Explorers and naturalists

Which river and trail is this?

Posted on May 12, 2013 in Explorers and naturalists, Skagway families | 0 comments

image-2Clue: only accessible after the snow melts on the pass – well unless you intend to ski it, which some people do. The water is very cold and the rocks are very sharp! Wear sandals!!!

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Brooks – Alaskan Scientist, Explorer and Historian

Posted on Feb 1, 2013 in Alaska, Explorers and naturalists, Heroes | 0 comments










Alfred Hulse Brooks was born on July 18, 1871 in Ann Arbor, Michigan and graduated from  Harvard in 1894.  He loved geology and exploring and so, in the gold rush, came to Alaska. He photographed many communities including Skagway – all of the photos are at the Yale Library Collection (which is odd considering he went to rival University, Harvard).

In 1898, the federal government announced a systematic topographic and geologic survey of Alaska that would include renewed exploration of the Brooks Range. Brooks, as new head of the Alaskan branch of the  USGS, called the project “far more important than any previously done,” due in large part because it “furnished the first clue to the geography and geology of the part of Alaska north of the Yukon Basin.” Between 1899 and 1911, six major reconnaissance expeditions traversed the mountain range, mapping its topography and geology and defining the patterns of economic geology so important to prospectors and miners.   He is credited with discovering that the biggest mountain range in Arctic Alaska was separate from the Rocky Mts. The range was named for him – The Brooks Range.

He served as chief geologist for Alaska for the United States Geological Survey until his death in 1924.  Every year from 1904 to 1916 and from 1919 to 1923, Brooks wrote summaries of Alaska’s mineral industries. The missed years, during World War 1 were those that he spent in France as chief geologist for the American Expeditionary Force in France.  He died  on November 22, 1924 and is buried in Washington D.C. at the Oak Hill Cemetery. I love the inscription on his grave:











Wikipedia; findagrave; Hunt, “NPS Golden Places,”  page 56.

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Count Emile Janne de Lamare

Posted on Dec 12, 2012 in Explorers and naturalists, Odd People | 0 comments

The first automobile to drive in Skagway was in April 1900. That was when Count de Lamare came to Skagway with his three wheel automobile and another one. He was a Paris correspondent and brought his cars north to gain publicity for his writing. He was president of the Auto Club of Paris and an enthusiastic autoist. They presumbably took the train to Bennett where they set out on the lake. The three cylinder engine could go a remarkable 58 kilometers per hour but the other one with 5 horse power could only attain 26 kph. They were both gasoline engines and they carried along a sled with spare parts. Unbelievably they made it to Atlin in 5 days, gave rides there and then headed to Dawson!

The trip proved to be very difficult and they abandoned the vehicles somewhere in the Klondike. Still, their travel in the North where there were no roads was marvelous. The Count and his traveling companion Mary Hitchcock, traveled 1000 kilometers, in the late spring where they encountered icy and slushy conditions.

The little vehicle is seen above. No wonder the traveling party was so small….

from: Atlin – the story of British Columbia’s Last Gold Rush by Christine Frances Dickinson and Diane Solie Smith.

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Thomas Frederic Harper Reed 1878-1965

Posted on Oct 15, 2012 in Explorers and naturalists, Other Communities | 5 comments

Last weekend we went to Atlin, it was beautiful. Stayed at the Brewer’s Bay Chalet which, although clean and plain has a million dollar view of the lake and snow covered mountains. After walking around town in the rain, we visited the Atlin Cemetery and photographed this curious monument to Harper Reed, gentleman adventurer. Have not been able to find out anything more, if anyone knows, please leave a comment.

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Robert Kennicott

Posted on Jul 18, 2012 in Alaska, Explorers and naturalists | 0 comments

Robert Kennicott was born in New Orleans on November 13, 1835. In April 1859, supported by the Smithsonian Institution, the Audubon Society of Chicago, and the Hudson’s Bay Company, he set off on an expedition to collect natural history specimens in the subarctic boreal forests of northwestern Canada in what is now the Mackenzie and Yukon river valleys and in the Arctic tundra beyond. Hudson’s Bay Company fur traders in the area liked him and so Kennicott encouraged them to collect and send natural history specimens and First Nations artifacts to the Smithsonian. He returned to Washington at the end on 1862. With the Civil War in full play in 1862-64, Robert and his younger brother lived in the Smithsonian Castle along with Edward Drinker Cope and other noted naturalists.

He traveled across the Unalakleet portage to Nulato over the winter of 1865-1866 with Charles Pease and 2 Canadians, Frank Ketchum and Michael Lebarge.

In 1866, Kennicott failed to reach Fort Yukon, where he expected to meet another party from the Frazer River. One story says that this failure so preyed on his mind that he took a dose of strychnine. Other reports state that he died of a heart attack, but in any event we know he died on May 13, 1866. His remains were returned to the Kennicott Family plot in Glenview, Illinois at The Grove, which is a National Historic Landmark.

To commemorate his efforts on behalf of science, the Kennicott Glacier, Kennicott Valley, Motor Vessel Kennicott, and the Kennicott River were named after him.

Alaska and its Resources by William Healey Dall; The Dyea Trail January 19, 1898; Wikipedia.

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Frederick Washington Harte

Posted on May 22, 2012 in Dawson, Explorers and naturalists | 0 comments

Fred Harte was born in 1839 in Northern Ireland and came to the Yukon in 1873. His party, with Arthur Harper, George Finch and Kinseller reached Fort Yukon from Canada by way of the Mackenzie, Peel, and Porcupine Rivers through the Chilkoot Pass in 1873. This well documented party is perhaps the first white party to cross the Chilkoot Pass. Harte later worked with McQueston and Mayo. All of these men were trappers who searched for furs but were at the beginning of the mining era when gold was discovered in the Yukon. All of these famous early explorers can have their own story told, but here we are celebrating Fred Hart. He was one of the charter member of the Yukon Order of Pioneers and served as the first Secretary for the Y.O.O.P. He died in November 1898 and is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in Dawson. Seen above are some members holding the banner in Dawson.

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