Arctic & Northern Biographies
Klondike Gold Rush
The Klondike News,
Dawson, N.W.T., April 1st, 1898
Here is the story of three boys, who, after years of vicissitude and hard work, which was however not unmixed with fun, are at last on top of the heap. Everybody knows of the richness of Eldorado as well as that of Bonanza, and these three young men own three of the choicest claims on the two creeks. These are 44 and 45 Eldorado and No. 11 Bonanza. The names of these fortunate young men are: Webb M. Lumpkin, John Hartwell and Thomas Ashby.
Lumpkin and Hartwell left Juneau in the spring of 1896, and made their way to Forty Mile. Shortly after their arrival they met George Carmack, who had come to town to celebrate his discovery and incidentally to buy a little grub. Knowing Carmack to be a truthful man, they did not, like many others, doubt his word, but started with all speed for Bonanza. On this creek Hartwell staked No. 11 above on Discovery and Lumpkin No. 45 Eldorado. They also staked Nos. 1 and 2 above Old Discovery on Gold Bottom Creek, and then returned to work their Bonanza claim. They soon struck a streak of gold and gravel that made their wildest dreams of avarice seem like a peanut proposition. Pan after pan they washed, getting from $5 to $50 at each washing, and in a very short space of time took out $70,000.
They then became associated with Thomas Ashby, and together they bought No. 44 on Eldorado, the three men being joint owners in all of the claims.
Tommy Ashby is a pioneer of pioneers, although still under 35. It is a round dozen years ago that Tommy first viewed the Yukon. He and his brother Oscar, with a party, mined the bars of the Stewart river in '86, and they were the first party who ever took a stove and tent over the summit. They were also the first to introduce the "burning system," now so well known in that frozen territory. This experiment was tried on Franklin gulch in the Forty Mile district.
Last season the boys devoted most of their time working No. 11 above on Bonanza. This is one of the prettiest claims in the entire district, as may be seen from the cut which accompanies this article, and the pay in it is even prettier. There is seven feet of pay gravel that fairly glistens with gold, and every day's work put in on the claim by its owners enriches them many hundreds of dollars.
At one time they employed several men to work on No. 44 Eldorado, and as the work was very poorly done the results were far from satisfying. But Mr. Ashby and his partners could not believe that the richness of Eldorado could skip their property and reappear above. The contour of the hills showed to their experienced eyes that the pay was not to the right nor to the left. They also knew that it could not sink below the bedrock, and they were reasonably certain that it could not fly from the air and strike above.
So it did not surprise them at all when they sunk a shaft on No. 44 early this spring, to take from it a hatful of nuggets and several buckskin bags full of coarse dust.
At one time we remember negotiations for the sale of this claim were almost completed, the price being one hundred thousand dollars cash. It is safe to say that the owners are extremely thankful that the sale was not consummated, and that twice that sum would not tempt them to part with the property now.
Messrs. Ashby and Lumpkin are also the owners of what is probably the most valuable quartz ledge in the entire Yukon country. It is located on a small stream which empties into Gold Bottom Creek, about one mile above Old Discovery. The ledge proper is fully eighteen feet wide and lies between well-defined walls. It can be traced for nearly a mile up the hill from where it was discovered, and there are thousands of tons of quartz now in sight. It is what is known as "rose quartz," and although the surface rock does not assay largely, it is certain that development below the weather line will fully account for the richness of the placer claims below.
Owing to the many and varied interests of Messrs. Ashby and Lumpkin, they found it impossible to devote the time and attention necessary to develop this property, and late last fall sold a one-third interest to a well-known mining broker at Dawson. The broker is now in the United States for the purpose of interesting capital in the development of the property. He will return in the spring with exports from several syndicates, who will report upon the property to their principals at once, and it is quite probable that the necessary machinery for its proper working will be on the ground this year.
From a personal inspection of this wonderful ledge, the "News" prophesies that its development will reveal wealth almost untold, and will startle the quartz miners of the world.
Mr. Ashby is a natural musician, playing several instruments with great skill and taste. At their homes on Bonanza, there is generally to be found a jolly crowd, the trio of owners being about as happy a lot as one would wish to meet, and there is always music, laughter and song in their warm cabins during the long winter nights.