Apr 14, 2015 - Sale 2380

Sale 2380 - Lot 75

Price Realized: $ 1,375
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 800 - $ 1,200
(CANADA.) Hale, William H. Diary of an mining engineer in British Columbia and Alaska. 365 manuscript diary pages, plus 23 pages of personal accounts and memoranda. 12mo, original cloth gilt, minor wear; quite clean and legible internally. Vp, January to December 1905

Additional Details

William Hammond Hale (1880-1965) was a lifelong resident of Minneapolis area, brought up in middle-class comfort; he was an accomplished piano tuner and attended the School of Mines in Minnesota. His father William Dinsmore Hale invested heavily in western mining, and young William spend several summers at the mines, assisting with the management, handling the account books, and supervising engineering projects.
The first five months of this diary were written in Minneapolis, with the exception of a week-long trip to Washington, DC for Roosevelt's inauguration in March. Hale took a train west on 24 May, spent a few days in Seattle, and arrived at his father's mine on 7 June. He spent June through late October at the Atlin and Willow Creek Mining Company in Discovery, in the northwest corner of British Columbia, near the Yukon and Alaska lines. He was greeted in town by the mine's manager Frank Brackett: "He had come down to deposit $2400 worth of gold dust, which is fine work for so early in the season." He soon set to improving the mine's water supply: "Did some ground sluicing in cut for waste water. It was strenuous & somewhat exacting work. Got so sweaty that I had to strip, wash and put on dry clothes" (17 June). One day he missed the stagecoach and delivered the week's diggings by bicycle: "Carried $1080 in gold dust and $188 in currency in my camera case" (3 July). He also helped sort through the mine's many legal difficulties, mostly relating to wildcat prospectors and competing claims: "Frank tells me that someone has staked a lease within our B lease and the matter must be investigated at once" (17 August).
Hale had a busy social life, frequently taking the stage or bicycling the six miles into Atlin for dinner or meetings of the Arctic Brotherhood, which he formally joined on 1 August. Visitors and tourists came frequently to the mine; Hale would pan some gold for them, and give the grand tour. On 30 June, Hale attended a party "in the new hall next to the Nugget Hotel. Lots of fun toward the end. I sang some songs and we all sand old standbys to finish up with." He filled in for Mr. Brackett on the mine's baseball team one day and helped defeat the Taku-Gleaner steamship team, 26-15.
On his way home for the winter, Hale stopped at another mine where his family held an interest, the Coppermount Mine run by the Alaska Copper Company on Prince of Wales Island near Ketchikan, AK. He spent a month observing the copper smelting operation, even spending a couple of days on strenuous and hazardous duty at the smelter: "I jumped right in to the hottest places in connection with topping and controlling molten stuff. Slag spilled all round us, made the bar pulling & tap plugging very difficult. One of the regular toppers had quit, that's why I considered my turn had come. I am going to write a book on how to become a smelter man in a day! . . . Dreamed of dodging hot drops of slag" (11 November). He remained there through mid-December before returning to Minneapolis in time for Christmas.