You Bloated Mine Owners

Steam engine moving through a winter landscape
Steam train traveling through a wooded winter landscape

NPS photo, Ken Ganz

St. Cloud, Minn.
To Three of the 4-Ds--

At last I am well on my almost two thousand straight plunge across the country. Got out of Dunkirk at about 2 Friday morning, and ran into a minstrel troupe who made things lively, so got little sleep the first night. Got to Chicago at about 4:30 in the afternoon and had chance of getting out at 6:30 with six hours to wait, or at 10:15 with two hours wait in St. Paul. Chose the latter. Train broke down at about 9:30 this morning and before could get another engine to us, would have been too late to make connection, so freight engine hauled us to next station, where they transferred through passengers to a mail train and so made it.

There are a hundred or more Klondikers on board and whisky is plenty. We are now in a country where a man takes off his coat, a pistol is generally seen in his hip pocket. The klondikers usually carry these—hammerless things—and the natives a more civilized weapon. Haven’t got out my shooting iron yet and don’t expect to till I reach Dyea. Have been on the train less than three hours, and only one row has occurred and that ended without a fight. One fellow has a mandolin and two of the crowd are good players so we have good music.

The motion of the coach is not conducive to good writing. Don’t know when I can mail this. May add more and may not. All well so far, but if this crowd keeps up, may take a berth in sleeper one or two nights before reaching Seattle.
The Fourth D

Later—-They change crews at next station, so think can mail this. Gay time here this evening. Mandolin and guitar going with a drunken crowd singing (?) And once in a while a gun displayed, but really am having a jolly time. Have got in with North East party. Also with fellow who went as far as Lake Lindeman last Sept., but was too late to go further. Getting lots of pointers from him. North East fellows say Fraser sold one of his claims last week for $300,000. Also say they saw Dawley and have seen something in paper since why he had not sailed, but have forgotten the reason. The road is rough.
Ta-ta, Fred

Seattle, March 1, 1898

You Bloated Mine Owners- -

Well, here I am in Seattle, the city of gamblers and lewd women. Got in late this afternoon and have done nothing except clean up and eat supper. Am spending the evening in my room and will take the opportunity to drop you a line. Shall quit early though for the bed looks very inviting. Managed to keep seat to myself all the way, so slept like a top, but was up quite a bit the last two nights to see mountain scenery, so am ready to retire. Have had a fine trip and not a bit tiresome. This last day has filled my “cup of pleasure” to the brim. Scenery! Honestly, words cannot describe it, so I will not try. I don’t think much of the Rockers: we passed those yesterday, but the Cascades are all right. We were right in them, very early this morning at Tunnel City long before daylight in fact.

Tunnel City is composed of a few shanties at the east end of a tunnel two and a half miles long, and which , when completed about two years from now, will render useless 18 or 20 miles of track now in use to get over that same mountain. As luck would have it some poor devil left the switch on the first leg of switch-back open, and an engine was half buried in the snow in consequence, leaving just room enough for one car at a time to pass. The train was split in two and two engines took each half. When we were finally straightened out on the second leg, our car was the last the of second section, and as I stood on the rear platform, could spit in the face of one of Brooks’ locos and watch her snort and try to get at me. When we finally got to the top, the train was joined and three engines took us down the west slope. I say west slope though we boxed the compass forwards, backwards and all ways at once. As we started down one leg, the coupling to the rear engine climbed over the rear guard and looked for a soft snow bank which was somewhat difficult to find, for though the snow was six or seven feet deep on a level he stood a chance of travelling 100 or 200 feet before striking. So he stayed on and we went down as smooth as you please.

Have seen regular Indian teepees, jack rabbit hunt, etc. and enjoyed myself immensely.

Puget Sound is “awfully” pretty; great possibilities for a Kodak here; also for gun and rod. Deer, bear, etc. and trout up to five pounds about.

A young Norwegian got on in Dakota and took the seat in front of me. A Chinaman boarded the train in Montana. One day the Scandinavian turned and pointing to the heathen said, “What nation is he? Is he Indian?” I said, “No, he is a Chinaman.” “Well, by damn,” he said, “I asked him if he was Chinese and he said no, he was Swede.”

But I suppose you have enough of the joys of the trip and would like to hear a little business. There isn’t much to tell. Have been to the Post Office and can get no word or sign of Dawley. Enclosed a couple clippings. All that I have heard since leaving home has been “Copper River! Copper River!!” Some who thought of going to the interior have been frightened out by tales of mob rule at Dyea and Skagway. I still stick to the original plan. The more that are frightened off, the fewer competitors. But I think that scare will turn out about the same as the Seattle high price scare. Since leaving home there has been a continual cry, “Outfit at Chicago: combine at Seattle, “etc. I didn’t outfit at Chicago and have been looked at as a fool by half those on the train who know my destination. Don’t know what I can do here yet, but judge from some of the prices seen in windows, can do very well indeed. Talk of combine is nonsense. Why, every other store is an outfitter’s. Think there are about twice as many as saloons, and that is saying a good deal. However, I am not going to buy right away, anyway. Shall look around a day or so first. Got in with a young fellow who has been mining in Montana for a year, and boarded our train on his way to Seattle. He is going to help me pick an outfit. In fact, he is going to Alaska, though probably not when I do. Shall have money in plenty. Heard a fellow say tonight that he had been at Skagway this winter and partner made nearly $1000 in 27 days with sawing lumber.

If you have no objections, wish you would show this letter to my wife and save me writing a lot of it twice and I will just drop her a personal line.

Ta-ta, Fred.

P.S. Am stopping at the Hotel Diller. It is a dollar a day for a room house. All the cheap rooms at the good hotels are taken, and though I could get a cheaper one, thought best to go to a respectable place where my room will be as safe as possible, at a hotel. Can get good meals for 15 cents with or without wine. Tasted of the wine for supper and the taste still lingers. If you every come here, beware the wine served at 15 cent meals. I didn’t expect much, but got more than I bargained for.


Last updated: September 28, 2017