Prospecting on the Alaskan frontier was perhaps the most dangerous for those early treasure seekers. Extreme temperatures and unpredictable weather patterns coupled with the desolate and unforgiving terrain spelled disaster for many mining parties trying to make their way toward the promises of valuable ore.
The article below from The Valdez Daily Prospector, published July 2, 1913, reveals one such story of a miner who disaster befell and whose bones were later discovered in a small crevice of the Valdez glacier.
“FIND BONES OF ’98ER ON GLACIER DIARY AND LETTERS NEAR THE BODY
MRS. ROSE JOHNSON FINDS REMAINS OF UNKNOWN PROSPECTOR ON VALDEZ GLACIER NEAR THE THIRD BENCH — PAPERS, CLOTHING OLD WATCH AND CLOCK NEAR BY.
Mrs. Rose Johnson, who owns and is opening up a quartz property located on the mountains rising from the Valdez glacier, last Friday night found the bones of a prospector who had been frozen to death years ago, and upon further search found old clothes letters and the watch of the unfortunate man, who evidently had died in 1898 or early in 1899.
The watch, the works of which had completely rusted, bore the name William Ellery and was a common silver case. The diary was so matted from moisture and exposure that but little could be made out, although in places the print was wonderfully clear.
Letters written in 1898 and bearing the postmark San Francisco, 1898, were found in the pockets of old clothes.
The skull and most of the bones were in one place in a small crevice of the glacier, where they had remained since the death of the pioneer in his efforts to come to Valdez from the interior.
Many believe Mrs. Johnson has found the remains of Dr. Logan, lost in 1899 while coming to Valdez with a party of six, all of whom perished, and all of the party were found but Logan.
In the fall of 1898 and the winter of 1899 the miners who had rushed into the Copper river country via the Valdez glacier, started on their return to Valdez en route to the states to take up anew the work they had abandoned to make a rush for Alaska, and fill their pockets with gold and return to the states to cut a swath like Coal Oil Johnny. They quickly realized that gold was hard to find and that many of them were totally unfit for the work in Alaska.
The stream of men then started back to the coast and among them were a party of New Yorkers, who started for the coast in charge of Dr. Logan.
The party left timber on the Klutina side of the glacier, hauling Maximillian Miller, Adolph Ebehardt, two men sick with the scurvey. The party were caught in a snow and wind storm and all perished. The bodies of Miller, Ebehardt, August Schultz, Rudolph Ellerkamp, Alfred Ellimar, were found by a searching party headed by Dempsey and Jackson and brought back to Valdez and buried at the little graveyard in the western part of town.
Dr. Logan, the head of the party, was not found, although a diligent search for the body was made for days. He was known to have had several thousand dollars on his person when he left the lake.
The bodies of all the other men were found to have sums ranging from $50 to several hundred dollars on them, and but few men in those days were broke.
The party had become scattered when the storm broke and the two sick men were found tied on the sled, but frozen stiff, while the others were found a short distance away, where they had tried to seek shelter in a crevice only to die.
The men were all found near the fourth bench, while the bones found my Mrs. Johnson are on the right had side of the glacier, where the old trail used in 98 was located, but near the third bench a few miles from the Valdez end of the ice.
Logan may have reached this point on his way to Valdez for help when he perished.
It is expected that the federal authorities will have the bones cared for and buried.
Mrs. Johnson made temporary burial of the bones on the side hill, near where they were found and the personal effects have been turned over to the commissioner.”