Tue, October 29, 2013

Looking Back: The 1900 Nome Gold Rush

By Laura Samuelson, Director, Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum

For the last five weeks of Nome’s brief summer, the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum has been pleased to present excerpts from the diary of Wilfred A. McDaniel Sr. Wilfred and his brother Ed were two of the 20,000 Argonauts who streamed to the Nome Gold Rush in 1900. We are grateful to Wilfred’s daughter Irene McDaniel and her husband Robert Johnson as well as son Wilfred Jr. and Lois McDaniel who donated the photographs, writings, and artifacts collected between 1899 and 1907. The family preserved and protected Wilfred’s legacy for 93 years until the collection was donated to the people of Nome in 2001.
We conclude this series with a burning question: Should the boys stay in Nome or go south for the winter? Brother Ed voted with his gold nuggets and bought two tickets to San Francisco on the Senator. They had two days to close up camp and high tail it to Nome…
By Wilfred A. McDaniel
On the morning of the 25th, the tent was taken down and with stove and cooking utensils, was cached with our other possessions. In the afternoon, carrying our luggage and blanket rolls, we mushed into Nome.

WHERE THE HECK ARE MY SEA LEGS?! – Returning to California on the
hurricane deck of the steamship Senator in November 1900 storm
in the North Pacific. “The grub is as follows. Breakfast: Mush – very poor,
with lumps as big as an egg in it, boiled potatoes and fried meat and belly
wash coffee. Dinner: Boiled potatoes. Mush is left out and stew substituted.
Supper: Just read the dinner menu backwards and you have it.” Caption & Photo
by Wilfred McDaniel from the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum Archives

The town was alive with the great influx of miners from the creeks and distant points, some making preparations for the long winter, others, like ourselves, arranging transportation to “The Outside.” Many were utterly discouraged, others in high spirits, according to the smiles of the Goddess Fortune!
On the evening of the 25th, from the heaving deck of the Senator, we saw the twinkling lights of Nome gradually fade away, as the Senator turned her bow southward, and it was with a feeling of regret that we saw the last gleam dim out, as the mists closed in.
Thoughts soon turn to the more comfortable prospects ahead in sunny California, and home, together with future plans for the coming spring, when the call of the North would lure us back to that desolate, but fascinating land!

SEE YOU NEXT SUMMER, HANDSOME! – Just like 2013, this Gibson gal bids adieu to her fair weather Nome
beau back in 1902. Photo by Wilfred McDaniel from the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum Archives