Looking Back: The 1900 Nome Gold Rush
by Laura Samuelson, Director, Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum
We continue our look back at the 1900 Nome Gold Rush with more perspective from Wilfred A. McDaniel Sr. Here again are more excerpts from “Alaska Beckons” written by Wilfred in 1943. His love of Nome is quite evident in that his experiences in this wild land are still fresh in his mind four decades later. At the end of the last passage, Wilfred and his brother Ed finally rounded up all of their freight which had arrived on separate ships several days apart. They received their syrup but not their pork and who the heck stole the lumber? This is a familiar story to present day gold miners in Nome. The McDaniels had yet to start sluicing for gold! They were still working out the bugs…
July 8th, 1900
The night was very cold. Windy and cloudy this morning. Today is Sunday but we will work as the time is flying. We will set the pump today. Got our pump set and the suction pipe laid. We quit work at 4:30, as today is Sunday. Wrote some letters today.
July 9th, 1900
The night was very cold and windy. The weather may clear up today. The wind still blows but the clouds are breaking. Got our engine and scraper running and they work splendidly. We also built our sluice boxes. We expect to be running Wednesday if all is well. Had a pleasant day, sun was shining all afternoon. Took a snapshot at a 16-dog team on the beach. The team came to haul our oil at 8 this eve. Paid the driver 10 dollars. The tide was out so we fixed our foot valve and strainer and put the lower joint of our suction pipe out in the surf. Worked until about 11PM.
July 10th, 1900
Spent the day in town.
July 11th, 1900
We got out pump working and pumps fine. Had to make another foot valve as the one we put in let the priming run out. I worked all afternoon on the foot valve. We will put it on this evening. The weather is much warmer today. The mosquitoes are coming out. We worked until 11 o’ clock PM putting on the foot valve.
July 12th, 1900
I made another valve today, as the other was not satisfactory. Worked on the pump all day. We now can all the water we will need. We hope to have gold in the boxes tomorrow evening. Saw a mirage today a ship at sea appeared to sail in the air high above the water.
July 13th, 1900
Was taken sick on the evening of the 12th with a severe attack of indigestion. Suffered all night and was no better in the morning. Walked a mile to Dr. Whitney’s camp and got some medicine. Cost me five dollars. Returned to camp and slept all day.
July 14th, 1900
I feel better this morning but am very weak. Did not do much today. We started sluicing at 3PM. Our pump don’t work just right. Can’t get enough water. The ground prospects fine. Can see gold in our boxes this evening. We are very anxious to get to work and have a clean up so that we can tell how it will pay. There is a report that 2000 men have asked government aid to get out of here. Lots of cold feet here. Also a report of 54 cases of smallpox in the pest house.