Story last updated at 8/22/2012 - 2:13 pm
Those who write me emails, after finding my columns on the Web or picking up Capital City Weekly in Southeast locations, send such interesting comments. This week I am sharing some of the information that has been sent to me. The articles I refer to are available on capitalcityweekly.com and under archives, enter my name.
The most recent communication came from Juneauite Craig Lindh who, after reading the article on the Whiting River, reminded me I forgot the Taku River in listing the rivers in Southeast that cross the coastal mountains. "As far as I know, it's still there," he wrote. Sorry, everybody, for the mistake. The Taku River does originate in Canada.
Another mistake was brought to my attention by Sean Neilson of the National Park Service. This was in reference to the article on the lost gold mine near Glacier Bay. There is no Queen Glacier. Sean looked at a couple old maps to double check. Across the bay from Geike Inlet is "Queen Inlet", but no Queen Glacier in the park. In my answer to him, I tried to justify my mistake. It was first called Carroll Glacier to commemorate the coastal steamer "Queen's" captain James Carroll in 1892. (Carroll is mentioned in a column about Karta Bay smuggling in the stories about Baronovich.) Some of the old newspapers mention a Queen Glacier. I didn't, obviously, check the current maps.
Many people ask me about distant relatives. Linda Taylor found the articles about the Auke Bay canneries built by her great-great grandfather, John Ludwig Carlson. The articles plus her research prompted her and her brother to visit Juneau this summer. They walked the Auke Bay beach and saw where the old cannery sites must have been. Then they chartered a boat and went to Carlson Creek in Taku Inlet, a creek named for their great-great grandfather. Here they spread the ashes of their father John Robert Carlson. The pair found piling and power poles that marked the small cannery John L. Carlson built at that creek in 1900.
The Bradfield Canal article brought comments from Harvey Gilliland in Petersburg. "It was in 1974, when as a technician for RCA Alaska Communications, I traveled via helicopter to Horn Mt. accompanying a civil engineer to plan construction of a passive microwave repeater that was completed the next year. It is still in use in the path between Petersburg and Wrangell. While on the mountain top, whose elevation is about 2,600 feet, we found a bronze marker placed in a rock outcropping, identified as "Horn" Amazingly later on during Alascom's survey work, if I remember the figure correctly, they found the Horn position about one centimeter different from the monument's punch mark from 1917. You would think that equipment in the 1970s would have been much more accurate and perhaps easier to use, but those early people were just plain good. I was very impressed by this, when thinking about surveyors chaining their way up the steep mountain, through a lot of timber and brush in the lower elevation, carrying in addition to their equipment, all necessary living stuff....camping gear, food, extra clothing, etc., perhaps over several days of wind and rain. How easy it was for me to go there in a chopper about 60 years later. These days we would think of them as pretty tough fellows." Harvey added "By the way, the positioning of that passive repeater had to be quite accurate for the microwave signal to be bounced (just like a mirror) between the antennae at downtown Petersburg and the one on the hill by the (old) water tank in Wrangell."
Dan Roope of Wrangell added to Harvey's comments about the hardships of boundary surveying: "No Gortex, Polar Fleece nor synthetics."
Several of the Baronovich relatives have checked with me. Many are interested in Cecelia Baronovich, one of Charles Vincent Baronovich's daughters. There is a four-part story from Capital City Weekly about her father available online. From these relatives I learned information about Cecelia after she left Alaska.
Cecelia was sent to Oklahoma by her family to Carlisle Indian School and graduated in 1909. In 1911, she married her fellow classmate, Mike Balenti. Carlisle was noted for its baseball program, and Balenti, a Cheyenne, was one of the first Indian players to make the Major Leagues. He played professional baseball as a short stop and left fielder for the Cincinnati Reds in 1911 and the St. Louis Browns in 1913 for a total of 70 games. The Balenti's would spend the season in Oklahoma and then took the long journey to Alaska in the winter to be with her family. Eventually the travel between the two places became too much and he gave up baseball. The pair eventually settled in Altus, Okla. where he was in the construction business, and Cecelia raised their family.
For anyone interested in the more about the Baronovichs, including Cecelia, around 1902 at Kasaan, find the out-of-print book Alaska Silver by Martha Ferguson McKeown. It tells the adventures of Mont Hawthorne in the salmon industry and his time at the Kasaan cannery. There are several used book sites that offer the book. It is undoubtedly available at libraries or ask for it on interlibrary loan. It is one of my favorite books about the early days.
One of the joys of writing this column is the information I learn from other people. As a bonus, it is the knowledge that others enjoy Southeast history as much as I do.
Pat Roppel is the author of numerous books about mining, fishing, and man's use of the land. She lives in Wrangell. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.