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Joseph Leonard and the steamer Dawson City, 1898

Arctic & Northern History

Northern Ships & Shipping

The Examiner (San Francisco) Klondike Edition - February 21, 1898

The Examiner (San Francisco) - February 21, 1898

Will Dredge For The Gold, 1898

    The articles of incorporation of the Cal-Alaska Mining and Transport Company were filed on Saturday. The new corporation has offices on the eighth floor of the Mills building and differs from many Alaska gold-seeking companies in that it is a co-operative organization to a very large extent. The promoters have furnished the initial capital and have already built a new steamer, supplied with new engines, dredging plant, river prospecting machinery, etc., and have now taken up fourteen partners, each one of whom has paid $1,500 down.

    The fourteen men constitute the working force of the expedition, and they are bound by an iron-clad contract to stand together for eighteen months, during which time all the work done by any of them, of whatever kind, any discoveries, locations, and all profits acquired in any manner whatsoever, are to be turned to account for the common good. To secure the keeping of this mutual obligation, each man has placed in escrow in San Francisco $1,000 worth of stock and has signed an agreement to forfeit all pay and all interest in profits if he leave the expedition within the eighteen months without the written consent of the manager, or if he be expelled by a three-fourths vote of the members of the expedition, approved by the manager.

    The moving spirit in this co-operative gold-seeking colony is Joseph A. Leonard, the well-known house-builder of Alameda. He will be the manager. Captain B. A. von Schmidt, son of the dredger inventor, will be the captain of the steamer and assistant manager, and A. W. von Schmidt, the inventor himself, is President of the company. The other officers and directors are Dr. John A. Miller, Vice-President; Michael Kane, Treasurer; D. A. Reed and Charles E. Naylor, Attorney and Secretary. In addition to Leonard and Von Schmidt, the following-named constitute the members of the expedition: D. G. Barnes, E. H. Cowing, J. M. Woodrum, George L. Leonard, J. E. Humphreys, Clarence G. Sherwood, Hugh Haggerty, Victor Mockel, J. F. Woodrum and William Reed.

    The objects of the corporation, as set forth in the articles just filed, are very comprehensive, but the chief are to dredge the creek and river bottoms in Alaska and the Northewest Territory and to do a transportation business in freight and passengers.

    The steamer will be launched on March 10th and is now nearing completion at Stone & Wilson's shipyards at Hunter's Point. The craft is to be known as the Dawson City, She is ninety-two feet long, twenty-three feet beam, and will have a draft varying from three to six feet. The latter variation will be attained by the use of a movable keel. She is to be constructed for ocean service, and when the Yukon river is reached the keel will be removed. There will be two independent triple expansion engines operating four propellers, two on each shaft. The engines are being built in this city and are guaranteed to furnish a minimum speed of fourteen knots an hour. A small, light draft steam tender is also to be taken up on the deck of the Dawson City. The pumps to be used in connection with the dredging machinery are now on exhibition at the Jubilee Mining Fair. The dredging machinery itself is new and is in part the patented invention of Joseph A. Leonard.

    Hitherto the difficulty with gold dredgers has been the great disturbance of the soil at the river bottoms, causing the heavy particles - the gold - to fall out before the earth reached the suction pipe. To avoid this a new style of auger, working outside and around the suction pipe, has been devised, which has the effect of turning all the earth into the suction pipe as rapidly as it is cut. On the deck of the steamer there will be washers and gold-saving apparatus.

    The two triple expansion engines of the steamer can be disconnected from the propeller shafts and coupled with the pumps and augers of the dredging machinery. Prospecting augers, driven by steam, are part of the outfit, as well as a steam winch and spare machinery.

    Provisions and clothing for two years are to be taken. It is the intention of the expedition to prospect when the rivers and creeks are frozen and to take up or purchase mining claims. All the men in the expedition are well known locally, and the corporation is to all intents and purposes a close one. The steamer will carry in addition to the members of its own expedition about forty first-class passengers, at $300 a head, with 150 pounds of baggage free. The Dawson City will probably be the first steamer to reach the Klondike, and is expected to sail on May 15th, going right through from San Francisco to destination without stopping.