Item #7721 A Tramp to the Klondike; Or How I Reached the Gold Fields of Alaska. R. W. Roberts.
A Tramp to the Klondike; Or How I Reached the Gold Fields of Alaska.
A Tramp to the Klondike; Or How I Reached the Gold Fields of Alaska.
A Tramp to the Klondike; Or How I Reached the Gold Fields of Alaska.

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A Tramp to the Klondike; Or How I Reached the Gold Fields of Alaska.

Vaughnsville, Ohio, [1898]. 24mo (6” x 4”), printed brown wrappers, blank rear wrapper a sympathetic replacement. 43 pp. CONDITION: Good, wrappers damp-stained, brown spot affecting pages 23 to 43.

An Ohio man’s privately printed account of his journey to the Klondike in 1897, consisting of his diary entries supplemented with text from two of his letters and a preface by an anonymous editor.

Born in Ottawa, Ohio, R. W. Roberts (1847–?) was a cattle farmer before leaving for the Klondike. His diary commences on 20 April 1897 (“Started from Ottawa, Putnam County, Ohio…”) and concludes on 25 August 1897 (”We are getting ready to start tomorrow for a hundred mile tramp. The little red book is full. Good bye.”). He describes his journey across the west (apparently on the Northern Pacific Railroad) to Tacoma and then to Seattle, where he and his traveling companion acquire supplies, which are listed in detail and include hardware, clothing, “groceries for two,” drugs, and firearms. He chronicles his voyage via the steamboat Mexico from Seattle to Alaska, which includes a visit along the way to the Indian village Metlahkatla. He notes that they are “in the steerage with the rest of the hogs and cattle” and gives an account of the bill of fare: “Coffee, or what is supposed to be coffee, for breakfast; water for dinner, tea for supper; the same pot used for all three…rotten meat; potatoes with sprouts not cut, just boiled, and all else accordingly.”

By late May he reaches Alaska and, following a canoe trek led by Indian guides and a rigorous pack horse trek (described in great detail), crosses Lake Bennett as one of a party of six in late July. On the first of August, Roberts gives a thrilling account of the party’s successful run down the rapids of the Louis River and subsequent celebratory feast. Reaching Dawson City in mid-August, he describes the town as “very filthy…a regular mud-hole of a place. Everyone is full of excitement after gold.” He makes note of the many people dying from typhoid fever there. On 17 August he describes various successful gold claims in the area and notes that he is prospecting creeks some twenty miles outside of Dawson City. After a week of prospecting, Roberts and his party return to “Louse Town,” where they rest up before their next tramp, and so his diary concludes.

In a letter written in 1898, an excerpt of which is printed here, Roberts relates that he is presently engaged in gold digging with “Mr Cromer for this winter or until next June out on the Bonanza creek,” and is making about $12 a day. This is followed by a list of various commodities and their prices in the Klondike. The text concludes with a passage from a letter of 19 January 1898, in which Roberts gives a good account of the process of drifting for gold and then reflects on his gold rush endeavor: “There is no pen that can ever describe the trials, sufferings, fears, privations of the average gold seeker in this frozen and I am tempted to say God forsaken country. My advice to all is stay where you are at. I am here…so will make the best of it.”

OCLC records just six copies, at UC Berkeley, the California State Library, Yale, Newberry, University of Washington, and the Alaska State Library. Kurutz records the same.

A scarce and vivid Klondike Gold Rush narrative.

REFERENCES: Kurutz, The Klondike & Alaska Gold Rushes, 497.

Item #7721

Price: $2,500.00

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