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E - Diary for 1900

© 2010 by Robert D. Wark, last revised December 22, 2010.

Monday, January 1, 1900
The first week of this year I hope is no precedent for succeeding ones. Things went wrong; decidedly so. On New Year’s I awoke late; couldn’t find my clothes without delay, and found on arriving at breakfast that Tom had struck a drift in the night, and the shaft was flooded. So we do not work. The engineer asked me to lower him into the shaft to fix the Worthington pump, and in raising him give him bird’s eye view of the dump. So passed the day away.
(8-25-40—The incident of raising the engineer was a serious matter, and nearly resulted fatally. The steam winch was in terrible shape, from using dirty sump water, and the throttle leaked steam. The result was that the engine started off with a rush, and in the confusion I had the engineer (Captain Blakely) within a yard or so of the sheave wheel before I got it stopped. Had he gone into the wheel, he would likely have fallen down the shaft, and doubtless been killed. Oh well, he climbed out on the pole and came down safely. Notwithstanding which adventure, I was shortly acting as engineer, and regularly hauling up the fellows to the surface, thereafter without accident.)
Tuesday, January 2, 1900
Dan and Nick go to town. We loaf but eat three meals.
Wednesday, January 3, 1900
The pump continues to buck, and the water is ever [even?] gaining. I make a checker board. Beat Shine.
Thursday, January 4, 1900
Haul water with barrel, and lower water level. Tony and Owen take night shift. Have "stitch" in back.
Friday, January 5, 1900
Back lame so can’t work. Loaf around engine house. Play Shine another game or two.
Saturday, January 6, 1900
We work P.M. on dump, and bring water down again. Man trying to fix pump. Play Blakeley in evening. No mail.
Sunday, January 7, 1900
Pump worked last night and water is going down. Balks again and old man goes again to Stiles. (8-25-40—Just lately after we formed the Detroit SourDoughs, Simon Stiles became one of our prominent members. He was quite prominent in those days, being Superintendent for Big Alex McDonald.) Play Captain checkers again tonight. They figure on getting started again tomorrow.
Monday, January 8, 1900
The result of checkers is circulated and John Blakely (Capt.) swears off. Water is baled out and some dirt raised. Work all day.
Tuesday, January 9, 1900
Bale out water again. Boys say roof of drift caving. Speculation as to results. Alexander works at pump.
Wednesday, January 10, 1900
Am set at pump after baling out water, and work at pump until 1 A.M.
Thursday, January 11, 1900
Pump trouble again. Work in P.M. on pump after the old man gives it up. Wind up in the mist. John and I call at 30 Cabin before supper.

An additional entry from the back of the book

"The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft aglee." I have not yet dumped that number.
Friday, January 12, 1900
The old man finds my advice was good, and at the advice of engineer from 36, decided to take up lost motion on pump. In the P.M. he gives up setting valves and delegates the task to me. In the evening we get pump going fine.
Saturday, January 13, 1900
The sump is dry and pump never worked finer, until they "queer" it again. Weather is turning colder. They are trying pump again tonight.
Sunday, January 14 – Saturday, January 20, 1900
No entries for these dates.
Sunday, January 21, 1900
Frank goes to work at 29 [Above].
Saturday, January 27, 1900
The drift shows signs of caving and the boys quit, and the next day the old man decides to move to new shaft. Jack and Dick lay off and go to town. We proceed to move things over.
Thursday, February 1, 1900
John starts in by rowing with the old man and quits and I am delegated to act as engineer pro tem. Start hoisting on Saturday, Feby. 3rd, and hoist until Tuesday, Feby. 6th, when I believe my successor has arrived. On February 4th we came to cabin and found it deserted, John and Mason having "mushed." The next night Frank rustled a stove, etc., and we are now fixed.
Wednesday, February 7, 1900
I am left on as engineer and get along well until Thursday the 15th when we find boiler leaking steam. The injector also balked with night man, and on Friday the 16th the boiler was drained and the old man rustled a flue expander. That day I spent expanding the tops of flues, but on filling at night, found it leaked badly at the crown sheet.
Saturday, February 17, 1900
Boiler again taken down and I have the unpleasant task of expanding the bottom flues. On connecting up again the next day (18th) all is in good shape, and we run the points in the P.M. Boiler starts to leak again at 6 P.M. and all is off again. They close down at midnight.
Monday, February 19, 1900
The old man rustles a mechanic at 36, who re-expands the flues and all is well again until next morning when it leaks worse than ever.
Tuesday, February 20, 1900
On taking out flue it is found it is simply caked with mud, and new flues are necessary. Mr. A. submits the proposition to the boys to quit or get boiler fixed. They say go ahead. We suggest cutting wood and arrange to cut for $5 a cord and board. Dick and Tony go out and cut two cords.
Wednesday, February 21, 1900
Tony, Dick and I cut wood (6 cords), and do the same on 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. The 25th, being Sunday, we lay off. John makes the proposition to cut for them. Mason calls in on his way back from town and I go up to their cabin. Start wood again and keep up until March 3rd, when all is ready again. Jack cuts with us from February 28th.
Sunday, March 4, 1900
Start in at noon and run engine while Brogan monkeys with pump. In few days saw wood, go on dump, etc. Go on night shift Wednesday night, March 7th to Saturday the 10th. Sunday the boys lay off. All goes well until March 17th when engine is off. Sproul’s and Nida’s have dances on the 16th, and Nida’s keep up until the 17th. Murphy and other Nida devotees boozed over. Mrs. Campbell has morning caller (4 A.M.). Jack starts to cut wood March 16th. I am on the fence as to what to do. March 14th, weather gets warm, water runs in creek March 16th, and today (March 22nd) snow is all gone and still warm. March 21st, I fix pump after it is given over by the talent. Am running engine in A.M.’s, while Brogan sharpens picks, saws, etc. Thinking of Nome again.
Thursday, March 29, 1900
Weather still warm and all appearances of spring. Otto has been working on dam since the 27th. Charles nearly through making sluice boxes. On March 27th Hotelling makes Nome proposition. Time passes easily on dump, with arguments, story-telling, etc. Even the boss has decided our job is getting pretty easy.
Saturday, March 31, 1900
The boss starts in to have trap door made and reduce dump force. Weather still continues warm.
(8-25-40—I remember well this night. I was firing boiler while Tony was setting points until about midnight. When I hauled him up, he looked at the sky and was scared stiff. He called me out and I looked at the most magnificent display of aurora borealis that ever existed. The entire sky was covered by constantly whirling colors. I still remember the details.)
Sunday, April 1, 1900
We lay off today. Weather warm.
(8-25-40—When this morning we told the boys of the remarkable sight we had seen, we were roundly reproached for not calling them to witness the sight. Consequently this morning, the day being what it was, we shortly after midnight raised the alarm to come out and look at the Northern Lights. They quickly tumbled out of bed and ran out to hear us call "April Fool" from a safe distance.)
Thursday, April 12, 1900
The weather turned disagreeable April 2nd when I began to work on dam. Stay there also 3rd, 4th, and on the 5th go back on the dump. Ask Dr. LeBlanc (formerly of Wyandotte, Mich.) on April 2nd regarding sluicing waste dump on his abandoned claim where we found nuggets in the A.M. Apr. 3rd. He says go ahead for 25%.
Monday, April 9, 1900
Weather gets warmer and big water in creek on 10th. John and I do some sluicing on waste dump with poor results.
Thursday, April 12, 1900
Claim 31 gets to sluicing. Weather quite warm. April 11th I find the first flower of the season.
Thursday, April 19, 1900
We cleaned up (claim 31) the evening of the 17th and got 92 ounces, 12 dwt. On the 16th, they sent up good dirt; very coarse, but I was down the hole with the pump. April 18th, the boss and Brogan go at the pump with the result that I am called at 3 A.M. of the 19th. I lay off the 19th forenoon; write Ferguson, post up, etc. Still on the fence regarding Nome.
Friday, April 20, 1900
Lay off A.M. and work P.M. Combination night and day job don’t look good to me.
Saturday, April 21, 1900
Get in full day; very good dirt.
Sunday, April 22, 1900
Shovel in but go at pump after 5 until after 10. Frank and Hank were down the hole. Damn the pump! They clean up tonight and get 102½ ounces.
Monday, April 23, 1900
Atkinson goes to town and everything is suspended for three days. Jack and I go to the dump [on 31] where we have been sniping and rig up boxes. Clean up $22.
Tuesday, April 24, 1900
Improve our plant by utilizing flume, and clean up $28.80 to the good. The old man gets back with siphon, wheel-barrows, etc. Rather cold and no sign of the Yukon going out yet. George Parsons calls, and shaves me.
Wednesday, April 25, 1900
Another day of sniping with $22.80 to the good. Parsons is carpentering at Nida’s.
Thursday, April 26, 1900
"Harry" extinguishes himself in the pump business, and the siphon don’t work, so they bale water.
Friday, April 27, 1900
Hear from Ernest with proposition which changes my plans.
Saturday, April 28, 1900
Otto speaks of "lay" and starts me thinking.
Sunday, April 29, 1900
Celebrate my birthday by "shoveling in." Otto and I arrange to go to 58 Below, but postpone till tomorrow.
Monday, April 30, 1900
Go to 58 Below and size up different propositions, and decide on what to do.
Wednesday, May 2, 1900
Great day for scandal. Old man goes visiting and is laid up today. Hear of John’s bills, and the Cribb’s women’s predicament. Dick kicks on macaroni.
Thursday, May 3, 1900
John comes back & we decide to go ahead, and will go to Dawson tomorrow. Find a few today. McLaren, Sr., carries off the prize. Damn! Write letter to Ernest.
(8-26-40—The comment immediately before, had to do with finding nuggets. It was an unwritten agreement between workmen and owners that if any of the men found a nugget, well, as one owner said "What the eye don’t see, the heart don’t yearn for." So the man on the dump when the buckets come up in the daylight, occasionally one can spot a nugget. However, if it once gets in the sluice box, that’s different. Then it belongs to the boss. The biggest one I ever found was worth about $10.)
Friday, May 4, 1900
Go into to town to see Humboldt Gates, the young millionaire in regard to a lease on 58 Below. Stormy. Go to show.
Saturday, May 5, 1900
See Gates and make deal for "lay" on 58 Below. Go to mass meeting in Palace Grand.
(8-26-40—I remember well this interview with Gates. He had a log cabin, but richly furnished with furs, etc. He had an Indian servant. He agreed to the "lay" or lease of the property, but said he would not be able to get out the agreement today—this being Saturday, and his stenographer was not there. I told him, if that was all I could get out the agreement. Of course just having come in off the creeks looking like a tramp and adorned with a lot of whiskers, this sounded ridiculous to him, but when I sat down to the typewriter, and ran it off in rapid style, he was amazed, and said it was one of the biggest surprises he had had in the North country. Gates was a young man of 24, and a great character.)
Sunday, May 6, 1900
Go back, coming up with Scurr on the trail. Find a ruction at the cook house and general break-up.
Monday, May 7, 1900
Mrs. Campbell leaves. Go to work. John goes down creek.
Tuesday, May 8, 1900
Another day.
Wednesday, May 9, 1900
Still sluicing. Rain this P.M.
Thursday, May 10, 1900
Work A.M. and quit.
Friday, May 11, 1900
John and I go down to 58 Below, packing stuff, etc. Run survey lines and start holes.
Saturday, May 12, 1900
Work A.M. and in P.M. go up creek following ridge trail(?). Arrive wet and tired about 8 P.M.
Sunday, May 13, 1900
Get $200 from Atkinson, and pay store bill, etc. Start down creek. Gates called today.
Monday, May 14, 1900
Go at the hole again and find it hard work.
Tuesday, May 15, 1900
The plot thickens.
Wednesday, May 16, 1900
This digging business gets monotonous, and if there are no colors on bed-rock, there will be a row.
Thursday, May 17, 1900
Buy fruit from Fern (8-27-40—As I remember it, he was trying to operate the next claim) and keep on digging.
Friday, May 18, 1900
Looks more like a shaft, and we’re getting near home.
Saturday, May 19, 1900
Rig up windlass and strike gravel, so now thaw with hot rocks. Fern tells his tales. Quite an admirable liar.
Sunday, May 20, 1900
Up at 8:30 but get in a couple of thaws. Fine day.


Among my grandfather's papers is this piece of wood (tree bark).  It shows signs of being chopped with an ax.  Could it be from the ancient log found at the bottom of the shaft?
(8-27-40—We struck one peculiarity in sinking this shaft. At a depth of about 15 feet in this perpetually frozen ground we came across a spruce log lying across the shaft, which of course we had to chop away. It was 10 or 12 inches in diameter, and although it had been there uncounted ages, the bark was still fresh, and the wood white, as though it had been felled yesterday.)
Monday, May 21, 1900
Still at it. Go up creek in P.M., eating eggs with Tom and Jack.
Tuesday, May 22, 1900
Stay at upper creek transacting various businesses. Received $200 from A [Atkinson?]. Send $275 to E.A.W. [Ernest Archibald Wark] via R. & W. Mason gets job digging grave this P.M. Start back 8 P.M., getting license on way. Reach 58 with pack at 11:30 P.M. Still light.
Wednesday, May 23, 1900
Find colors (1¢ to pan) but deeper ground so far does not improve. Work till about 10:30 P.M.
Thursday, May 24, 1900
Lazy today, so we do little work—comparatively.
Friday, May 25, 1900
Fern goes to town, first showing us his figures for their clean-up.
Saturday, May 26, 1900
Keep on going but still no bed-rock, and pay not improving. Strike gravel in second hole.
Sunday, May 27, 1900
Mosquitoes bothered last night. We get up at 10 A.M. and take out one thawing (25 feet and no bed-rock yet). Went to 34 Below and got paper.
Monday, May 28 – Tuesday, May 29, 1900
Work in holes, still not reaching bed-rock.
Wednesday, May 30, 1900
Go up creek for more provisions, etc. Frank is "off" on the lay.
Thursday, May 31, 1900
Start down again with Frank, the rain catching us on our way down.
Friday, June 1, 1900
We take out thawed dirt and reach a decision unfavorable to the "lay." However John and I decide to see the bottom of the deepest shaft.
Saturday, June 2, 1900
Frank goes back. Hail storm. Disagreeable day. The dirt looks a little better.
Sunday, June 3, 1900
Reach bed-rock. No results. Go up creek and get paper and letters. We put in our last thawing.

An additional entry from the back of the book

After passing through various vicissitudes and making many changes of front, I have only to re-iterate the above true saying.
Just as "the longest way around is sometimes the shortest way home" so is the man who first makes sure of the step he takes farther advanced than he who takes blind chances. Too often, impatient at the slow progress made on terra firma, men endeavor to fly. In the tedious ascent of the ladder of prosperity the eager and impatient will trust their weight on rotten rounds and thus lose the ground so laboriously gained.
Sunday, June 17, 1900
Sad neglect. My diary should have better attention. However...
Apparently, my grandfather neglected to keep up his diary on a daily basis for the previous two weeks.
Monday, June 4, 1900
Took out dirt and cleaned off bed-rock. N.G. [no good?]. Go up creek, John and I carrying heavy packs.
Tuesday, June 5, 1900
Stop with Mason. Go up around store and have to answer the usual questions.
Wednesday, June 6, 1900
Still loafing. McCook et al. want me to work. Up at Store in the evening with the "Kid." Mason, George and I play poker!!!
Thursday, June 7, 1900
Laughrey was looking for me last night and this A.M. wanting me to go to work, and do so this noon on bridge (dump). John also. Lose bet to Crooks regarding the day.
Friday, June 8, 1900
Shift changed from 12 M. to 12 P.M. Work in hole with Pete and Herb.
Saturday, June 9, 1900
Another day in hole. Rather monotonous.
Sunday, June 10, 1900
We work on dam today, I gathering moss, etc.
Monday, June 11, 1900
Another day on dam.
Tuesday, June 12, 1900
Still on dam. Relatives begin to arrive and no longer looks good to me.
Wednesday, June 13, 1900
More brothers, etc., coming, so I guess it’s off. Nothing first shift but work in hole 2nd with Herb and Martin. Good time.
Thursday, June 14, 1900
Nothing more so get $32.50 and loaf. Go up creek to see some people with Tony. We visit Green Gulch.
Friday, June 15, 1900
Mason tells of 17 Above, so go down and see them—again at night. Atkinson pays up balance of wages, and wants me to run gang [engine?].
Saturday, June 16, 1900
Go to work getting things in shape on 17. Terms $8 per day of 10 hours. Russell and I pick ice from drift in A.M., and in P.M. I get points in shape.
Sunday, June 17, 1900
Fire up & set points, etc., in upper side of tunnel. Decide to drift round grazier, so in P.M. set again on other side. Work 12 hours. Mason goes to work at 11 Above, and I am alone at 25 Cabin, i.e., for meals; sleep at 29. Everybody has heard that I am working as engineer on Green Gulch.
Monday, June 18, 1900
Get down a little late. Clean out water from drift and thaw in A.M.
Tuesday, June 19, 1900
Still stay up reading until late so feel sleepy at 6. Eat at 25 and get down a little late. I fix points while Russell takes out waste, etc. We hoist some bed-rock and take nearly $4 out of 4 buckets. Knock off early account of rain. Go up creek and Case tells of things at 30 (Hambergers).
Wednesday, June 20, 1900
I pack some things and go down to 17 to stay. Set points in new place, and go at dam while Mac keeps up fire. Make good progress.
Thursday, June 21, 1900
The longest day of the year is a wet one, so we lay off in A.M. which brings me to date.
(8-27-40—It was our intention today to go up on the Dome and witness the midnight sun, but it was clouded.)
Friday, June 22, 1900
The evening is cloudy which makes it impossible to observe the Midnight Sun this year. We make further progress with dam. Case comes down regarding wood, etc.
Saturday, June 23, 1900
We try to close up dam with disastrous results. I fall in creek. High water. Go at hoisting again.
Sunday, June 24, 1900
Go up creek tonight and see people, also get groceries, etc. Jimmie MacLaren enlarges on Detroit. Hoist waste nearly all day.
Monday, June 25, 1900
Hoist pay and clear away some space.
Tuesday, June 26, 1900
We finish dam, working until midnight. Good dam and tight as a drum.
Wednesday, June 27, 1900
Very hot. Mac has been sick for some days.
Thursday, June 28, 1900
Mac gets around.
Friday, June 29, 1900
Thaw tonight.
Saturday, June 30, 1900
Work hoisting all day. Fix boxes until 10 P.M.
Sunday, July 1, 1900
Sluice today and clean up from 8 to 10 ounces. Receive $40.
Monday, July 2, 1900
We hoist again. (8–12 – 1–6 – 7–9) (8-27-40—The significance of these figures have gotten away from me.) Set points, etc. It has just occurred to me that I should investigate my Panama scheme without delay, so I guess I’ll now write a letter. (8-27-40—I’ve forgotten what that was too.)
These numbers are the times my grandfather worked. In this case, 8 a.m. to 12 noon, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., for a total of 11 hours. My grandfather's notation for working time on this date is "1+1h" (1 day plus 1 hour)—see Working Time on Klondike. Based on this data and for the following days, his standard work day was 10 hours. Did he receive overtime compensation for the time worked beyond the standard day?
Tuesday, July 3, 1900
Bread famine begins. We sadly miss Mrs. Colton. General dispute at dinner. Hard pressed for grub. (7:15–12:15 – 1:30–6:10 – 7:30–9:30) (8-27-40—Apparently refers to time, but still the numbers are a mystery.) No bread or baking powder. How about breakfast?
Total time is 11½ hours ("1+1½h").
Wednesday, July 4, 1900
A memorable 4th, characterized by hard work. (7–12 – 1:30–6:30 – 8–10) Judge buys the $3.50 pan for 5¢. The steam points are contrary at night.

Total time is 12 hours ("1+2h").

Thursday, July 5, 1900
Good steady day. (7–12 – 1–6:30 – 7:30–9) Fix up points in P.M., and they enter easily at night. We had a feed of "chee-chaco" spuds yesterday. Now, I’ll write a letter home.

Total time is 12 hours ("1+2h").


Cheechako is a Chinook word meaning "new come."  It is used in Alaska and Yukon to refer to a newcomer, a tenderfoot, a greenhorn.  It has the opposite meaning to sourdough.

Friday, July 6, 1900
Steady day. Judge talks of going to Indian River to stake quartz ledge.
(8-27-40—His name was I think William Patrick Russell, an Irishman, and claimed to be related to the Lord Chief Justice. Hence the moniker.)
Saturday, July 7, 1900
Judge left last night to stake quartz. Mac and I hoist until 4 P.M.; then I sluice. Feed of chee-chaco spuds and mutton.
Sunday, July 8, 1900
(At this point, I remember I acquired what the miners call a "jarred hand." It became badly swollen and exceedingly painful; very similar to a felon. In that case I was unable to use my right hand, and my diary at this point is written with my left hand, and reversed like a matrix, so that I have to read it through a mirror)
Sluice all day and clean up 21 ounces. Mac pays me $75. My right hand which has been troubling me seems to get no better.
Monday, July 9, 1900
Mac goes to town this morning, and I try to get in a thaw alone, with poor results. Judge comes back about noon, tired and sleepy. I go up creek and get Dick. I was obliged to poultice my hand today, and get a series of opinions on it up creek.
Tuesday, July 10, 1900
Work about 3 hours and knock off, intending to run boiler in the evening, but my hand forced me to lay off. Judge put on an oatmeal poultice. No sleep tonight.
Wednesday, July 11, 1900
Late rise this morning, so we don’t work today. Have my hair clipped short. Hand shows signs of getting better. Dick does some cooking. Heavy rain, and dam goes out. Dick and I discuss the idea of going outside [out?] now.
Thursday, July 12, 1900
I wonder if Judge remembers the day (Orangeman’s Day). My hand comes along nicely, but it is still in a sling, and I am forced to resort to this means (as stated above) of posting up. Mac gets back from town. Judge and I set points.
Friday, July 13, 1900
Nothing particular except the coming of the News with 4 letters. This breaks the silence of 6 weeks. Go up creek.
Saturday, July 14, 1900
Cook as usual. The others work. Considerable jangling.
Sunday, July 15, 1900
Have a scheme and will investigate, this P.M. Judge and Dick lay off in P.M.
Monday, July 16, 1900
As is hereby noticeable, my hand is regaining its usefulness. I worked today on dam. Things look brighter. We make maple(?) syrup tonight and prepare for sour-dough pan-cakes and maple syrup for breakfast. Thaw tonight.
Tuesday, July 17, 1900
Still on the dam. Finish it.
Wednesday, July 18, 1900
Set boxes in A.M. and sluice in P.M.
Thursday, July 19, 1900
We sluice in A.M. Boys hoisting. Rain.
Friday, July 20, 1900
Build platform and chute. Just read a chapter in that Moorish book.
Saturday, July 21, 1900
Re-build chute. Then in hole.
Sunday, July 22, 1900
Clean up good. Paid in full. Dick goes up creek.
Monday, July 23, 1900
Complete platform. Very rainy. Work on dam in evening. It seems there has been no "lay" let on 16(?).
Tuesday, July 24, 1900
Lay off P.M. and go in for swim. Man comes along with flock of sheep, butchering and selling along the creek as he gets orders. We pay $24.15 for [½ mutton (37#). (deleted)] a half carcass—37 pounds. Go up creek and learn facts regarding Crooks. Judge says he quits tonight.
Wednesday, July 25, 1900
Jack starts in on windlass. Find a couple of nuggets in the dump.
Thursday, July 26, 1900
Raining today. New schemes and indecision. Mac gets more spuds.
Friday, July 27, 1900
News man brings me letters which puts a different face on things. Very rainy.
Saturday, July 28, 1900
Big flood of water, but the dam is still intact. The drift has nearly filled with water and muck from the other shaft. Work on that. Lay off three hours in P.M. and write letters. Also roast leg of mutton. Work until 12 P.M.
Sunday, July 29, 1900
Finish up cleaning drift. Judge gets back with letter from J.T. Ferguson. Judge is going to work at 15 Above. Now I must get to bed.
Monday, July 30, 1900
Big flush of water today, but hoist pay in P.M. Dirt poor and Mac discouraged.
Tuesday, July 31, 1900
A clear day and no rain.
Wednesday, August 1, 1900
Still poor dirt. We don’t thaw tonight.
Thursday, August 2, 1900
In good pay. Jack speaks of our buying. Things in general looking up. Am practically decided on staying in another year.
Friday, August 3, 1900
Get letter today, again undeciding me. Get 124 buckets from 1:30 to 5:30 P.M.
Saturday, August 4, 1900
Having fine weather again.
Sunday, August 5, 1900
Clean up again. Draw $60.30. Jack and Dick up creek for "grub." Tough job with points.
Monday, August 6, 1900
We try setting points before supper. H— of a time.
Tuesday, August 7, 1900
Mac is eager for car(?). Season is getting along fast. Getting colder. Jack shoots owl.
Wednesday, August 8, 1900
The dam in 15 goes out again. Mac looks in vain for someone to work on aerial railway. (8-30-40—Now I understand reference to car. This was for transporting in a car by aerial wire, the dirt from the mouth of shaft to the creek where it was being sluiced.) My actions regarding going out still indefinite.
Thursday, August 9, 1900
Pay pinched off surprisingly, thaw in P.M. I am through early. Mason appears today in good clothes.
Friday, August 10, 1900
We are now counting the days until freeze-up, and—outside. But there’s many a slip, etc. No mail today.
Saturday, August 11, 1900
Our store bill runs high this week. Clean up Monday.
Sunday, August 12, 1900
Lay off in P.M. Mac gives up car idea. Company for supper.
Monday, August 13, 1900
Our clean-up today is very low, and Mac is discouraged. Determined to quit.
Tuesday, August 14, 1900
More hopeful today. He decides to run this week. Bed rock proposition. No. 15 offers me night firing job. (Bed rock proposition means to work, your pay being conditioned of enough gold being taken out to pay off.)
Wednesday, August 15 – Friday, August 17, 1900
The prospects are not very bright as the dirt is decidedly low grade, and it is doubtful if it is even a wages proposition. Mac apparently is decided on quitting, and leaves this morning (17th) for town to get permit to cut Mason’s hay.
Saturday, August 18, 1900
We take out another thaw but still poor although a little better. Guess it’s all up.
Sunday, August 19, 1900
Raining this morning, so we lay off, and having time to think, decide to go out—possibly at once. If I only knew what Ernest was doing. Still raining. Just finished reading "[The Honorable] Peter Stirling" [by Paul Leicester Ford].

An additional entry from the back of the book

Having had time to think, I decide to make an entire change of base and my diary shall not now have such gaps under the circumstances to pursue my present form of life would be unpardonable folly.
Monday, August 20, 1900
We take up remaining dirt and find we are on pay again. Mac gets back from town. News regarding 29 Above.
Tuesday, August 21, 1900
Sluice up and clean up $224. Rather a surprise. Mac makes a proposition and I take it up. Go up creek and see the boys. Get a piece of pumpkin pie.
Wednesday, August 22, 1900

Mastodon Discussion

The “mastodon discussion” may have been instigated by my grandfather’s discovery of a mammoth tooth and other bones.  Although there is no mention of a mammoth tooth within my grandfather’s diary, apparently he discovered one and returned to Detroit with it.  This bit of history was revealed in an article that appeared in The Boston Globe after his return to Detroit.  See Newspaper Articles.

Put in thaw with Mc’s assistance. Jack at Dominion. Dick and I go up creek tomorrow to settle wood proposition. Mastodon discussion.
Thursday, August 23, 1900
Get wood, etc., in A.M. so leave Mc at boiler and go up creek. Talk with Jack Atkinson. Our wood looks doubtful. Bailey back from town broke and sniping on 29.
Friday, August 24, 1900
Dick and I take out dirt which looks poor.
Saturday, August 25, 1900
Still at it, but strike good dirt in P.M. Jack returns.
Sunday, August 26, 1900
We sluice up and clean up $80. Easy day. Guess I’ll go out. Jack has sold wood to Heimburger.
Monday, August 27, 1900
Go up creek and we measure wood, and otherwise get things in shape. Now I know I’ll go out tomorrow.
Tuesday, August 28, 1900
Guess someone set the clock ahead. Anyway I was up before clear day-light. Five of us start to town, Dick, Billy and I arriving tonight. I get bath, shave and some clothes, then we all go to the Orpheum and witness very bum show. Quite sore in the joints.
Wednesday, August 29, 1900
Nearly have to hang up another day, but Jack arrives in the nick of time, and we start up river on the "Ora" at 4:30. Slow progress. Over 60 passengers and I sleep on pile of baggage.

Departure From Dawson

Benjamin F. Craig was a post office worker in Dawson City. He maintained a list of people leaving the Klondike by death or departure. The database shows my grandfather departed August 30 (or forwarding of his mail was to commence that date), providing a forwarding address of Wanstead, Ontario.
Yukon Genealogy website (last accessed on June 18, 2010).
Thursday, August 30, 1900
Still jogging along, taking on wood. Pass Stewart R. and tie up near White River for night. Rather limited means for enjoyment. Cold on deck and hot and close below.
Friday, August 31, 1900
Fine day, and as I write this, I remember our Indian adventure two years ago. We must be near Selwyn. Pass some rafts hung up on bars, and many building them. Musical ruction in the cabin in evening. Sybil overtakes us.

An additional entry from the back of the book

Going out. Have good opportunities for observation but am too lazy to look under the minutae of detail for the underlying principles of things.
Saturday, September 1, 1900


(Photo: Yukon Archives, Anton Vogee fonds, #241)
Rainy this A.M. and slow progress. Pass Hell Gate—after Selkirk.
Sunday, September 2, 1900
Pass Five Fingers and now getting along near Tantalus. Very dull.
Monday, September 3, 1900
Today we pass [Hootalinqua (deleted)] past numerous points I remember, including the whirlpool, Eagle’s Nest, etc.
Tuesday, September 4, 1900
Pass Big and Little Salmon R., Hootalinqua R. and go up 30 Mile R., and have rough experience on Lac La Barge, putting in behind island at night.
(9-1-40—The reference to a rough time on Lac La Barge calls for more elucidation. This lake is proverbially known as a rough customer. The "Ora," like other shallow river steamers, like the Mississippi, etc., are stern wheelers, and have shallow draft, and when loaded are usually top-heavy. This was no exception, and when a heavy wind greeted us on entering the lake in the late afternoon the sea ran quite high, and threatened to capsize the craft. Further the extraordinary strains caused a fear that the hog-chains might give way, and cause it to break up. I had a canvas bunk opposite the gang plank, and the waves were splashing me as I tried to sleep. Others had a couple pieces of cord wood handy to take under their arms in case they had to try to make shore. There is an Island mid-way across the lake, and this shelter they succeeded in making, remaining in the lee of the island until things moderated the next morning.)
Wednesday, September 5, 1900
Quick run to White Horse by 10 A.M. See rapids again, and lay wires which we put in operation, and start from White Horse about 2 A.M. next morning.
(9-1-40—Laying wires referred to consisted of having one of our number, who knew some of the train men, negotiate with them for our occupying one of the empty box cars on the train leaving that night. It was arranged that we pay $5 each, which was quite a saving on I believe the $20 regular fare. Consequently one of the side doors were left open, and as the train pulled out, we piled in. The train continued to a lonely point in the mountains, when it stopped, and soon we heard the crunching of the gravel, as the engineer and conductor came back to make their collection. As I recall it there were 8 or 10 of us, so they made a good day. All of our bunch had their pockets pretty well weighted down with gold dust, so there was no necessity of our ‘boing it, but after our rugged method of living for the past year, it seemed to pay real money to ride on plush. As further evidence of our being accustomed to doing things the hard way, when we reached Lake Bennett, and the cylinder head in the engine blew out, necessitating quite a number of hours delay, a few of us decided to walk the remaining 40 miles in to Skagway over the White Pass, instead of waiting, which we did.)
Thursday, September 6, 1900
Got as far as Bennett safely, but engine cylinder head blew out, so we walk the rest of the way. Reach Skagway tired.
Friday, September 7, 1900

Historical Note

On the evening of October 19, 1903, the steamer South Portland ran aground on a reef near Bandon, Oregon, in a dense fog.  The vessel sank and 18 passengers and crew were killed.
GenDisasters website (last accessed on June 18, 2010).
Put in the day with Carter and Gwin. Night, the same. Get off on the South Portland at midnight.
(9-1-40—When I left here a year before, I remember I left a 44-40 carbine, which belonged to Eddie, which in some way I don’t now recall, was in my possession. I then left it in the care of these boys, stating I would pick it up when I came out. On inquiring for it, they couldn’t remember anything about it—anyway it was not there. Of course, I could understand what happened. They probably went broke, and this was disposed of to rise much needed funds, thinking I wouldn’t be back anyway.)
Saturday, September 8 – Wednesday, September 12, 1900
We spend the time in our uneventful voyage, playing cards, loafing around, eating and reading. Have the "horn" trial on the last day.
Thursday, September 13, 1900
This A.M. we reach Seattle. Clean up and dress up. Deposit our dust with the Government, taking its equivalent in chee-chaco money. Go to the Seattle Theater and see the "Fencing Master" in the evening.
Friday, September 14, 1900

Mrs. Alice McDougall

Alice Barbara McDougall (nee Robertson) is my grandfather's first cousin.  At the time, she was living in New Westminster, British Columbia.  She is the sister of William Robertson mentioned in the January 10, 1899, diary entry.  See Genealogy for a relationship chart.
Loaf. See more of the boys. Regret I’ll have to give up my Westminster trip to see Alice (Mrs. McDougall) and decide to go with the bunch to Salt Lake tomorrow night.
Saturday, September 15, 1900
Select route, etc., and start 9:30 P.M.
Sunday, September 16, 1900
Breakfast in Portland and see the town. Start East, reaching Salt Lake the evening of September 17th. We left Dunn at Pocatello, and the Sullivan boys at Ogden.
Tuesday, September 18, 1900
Spend a pleasant day in Salt Lake, bathing, etc. Leave at 6:40 P.M.
Wednesday, September 19, 1900
Pass through Wyoming and part of Nebraska.
Thursday, September 20, 1900
Reach Omaha and cross Missouri River into Iowa. Fine agricultural country. Pass Clinton in P.M. Cross the Mississippi R. and reach Chicago 9 P.M., stopping at the Saratoga.
Friday, September 21, 1900
Our party now reduced to Jack Scurr, and Dick (Norman Dunford) and myself. Go to Lincoln Park and other points of interest.
Saturday, September 22, 1900
Decide to go on to Detroit, but miss the 12:40 train and am forced to get another ticket, leaving on the 3:15 P.M. train, reaching Detroit on the stroke of midnight, having been absent just two years and 10 months.