanners,
instead of the furriers, apply for the lease.
By a contract with the Russian government, dating
J O > o
some years later, this same Alaska Commercial Company, in the name of two of its members, has a monopoly of the fur trade on Bering and Copper Islands,
and at points on the Kamschatka coast. By the terms
of this contract one of the members had to be a Russian, and the ships engaged in this trade on the Asiatic
side have to carry the Russian flag. Out of the company's fleet of a dozen vessels, two steamers fly the
Muscovite colors, and, on their regular trips up, carry
large cargoes of flour and provisions to Petropaulov-
ski, as well as to their own stations.
Besides the Seal Islands, the Alaska Commercial
Company has thirty-five other trading posts in the
Territory, and its agents are established along the
Yukon, and at many points in the interior.' The
trade in seal skins from the Pribyloff Islands amounts
to about one half of the general business transacted
by this corporation. At their offices on Sansome
Street, in San Francisco, the company has a museum,
crowded with specimens and curios. Seal life is represented at all ages, and all the birds and fishes and mi
erals of the country are shown. There are mummies
and petrifactions, reindeer horns, canoes, albino otter
skins, stone-age instruments, costumes and household
utensils of the natives, and needles, books, pipes, toys,
and oddities carved out of bone and ivory, and decorated in black outlines with sketches of men and ani- THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
mals in profile. A ponderous old silver watch is
supposed to have belonged to some one of the early
Russian governors, and there is a curious bronze
cannon, with an inscription in ancient Slavonic lettering that no one has yet read. The company has been
very generous in giving specimens and collections to
different museums and societies, and its agents are
instructed to gathar such things and send them to the
company's headquarters. In an upper room, where
there were sixty thousand fox skins, hanging tail
downwards from the rafters, thousands of mink and
marten skins, and piles of bear, beaver, lynx, and deer
skins, we were shown the, skeleton of the extinct sea-
cow. The exact number of bones in the sea-cow's
body has been a matter of contention and uncertainty
to scientists, and there was once a wordy war over it.
Prof. Elliott, who made a long and careful study of
seal life for the Smithsonian Institution, and whose
monograph on that subject has been included in the
census reports of 1880, was a leading combatant in
the battle over the sea-cow's bones. This fossil skeleton, sent down by one of the company's agents, was
presented to the California Academy of Sciences, and
the palaeontologists' war is over. Captain Niebaum,
one of the vice-presidents of the company, is a great
authority in matters pertaining to Arctic and polar
navigation, and he was consulted about the details of
the cruise by Captain De Long of the Jeannette expedition, and the Alaska company freely supplied that
ship with provisions, clothing, dogs, and other necessaries when it reached St. Michael's Island. For his
own use, Captain Niebaum has had made a large map
of the polar regions, which is the most complete and 306
unique chart in the country. On it are traced the
courses of all the exploring ships, and the dates of
their reaching important positions, and the artist,
who worked at this circumpolar chart for more than
one hundred days, is obliged, for a certain number of
years, to add to it each discovery or incident of exploration in the arctic world.
The  company's  ships usually stop at Unalashka
Island on their way to St. Paul, and that chief trading post of the old Russian-American company has
become an even more important place under the new
regime.    Unalashka   is   one  of the  largest  of  the
seventy Aleutian islands that stretch out in line towards Japan, and on it was made the earliest Russian
settlement on the northwest coast.    All of the Aleutian islands are  volcanic, and occasionally another
peak thrusts its head up out of the water, flames and
cinders come from the mountain tops, and earthquakes
and tidal waves create disturbances in honor of a new
island added to the chain. The climate is rather mild,
and the temperature varies little from the average at
Sitka.    There is almost constant fog and rain during
the summer months, and the islands, though treeless,
are  covered  with  luxuriant  grasses.     Cattle  were
successfully kept by the Russians, and lately there
have been  several plans laid for raising cattle and
sheep on these grassy islands on a large scale ; Lieut.
Schwatka, the hero of Arctic and Yukon adventures,
being a promoter of one of these schemes.    At this
time, instead of cattle ranches, there are fox ranches
on  several of the Aleutian Islands; and even from
far-away Attu, the most western point in the United
States, a shipment of two hundred or more blue-fox THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
skins is regularly made each year, and care taken to
protect and increase the numbers of the foxes. Sea
otters are hunted all along the Aleutian shores ; and
in the group of Shumagin Islands, northeast of
Unalashka, the cod fisheries have become an important industry. A small fleet of schooners from San
Francisco make one or two trips every year to the
headquarters on Popoff Island, where from 500,000
to 600,000 fish are dried and salted each season.
The Alaska Commercial Company has also a trading
station and a salmon cannery on Kadiak Island, beyond the Shumagins, and the sea otter is also hunted
around Kadiak, by native hunters in their tight skin
canoes or bidarkas. Two men from Kadiak acquired
a certain fame in 1884 by journeying from that place
to San Francisco in one of these canoes, nineteen
feet long. They were Danes,— Peter Miiller and Nils
Petersen by name,— and, following the general line of
the shore, they made the sixteen hundred miles to
Victoria in one hundred and five days. It is considered quite a feat in these times, but, a century ago,
the natives thought nothing pi such a journey.
Although Unalashka has a custom hpuse and is a
port of delivery, the collector at Sitka only hears from
his Unalashka deputy by way of San Francisco, and a
prisoner arrested at Unalashka has to be taken first
to San Francisco in order to reach the authorities at
the capital of the Territory. The culprit travels three
thousand nine hundred and ten miles to reach the
Sitka jail, while the distance straight across is but
twelve hundred and seventy-eight miles. Unalashka
is a headquarters for the whaling fleet of the North
Pacific, which now numbers thirty-eight vessels. The 308
whalers call there for mail, water, and supplies, and
stop on their way up each season to learn how the ice
is beyond Bering Straits. They leave word as-to
the condition of the bergs and floes, the positions of
the remaining ships and their catches, as they come
down each fall.
At the Pribyloff Islands, two hundred and twenty
and two hundred and seventy miles further north,
neither whalers nor other trading ships are ever seen.
The heaviest fogs rest upon them in summer, and ice
floes beleaguer them in winter, stilling the heavy
roar of the surf, and putting one and two miles of
broken ice between the shores and the open water.
The shallow waters, and the upward current through
Bering Straits, prevent icebergs from floating down
from the Arctic Ocean, and that element of danger
does not threaten the navigators in those foggy
waters. During the breeding season each summer,
United States officers are stationed on the two smaller
islands, Copper and Walrus, to prevent any seal
pirates from unlawfully killing the animals, and on
St. Paul and St. George islands special treasury
and revenue' agents watch closely that none of the
regulations are disregarded.
The three hundred and ninety-eight natives who
inhabit the two islands are mostly half breeds of the
Aleut tribe. They live now after a certain civilized
way, in neat and comfortable houses provided for
them by the company, but it was at first difficult to
get them to leave their filthy underground hovels.
They are nearly all members of the Greek Church,
and, with the help of the company, support a chapel
on either island.    Bishop Nestor used to include these THE SITKAN ARCHIPELAGO.
little parishes on his annual visits, and celebrated the
mass in his richest vestments before their altars. To
prevent the evils of intemperance, the company is
careful that no intoxicants are sent up with their
stores, and sugar and molasses are sold to the natives,
only in the smallest quantities, for fear that they
might distil the same hoochinoo as the Thlinkets.
Failing these luxuries, the poor Aleut satisfies his
sweet tooth with other substitutes. The greatest
quantities of condensed milk are sold them each year,
the seal hunters drinking a can of milk at a time, or
spreading it thickly on their daily bread. The large
sums they receive during the few weeks of the sealing
season enable them to live in idleness and plenty for
the rest of the year. They are inveterate gamblers,
as well as feasters and idlers, and after the long hibernation and pleasuring of the winter they are anxious
and ready for the summer's work.
It has not been learned yet where Callorhinus
ursinus stays for the rest of the year; but early in June
the desolate shores of the Pribyloff Islands become
vocal with the hoarse voices of the seal, which have
made this their gathering-place during ^the breeding
season for unnumbered years. It is estimated that
three million seals congregate on the rookeries of
St. Paul Island each summer, and those who have
looked down upon these rookeries at the height of
the season report it as a most astounding spectacle.
Acres of the rocky shore are alive with seals of all
sizes and kinds, and the very ground seems to be
writhing and squirming as the ungainly creatures drag
themselves over the rocks, or pause to fan themselves
with their flippers.    Great battles are waged between 310
the heads of seal families from June to August, and
the harsh chorus of their voices is heard at sea
above the roar of the breakers, and is the sailors'
guide in making the islands during the heavy summer
fogs. Only the male seals from two to four years of
age are killed, and the skins of the three-year-olds
have the finest and closest fur. The method of killing them has nothing heroic or huntsmanlike about
it. The natives start out before dawn, and, running
down the shore, get between the sleeping seals and
the water, and then drive them, as they would so many
sheep, to the killing-ground, a half mile inland.
They drive them slowly, giving them frequent rests
for cooling, and gradually turning aside and leaving
behind all seals that are not up to the requisite age
and condition. When the poor, tame things have
reached their death-ground, the natives go round with
heavy clubs and kill them with one blow on the head.
The skins are quickly stripped from the