The Langlow Family
in Alaska and the Yukon

Pioneer Lars J. Langlo

(His brother J. B. Langlo tells the story)

My oldest brother went to America many years before I did, and when I came later (at 19 years old), my many brothers and sisters could only tell me that brother Louie had gone to a place far, far north in the world, called Alaska, but any more than this, no one knew. Therefore, I had to try to get along without my big brother, so I got myself work on a farm not far from San Francisco. Then, when the summer of 1894 came, I received an unexpected notice. Louis had come to Frisco and had heard that his youngest brother was now in the western world and lived close by. Then he. was not hesitant in finding me.

The tales he told about this wonderful trip were so shaking that it made the blood fairly boil in the 20-year-old, and called forth the wildest dreams. There had been a company of six men in the group, an Englishman, a Swede, and the rest were Norwegians. The Britisher was from London itself, and came from finer people; the father sat in Parliament, and the name was Hutcheson. The Swede was a farmer boy from East Gotland, close to Norkoping. One of the Norwegians was from the east part of Norway and his name was Sather; the other from the north part of Norway called himself Heitmann; the third was from Trondheim and his name was Konrad Dahl. Dahl and the Swede, Charles Anderson are the ones who, together with Langlo, are the ones named most often among the old pioneers. Which one of this group was the first one to think about making this treacherous trip, it is not easy to say. It is enough to say that they started, over sea and land, over mountains and plains, froze, starved and suffered a great deal in many ways, and finally came to a place in Alaska called Glacier Creek, and here in this ice valley they met people who were digging for gold. Here they all got work and high pay, compared to what they were used to. A dollar an hour was the pay, but everything that was needed to live was accordingly expensive.

So the income was eaten up by the expenses. And the worst of it was that many of the things most needed by the people could not be gotten with money.

Louis had worked hard for two years and had saved enough to buy part of a mine, together with the Englishman, the Swede and a Greek who had come there. But, if they should successfully operate this mine there were many things they needed that could be gotten only from the outside. So they agreed to send one of the group out to the States in the fall of 1894, and Louie was appointed for this trip. Konrad Dahl got the same job for a similar group, and the two of them went out together. But for this trip, they would choose a longer, but easier way. But from Forty Mile they went not up but down the River Yukon out to the Bering Sea. Here they were fortunate enough to reach a Coast Guard boat Bern, a searching vessel the government had stationed in the northern waters every summer. Now it happened that they were on a trip back to San Francisco, and the two Norwegians were given permission to board. It appeared not to be too bad, but when they came some distance out into the Bering Sea, a terrific storm rose, and that which was worse, the ballast was loose sand which shifted over to one side so the ship's railing lay under water. And the worst was that when it was needed the most, the engine stopped, and the ship drifted helplessly around. The sailors were so frightened that no one obeyed the skipper when he ordered them to straighten out the ballast. Then the two said to each other, "If this is the end, it does not make any difference whether we meet death in the cabin or on deck, and it is more manly to go sweating than sleeping into eternity." "Let us do what we can." So they went to the skipper and offered their services; got themselves a shovel apiece and down into the ballast room they went and began to shovel sand such as only real gold diggers could do. And, surprisingly, after a while the ship righted itself, and that was enough to give the sailors courage to help; and soon there were many of them working. After endless labor, they were lucky enough to find sail rags to help them to reach south to San Francisco.

Now one would almost believe, that after such suffering, they might have lost all desire to return to that land again, but so it was not. They meant to go with the first scheduled boat north to Tacoma and from there prepare themselves for a new trip early in the spring of the next year. I accompanied my brother to Tacoma, and I became more and more desirous of becoming a prospector. And I was not alone in that desire. In Tacoma I met old and new acquaintances, and one after another came and begged to join the group. It did not help what the two experienced men said about the difficulties (many), and, the great dangers. To the contrary, it was like putting out a fire with oil. Louis agreed to this for some of his best friends, but when Dahl saw that it was likely to bring along a group of young men, he resigned at once. He indicated that he would like older men in his group, not a group of confirmands, this last hint was aimed at me, small as I was. So the two parted, the Trondheirner would wait until he found an agreeable group, and the Sunnmoring shipped out with his own group.


Jens B. Langlo (as originally spelled) was born in 1874, and at the age of 19 would have arrived in the vicinity of San Francisco in 1893. Note that brother "Lars" had now become Louis, or Louie, and "Langlo" would soon be Langlow. Louis had been in the "Forty Mile" area of The Yukon Territory in 1893, perhaps earlier, and long before the Klondike Era. The Glacier mine which he worked with the disparate partners is referred to in Baird, Wharton and Pringle.

Charles Anderson, one of those who made the original trip north with Louis, became a well-known character in later days. He was coerced into paying $800 for Eldorado Claim 29 which was considered to be worthless. When the claim proved to be a multimillion dollar mine, Charlie became known throughout the gold country as the "Lucky Swede". He was at one time one of the partners of Louis in the Glacier Creek mine.

Forty Mile, so named because it was on the Forty Mile River forty miles below old Fort Reliance on the Yukon, was a primitive townsite established in 1887. There were thirty to forty permanent residents in 1893. In summer there were 300 to 400 miners in the area. Food and equipment were so limited that most of the prospectors had to leave, going up or down the Yukon River, before winter set in.

In gold rush days, and before, the federal government operated a sailing vessel in northern Alaskan waters which returned to San Francisco prior to freeze-up each autumn.. The best known of these "Revenue Cutters" was the pioneer Bear, herein referred to (in Norwegian) as Bern. Although it has not been possible, at this late date, to confirm the events which took place on the 1894 trip out from St. Michael , there is no reason to doubt this version of the eventful voyage.

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