Monday, July 25, 2005

Tramp to Klondike

I have decided to type up a diary that was written by my great great great – grandfather wrote when he went to the gold fields in Alaska. I will write a little more each day so come on by for a look. This book was written around 1899.


Tramp to Klondike

By R.W. Roberts






When the United States government purchased Alaska from Russia, European powers and diplomats in general were of the opinion that the sum, of 7,200,000 was far in excess of what would ever be realized from the transaction.


    But the two cents per acre paid was a good investment.


    It is true that Alaska is a country that offers but little inducement to the farmer, mechanic, or laborer. The snow and glaciers are not at all inviting of those of warmer climates. Yet not with standing all of this, the purchase of Alaska has already proved to be paying investment. The fur trade alone has paid back the purchase money in royalties. While the salmon industry has been simply enormous, and not only proved sufficient to supply our people, but has found it’s way to foreign shores.


    The output of Alaskan gold mines until recently has not attracted much attention, though the Treadwell gold mine and possibly a few others, have turned out more gold then had been generally supposed.


     But today “ Alaska”,” Yukon”, “ Klondike”, and gold in connection with those names almost demand the leading place in newspaper columns and occupy the uppermost place in the minds of thousands of not only Americans, but of those of every civilized country on the globe.


     There are very few things, if any that can create such an excitement as the discovery of gold. What is there that man will not endure in order to obtain it? And the only thing needed to reach the North Pole is the assurance that there is gold there; ready to yield to the miner’s pick and shovel. If from any credible source such assurance should come, then in less than six months there will be a highway cut out, even on glaciers if needs be, and a fair sized mining camp established and taken possession of, but the North Pole actually changed to a May Pole with the American flag waving on top.

       This little book contains the history of the journey, trials, hardships, and endurance of one of the many who have succeeded of late in reaching Dawson City, the haven of the Klondike gold seekers.


      Mr. R.W. Roberts, the gentleman who wrote the diary, is a farmer, born a few miles north of Vaughsville and six miles west of Columbus Grove, in the county of Putnam, Ohio. He has always lived on the farm on which he was born, until he left for Alaska. His family lives there now.


      The writer is well known, not only in his own county, but also is known to many in the adjoining counties. He has devoted considerable time and care to the raising of thoroughbred cattle, and he is very well thought of by those who have known him since a boy. He was Justice of the Peace for six years and has filled other positions of trust to the satisfaction of all. Since his visit to Europe, he has felt a stronger desire then ever to see the more romantic sights of his own country.


Whatever is written in his “ Little Red Book,” as he calls his diary, will be most readily believed by all who have known him.


He did not write it for publication, but simply for the benefit of Mrs. Roberts and the children.


Allusions to family matters here and there in the diary (though omitted here) prove that he never meant it to be published. The neighbors and friends of the family advised Mrs. Roberts to publish it, and with the assistance of Rev. J.G. Thomas, of Lima, who was for some years a neighbor of Mr. Roberts, the diary was prepared for the press. And now will tell the story of how Mr. Roberts succeeded in reaching the Klondike, where gold awaits the lucky prospector.

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