An Alaska Story

Paris Mercury

July 28 1899

The Story of It
Three Members of the Paris Klondike Expedition Have Returned
They tell a tale of Hardship and Disaster

After an absence of one year and three months Chris Buerk, Tom Murphy and Dennis Fields... reached home Monday afternoon, tanned , weather beaten and bearing unmistakable signs of hardships and suffering.......The region has a monotonous grandeur of scenery that terrifies at first....  Imagine dreary stretches of snow covered mountains towering continually about you and reaching as far as the eye can see......The mining population is quiet and orderly, more like a big family...Lieut. Bell with 50 United States soldiers were there, but the soldiers were the most drunken and troublesome men in the Klondike.  The rich gold regions are at Dawson, but when we arrived the country for 200 miles around Dawson was staked off. We divided and I (Chris Buerk) went with the Kyokuk party. ....walking over 200 miles over mountains and pulling our own sleds ....the real hardship and suffering will be known only by those who experienced them...We had claims without end but...poorest property in that country.... We came back to Rampart and at a meeting of the company asked permission to work for ourselves and earn enough money to come home, which was granted.  The crowd was then in straightened circumstances, there being about $125 to the man. Tom Murphy and myself secured a job as deck hands at $2 a day on "The ? City" Capt. Bacey of Brunswick, Mo., a floating house of sin.  Old friendship did not count with Captain Bacey. ...we were treated like slaves and compelled to eat below deck...  It was the worst job of my life.  At Dawson a letter awaited me conveying the sad intelligence of my father's death....Murphy and I started out leaving word for Mark Rodes to follow.   He is firing on a steamer at $75 a month and so is Abe Hill.  They may stay the remainder of the season.......  The reports about the Kyokuk country are lies.  No gold has been found there of any consequence. Trading companies exhibit fake finds and keep up the excitement......Our goods are still boxed up at Rampart. There was no sale for them. Things are as cheap or cheaper in Alaska than in the States.....  The Yukon is dotted with wreck so boats like ours, for which there was neither business nor sale.......Tan Bassett, Bob Osborn, Jim Fisher, Dr. Allen, Hugh Faf and Jeff Crigler are at St. Michael and will come out soon, whether the boat is disposed of or not.  Rube Holbrook is running a second-hand store at the same place and it is the funniest store you ever saw - gold pans, old stoves and mining outfits.  He spreads them out on the beach during the day and puts them under a tent at night.  He sent home $100 to his wife.  Less Dry is firing on a river boat and J. B. Davis, Henry Wright, Monroe Beagle, John Thompson, J. B. Jones and Eddy Power are still at Rampart and will remain another winter.  While at Dawson, I heard that Geo. W. Young, who was staked by Paris parties, had during his short stay there located a good claim and had another man working it. 

(courtesy of Kathleen Wilham)