A Trip to the Klondike
By C. Holmes aka Corrine Pape

      He was born a gentleman at Sioux City, Iowa in December 1879. He taught school a year in Iowa before going to Alaska and the Yukon in February of 1899, at the age of 19 years.
      In his later years he told me, "He, Gene Taylor, and Uncle Henry Pape each bought racing bicycles and got on a boat at Seattle and landed in Skagway, Alaska. Then over the Chilkoot Pass to Lake LeBarge where they stayed at Inns on the Canadian side. Then on down to the head of the Yukon River where 'Swift Water Bill' took them through an exciting white water piece of the Yukon River so fast, they didn't have time to be afraid. Then on to Dawson City by boat. From there they trekked on to Uncle Henry's claim on Hunker Creek, a few miles out of Dawson City.
      Well, I listened to all this and thought it sounded like a trip to the super market or something. So I said, "My Good Gosh! Every one else had such a terrible time- didn't you have ANY trouble at all getting to Dawson City?" He said " Yes, we checked out of an Inn one morning and there was a bob-cat on the trail right in front of us and Boy! He was a big one!" I breathed a big sigh, so he said, "Well our bicycle tires froze solid---.
      I could see we were not getting anywhere, so I said, "How about Chilkoot Pass?" Everyone went through Hell and High Water, not to mention deep snow, and you tell me you fellows pushed your bikes right up there and down the other side, Well! And all you fellows did was pedal to Dawson City?"
      He laughed at my indignation and must have thought I wanted only gory details, so he told me, "On Chilkoot Pass you could find anything. People went stumbling and struggling up that steep Pass, carrying packs with all their belongings, even stoves. They would lug those packs up the Pass, until they could carry them no further, then throw everything down and head on for the Klondike and GOLD. The atmosphere was so tense that people fought over nothing at all. There was a printing press someone had carried almost to the top of Chilkoot Pass before abandoning it. Also, there was a number of horses floundering around on Chilkoot Pass, with broken legs."
      Since the start of Chilkoot Pass is located just out of Skagway and on the American side, everything was "Wide open and pretty lawless." After reaching Canada's line, the Canadians had Inns built for the miners. People signed out when leaving in the morning. That way, if you did not reach the next Inn down the trial, the Canadian officials knew just where to look for you.
      He was a sociable, young fellow, he like everyone he ever met. He met all those Gold-Rush people we read about. Klondike Kate, he described as beautiful. Alex Pantages, Jack London, all those wonderful people who had the guts to get to the Klondike. He thought Diamond Lil was something with all those diamonds stuck in her teeth that made her smile such a dazzling success. The only one he missed meeting was 'Soapy Smith', as some months before he reached Alaska, someone had done old 'Soapy' in.
      He Gene Taylor and Uncle Henry went to the cabin on Hunter Creek, and as Henry had been in there most of the time, for the past two years. Henry had the cabin stocked with enough groceries to start his own grocery store.
      The three of them did placer mining. Even in the winter they would fall the small tree, set them afire for three days, then take their horses and scoop and mine the rich dirt. They had one room with sluice boxes around the wall of the cabin. There they sat and mined $50,000 of gold one winter. And that is going some, at $12 per ounce.
      In 1904 they paddled on down the Yukon River as far as they could go and walked on to Nome, Alaska. They visited there with Uncle Henry's wife. She was the former Maude Vance, and had left him to become a Dance Hall girl in Nome, Alaska. They then took the boat on back to Seattle.
      He later owned one of the larger logging shows across the Skagit River at Hamilton. His name was Jim Pape.
originally pubilshed in the Courier Times; Sedro Woolley

"After A Days Work" Young James Leland Pape (top photo) followed his family and friend Gene Taylor to Henry Papes Gold Camp on Hunker Creek sometime before 1900. Left to right: Henry Pape, Gene Taylor, Donald Pape and Fredrick Pape.
Photos courtesy of Gladys Pape Miller and Charlene Bronson.

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