Journal I : Expedition to Glacier Bay, Alaska, Summer 1890

September 24th

Wednesday. We passed Dixon's Entrance when we were abed last night. Today the weather has been somewhat clearer. We steamed thro' narrow passengers and saw beautiful waterfalls and valleys on both sides. The mountains tho' not high are very bold and thickly wooded. Their forms are evidently the result of glacial action. Some of the passengers who had been in the Yosemite thought that these vallies and cliffs much resembled that famous place.

At eight o'clock tonight we passed reached Milhawk sound; the talk on Muir Glacier was therefore put off until tomorrow night. I retired gracefully to the stern and helped to swell the rising tide.

September 23rd

Tuesday. Last night it was so misty that the ship ran very slowly, and only reached Loring this morning. We stopped there until three o'clock. Adams went off with the Steward to shoot ducks. We had pretty hard rain all day. In the afternoon we reached a cannery at the head of Tongass Narrows, where more Salmon was shipped. When there the weather was so thick that the Capt. decided to remain at anchor all night; but about nine o'clock we it cleared somewhat and the ship went ahead, passing Dixon's Entrance in the middle of the night, thank heaven.

In the evening Mr. Gregla, an exiled Pole, who took part in the rising of 1863, was sent to Siberia, escaped, and came to this country, gave us an interesting description of his adventures in Siberia. He says Kennon's descriptions are far within the truth. He says that Russia has sent 50 men to this country to learn English and to deny in their writings Kennon's statements.

I have consented to tell the passengers something about Muir Glacier tomorrow night.

September 22nd

Monday. The weather continues cloudy and rainy. We reached Fort Wrangell about 10 am. We went ashore and made for Charlie Chinook's shop. He had no spoons, but we bought some very pretty bracelets. his work is much better than that of the other Indians. We also ordered him to make us some some which the [steeraid?] McKenna will get for us his next trip. I bought also a very good halibut hook. The baskets here and at Juneau were not nearly so well made as those we saw and bout at Bartlett Bay, and they were more expensive. The boys also bought various articles.

From Fort Wrangell we went to Labasha Bay, just around the point, and took on 3200 cases of Salmon, remaining there nearly all afternoon.

The canneries are shutting up for the winter and many of their employees go down on the Topeka, which does not make a very pleasant company. Some of the passengers, however, are very nice. Next to me at table sits a young Russian Priest, who has not yet learned why forks are put on the table. Almost opposite is a man who was at the naval academy, but who is not now in the navy. They probably got rid of him on account of a singular preference for gentlemen in the navy. There are two English ladies, who are of course, unobtrusive; two Frenchmen, who are very gentlemanly, and a general mixture of Americans. There is but one young girl aboard, about 17, who receives the attentions of all the young men.

September 21st

Sunday. We were up this morning at daylight, rowed over to the "Chinook", waked up the Captain, who sleeps aboard, and soon were transferring our baggage to a large flat-boat. We rowed it over to the dock and with block and tackle hoisted it up. I paid Mr. Johnston $75 for the Chinook's services in bringing us over from Bartlett's Bay. He did not charge us anything for our board there. I also gave him $15 for Tah-quo-kette, provided the letter I gave him were returned. Mr. Johnston is either to return me the letter or the money. The Captain Wallace's reason for not coming in to Bartlett Bay was that he thought we had gone down in the Elder. It seems Prof. Muir had made special inquiries at Seattle as to whether the Elder would visit Glacier Bay, and was told that she would. Then at Sitka Captain Wallace heard of that about some of our party were being on the Elder, and supposed that the whole party were on that ship. There were some 15 or 20 passengers on the Topeka and that was the reason he tried to go up Glacier Bay. There are not very cordial relations between the B. Bay Co and the S.S. Co and the ships only stop at B.B. when they are notified that 1500 cases of Salmon are ready for shipment.

We left Juneau about 8 am and steamed over to Douglass Island where we lay until about one. The weather today is much clearer tho' there is but little sunshine. We went over the works at Douglass Island, conducted by one of the [p]assengers there.

About 3 pm. we turned into [Laker?] Inlet and an hour later saw the glaciers. There are at its head. There are three. The first one, on the left, ends much like the Davidson. It is about 1/3 mile wide. The second at the head of the inlet is about as wide, it ends in the water and discharges bergs like the Muir Glacier. It is very picturesque, coming down between steep hills, about 2000 ft high, and ending in a wall of ice probably 100 ft high. During our stay one pretty large berg broke off. We approached to within about 3/4 mile of the glacier. The bay here was completely covered with small ice.

The third glacier is in a valley to the right, the inlet running some distance towards it, but not reachingit. The whole inlet is lovely and most picturesque, the snow-capped mts making a fine background to bay, the tree covered hills and glaciers in the front.

September 20th


About one o'clock this morning we sighted Douglass Island. We had then more than thirty miles to go around it, with a head wind and tide against us. (The Capt. of the Chinook is a Baltimorean and sailed formerly on one of Mr. Tom Whitridge's ship to Rio. His name is Jones.) We reached Juneau at five o'clock this morning and found no Topeka there. We cast anchor, and then three or four of us went ashore. After wandering about a little while we found the watchman who told us the Topeka had not arrived. So we were sure of catching her. We soon after returned to the tug and slept as well as we could until about seven o'clock. We Our party there launched our boat from the deck of the tug, getting it filled with water in the act, and rowed ashore after bailing it out. We went to a horrid hotel "The Franklin" where we had an equally horrid breakfast. Soon after breakfast Adams and I went up to see Mr. Willard, and had a very pleasant visit to him. (The weather continues nasty; it rains and rains, and the streets are full of mud.) Mr. Willard walked down the street with us to make some inquiries about selling our boat and canoe, and tents. He introduced me to the offices of the Custom House, who seemed much interested in the Glacier and asked many questions concerning my studies there.

We returned to the hotel where we had a dinner worthy to succeed the breakfast. All day the wind has been blowing harder and harder, right up the channel, and the waves have become pretty large. We spent the afternoon trying to get our baggage transferred to the dock, but were unable to get it done. The Engineer and the crew (fine) of the tug were more than half seas over, and were therefore useless.

Adams and I took supper with Mrs. Willard at her invitation.

About 8 pm. we heard the Topeka's W whistle. Hastily taking our leave we ran down to the hotel, paid our bill, routed Morse and McBride out of bed, and went down to the dock in the pouring rain. Mr. Johnston met joined us on the way down. Before reaching the dock we saw that the Topeka had cast anchor and would not communicate with shore that night. We found the agent, who thought we would be safe in going to bed, as the ship would not approach make a landing before daylight.

As the boys were not well pleased with the beds they had been in, fearing extermination before morning, we sought other quarters. We finally found beds with a storekeeper named Reid, where we slept very comfortably.

September 19th

The Chinook did not arrive yesterday. So we had to unpack our blankets again and pass another night in the loft above the cannery. She arrived this morning however with 2200 Salmon. They were unloaded as quickly as possible and our baggage put aboard. It is a nasty, disagreeable, rainy day. We got away at half-past one. Tah-quo-kett's squaw and his son have been after me again today for their money. But I refused to give them anything unless they returned me the letter of recommendation. As we boarded the Chinook, "Charlie," the son, came out and again asked for the money. I repeated what I had previously said, and he went ashore; as he was leaving one of the boys asked him if he was going for the letter and answered "No."

There was a great deal of ice in Icy Straights, but after rounding Strawberry point the water was clear. The wind soon blew harder, dead ahead, and towards evening the "Chinook" pitched considerably. I lay in the Captain's bunk in the Pilot house and had some rest tho I did not sleep. The boys lay in the engine room and in the Caboose. Night, rain and mist came on together; and it was very difficult to see the mountains well enough to steer the boat. Mr. Johnston went to Juneau with us.

September 18th

Thursday. This morning the men here gave up hopes of the steamer's arrival. It rained hard all night, this morning everything was in mist. At half-past nine someone saw the faint form of the steamer making up Glacier. We were all delighted and happy as possible. Mr. Johnston wanted the raft on which our baggage stored piled to pile his boxes of salmon and take them out to the steamer, so we went out and transferred our traps to a smaller raft. While doing this we saw the steamer coming back. She had probably met ice and would not venture further. Down she came, but did not seem to turn towards us. She could only be faintly discerned and we could not be sure at any moment that she was not turning. On, on she went and finally disappeared behind a projecting point of land. How our hearts sank and our tempers arose! This end of our trip seems to be made up of anxieties and disappointments. There is one more hope left. The Chinook is due back here by five o'clock this afternoon. I offered Mr. Johnston $75 if he would take us immediately to Juneau. The trip takes about 10 hours. He agreed to do so. The steamer will probably go first to Chilcat and then to Juneau, in which case she will not get to Juneau before tomorrow evening. If she does not go to Chilcat she will reach Juneau tonight, and will probably lie there all night; in that case we hope to catch her before she leaves in the morning. The men here do not think much of the Siwashes, nor do they think the missions inspire them. They say the missions make them more intelligent and teach them to read, but do not inspire their morals. Some of the white men here have Indian squaws, a state of thing which seems to me infinitely more barbarous and degraded than that of the Indians themselves!

Tah-kho-quette's squaw has been hanging about all morning to get the money, but I would not understand what she wanted. They can wait and have some anxiety about their money, after behaving as they have. We gave them, when we broke camp, what would cost them at least $10.