The Klondiker Returns

James Skidmore, adventurer and traveler, had written home about his journey to Alaska.  The November 18, 1898 Skidmore Standard reported his joyous return:

Klondiker Returns

James Skidmore returned home last Friday evening after an eight months experience in the gold fields of Klondike.  His full beard so changed his appearance that he was enabled to pass through the streets unrecognized, and it was not known in town that he had returned until the following day.  The band gave him a rousing serenade in the evening.  He is much fleshier than he was when he started from here last spring, and is not so heavy now by 20 pounds as he was when he left Klondike.

He says gold seekers in that region are plentiful, and the gold itself very scarce.  The climate during the summer season is everything that could be desired and if there could be found some way of ridding the country of the pesky mosquitos it would make one of the finest summer resorts in the world.  He had several adventures, some amusing ones and others that were not so funny for the time at least.  One peculiarity about the people, he says, is their spirit of independence which seems to seize upon them the instant they reach the gold fields.  Parties of 20 or 40 – all life long friends, raised together – will go there with the intention of working together and after they reach the gold fields, their first action will be to split up into parties of one, two and three.  There is one universal motto: “Every fellow for himself.”

He was in the Copper river region and got as far as Copper Center which is about a hundred miles inland from Valdes, where he landed on the 20th day of last April.  He says it took lots of hard work to cross the glacier at Valdes, which was about 20 miles in length.  A glacier is simply ice formed between hills or mountains and from a few feet in width at the starting point, may get to be miles in width as well as miles in length.  In crossing the Valdes glacier the prospectors travel along it lengthwise.  Most glaciers become dangerous to travel over as the weather becomes warmer, on account of the crevices which form, and in which the traveler may slide into.  When it is very bad one person will not attempt to cross alone, and when there are several in the party they attach themselves together by a long rope, so if one should fall the others can pull him out.

About 5,000 prospectors went into the Copper river country by the way of Valdes, last spring.  There were about 15 ladies that braved the hardships of the trail in quest of gold.  There has been no gold found in the Copper river region and nearly all those who went out to that part of Alaska came out of there this fall.  Those who winter there expect to work their way toward Circle City as soon as sledding gets good or wait and start next spring.  George Gilliland who went from here and B. F. Fuller of Graham expect to winter at Klutina City this winter, which is about 30 miles west of Copper Center.

According to government survey, Copper Center is near 146 degrees west longitude (Greenwich) and about 62 degrees north latitude and is about 1,000 miles southwest from Dawson or Circle City.  In going to the Copper river region one does not go on the Klondike or Dawson trail.  It is about 8,500 miles to Copper Center and return.

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