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An Expert Fireman

An Expert Fireman image
Parent Issue
Day
4
Month
August
Year
1899
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

.Clark Gornwell, of Jackson, fnrmerly of Ypsilanti, last week received the followiug letter frotn his son, Will O. Oornwell, written Juue 30, on board the "VVillie Irving" 15 miles below "Five Fingers": Received yoúrs March 13 and May 23, and they were greatly appreciated. The postoiBee had been closed for three days.while they distributed 30 sacks of mail. It opened on the 20th. I was so snre there was mail for me that I knocked off work and stood in line behind 400 men, and after standing on first one leg and then the other for two and a half honrs, got in and received tbree letters. There is no use to seud injanything bnt first classsjmail. Ouv last trip was a fiyer when coinpared to this one. We are bow 10 days out and 160 miles from Dawson. Almost time enough to make a round trip across"4the Atlantic. The water is now extremely high with a terrible curreut running. Already we have had to line past several pomts. All the boats, however, are baving trouble. We jnst heard that the "Gola Star," a boat about this size (100 feet long) was wrecked at the "Five Fiuger Rapids. " At the last pólice station we were ordered to piek up on e of her castaways on an island above here. A pipe blew out on my watcb last night, and caused a delay of 10 hours. This is the third accident of the kiiid on ,this trip. Last year, when this boat was new, she was the fastest on the Yukon. But a year's hard usage has went pretty hard with her. Tbe boiler ocuasionally foams over, pouriug almost clear sand into the cylinder. Then yon can bear her screech all over tbe boat. In soine inexplaiuable way I bave gained the reputation of being an expeit fireman. Perhaps it js becauso I'm precty lucky about catohing fairly easy water on my watoh I, however, feel somewbat as the fellovv did in "The Confessious of a Pbysician,"' in a nnmber of the Cosmopolitan appeariug abont the time I left hotne. Imagine, it yon can, starting from anywhere in the United States, as on this trip from Dawsou, and seeing nothiug bnt hills and mouutains aud islands aud not a liviug thiüg in sight. Once in a while we see a bird or a pair of docks skim across the water. About every ; 30 miles there is a pólice boat, usually a single log cabiu with the Oanadian flag in front. As we pass tue garrison (two or three pólice iu brown canvas clothes) coroe out aud wave their hats Around theru are grouped some 12 or 15 dogs, both native and outside, whicii are used to carry the mail in the winter. At long intervals you see a tent near a pile of cord wood, wbere we nsually put in to get dry wood. There are two or three small Indian villages ín the whole ronte. Sometimes a scow loaded with grnb, horses or cattle pass with a man at either end wielding a long sweep. These fly past ns in the swift current as we ask the distances to the next station to wbere they passed certain steamers. On shore ït is a dreary wilderness. No animáis; oí' course no f enees, or a sign that a human being ever passed there before. However I enjoy the ride - every minute of it. I guess I'm something like "Torn Sawyer. " The big rivor has a fascination for rué. I like the snmmer much better tbaa the winter, even if the tuosquitces do greet yon at every landing. We have not had any hot weatheryet and the nights are very chüly, althongh the snow has disappeared from the hills - at least here. We have stopped for wood -enter comrnittee of roosquitoes. There is no wood cut here, as in most places. Every one, passengers and all, except firemen, grab axes and long crossent saws, and attaok the trees. Tüese are cut into length's divisible by four feet, and ent up and split after we leave the bank. When we are running there are two men eawing, two splittiug one firing, one watching water ana one in enigne room. It is a popular fallacy that a flreman does the hardest work aoard the boat. So he is exempt from anything else. The only distinguishêd passenger we have aboard that I know of is "Dog Salmón Bob" Henderson, the discoverer of Henderson creek, who is going to "Five Fingers" to hunt and prospect with two companions. We are carrying the United States mail this trip. It came from the Tanana and way poiuts, and ie carried through by Jack Hayes, who takes it as far as Juueau. Several boafcs have passed us, goiug up, but the mail is still aboard ; the carriers getting paid so tnuch per trip, cannot afford to transfer to another boat and pay passage over again. The reason the mail comes this way is because St. Michaels is uot open yet. I read an old paper of the opening of navagation at Detroit on the 17 of March. This was two months to a day, before the Ynkon broke at Dawson. Received a letter from Schneider at Oircle. He is anxious to get out this sumrner. Saw "Bench Olaim Bill" in Dawson. Was still at tho hospital, bnt able to get aoout town. He espects to .so out as soon as he gets some mouey froru nis uncle wlio is engiueer on the "Tyrrill." Saw Jim Couuolly. He expects to stay next winter and vpork his claims on Dominion er nek, -10 miles trom Da%vsou over the divide. He pxpects to take out $300,000 uext winter He offered me a job to commeuce uext Septemb!r. Teil Stecker I've as mauy wheels as ever, and should like to be back again, building gas engines and steamers, etc. Guess it will take me a long time to catch np to tne world again. I would write to Stecker but I can't get at it. Thiügs are so unhandy. Even now 1 have to dudge cord wood every other minute. My private space aboard tbis craft is six teet long by 30 iuches wide, and two feet high. This is three incbes off the floor, and above me are similar hpacious state rooms tor three others. We ars packed íd like pies in a New York pie wagon - each one on his own shelf. We have to make a landing every little while at night so that all hands can get ashore to turn over. I soppose the 31st are haviug a great time. I endose yon some gold dust. The remainder of my fortune is still in the ground.