Arctic & Northern Biographies
Klondike Gold Rush
The Klondike News,
Dawson, N.W.T., April 1st, 1898
Harry C. Ashe.
Harry C. Ashe, whose handsome face looks at you lower on this page, is about 36 years of age. His mining experience commenced in the Black Hills in 1876, when he was a lad of 15. When the gold excitement of that section had in a measure died out, Mr. Ashe came west and, in 1883, crossed the country into British Columbia. From there he went to Juneau, where he resided for several years. In 1896 he was in Circle City, and when the news of the strike on the Klondike became known joined the first rush to Dawson. Here he opened the first opera house which that city boasted. It fairly coined money for its owner. In July, '97, he disposed of the opera house and Invested the entire proceeds in mines.
In the fall of that year Mr. Ashe visited the outside, and spent the following winter in San Francisco and New York, returning early in the spring of 1898 with a large outfit and a supply of improved mining machinery.
He is an exceedingly jovial man and a Prince of good fellows. He is generous to a fault and fond of relieving distress in a quiet way, and is very unassuming. Accustomed to handling large sums of money, he manages his fortune with singular ability. A good judge of mining property, he plunges when, in his judgment, the occasion demands such speedy action.
While Mr. Ashe is a miner and prospector of many years' experience, one need not expect to find in him a typical looking miner with blue shirt and gum boots, for he has a fondness for fine linen and the tailor's art, and might be transported from Dawson to the swellest club in New York, where his appearance would excite no comment, nor his manner be distinguished from those of clubdom,
Richard R. Lowe.
Richard R. Lowe is a rugged, wiry, American miner, about 45 years of age. He first engaged in mining in 1876 in the Black Hills. There he led a party of seven before the white man had invaded that country, and they camped on the site of what is now known as Deadwood City. To Mr. Lowe belongs the honor of discovering the great mineral wealth of the Black Hills.
The Sioux Indians at that time were fierce and blood-thirsty and resented the white man's intrusion. In those days Mr. Lowe was engaged in transporting a large amount of supplies across the country, and had all of his savings invested in mule teams. The Sioux swept down upon his party one night, drove away the mules and burned the wagons, and held high carnival with the supplies. After untold hardships they succeeded in making their way across the country on foot, and it was while on the trip that Mr. Lowe discovered the wealth of the Black Hills country. He returned to civilization and told his tale of the discovery.
Subsequently he went to Idaho and Montana and stampeded through the various mining excitements which followed in the succeeding ten years. About four years ago he made his advent on the Yukon river, and met with considerable success in the placers near Circle City. He is one of the best judges of gold-bearing gravel on the Yukon today, and his advice on mining matters is sought by men of high and low degree.
He is the soul of honor, and a man whose word is better than his bond. Investments running high into six figures have been made in Dawson during the last years upon the suggestion and advice of this expert miner.
Mr. Lowe is possessed of a snug fortune, which was accumulated mainly through shrewd investments. He keeps well posted on the development of the different creeks, and is a persistent buyer. At present he has no intention of leaving the land of gold.
Ashe & Lowe.
It is quite the thing nowadays to be known as a returned Klondiker. This insures one much attention and plenty of free drinks. Consequently, returned Klondikers are plentiful. The man who has been as far as Dyea or has seen the glistening summit at a distance firmly believes himself to be a Yukon pioneer, and he tells the story so often and believes it so well himself that he expects others to do the same. There is one way the genuine Klondiker may always be distinguished. Ask him if he knows Harry Ashe and Dick Lowe. Not to know those two "old sour-dough boys" argues oneself unknown in the Yukon.
It is not our attention to attempt any lengthy history of these two men, as that would fill every page of the "News," including the covers, with an interesting narrative. The story of their wanderings would lead the reader into the Black Hills in 1876, when the Sioux Indian in his war-paint kept the prospector busy dodging bullets; it would take him through the great Northwest to each and every mining excitement for the twenty years last past, and would land him up in Dawson, ending the story there like the regulation novel with the statement that "there they made their fortunes and lived happily ever after."
The friendship which exists between Harry and Dick has lasted through all the changes and incidents of the last twenty years, and the vicissitudes which they have undergone together on the trackless plains and in the wild mountain fastnesses where the treacherous red man lay in wait to shoot down and scalp the hardy prospector, have served to strengthen and cement it firmly. There is a world of meaning in the word "pardner" which only those who have spent months together away from civilization and shared their last crust can fully appreciate. They have been likened to those old heroes, Damon and Pythias, whose strong friendship has given the world a lasting example of loyalty.
The two friends have prospered amazingly in late years. Their largest interests Ile on that wonderful creek, Hunker. Here they own Nos. 29, 38, 40, 41, 43, and 62 below Discovery on Hunker. These claims lie in the heart of the gold belt.
On Claim 43 it was that the first big strike on that creek was made, and which sent prices in one week from $500 to $5,000, and in the succeeding week from $5,000 to $50,000, and at the present writing it would be difficult indeed to place a value on the property.
On No. 38 the pay gravel is six feet deep, and the writer has seen buckets of dirt coming from its shaft that were 20 per cent pure gold.
Mr. Ashe lately sold, in New York, No. 4 below Lower Discovery on Dominion Creek, and 32 below on Bonanza, and although tbe price received was something over $100,000, it must be said that it was a poor sale. On the Dominion Claim there is uniform pay streak wide and deep. The richness of Dominion was unknown to even those who owned claims thereon until quite late last fall, and the news did not reach Mr. Ashe until after the sale was made.
Claim 32 below on Bonanza is also a magnificent property, which will yield a fortune each and every year for the next ten years to come. Lower Bonanza does not yield nuggets to any great extent, but the quantity of coarse "pinhead" gold more than makes up for its lack of nuggets.
Then there is the "Dick Lowe Fraction" on the Bonanza Creek at the mouth of the Skookum Gulch. This is the most wonderful strip of ground in the North-west, and is the lucky holder's first location in the Klondike. The story of how he came to stake and record it is a tale of great interest. It was when Mr. Ogilvie, the Canadian surveyor, was marking off the claims on Bonanza, that Mr. "Dick" got his celebrated fraction.
When the surveyor had finished the survey, in which he had been assisted by Mr. Lowe, he found that there would be a fraction between Nos. 2 and 3 above Discovery, extending several hundred feet across the creek and about 100 feet in width. No one seemed to want to waste a right on this small piece of ground until Mr. Lowe appeared upon the scene. His experienced eye at once saw that the streak of land received the entire wash from Skookum Gulch, and would in all probability be rich in nuggets. That his judgment was good on this as well as all of his other mining moves goes without saying. The first hole sunk into the gravel of the fraction yielded $48,000, and the output this year will be fabulous.
Messrs. Ashe and Lowe also own sixteen quartz claims at Sum Dum Bay, near Juneau. These are near the celebrated Grey Eagle mines, and are some of the finest properties in the coast quartz belt. They have been developed enough to show that the vein is continuous throughout the claims and that they contain immense bodies of rich ore. Many other claims on the different creeks tributary to the Yukon belong to them, and they are the owners of considerable town property which is constantly increasing in value.
Mr. Lowe acts as superintendent of the mining property, and resides in a comfortable cabin on a hillside opposite No. 6 above Bonanza. He keeps open house, and friends from Dawson when up that way are certain of a cordial welcome and a seat at a table which is always loaded with delicacies seldom seen in the frozen north.