Alaska 1968

With a few photos of the 1972 return trip thrown in for good measure.


Opening day. June 7, 1968 - Sneed Adams & Dave Cassell strike out for Alaska.
C assell had returned from a year in Viet Nam.
Adams had returned from 16 months in India.
It was time to do other things and see other places.

After passing through Calgary we moved north first along the forest trunk roads # 940
and then turned west and entered the Canadian Rockies using Rt. 11. This picture is along Rt. 11
and that is the Saskatchewan River flowing east off the east slope of the Rockies.

One of the many impressive peaks in the Rockies.
A cloudy day to say the least. But after 30 years the Kodak
Ektachrome color slides have started to loose their color.

Looking north up the spine of the Canadian Rockies.
The road to Jasper goes up this valley. The scenery along
this highway is some of the finest in the world.

One of the advantages of camping at elevation 6,700 ft. in July. Snow that is.
Not non English speaking French teenagers.

After climbing the mountain on the opposite ridge for about an hour we had
this view of Mt.. Columbia. 3,747m (12,200 ft) The highest mountain in Alberta.

We also had a birds eye view of the Athabasca Glacier.

We looked at a map later and we believe we got over 9,000 ft on our climb.

See that snow ridge high up on that jagged peak behind Dave.
That is where we were in the previous picture. The alpine setting
was beautiful. And the water was cold. Very Cold.

Robert Service's cabin in Dawson.

At camp in Eagle, Alaska. Dave reads from the book of Robert Service poems.

The Cremation of San McGee

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tails
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Dave pans for gold in Eagle Creek. Believe it or not we got "color".

The world famous Malemute Saloon as it looked in 1968 located on the
outskirts of Fairbanks, Alaska. Made famous by Robert Service in his
poem The Shooting of Dan McGraw.

Inside same. Note noose hanging over bar. You can almost hear the words to that famous poem.

The Shooting of Dan McGraw

A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck was his light-o'-love, the lady that's known as Lou.
When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into the din and the glare,
There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, dog-dirty, and loaded for bear.
He looked like a man with a foot in the grave and scarcely the strength of a louse,
Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and he called for drinks for the house.
There was none could place the stranger's face, though we searched ourselves for a clue;
But we drank his health, and the last to drink was Dangerous Dan McGrew.
There's men that somehow just grip your eyes, and hold them hard like a spell;
And such was he, and he looked to me like a man who had lived in hell;
With a face most hair, and the dreary stare of a dog whose day is done,
As he watered the green stuff in his glass, and the drops fell one by one.
Then I got to figgering who he was, and wondering what he'd do,
And I turned my head -- and there watching him was the lady that's known as Lou.
His eyes went rubbering round the room, and he seemed in a kind of daze,
Till at last that old piano fell in the way of his wandering gaze.
The rag-time kid was having a drink; there was no one else on the stool,
So the stranger stumbles across the room, and flops down there like a fool.
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then he clutched the keys with his talon hands -- my God! but that man could play.
Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful clear,
And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could hear;
With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped there in the cold,
A half-dead thing in a stark, dead world, clean mad for the muck called gold;
While high overhead, green, yellow and red, the North Lights swept in bars? --
Then you've a haunch what the music meant. . . hunger and night and the stars.
And hunger not of the belly kind, that's banished with bacon and beans,
But the gnawing hunger of lonely men for a home and all that it means;
For a fireside far from the cares that are, four walls and a roof above;
But oh! so cramful of cosy joy, and crowned with a woman's love --
A woman dearer than all the world, and true as Heaven is true --
(God! how ghastly she looks through her rouge, -- the lady that's known as Lou.)
Then on a sudden the music changed, so soft that you scarce could hear;
But you felt that your life had been looted clean of all that it once held dear;
That someone had stolen the woman you loved; that her love was a devil's lie;
That your guts were gone, and the best for you was to crawl away and die.
'Twas the crowning cry of a heart's despair, and it thrilled you through and through --
"I guess I'll make it a spread misere", said Dangerous Dan McGrew.
The music almost died away ... then it burst like a pent-up flood;
And it seemed to say, "Repay, repay," and my eyes were blind with blood.
The thought came back of an ancient wrong, and it stung like a frozen lash,
And the lust awoke to kill, to kill ... then the music stopped with a crash,
And the stranger turned, and his eyes they burned in a most peculiar way;
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then his lips went in in a kind of grin, and he spoke, and his voice was calm,
And "Boys," says he, "you don't know me, and none of you care a damn;
But I want to state, and my words are straight, and I'll bet my poke they're true,
That one of you is a hound of hell. . .and that one is Dan McGrew."
Then I ducked my head, and the lights went out, and two guns blazed in the dark,
And a woman screamed, and the lights went up, and two men lay stiff and stark.
Pitched on his head, and pumped full of lead, was Dangerous Dan McGrew,
While the man from the creeks lay clutched to the breast of the lady that's known as Lou.
These are the simple facts of the case, and I guess I ought to know.
They say that the stranger was crazed with "hooch," and I'm not denying it's so.
I'm not so wise as the lawyer guys, but strictly between us two --
The woman that kissed him and -- pinched his poke -- was the lady that's known as Lou.


... A BUNCH OF BOYS WERE WHOOPING IT UP IN THE MALEMUTE SALOON...

I must pause here and tell you our Malemute story. We happened by this place in early afternoon when hit with the sudden urge to suck down some cold beer. There was no one present in the place save the owner and his bar keep. So we plopped down and proceeded to do the early afternoon two beer lunch. The owner was a Professor of English at The U of Alaska in Fairbanks. He likewise enjoyed Robert Service poetry and would nightly do a reading for his patrons. Who by the way were mostly well heeled lower 48ers in their early 60s. Tourist vegetating on the "See Alaska by Grayline Coach", a.k.a. Greyhound Tours. We swapped a few tails and he invited us to return that evening for his show/reading. It did not take a lot of persuading. We were camped in some hovel outside town. We missed having the usual Canadian creature comforts in the Alaska campgrounds. Thus we were not bathed when we returned about 7:30 that evening. In fact we had not been bathed since Dawson City. It had been at least a week. As we dismounted the Scout and headed toward the front door we could not help but notice an oversize motor vehicle sitting in the parking lot. It was The notorious Grayline Motor Coach. The marquee on the bus read Fairbanks night club tour. Great balls of fire. As we entered the owner was by the door. He recognized us and said welcome. He said he was gonna seat us in the middle of this lower 48 crowd and if we could be part of the show we could drink beer free. This was accepted immediately as a challenge. He put us down at a table of cultured 60+ retires and they all reacted with horror. Looks and smell. We did not fit. Cassell and Adams put on a great gold miner impersonation. The owner did his Robert Service reading and they all pretended to like it. When the tourist's chaperone blew her whistle the ones at our table seemed to want to get out of there fast. After they all left we all gad a good laugh and drank some more free beer. Wishing to get even further from civilization, we drove back south toward Mt. McKinley National Park. In 1968 there was no direct road between Anchorage and Fairbanks. It was a round about way and a drive of about 400 miles. So we drove to Paxon and took the gravel road from Paxon to the entrance to the park. A distance of at lease 125 miles. From the entrance to the park to the point at which I took this photograph it was another 95 miles. We drove into the park with little more than a Hi to the Rangers. We lied of course when asked if we had any guns with us. They were hidden under a false floor in the back of the Scout. We headed to the TENTS ONLY camp ground in the park. Igloo Creek Campground. It was over crowded with vacant sites. We had our choice and chose one next to a stream running by the site. This would be base camp for at least a week or more as we drove about the park and climbed the mountains photographing the local wildlife.


We had been in Igloo Creek a couple of days and one morning we noticed that a new tent had appeared on the other side of the camp ground but there was no car. Seemed strange. How do you get to this place without a car. Did not take long to find out. It was two girls from Germany on a back pack tour of Canada and Alaska. They had hitch hiked from Anchorage. We traveled around together for a couple of weeks photographing scenery and critters.

Cotton Weed photographer.

Dall Sheep by Charlotte & Helga

One evening while cooking dinner in Igloo Creek Campground an old Grizzly Bear wondered by to munch berries next to the creek where we were camped. It was late and the light was not good. Dave crossed the creek and shot these pix of the bear. I stood ready behind the Scout ready to drag out a rifle if things got nasty.



Cariboo

And a couple of Mountain Goat pictures. We were not great photographers
but we sure enjoyed the chase trying to capture these wary critters.

Found this moose outside the park. He is fair game for the hunters.

Life in the bush can make one scruffy and dirty.

12,000 Mt. Drum up closeheights.

I believe the name of this glacier is the Worthington Glacier.
We came across the glacier as we were driving through
Thompson Pass on the road to Valdez.
It was just off the road a couple of hundred meters.
W
e had stopped at a small
store to buy several food items and a case of beer. We had asked the store keeper
if he had any bags of ice. He laughed and said he could not compete with nature.
He pointed us in the direction of the glacier and told us to cut off
all the free ice we wanted. So we did.

I guess Charlotte was with us alone. Maybe we had dropped Helga off in Anchorage
for a return flight. Sneed chops good ice to cool down the Olympia Beer.
Would you believe I still have that jacket and ice chest.

Inside The Chitna Cash Store with lady shop keeper sitting by the stove.
Can you imagine keeping store for a community of 36 persons?

A bird's eye view of Chitna. The Chitna Cash Store is the building to the right of the lake at far left center.
We were told there were 33 people living in Chitna.

The low tundra bush's summer was very short. By mid August the colors were coming out in full bloom and the country side was ablaze. We were camped 7 miles off the Paxon - Denali Road down beside the lake in the distance. The fishing in the lake was incredible. If we wanted fish for a meal it was only a matter of throwing in a line. We hiked the surrounding hills looking for Caribou. With nothing to hid us or the Caribou it seemed like an easy task. It did not take long as a massive herd came over a distant ridge and flowed in our direction. Dave and I were separated as we were looking in different directions. Dave shot at one and thinking he missed shot at another. Guess what. We had two Caribou. So I pretended I shot the one below and put my tag on its antlers.

We loaded the Caribou onto the top of the scout and then put the canoe on top of the caribou. It looked funny but it worked. So we drove to Chitna looking like this. Must have been 300 miles.

Upon arrival back in Chitna Dave took to butchering the caribou. We were set up in a rough camp ground on the outskirts of Chitna. We had stopped in Anchorage during one of our trips to the big city and bought 24 empty cans. Dave chopped up the choice pieces and then sealed them in cans. The pressure cooker did the rest.

This and the picture below are the Copper River. Once upon a time there was a railroad bridge across this river. The railroad was abandon in 1938. Not sure how or when the bridge came down. But someone had gone to the trouble of building this cable box to convey "stuff" back and forth across the river. I can't imagine a person riding in that box. And I cannot imagine how or why this would be used as it was pretty easy to row a boat across the river. And in the winter it would be frozen and you could walk across. I can only surmise it was for those periods when you could neither boat or walk, like when the ice was coming or going on the river.


We looked at this river for several days and its rapid current. We did not know if we could make it across by canoe or not. After thinking about it we decided to give it a try. It turned out to be too easy. So we made the far side and put our packs on our backs and started hiking down the old railroad grade toward Copper Mountain.

This particular evening we were dining on boiled Spruce Hen
which Dave had shot that afternoon. Do not recall what
was in the other pot. Probably rice.


Dave and future Spruce Hen dinner. Did we look menacing or what? Note straightness of old railroad grade.

After coming back from the other side of the Copper River we decided to hike down along the west side of the river along its path to Cardova. I am walking on an abandon railroad trestle. The timbers shown here are as solid as the day installed. They are chestnut wood. It does not rot. The blight wiped out the chestnut trees a few years after this bridge was constructed. Looks like we had to be sure footed to cross this bridge.

Time has taken its toll on this slide of Dave crossing the same railroad bridge.

Seemed like a neat to pose for a rustic outdoor type shot. I was carrying a
16 gage bolt action JC Higgins shot gun. Side arm was an 1860 Army Colt.

That's Dave's pack. We were loaded down.

Portions of the railroad grade has been destroyed during the 1964 earthquake. This picture on the left illustrates that quite easily. Several of the railroad trestles had likewise been cascaded into the river. The right picture show me collecting a fresh drink of water from a spring.

I am pleased that the color has remained in these slides.
The autumn color on the Alaska Tundra was impressive. It was a sea of red and yellow.
This pix was taken toward the end of September.
Just before we headed south for the winter.

We had been on the road since June and had traveled
18,500 miles by the time we got back to VA the end of October.