located and worked, each claim being 500 feet along the creek and the width of the valley or creek bed.

On Miller creek it was estimated that one particular claim would yield about $100,000 during the season, which would net the owner between $50,000 and $60,000. There are many other creeks in this vicinity yet to be prospected. Gold is found all along the valley of Sixty-Mile river, and under more favorable conditions, both mercantile and climatic, it would yield splendid results to large enterprises. On Gold Bottom creek and branches there are from 200 to 300 claims.

As an illustration of the rush that was made into the district when its richness in gold was established, it is mentioned that the country adjacent to Forty-Mile river was almost deserted. Men who had been in a chronic state of drunkenness for weeks were pitched into boats as ballast and taken up to stake themselves a claim, and claims were even staked by their friends for men who were not even in the country at the time.




An Early Discoverer-Hoist the Stars and StripesPrepare to Rough it-Where to Get the Gold-Existence of Placers-Wealth of Cook's Inlet-The Search for Mineral-Working the Gravel-Climatic Difficulties-Forsaken by Wild Animals-Wealth of Alaska-Big Output for 1897-First Great Gold Craze The First Claim Located-Placer Mining Laws A Comparison-An Expert's OpinionGold Galore-To Thaw the Ground-Dirt Piled on a Dump-Peculiarity of Yukon Mines-Size of a Claim A Chicagoan's Observations-Gold From the River's Bed.

"What makes my blood run faster in my veins is to think that I have walked all over that gold and that now others are digging it. It prevents me from sleeping at night."

The speaker was Francois Mercier, a resident of Montreal, who can claim the honor of having been one of the first band of hardy pioneers who raised the American flag over the now celebrated gold fields of Alaska, and who spent seventeen winters in that desolate country. Mr. Mercier is a native of St. Paul l'Ermite, near l'Assompton, and is now 60 years old, but he is going back. Mr. Mercier left the province of Quebec to visit the vast and then desert plains of



Montana, where he pursued the chase of the buffalo during some five years, in the employ of the celebrated Chouteau company of St. Louis, Mo. Afterward he returned to the province of Quebec, but the taste for travel was too strong for him, and in 1863 he again. started for the great west. This time he settled in San Francisco as a carriage-maker. Just about that time the United States purchased Alaska from Russia and the attention of the inhabitants of the Pacific coast was called to the northern territory. Immediately a trading company was organized to take advantage of the resources which the chase was known to offer in that region. This was known as the Pioneer Company, and among those who enlisted in the enterprise were Mr. Mercier and his brother, Moise, as well as Michael Laberge, Napoleon Robert of St. Cesaire, Que., now dead, and Ephraim Gravel of St. Martin, now living at Los Angeles, Cal.


On June 21, 1868, the party arrived at St. Michael, and there hoisted the first American flag that ever floated over the United States arctic territory. That very year Mr. Mercier and his party started for the upper Yukon and founded the fort of Vuklakoyet, sometimes called Mercier's station, 300 miles further up than any Russian post.

Changes followed, and Mr. Mercier became general agent for the Alaska Commercial Company in 1872. In this capacity he explored many of the rivers of Alaska and in 1873 he laid out the site for Fort Reliance, which is about six miles from the mouth of Klondyke creek. On this occasion he ascended the river with the first steamer that navigated it. He says:

"From what I read and know of the country I can see that what I read is mainly true. As to the chances for working the mines I can say that the navigation on the Yukon is generally open from the middle of June to the middle of October, which means over three months of the year for work on the placers. Now, if you keep in mind that during these months the sun disappears below the horizon only for a short time each day, that means really six months for work. At midnight in summer it is light enough to write a letter outside. For years I kept a record for the Washington weather bureau, and in summer we have had heat of 90 degrees, while in winter I have known the thermometer to fall to 68 degrees below zero. The first winter we were there the thermometer rapidly fell to the last notch and stood there. It was frozen. We brought it inside the house, where it often indicated. zero. However, with proper clothing, I prefer the winter to the summer weather. In the warm season the flies are a pest from which it is very hard for one to protect himself. But in winter the air is dry and still, and with the fur costume worn by the Esquimaux one need not suffer. In fact, I do not recall many accidents due to the cold.

"As to the food, there is plenty of fish and game, and when the population was sparse it could be bought very cheap from the Indians. The king salmon, weighing from sixty to eighty pounds, could be bought in my time from the Indians for a couple of leaves of tobacco. The company's stores were always well stocked with provisions."


Another Montrealer who has traveled through

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