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Alaska News, July 1887

Dateline: February 11, 2006.

'The Alaskan' newspaper - Sitka, Alaska Territory, 1891

Maurice E. Kenealy, Editor and Publisher

SITKA, ALASKA TERRITORY,     Saturday, July 30, 1887



    Mr. Charles H. Wright, who paid a visit to Sitka about the middle of last month, on his return to Tacoma by the steamer Olympian, was interviewed by a representative of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Anything that Mr. Wright says has an authoritative tone about it, as he has a large interest in the Northern Pacific Railroad and in the Tacoma Land Company:

    "We will go up to my room and I will see if there is anything in my recollection of the trip that will be of interest."

    The speaker was Mr. C. B. Wright, of the Northern Pacific Railroad and the Tacoma Land Company. He was addressing a representative of the Post-Intelligencer in the office of The Tacoma hotel. Mr. Wright and party returned yesterday from their trip to Alaska, and the reporter had asked the gentleman his impression of the country.

    Mr. Wright is a man of apparently 60 years of age, tall, erect and vigorous - especially of intellect. His face is shaven of all beard, except a slight sprinkling of gray under his chin and on his neck, a very little in the manner of Horace Greely. He wears a good head of hair combed back in the pompadore style. He has something of hesitation in his manner, or rather in his movements, which would indicate feebleness, but that is explained in his failing eyesight.


    He wears a light hat with a dark band, and notable among all these notable features, such as attract to him as much attention in a crowd as he receives at a sitting of the board of directors of the Northern Pacific railroad, is his pleasant face and urbane manner. As soon as the door of his room was closed he began to talk of Alaska with the eloquent enthusiasm of a young man on his first sight-seeing tour, requesting his hearer, however, to rather tone it down in any printed report he might make that it might not sound as done for effect.


    And now to revert to Alaska and the necessity of placing a line of steamers between here and there, which was really the text of the talk.

    "Alaska," said Mr. Wright, "is worth coming from New York to see. I have been over the country a great deal but it beats anything I have seen. When I was traveling through Pennsylvania, in a time of its early oil excitement, a doubt prevailed pretty nearly everywhere as to it lasting. But an old friend of mine remarked that nature does nothing by halves. He meant that if it had made oil it had made plenty of it. That remark occurred to me forcibly during my trip to Alaska. Those immense water courses, with corresponding mountain ranges, those vast glaciers, breaking away and plunging into the ocean - it is a trip that no American can afford to forego if he can possibly make it. I thought I knew something about it from my reading, but found when I got there that I had known very little."

    "There is no doubt but those mountains contain valuable minerals," continued Mr. Wright. "I saw where, at a point above Sitka, a company had just bored a great hole in the side of the hill and was taking from it ore that yielded $7 per ton - ore that costs but $2 to work - giving a clear profit of $5 per ton.


    Has 125 stamps at work and propose to put in 120 more. The Newells, of Boston, are also putting in extensive mills. I had just come from Butte, where I saw so much of the workings of stamp mills and was scarcely prepared to find them working equally as well way up there. Alaska wil always be a mining country. What they need there is coal, for they runs the mills in winter by steam. I was shown coal laid down at the wharf at Sitka which was as good as Pennsylvania coal, and they are getting it right near the town. I know what coal is when I see it. They grow nothing in Alaska, and therefore draw their support from other parts. Even eggs have to be imported, therefore it is to our interest to cultivate relations with that country. They should draw their supplies from us."

    "Has the Northern Pacific any notion of establishing a line of steamers to that country?"


    "The Northern Pacific has not, but some of its stockholders have," and Mr. Wright laid upon the floor a blue print of some plans of a large vessel. "Those are prepared for Mr. Brookman. He does not believe in wooden boats. This is a steel propeller. Steel is proof against insects and the propeller does not run the danger of being disabled by floating timber as does the sidewheeler. It is proposed to run two or more smaller boats on the Sound and a larger one to Alaska. While this will not be the Northern Pacific Company, there will be an interchange of traffic between the two, a sort of drawback, you understand, a selling of through tickets over the route," and Mr. Wright smiled, as one who has struck a pleasant and suggestive train of thought.

    Commissioner Brady has entered into an arrangement with John Dalton and wife to take charge of the hot sulphur springs lying sixteen miles south of Sitka. Mr. and Mrs. Dalton will reside at the springs and be ready to furnish board and lodging to tourists and others who may desire to avail themselves of the invigorating properties of the water, which has been the means of some remarkable cures in cases of skin disease. Mr. Brady sends by the Leo ten head of cattle and three pigs, to be fattened on the luxuriant grasses in the vicinity of the springs. A dairy is to be started and fresh butter brought into town periodically.

    The receipts of duties and fees at the custom house, Sitka, for the six months ending June 30th, furnished to THE ALASKAN by Deputy Collector Kuehn, amounted to $1,923, itemized as follows:
$    272.22
      $    11.80


These articles have all been reproduced exactly as printed in the July 30, 1887 edition of The Alaskan.

The hot springs discussed are now called Goddard Hot Springs. Located on the outer coast of Baranof Island on Hot Springs Bay off of Sitka Sound, they are accessible by float plane or boat; a shelter over the spring, a wooden tub, and a boardwalk from the beach and an outhouse are the only improvements at the site now. A concrete foundation and chimney remain from a pervious structure, perhaps one built by the Bradys.