National Geographic : 1899 Jan
THE STIKINE RIVER IN 1898 seeing an easier vent to their eager spirits in enlistment, and in vestors and investigators prudently holding back to watch the fate of war. To one remembering how quickly and entirely the Klondike retreated from general view and interest in the eastern states, after the blowing up of the Maine even, it was not sur prising to find that the expected summer rush to the Klondike had failed ; even Alaska tourists failed to come, and the fleet of steamers brought around Cape Horn for the busy summer ex pected would have entailed great losses upon transportation companies but for the sudden necessity of transports for the Philippine expeditions. About the same time that the stream of gold-seekers ceased coming the Teslin railway seemed doomed never to be built, and certainly not before the railway from Skagway over the White pass. The Teslin trail proved too long and too hard for many who had undertaken it, and the river boats that went up the Stikine empty returned crowded with angry and discouraged Klondikers. The angry ones went on to try the shorter routes to the Yukon from Lynn canal; the dis couraged ones sacrificed their outfits recklessly in their one wish to return to civilization. A dozen of the useless river steamers were boarded over at the bows and attempts made to tow them across that roughest part of the Pacific ocean to the Yukon river's mouth, but disaster attended nearly every one of these perilous tows in the open ocean, the seams parting under the strain of waves and hawsers, and the flimsy river boats going entirely to pieces or drifting ashore in hopeless condition. While the Stikine boom lasted a first opportunity was afforded for pleasure travelers to comfortably view the magnificent scenery of that river, whose valley was aptly called by Dr John Muir "a Yosemite one hundred miles long," but only three tourists or actual pleasure travelers availed themselves of the chance, as far as the most diligent inquiries could establish the fact. Although so powerfully engined, the fleetest of the river boats could only average seven miles an hour against the furious current, making the average trip up to Glenora in eighteen hours, and returning in seven or nine hours, the boats always timing their departures so as to cross the flats at the mouth of the river at high tide, and navigating only during clear daylight. There were no old river captains or pilots surviving from Cassiar times to command this hastily constructed fleet, and the best "swift-water captains " came from the Kootenai, the Snake, and the upper Columbia and learned the Stikine route for themselves, "reading the water" as they went along.