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EXPLORATORY SURVEY OF PART OP THE LEWES, TAT-ON-DUC, PORCUPINE, BELL, TROUT, PEEL, AND MACKENZIE RIVERS.
To the Honorable
The Minister of the Interior,
Ottawa, 16th July, 1889.
Sir,—I have the honor to submit the following report of my operations on the Lewes or Yukon River, in the season of 1887 (of which a preliminary sketch was published in the Annual Departmental Report for that year), and on the Tat-on-Duc, Porcupine, Bell, Trout, Peel and Mackenzie Rivers during the season of 1888.
I left Ottawa on the 20th of April, 1887, for Toronto, where I remained for two days doing some preparatory work in the magnetic observatory having relation to the magnetic observations which I intended to make during the progress of my expedition, and also supervising some changes and repairs of instruments, the chief object of which was to lessen tneir weight, and thus facilitate progress.
I had to stop one day in Winnipeg, to obtain an astronomical transit (F. O. 2). On the evening of the 2nd May I reached Victoria, B.C., where I at once set about making the necessary preparations to start by the boat, which was advertised to leave on the 9th. The vessel did not arrive, however, until the 12th. I then found that she was much overloaded, and it was with some difficulty that I got Capt. Hunter to consent to take my outfit which weighed about six tons/and, under the circumstances, it was a real act of kindness for him to do so.
Owing to the heavy load, we made slow progress, and it was not until the 18th of May that we reached Fort Wrangell, at the mouth of the Stikine River. Here I parted from Dr. Dawson, whom 1 arranged to meet at the confluence of the Pelly, and Lewes or Yukon River about the 20th of July following. We arrived at Juneau City on the evening of the 19th, remaining there and at Douglass Island until the evening of the 20th. At Douglass Island 1 had an opportunity of visiting the celebrated Treadwell gold mine and reduction works, containing one hundred and twenty stamps, which have since been doubled in number. The output of this mine, with the smaller number of stamps, was generally estimated at about §70,000 per month, but no one seemed to know the exact amount.
As the boat was now much behind time she went direct to Sitka, instead of Chilkoot, as usual; thence in succession to Sitka, Killisnoo, Chilcat and Chilkoot, where I landed on the morning of the 24th of May, and where my work began.
The first news I received on landing was that there was trouble in the interior, on the Lewes River, in the vicinity where I intended to go. A miner, who had recently arrived from the interior, stated that there had been a fight between the Indians and the miners at the mouth of Stewart River. The result of the affair, he alleged, was that four Indians and two white men had been killed, and that the Indians had come up the river as far as the canon to lie in wait for any white men who might be going into the country. I did not have an opportunity of questioning him, as he had gone to Juneau City the day before I arrived. The rumor seemed to me somewhat improbable; but true or false, it was an unpleasant one to hear, and the only way to verify it was to go and see whether the Indians were hostile or not. Happily the whole story proved to be untrue, as I subsequently learned from the miners in the interior that he had difficulties with them, in consequence of which he was ordered in mid-winter to leave the region, which the miners consider equivalent to a sentence of death. Strange to say, he succeeded in getting out alive, making a distance of upwards of 500 miles of the most dangerous and difficult travelling. He 1*
started in the month of February, I think, and reached the coast in the month of"May. It is reported that on his way out he had more trouble with an I ndian whom ho hired to accompany him. Another minor named Williams started from Stewart River for the coast in the month of December, carrying a message from Harper, McQuestion & Co., and mail from the miners. This man had the advantage at intervals of the assistance of the miners, a few of whom were scattered along the river in the vicinity of the Teslin-too (the Newberry of Schwatka). At the summit of the coast range he was detained by a snow storm for three days, and the hardships he suffered brought on pneumonia, from the effects of which he died.
It is said by those familiar with the locality that the storms which rage in the upper altitudes of the coast range during the greater part of the time, fi om October to March, are terrific. A man caught in one of them runs the risk of losing his life, unless he ear reach shelter in a short time. During the summer there is nearly always a wind blowing from the sea, up Chatham Strait and Lynn Channel, which lie in almost a straight line with each other, and at the head of Lynn Channel are Chilkat and Chilkoot inlets. The distance from the coast down these channels to the open sea is about 380 miles. The mountains on each side of the water confine the currents of air, and deflect inclined currents in the direction of the axis of the channel, so that there is nearly always a strong wind blowing up the channel. Coming from the sea, this wind is heavily charged with moisture, which is precipitated when the air current strikes the mountains, and the fall of rain amis now is, consequently very heavy.
In Chilkat Inlet there is not much shelter from the south "wind, which renders it unsafe for ships calling there. Capt. Hunter told me he would rather visit any other part of the coast than Chilkat.
After landing at Chilkoot the weather continued very wet for three days, so that I could not do anything in the way of commencing the survey, and during the delay myself and party were employed in making preparations for carrying the instruments, provisions and other baggage up to the head of Taiya Inlet, a distance of 20J miles. This was accomplished by securing the services of two boats belonging to a trader, which were towed to the head of the Taiya Inlet by the United States gunboat, "Pinfa," to the commander of which (Capt. Newell) I owe a debt of gratitude for his very obliging and attentive treatment of myself and party.
Exploratory Survey from the Head of Taiya Inlet, through Taiya Pass, and down the Pelly-Yukon River to the International Boundary between Alaska and the NorthWest Territories of Canada.
On the 30th of May I commenced the survey by connecting Pyramid Island in Chilkat Inlet with Chilkoot Inlet at Haines mission. At this point a Protestant mission w'as established some years ago; but it is now abandoned, owing, as I was informed, to the very unpleasant conduct of the Chilkoot Indians. I could not learn that they had committed any overt act of hostility, but it appears the missionary tried to relieve the sufferings of a sick Indian child. Unfortunately, the child died, and the father attributed the death to the missionary, and from that time acted in so suspicious a manner towards the children of the latter that he considered it unsafe to remain in the vicinity, and moved into Juneau City.
The teacher of the United States Government school for Indians at Haines mission, Col. Ripinsky, told me he had got into trouble in the same way. A sick Indian to whom he administered medicine at first became much worse, in consequence, apparently, of the treatment, and during this time the patient's relatives walked about in an exciting manner, manifesting very unpleasant signs of hostility. Fortunately the man finally recovered, but Col. Ripinsky has no doubt that his life would not have been safe had he died.
The latitude and longitude of Pyramid Island were determined in 1869 by a United States Coast Survey party, who were sent out to observe the eclipse of the sun in the month of August of that year. The position then determined is given in the "Alaska Coast Pilot" as latitude 59° 11' 43" -0, longitude 135° 27'04" -5. The longitude was determined by chronometers, thirteen having been used by the expedition. What point of the island was fixed I could not ascertain, so I took the centre. This island is pyramidal in form, as seen from the south-west or north-east, and about 500 yards long by 200 wide. It is composed of sand and clay, and rises about 80 feet above high tide, being evidently the result of glacial action. At low tide there is very little water on the north side of the island, and it is only a question of a few years until it will cease to be an island altogether, owing to the constant accumulation of drift brought down by the streams flowing into the inlet.
To carry the survey from the island across to Chilkoot Inlet I had to get up on the mountains north of Haines mission, and from there could see both inlets. Owing to the bad weather I could get no observation for azimuth, and had to produce the survey from Pyramid Island to Taiya Inlet by reading the angles of deflection between the courses. At Taiya Inlet I got my first observation, and deduced the azimuth of my courses up that point. Taiya Inlet has evidently been the valley of a glacier; its sides are steep and smooth from glacial action; and this, with the wind almost constantly blowing landward, renders getting upon the shore difficult. Some long eights we:e therefore necessary. The survey was made up to the head of the inlet on the 2nd of June. Preparations were then commenced for taking the supplies and instruments over the coast range of mountains to the head of Lake Lyndeman on the Lewes River. Commander Newell kindly aided me in making arrangements with the Indians, and did all he could to induce them to be reasonable in their demands. This, however, neither he nor any one else could accomplish. They refused to carry to the lake for less than 820 per hundred pounds, and as they had learned that the expedition was an English one, the second chief of the Chilkoot Indians recalled some memories of an old quarrel which the tribe had with the English many years ago, in which an uncle of his was killed, and ho thought we should pay for the loss of his uncle by being charged an exorbitant price for our packing, of which he had the sole control. Commander Newell told him 1 had a permit from the Great Father at Washington to pass through his country safely, that he would see that I did so, and if the Indians interfered with me the.y would be punished for doing so. After much talk they consented to carry our stuff to the summit of the mountain for $10 per hundred pounds. This is about two-thirds of the whole distance, includes all the climbing and all the woods, and is by far the most difficult part of the way.
On the 6th of June 120 Indians, men, women, and children, started for the summit. I sent two of my party with them to see the goods delivered at the place agreed upon. Each carrier when given a pack also got a ticket, on which was inscribed the contents of the pack, its weight, and the amount the individual was to get for carrying it. They were made to understand that they had to produce these tickets on delivering their packs, but were not told for what reason. As each pack was delivered one of my men receipted the ticket and returned it. The Indians did not seem to understand the import of this; a few of them pretended to have lost their tickets; and as they could not get paid without them, my assistant, who had duplicates of every ticket, furnished them with receipted copies, after examining their packs.
While they were packing to the summit I was producing the survey, and I met them on their return at the foot of the canon, about eight miles from the coast, where I paid them. They came to the camp in the early morning before I was up, and for about two hours there was quite a hubbub. When paying them I tried to get their names, but very few of them would give any Indian name, nearly all, after a little reflection, giving some common English name. My list contained little else than Jack, Tom, Joe, Charley, &c, some of which were duplicated three and four times. I then found whv some of them had pretended to lose their tickets at the summit. Three or four who had thus acted presented themselves twice for payment, producing first the receipted ticket, afterwards the one they claimed to have lost, demanding pay for both. They were much taken aback when they found that their