When the gold gets going, it goes in a variety of ways | Stories Of Our Town
The shipping of gold in the early days of Fairbanks was done in a variety of ways to get the gold from the creeks to the Fairbanks banks and then on to the Lower 48. From the creeks, gold was brought into town by Dan Kennedy’s pack trains and the Tanana Valley Railroad. This gold would then be shipped Outside via steamboats or over the Valdez trail by dogteam and horse. Most of it was shipped parcel post through the United States Postal Service as registered mail. These articles are just a glimpse of how this precious metal was handled during the early days of our fair city.
Another Treasure Train Arrives
Two treasure trains arrived late this afternoon from Fairbanks and Cleary creeks. The first one from Fairbanks Creek consisted of ten pack horses and carried some $75,00 in gold dust. The one from Cleary carried about $100,000. (Those values would be about $2.5 and $3 million dollars in today’s money.)
Those accompanying the train report that the roads are in better condition than they were sometime back, but they are still far from perfect. The summer work on the creeks is being opened up in good shape, although the operators were delayed somewhat in having to build new dams and sluice boxes to replace the ones washed out.
Dan Kennedy arrived from the creeks this morning, bringing in with him the last shipment of the season in the gold dust line.
The amount brought in for the final cleanup was in the neighborhood of $50,000. (That would be about $1.5 million in today’s monetary values.)
Dan has handled more of the yellow metal taken out of Tanana creeks during the past season than any other individual in the country, probably. During the entire summer, his time has been occupied in making trips between Cleary and other creeks and the local banks, and the biggest part of the output has passed through his hands.
According to Mr. Kennedy, everyone interested in mining out in his district is now busily engaged in building operations for the winter season, and very little work in actual mining is being accomplished until everything is snug for the winter.
There will not be as much work as usual done on Cleary, he says, but Dome will be a hummer, some operators over here having already commenced on their winter dumps.
Dan will probably take a rest this winter but has not yet decided just where he will hibernate until the spring cleanups being him back to his old work.
Among the busiest people in the city at the present time are the assayers for the various banks in the city. Formerly it was a question of obtaining values and now it is more in the way of seeing how much gold dust they can smelt ready for the shipment on the next mail.
Since the insurance companies will only insure when the bullion is sent by registered mail all the gold of the Tanana is now melted into four-pound Troy bricks and these again are put into sacks for registered mail, which places a limit of four pounds avoirdupois on all registered packages.
In all the banks now one of the clerks is a sworn employee of the post office department to help facilitate the quick handling of the mails.
The assayers, however, are the busiest of all the people in the handling of the dust and making it into bullion. In fact, they are becoming expert smelter men, as well as assayers.
Almost all of the strangers that come into Fairbanks have visited the assay offices, but the oldtimers and long residents are the last ones to go through the places so vitally connected with the chief product from the Tanana Valley.
While no exact figures are given out it is estimated that several millions of gold dust have already been made into bullion this year.
J. B. Adams is the assayer for the Washington-Alaska Bank, G. Beraud for the First National bank, and Paul Hopkins for the Fairbanks Banking Company. All of these men are graduates of high educational institutions. Mr. Beraud, of the First National bank, was at one time the government assayer in Dawson.
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