Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Bud Seltenreich

Bud Seltenreich was interviewed by Logan Hovis of the National Park Service on June 16, 1990 in Kennecott, Alaska at the Kennecott Kids reunion. Toward the end of the interview Bud's brother, Fred, joins in the discussion. In this interview, Bud talks about growing up in McCarthy and his connection with the Kennecott community. He talks about the jobs he worked, the town of McCarthy, and the way his family made their living.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 95-71-25

Project: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park
Date of Interview: Jun 16, 1990
Narrator(s): Bud Seltenreich
Interviewer(s): Logan Hovis
Transcriber: Joan O'Leary
People Present: Fred Seltenreich
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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Personal background and what brought the family to Alaska

Work history and business background

Getting into the aviation business

Commercial farming on the Nizina homestead

Working in mining at Dan Creek

Career in aviation and airplane mechanics

Family's homestead on the Nizina River

Working in the laundry room at Kennecott

McCarthy and health care in the area

Starting his own business in McCarthy when he was a boy

McCarthy during the Depression and Prohibition

Johnny Barrett and the Green Butte Mine, and road to the Mother Lode Mine

Monthly visits from Reverend Bingle

Driving taxi and hauling water in McCarthy and the vehicles he used

Going to the store and the movies at Kennecott

Avoiding involvement in McCarthy's "unrespectable trade"

Working with Oscar Watsjold

Bridges in the Nizina River and May Creek area

The roadhouse at May Creek

The development of runways, roads and mines

Hauling freight to Chititu Camp

Miner on Rex Creek who had a blacksmith shop

Staking ground at Bremner Mine with the Ramer brothers

Use of his old Chevrolet truck engine at the mines

He and his brothers working as mechanics for Pan American Airlines

More about the old Chevrolet and a Model T truck

Ownership of mining claims

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LOGAN HOVIS: For the record, your name is? BUD SELTENREICH: Bud Seltenreich. LOGAN HOVIS: Seltenreich.

BUD SELTENREICH: Yes, Seltenreich. LOGAN HOVIS: Seltenreich. BUD SELTENREICH: Uh-huh.

LOGAN HOVIS: Okay. And how old are you? BUD SELTENREICH: Seventy-five.

LOGAN HOVIS: Okay, 75. And where were you born? BUD SELTENREICH: Hospital here at Kennecott. LOGAN HOVIS: All right. BUD SELTENREICH: 1915. LOGAN HOVIS: 1915 . BUD SELTENREICH: February 15th. Uh-huh.

LOGAN HOVIS: Your parents are -- your father, I assumed worked here at the mine (Kennecott). BUD SELTENREICH: No, he worked in McCarthy. LOGAN HOVIS: Hm-mm.

BUD SELTENREICH: He done many things. He was a cook and he was cooking here and there and eventually he started his own restaurant there, and had a restaurant in McCarthy for a number of years, including my mother who was a cook, also.

She was recognized as a professional cook. She came from Norway, originally. And she worked as an apprentice cook that they used to do in the old days over there for some of the rich people.

And she traveled to Paris in the winter and worked with those people that were down there and vacationing or enjoying the winter weather rather than in Norway.

And then she, apparently, came to the United States when she was a very young girl and -- and met my father in Seattle. 'Cause she was working for the railroad and he was also working for the railroad in the -- in the -- as a cook on the dining -- dining cars.

LOGAN HOVIS: Which railroad was that? BUD SELTENREICH: I think that was the Northwest -- UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN IN BACKGROUND: Do you need some water or something?

BUD SELTENREICH: I think it was, yeah. Minnesota -- Minnesota through most of the northern part of the state.

LOGAN HOVIS: How -- how did your parents come to McCarthy?

BUD SELTENREICH: Well, 1915. I think they came in about 1912 or ’13.’ LOGAN HOVIS: Railroad was just open.

BUD SELTENREICH: They had a Chisana stampede. If you've ever heard of that. LOGAN HOVIS: Yes, I have.

BUD SELTENREICH: So that's what brought 'em up. And, of course, McCarthy was the -- Chisana Junction as they called it. That's where the freight and all the stuff going to Chisana came in to McCarthy and was taken over to Chisana by pack horse and dogteams.

And horses and a sleigh. And pack horses in the summer. To open up the mining camps over in Chisana.

It was kind of a second gold rush after the Klondike. And it didn’t pan out as rich as the Klondike, but it was pretty rich.

And, of course, the Kennecott Mine was going. There were lots of mines going. The Dan Creek Mine out there on the river. Between the river and the Chitistone mine.

And the Green Butte Mine up the McCarthy Creek and the Mother Lode Mine. And the big power plant they were building down there in McCarthy was on the Mother Lode Mine and all that activity, so they stayed there.

Operated their laundry for a while and helped them get here and there, as well they opened their own restaurant. So they were -- they always worked in and around McCarthy. So did I as a young fellow and so did my brother, two brothers, Fred and Ted. You met Fred. He's here. LOGAN HOVIS: Yeah.

BUD SELTENREICH: So that's about the in and out of activity. I stayed in McCarthy and went to school in McCarthy. I didn’t leave McCarthy until I was eighteen.

And then only temporarily 'cause I was working with Gillam Airlines who were based in Copper Center at that time. Had about three airplanes and I went to work for them as a mechanic, and worked for them for a number of years off and on.

I worked -- I worked at the (Alaska) Road Commission -- for the Road Commission in the summer as a heavy duty equipment operator. Tractors and graders and that sort of thing. And gravel trucks graveling roads and that sort of thing.

And prior to that time, I'd worked for the McCarthy Garage. You may have seen some photographs of that. There was a McCarthy Garage.

And I kind of grew up in that garage and so I got my mechanical experience back then. And so I was well qualified to work when I was 16, 17 years old and the driving -- operating heavy duty equipment.

So I did that in the summer and then I worked on the airplanes in the winter, because there was no other work in the winter, except here at the mine.

And so -- So I decided the airplane business would be good because it's a lot of year round work.

And I didn’t enjoy that working in the summer and making enough money to live on in the winter. (inaudible) You're getting nowhere. You're just going in a circle, uphill.

So that's why I took up with the airplane business because that was a coming industry in Alaska. It was replacing the dogteam and the horses and the transportation of passengers, as well as cargo and freight.

So that way I got into the aviation business. I've been in it ever since. Started about 1930.

My two brothers and I bought an airplane in 1930 from the Swallow airplane company in Wichita and had it shipped to Valdez. And we went down there to Valdez and put it together with some help from some aviation people that were there.

There was a couple other people around Valdez that were pilots and had airplanes there and were qualified to do this sort of work. And then we had one of them fly it back to McCarthy. So we had one of the first airplanes based in McCarthy at that time.

LOGAN HOVIS: Where was the landing strip at that time?

BUD SELTENREICH: It was up on the hill there above -- across McCarthy Creek and up on that bench up on top. It's still there. In fact, I use it. I have a hangar up there that I keep my equipment in.

I've got some equipment up there. A van and a tractor and stuff like that. We use that on the homestead.

'Cause my folks had a homestead out on the Nizina, nine miles out of town. And they farmed that also as a commercial venture for several years back in the '20’s.

LOGAN HOVIS: What did they raise?

BUD SELTENREICH: They raised hay for the horses and potatoes and vegetables of all kinds. We had chickens. We had eggs to sell to the miners. And we had cows. We had milk. And we raised a few pigs for pork.

So it was an on-going proposition. We raised fruit and strawberries and stuff like that. And -- and they made a living doing that for a while. And then in later years, as I said, they had a restaurant in McCarthy. I told you that.

LOGAN HOVIS: Did they sell directly to the company or to the individuals that lived there?

BUD SELTENREICH: They sold mostly to individuals because the company here at the mine, they had their own dairy here. And they shipped most of their stuff in so they had an on-going -- they had an on-going contract with Seattle to supply their stuff.

You know, they couldn’t just cut that off and buy separately. They didn’t have a very good market here at the mine.

But the people in McCarthy, you know, there was quite a few people in that area, especially the gold mines out in the Nizina area and that sort of thing.

LOGAN HOVIS: Did you ever have --

BUD SELTENREICH: They never had a market for those folks down there.

LOGAN HOVIS: Did you ever get directly involved in mining, either placer mining or up here or (inaudible)?

BUD SELTENREICH: I worked one summer at the Dan Creek Mine. They were putting in a new pipeline and I worked on that job as the compressor operator. There weren't any compressors for the hard rock. So jackhammers and stuff like that. And taking care of them. I did that for one summer.

And like I say, I worked with construction jobs, you know, any place they had machines working they needed somebody to run the machines.

Maintain and handle them all at the same time which was a (inaudible) in those days, because they didn’t have shops and garages available yet. They do it out in the field. Wherever it broke down, that's where you fixed it.

LOGAN HOVIS: What -- what was the source of power to run the compressors? BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, gasoline engines. Yeah.

LOGAN HOVIS: Up on Dan Creek, I've seen that compressor that's hooked up to a pumping wheel.

BUD SELTENREICH: Yeah. They had -- they had electric power. They had a hydroelectric plant up there at Dan Creek. A good one that supplied the camp with electricity and so forth, but -- up on the -- up on the site. And after that everything was coming to the pipeline. They didn’t have any electricity there. We ran it with a gasoline engine.

And so that's how I got kind of started in this -- in this aviation business was through my work with heavy duty equipment in the machine shop and various places. Machines shops and blacksmith’s shops here in McCarthy.

And was quite proficient at any mechanical job that might come along. So I converted that into the aviation business and worked for Gillam Airlines for a few years as a mechanic on their airplanes.

And then moved to Anchorage in ’36 and my brother, Fred, here and I had a shop there in Anchorage on Merrill Field, an airplane shop. And I worked for Star Airlines for a year or so. And that's now Alaska Airlines.

And then I went south to go to the university for night school and take up engineering, nautical engineering. And I worked down at Ryan Aircraft Factory in San Diego as a welding inspector and contract assembly in ’38 or ’39 or something like that, ’39.

They were just getting a lot of contracts in to build sub-assemblies for the military airplanes that were being built by government. So Lockheed and Consolidated.

And so there was a lot of sub-assemblies being built for them. A lot of assembly. And I was an expert welder, so it didn’t take long for them to hire me. And I was an inspector for a short time and pretty soon I was chief inspector of the welding department.

Spent a year at that. Got tired of that monotonous factory work. Couldn’t stand that. Went back to Alaska.

Flew a Tri-Motor Ford. I had my pilot’s license and flew a Tri-Motor Ford as co-pilot out of Anchorage. Flying it to mining camps over and around McGrath one summer and then that fall I went to work for Pan American Airlines as a mechanic in Fairbanks.

They had their main maintenance space of the Alaska Division in Fairbanks at that time. We had about eighty mechanics working there.

We worked three shifts. They were open 24 hours a day. Maintenance department. They had about six to eight airplanes based there. Military engine airplanes. Lockheed 10’s, in those days we called them.

They operated scheduled service between Fairbanks and Nome and Bethel and -- and Fairbanks, Whitehorse, Juneau. And at that time, Pan American was still running their big boats and they was running one of their boats to Seattle to Juneau, and then the Lockheed 10’s would pick up the passengers and take them to Whitehorse and Fairbanks.

And then in later -- in later years, we were still over, they cut off the boats and they started running Lockheed boats direct from Seattle to Juneau to Whitehorse to Fairbanks. But we still had the main maintenance space in Fairbanks.

LOGAN HOVIS: When you first brought your airplane in here to McCarthy, was the business as lucrative as you thought it might have been?

BUD SELTENREICH: We didn’t bring it in for business. We brought it in for our own education and learn to fly. And we got our flying experience with that airplane.

My brother, Ted, he had taken lessons from Bill. Bill had been flying here since about ’29. He used to come in here with the mail and my brother would take lessons from him when he had an overnight stay.

So he got his license, and we used the airplane just for that purpose. We didn’t plan to use it commercially.

That really -- that kind of an airplane that could be used too successfully. I've got some good pictures of it in my office in there, of the airplane we had.

Then I went to Fairbanks with Pan American. I was there about a year as a mechanic for them, and then they needed a chief mechanic down in Juneau at their overnight base there. And I went down there for a year with that.

And then came back to Fairbanks and they were moving some of their people down to San Francisco, so they moved the -- the supervisory people down there and they put me in charge of the Fairbanks base.

So I was the chief mechanic at the Alaska Division of Pan American Airlines for about eight years in Fairbanks.

And while I was doing that, I started my own flying business. I started a flying school and a charter service. And I was going to do that just as a kind of a hobby. Something to keep me busy during the weekends because I only worked five days a week at Pan American.

I was used to working seven days a week (inaudible), so I couldn’t stand working five days a week and having something else to do. And I did it as far as a hobby, you know.

And the business -- that it got such a demand for the services that I eventually ended up with 17 airplanes. And I was still working for Pan American. Then Pan American was going to move their main maintenance base to Seattle. And I said, "Well, I can’t go. I’m too busy here."

So I quit Pan American and ran my business from Fairbanks. I was making twice as much money running my flying service as a hobby than I was working for Pan American full-time.

But I was getting tired of working 16 hours a day and so I quit, and I sold my business to my brother, Fred, and the -- the chief pilot I had. A fellow by the name of Holly Evans. He's still around the country. He's retired now and partially lives in Anchorage.

They ran it very successfully for a number of years. And in the meantime, I took a year off and just did nothing and figured out what I should do.

And I was still pretty young. I was still in my 30’s, early 30’s. So I said, well, I guess I better not retire. Money isn’t going to last long enough.

So I applied for a job at the FAA as an inspector. And I thought I'd do that for a few years just for, you know, just for the fun of it. So I was a scheduled airline inspector for a few years.

And I thought, well, nothing else came up that interested me and I stayed another few years and another few years and pretty soon I got to the point of no return.

I couldn’t quit that and start someplace else and build up an adequate retirement and all that sort of thing, so I got stuck with it. I got to the point of no return so I stayed with them for 32 years as an -- as an inspector to various departments.

I was the chief of the region for a while and then I was a chief in Washington of the entire United States' Aviation Safety Program and General Aviation.

And that's about my career in aviation. It was pretty busy and varied. And I still have my pilot’s license. I still own a couple of airplanes for my own amusement and pleasure. And I still do some aviation consulting, more than I want to.

Can't get enough time for myself, but I always have plans to change that. Maybe someday I'll retire and, you know, stay retired.

LOGAN HOVIS: Did you come back to McCarthy frequently while you were flying around, going Outside and what have you?

BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, yes, I used to come back for a check once a year, at least. Spend a week or so with friends. I had lots of friends up here that were still living here that I used to come up and visit.

And then, of course, we still had our homestead out there, the 300 and some acres over there on the Nizina. And my brother and I built a little airport on it so we could fly in there and land there.

And, of course, there's a road out there from McCarthy that you can drive out there. Not very good any more. It's in pretty bad shape and it's still gravel.

LOGAN HOVIS: Are there still buildings on the homestead?

BUD SELTENREICH: No, the buildings all fell down and we haven’t built any new ones, but other people have.

We sold so -- We subdivided some of them, so that's about ten acres down there and it's real nice. There's one real nice building. It's owned by a fellow by the name of Hannah (phonetic).

A log cabin, large one, upstairs. There's a living room, fireplace, kitchen, a den. Various trophies and he's a kind of a hunter, a trapper and trader. And there's his guns and his equipment to work on.

His building equipment and all that sort of stuff, plus he's got a big garage built there for his equipment, his -- his shop.

He's just doing his best. And then there's another fellow building out there. He's got a pretty nice place, too. Isn’t quite finished yet. By the name of Kelly Berg (phonetic).

So I have enough to keep me busy just playing around at the homestead. That's what I'd like to be doing. Working towards something. So when I get old, I can do that

LOGAN HOVIS: Okay. You said before we turned the tape recorder on that you worked for a little bit up here at Kennecott.

BUD SELTENREICH: Yeah, I worked in the laundry one summer for a few months, mangling the sheets. I was a sheet mangler.

I was the mangler of the bed sheets at the hospital there. Run them through the mangler, folding the sheets. I would fold them and package them.

LOGAN HOVIS: Who was your boss in the laundry?

BUD SELTENREICH: A fellow by the name of Morris. That's all I know him by. He was a Jap. They had Japanese cooks here. The Japanese owned the laundry.

I don’t like to use the slang word for publication, but we called him "Roy the Jap."

LOGAN HOVIS: When you were talking to him would you call him that?

BUD SELTENREICH: Well, I probably did, yeah. I'm actually sorry to say. He was a fine, fine person. Very -- very -- very pleasant person to work with, wonderful. He had a good sense of humor. He was not old. He was a rather young fellow.

LOGAN HOVIS: Were there a lot of Japanese here?

BUD SELTENREICH: All the cooks were Japanese. I mean, the bunkhouse -- the bunkhouse. What do you call 'em? Anyway. LOGAN HOVIS: Okay.

BUD SELTENREICH: Eating places, yeah. They had several big -- right down near this place they had a mess hall. Yeah, big mess hall.

LOGAN HOVIS: I'd noticed that there are two Japanese graves down in the cemetery. BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, is that so?

LOGAN HOVIS: And one of them has, I think -- I haven’t been down there for a bit, but I think it's the largest monument down there.

BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, yeah. I haven’t been down there to see that. I don’t know what ever happened to Morrie whether he's still here, died here, or whether he -- whether he left here when the -- when the camp closed down.

'Cause you see, I'd left here around ’32, ’33, ’34. I was in and out, but I left here permanently in ’35 more or less.

LOGAN HOVIS: Was McCarthy still quite the booming town in ’35? BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, yes, yeah, it was.

LOGAN HOVIS: How quickly did it wind down after the mine closed?

BUD SELTENREICH: Well, about five years. It was still pretty active for five years after that. The War is what closed it down.

When the War came along, the mines all shut down, the placer mines. They couldn’t get equipment or supplies anymore because everything was required for the war effort.

And nothing for -- for mining non-strategic materials, which gold, I guess, was not considered strategic as far as the war effort goes. This mine, of course, was going during World War I. And it was very important for the war effort in World War I. So that's about the extent of my activity here in McCarthy.

LOGAN HOVIS: Was there a doctor in McCarthy or did everybody who -- they'd come up here to use the hospital? BUD SELTENREICH: Use the hospital in Kennecott, yeah.

LOGAN HOVIS: And the people from McCarthy would be charged for the services?

BUD SELTENREICH: Yes, that’s right. I spent a couple of months up there. I had a ruptured appendix back in 1925. And that was a pretty serious business in those days because they didn’t have Penicillin.

You know what Penicillin is? And when you get an infection, like you get from a ruptured appendix, which is peritonitis, it's a very difficult proposition to cure.

The doctor they had here was very resourceful. He finally -- finally developed a plan. It wasn’t working too good and he had to operate again and take all my intestines out, put them in a dishpan of mercuricum, and then throw them back in. And you know it worked.

Probably it took about six months. I had drain tubes in my stomach. You know, I was a couple months in the hospital, and about six months after that I'd have to come up to Kennecott every three or four days and have the drain tubes changed.

Used to ride the train up and back. And I got pretty well acquainted with the engineers. And even against the laws and the rules of the train, they'd let me ride in the engine and run the engines. That was lots of fun.

LOGAN HOVIS: I'm sure.

BUD SELTENREICH: Running -- running the big steam engine, yeah. So I had a pretty interesting life. It wasn’t boring at all. Always something to do and always kept me busy.

Well, when I was in McCarthy as a kid growing up, you know, going to school in my younger years until 12 years old I was working in the garage.

I had a water business. In the winter, they didn’t have any water so I had to load the old Chevrolet that I made into a pickup. Chevrolet car converted it into a pickup, and I used to haul water to the various businesses and fill their holding tanks.

Ten cents a bucket or 12 buckets for a dollar. Five-gallon cans. So I kept a little jingle in my pocket all the time. Always had a jingle in my pocket, is what I said.

LOGAN HOVIS: Where would you get the water?

BUD SELTENREICH: Out of the creek. Just drive down to the creek and fill the buckets. And the little creeks down between McCarthy and the railroad, that's where there were some clear water creeks that were not contaminated.

And supplied water to the restaurants and the hotels and some of the private residents that didn’t want to carry their own water up from the creek. Kept me pretty busy plus chopping kindling for the girls down on the line so they could start their fires in the morning. And they always tipped good. You know, they were good tippers.

And eventually, you know, I was 15 and between my brothers and I we had enough money to buy an airplane.

LOGAN HOVIS: How were the girls treated there? You mentioned the girls down on the line.

BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, they were treated very respectfully. They weren’t invited uptown too much to associate with the regular people, but they did come up once in a while, if they didn’t make too big a habit of it.

And -- and they were run very respectfully. The doctor from Kennecott would go down there, of course, to check them out physically. I don’t recall how often, whether it was twice a month or once a month. They kept them in good shape.

'Cause, you see, up here where they had just only a few of the administrators and management people had their wives and families. The rest of the people up here were all single, so they had to go down to McCarthy and have their recreation and their jollies down there.

They were gambling and there were a few people, I guess, around and they supposedly sold drinks, you know. They'd have a few drinks and have their beer, whiskey, whichever they wanted. Moonshine as they called it in those days. Prohibition days.

There was a lot of work to be had around. We were very busy. We cut a lot of wood, sawed a lot of wood, and delivered a lot of wood with trucks. My brother and I, Fred, we did a lot of that.

My brother, Ted, he worked in the grocery store most of the time. He used to work for the (inaudible) Company in their grocery store. So we all worked all the time, you know, since I was 12, 15 years old we had jobs of one kind or another.

And was able to -- was able to make pretty good money around there. There was lots of money around there. It wasn’t -- it wasn't -- We didn’t have a depression is what I'm trying to say. It was during the depression days. So, we had it pretty good, you might say.

And everything was up to date, modern. We had every convenience you might think of, and -- and we didn’t suffer at all. The fact of the matter is, I think we had better conditions in -- in McCarthy during those days than I have since I left McCarthy.

LOGAN HOVIS: Did anybody in McCarthy make the moonshine?

BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, yes. They didn’t make it right in town. There was various places out of town. They had little camps out of town where they made moonshine.

LOGAN HOVIS: Was there any law enforcement officers in McCarthy?

BUD SELTENREICH: Yeah, we had a jail there and there was an officer there. He didn’t pay too much attention to that. That was part of the game. The only ones that would pay attention to it, they had -- In those days, during Prohibition days they had what you call Prohibition agents and they would travel around and make a nuisance out of themselves.

In fact, you see it wasn't very easy for them to get here because they had to come on the train. And when they came around the corner, there was a corner down there just this side of Long Lake, where they come around the corner and you could see the train coming.

The engineers would puff out the black smoke meaning they had some questionable people on board that they might want to clear out the town and haul all the stuff out and cache it out of town. So cache all the liquor out of town.

I remember -- I used to drive a truck. I was only 12 or 13 years old, but I used to drive a little pickup truck for a guy who was hauling wood and that sort of thing, you know.

So apparently someone says that, I don't know, they've seen me hauling stuff -- that I was hauling stuff out of town. That I was hauling stuff out of town to hide it from the prohibition agents.

So the prohibition agents got me cornered and give me the third or four degree on what they was trying to find out I wasn't doing. I didn’t give them any satisfaction out of it.

I was pretty tight mouthed. I didn’t do a lot of talking. Especially about my activities of hauling booze or (inaudible).

LOGAN HOVIS: Did you ever go up to the Mother Lode Mine or the Green Butte Mine when it was running?

BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, I've been there a couple times just for a visit with friends who are associated with that. Johnny Barrett was one of the owners. You know, he discovered the Green Butte Mine and his son here was in town. Did you see him? LOGAN HOVIS: Not yet. No.

BUD SELTENREICH: Lawrence Barrett. He went to school here also. Yeah, I was a pretty good friend of Johnny Barrett's because we were kind of in business together. He was kind of a entrepreneur. He was in everything.

He sold life insurance. He had a water -- water system in town. And he sold lots and he did this and that and the other thing. Plus he was one of the administrators -- or the managers of the Green Butte Mine.

LOGAN HOVIS: Everybody sounds like they had more than one job.

BUD SELTENREICH: Oh yeah, it was a busy place. So anyway, he had a water system there. He had a water tank -- couple water tanks up on stilts high above everything else in town. And he had what you call a ram down in the creek. He had a couple of them down there.

I had the opportunity sometimes to go up to the Green Butte Mine. There's a big road up there. In fact, that was one of the better roads around here was that road up to the Green Butte and Mother Lode Mine. They built a fine road up there.

LOGAN HOVIS: The Mother Lode Company built that road?

BUD SELTENREICH: I'm not sure who built it. I think the Mother Lode probably did most of the building of the road. But the Green Butte Mine was probably involved, too, because they had trucks to haul the ore out with and so did the Mother Lode had those big White trucks. Not a white color, but made by the White Motor Truck. LOGAN HOVIS: Uh-huh. Yes.

BUD SELTENREICH: They hauled all of the ore out up there out of that mine, so they used the road after this. (background conversation)

But any of the times I went up there was for just for visit or recreation or something to do. You'd ride up with somebody or drive up with somebody.

LOGAN HOVIS: I’m curious. You talked about the girls in McCarthy and the bootleg liquor and what have you. Were there any preachers in McCarthy?

BUD SELTENREICH: No. No, there wasn’t. There would be one that'd come up from Cordova about once a month or so and give a sermon.

Reverend Bingle, I remember his name. He had a -- he had a church there in Cordova, but he'd come up and talk and -- and try to save us sinners a little bit.

He did a pretty good job of it. I didn’t turn out too bad. I didn’t get in jail ever, so I made out pretty good. LOGAN HOVIS: A certain lack of distinction.

BUD SELTENREICH: So -- so he had some success, I would say. Reverend Bingle. A nice guy.

LOGAN HOVIS: Did he come up to the mine, as well?

BUD SELTENREICH: I don’t know if he did or not. Probably did. I'm sure he did, yeah. Very likely he did, sure.

Probably come up here and have services, I'm sure. So we got a little religion along the way. Enough to keep us out of jail, I should say.

And oh, yeah, in addition to those other jobs I had, I used to drive taxis. There're lots of taxi cabs. There were lots of cars in McCarthy. They were mostly all used for business. There was very few personal cars.

I had one. I had a 1922 Chevrolet I guess it was. Fred (?) had it and he couldn’t keep it running. It was continually slipping a ring. He got so mad at the car, he said, "I'll give you this car." He gave it to me. A 1922 Chevrolet Touring Car.

And it had the bearings stripped out of it. So I had it -- I sent down to Seattle and I bought a complete unit. Housing, grill, and the whole works. It cost me a hundred and some dollars. That was a lot of money in those days, I guess.

LOGAN HOVIS: It would be.

BUD SELTENREICH: Soon as put that in there, that car served me well. Never had an amount of trouble with it.

But those Chevrolets were bad cars. They had a (inaudible) clutch, and they'd -- they'd suck in that clutch and the car would jump about a foot, you know, unless you could -- unless you were very clever with it, you could do it right.

And I had no trouble doing any of it 'cause (inaudible). You had to jump that thing a lot.

So much you (inaudible) and jump it along and strip the gears all the way.

LOGAN HOVIS: And you used it as a taxicab as well as -- ?

BUD SELTENREICH: No, I used it just for hauling water. I made a pickup out of it. LOGAN HOVIS: Okay.

BUD SELTENREICH: Used it for my water business. But I did drive taxi for some of the other outfits that had a taxi service, like out of McCarthy Garage. There was two outfits in there.

Fred -- Fred did the same thing. He drove for one of those outfits and I did it for the other.

We used to get five dollars for a trip to Kennecott whether there was one person or there was a full load. And the driver, I’d get two dollars, and the owner would get three.

And I did it with dogteams in the winter. There's a picture in my album in there about the dogteam coming into the camp here. In the winter, the road wouldn’t stay open, all this, so when it was closed we ran it with dogteams.

And I'd come up the railroad track because there wasn’t any trains then. One a day, so we didn’t even shovel up the railroad. Sometimes only run every couple days.

So used the railroad track quite a bit. Nobody objected to it. For the dogteams, that was a much better way than coming up the road.

LOGAN HOVIS: When you were driving the taxi, who were your main customers, the miners?

BUD SELTENREICH: The miners, yeah. They would come down and get drunk, all kicked out of shape and have to get back to work.

LOGAN HOVIS: Would you take them all the way up to the mines up on the ridge?

BUD SELTENREICH: No, just as far as the camp. The size of the road, you couldn’t up there. You couldn’t go any further than the store.

LOGAN HOVIS: Would -- would you ever do any business at the store up here?

BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, yes. I used to buy stuff, 'cause it was cheaper up here. They didn't object at all. They'd sell it to anybody.

LOGAN HOVIS: And -- and you didn’t have to use the script, you could go --

BUD SELTENREICH: No, no, they took cash. We used to come up here to the movies quite a bit.

We used to have movies in McCarthy years ago when the power plant was running. Then that shut down. 1918, it shut down. Mother Lode Power Plant.

Then we didn’t have any movies anymore down there so we'd have to come up here to the movies. See "Tom Mix" and "Rin Tin Tin" and (inaudible) and all those others.

LOGAN HOVIS: Usually a good crowd for the movies?

BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, yeah. Full house most of the time. Come up from McCarthy to the camp here. They'd come up.

LOGAN HOVIS: Anything else you would like to say particularly in relationship to McCarthy and Kennecott?

BUD SELTENREICH: No, I can’t really tell you much more about it. No, I wasn't -- It was an interesting thing. I wasn't bored. Didn’t have any trouble with having to smoke pot or shoot -- shoot cocaine or anything like that to keep entertained.

But even though McCarthy was a what you might call a -- a gambling, bootlegging, whore house town, it never dawned on me to follow that trade. I ran a respectable business.

Most of my life I haven't been interested in -- I assumed that other wasn't the greatest, but there wa money in it, but I wasn't interested in money so much as I was interested in doing what I liked to do.

LOGAN HOVIS: Did you know many of the people that are here at this reunion when you were a child?

BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, yes, quite a number of them I remember that I hadn’t seen since they -- since they left here and I left here. Haven’t seen them since they left. Didn’t even know where they were. Didn’t even know they was around. They were alive.

LOGAN HOVIS: Do any of them stand out particularly in your memory? Any of them that perhaps you worked with or --

BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, yeah, Oscar. Oscar Watsjold. He was a big fellow that worked at the store. They came over from Ireland and went to school in McCarthy. They couldn't speak English at that time, but learned English and went to school at the same time. And then Oscar and I worked at the -- together at the Road Commission camp. Building the road from the Nizina over to the Chitina River.

And so we had quite a bit of associations together. Of course, I've seen him a number of times since then. Since before the -- And he had a brother, John, that lived in Anchorage. He still has a brother, John, who lives in Anchorage.

LOGAN HOVIS: When you were working for the Road Commission on the Nazina Road, did you have anything to do with building the bridge?

BUD SELTENREICH: No, that was built just before -- That was built in 1924. I was a little young for that (inaudible), except we did have some business with them. My folks did, from the viewpoint that --

But when they put those concrete piers in, they had trouble finding enough -- enough gravel and sand to -- that was stiff enough to make substantial concrete. All that stuff down in the river has got too much mica in it and that weakens the concrete.

So up there on our homestead, right next to the house where they lived, there was a bank there of -- of sand and it was pure sand. So they came up there with their wagons and they hauled the sand from there down to the camp where they were building the -- putting the piers in for the -- for the spans that went across the river.

So I had business with them in that regard. And my dad worked for one of the -- one of the steam bars for the pile drivers. So he worked on that.

I used to go down there. And go down there and get a good view. I was always welcome down there. And go down to their very nice camp down there. In fact, it was only about a twenty minute walk from where we lived up there on the homestead, down below their camp.

LOGAN HOVIS: Where was the camp, on which side of the river?

BUD SELTENREICH: It was on this side, on the McCarthy side. It was right down -- are you familiar with that -- you see that building built out of planks, that's down there?


BUD SELTENREICH: That's -- that's ours. We built that. My dad built that off of planks that came off of the first bridge that was put in the Nazina upriver from that bridge.

They put in a bridge there that lasted one season and the river washed it out and those planks were starting to -- (inaudible) fell over the bars and we took the horses down and drug them up and built that building out of them.

LOGAN HOVIS: Was the earlier bridge closer to May Creek where the --

BUD SELTENREICH: Yeah, they built it across from May Creek. It was across from where that road there goes down to the river. It was an old wagon road.

We used to -- used to play down there years ago across the river. Down there by -- the place by Shorty Grimes (phonetic) homestead. It was upriver from our -- our homestead.

So that's where the bridge went across. That's just above his place that bridge went across. It was all pilings and, of course, when the high water came that was the end of it.

LOGAN HOVIS: Was there a roadhouse at May Creek at that time? BUD SELTENREICH: Yeah.

LOGAN HOVIS: Did you know the people there?

BUD SELTENREICH: Yeah. Jimmy Brown, I think, had that roadhouse. And Tess Murie married Jimmy Brown. Tess Holmes. I don’t know what her maiden name was. But I knew her as Mrs. Brown at first, and and then she married Murie and then was Mrs. Murie.

And then after Murie died she married Walter Holmes. So I knew her ever since -- Well, I guess since I can remember, she was there.

LOGAN HOVIS: Where was the roadhouse? Anywhere near where Al (inaudible) has his place?

BUD SELTENREICH: Yeah, just up -- upstream from Al (inaudible) place. LOGAN HOVIS: Okay.

BUD SELTENREICH: Not that they're on the same level. Well, just -- the road from the airport run down to his place. Down to that --

No, it was further down. Yeah, over there. Walter Holmes had his place. I guess, yeah, I guess (inaudible) bought Walter Holmes' place there. LOGAN HOVIS: Okay.

BUD SELTENREICH: But the roadhouse was further down the creek. It was on that same creek, but it was further down towards the river. They had a fine roadhouse down there. A nice building.

LOGAN HOVIS: Log building?

BUD SELTENREICH: Yeah, I think it was log. I'm sure -- Yeah, I'm sure it must've been log.

LOGAN HOVIS: Two stories? BUD SELTENREICH: Two stories. LOGAN HOVIS: Rooms upstairs?

BUD SELTENREICH: Had a horse barn. You know, in those days you had -- every place had a horse barn because everybody had horses.

And you had to have a place for the horses to stay. Yeah, I've been there quite a few times.

LOGAN HOVIS: Perhaps you can help me with a few other little bits of information in the May Creek area. Was the Mail cabin always where it is now? Down there on the -- on the -- oh, I guess it's the east end of the runway? BUD SELTENREICH: Oh -- LOGAN HOVIS: South end?

BUD SELTENREICH: No, there was no -- there was no runway. That runway was built in -- Oscar and Leonard Dunway (phonetic), two kids I went to school with. Leonard died since, but they were working for the Road Commission.

That's after I left. It must've been in ’39, ’37, ’39 they built that runway.

So there was no mail boxes of any kind in those days. They didn’t have mail boxes. I don’t know what they --

So the roadhouse there and then the one at Spruce Point and then went over the summit to the White River. Next -- next roadhouse was -- was they had them about every twenty miles along the road.

LOGAN HOVIS: Was there a roadhouse on Peavine Bar going up the Chitistone (River)?

BUD SELTENREICH: No. No. The only thing that was on Peavine Bar -- Let’s see, when the Bremner Mining Company started -- you should talk to Ted about that.

He started in there with the tractors. And I think that was as late as ’37, ’38 over that road that cross from the Nizina to the Chitina and on into the -- where the Jakes Bar. Jakes Bar, that's where it was.

I think they crossed there at Jakes Bar. Yeah, they did. They crossed there and then went up the other side up to the Hanagita (River) on the Bremner Mine.

LOGAN HOVIS: Did you ever go up to Chititu Camp? BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, yeah. LOGAN HOVIS: And then Nizana -- or up on Chititu Creek?

BUD SELTENREICH: Yeah, riding on the Chititu. I was pretty good friends with Charlie Kraemer, the guy that was up there. Used to do those things once in a while. Maybe once in the summer, a couple times during the summer. Because I'd be driving out there hauling freight. I did that, too.

I ran, you know, the Model T trucks. I used to drive one out there and the guy that had the Golden Hotel he had a taxi truck service. I used to drive his Model T truck once in a while and make a trip out there with some freight.

You didn’t go right up the Chititu at that time. We stopped there at the -- at the short cut there and they came down with the horses. They always used horses to come down and picked up their freight. Sometimes I'd ride up on the horses just to go have lunch with them (inaudible). LOGAN HOVIS: Good.

BUD SELTENREICH: If there was a free meal around, I'd want to get in on it.

LOGAN HOVIS: Did -- did you know I think it was George Powell’s father? BUD SELTENREICH: Yeah.

LOGAN HOVIS: And he mined up there on Rex Creek? BUD SELTENREICH: Yeah. LOGAN HOVIS: I mean -- I’m sorry --

BUD SELTENREICH: Well, I'm not sure what creek he mined on, whether it was Rex Creek or -- I guess it was Rex Creek. I guess that's where he got killed in a cave-in there. Yeah, I knew him.

He had a blacksmith shop. He lived in a blacksmith shop down there right across the street from the Mother Lode power house.

And, of course, I got involved in that, too. At least, he'd let me turn the crank of the forge while he would do horseshoes (inaudible). I got involved in the blacksmith shop.

I used to work in that blacksmith shop off and on doing little chores for myself. He had equipment there that I could use. Drill press and some things like that for drilling holes.

I didn’t do much horseshoeing, but I got -- I know how to do it anyway. Got involved that much.

LOGAN HOVIS: How about Chisana? Were you up there any?

BUD SELTENREICH: No, never went to Chisana. I've been -- later years I've flown in there quite a bit off and on. I went over to Bremner when Peyton Ramer and his brother were staking their ground. And I walked over there with them one time.

Went down to Long Lake on the feeder, the section's feeder and then I went down to the river helping him to build their -- he was a pretty good handyman around boats. And he had a boat in there it was across the river in the Chitina River.

So Ralph got in it and took the boat across and then walked up to the Bremner Mine. We staked -- I helped him stake some claims up there on that -- at the site of the Bremner Mine.

LOGAN HOVIS: Staking up on the mountain side must have been touchy business?

BUD SELTENREICH: Nah, it wasn’t very steep there to that monument. (inaudible) monuments and stuff. I was up there about four or five days with him one time.

Then I learned later that -- that I said, "What the hell ever happened to my Chevrolet car?" Well, someone says -- I think someone says they seen it over at the Bremner. They've taken it over there.

Then in one of my Chev -- I had two Chevrolets, actually. Actually, I had two Chevrolets. And I rebuilt the engine on one of them and made a super, super engine out of it. I put aluminum alloy pistons in it and spent the winter working on it.

I says, "What the hell ever happened to my Chevrolet engine?" Well, someone says they're running the tram with it over there at the Bremner Mine. That's a lot of cc’s.

So I guess that's what happened to my Chevrolet car, Chevrolet engine. Ended up over at the Bremner Mine.

LOGAN HOVIS: There's an old Chevrolet up at Calamity Gulch, too. Up off of --

BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, I bet that -- see my brother, Ted, my older brother, him and a fellow by the name of Clarence, put in a hydraulic system up there, up there at Calamity.

And that was a little after I'd left here. I'd been gone a long time and that was in ’38, maybe ’39 he was doing that. And I bet that's smashed. Was there a whole car up there?

LOGAN HOVIS: A whole car up there. BUD SELTENREICH: Was it a pickup? LOGAN HOVIS: It's a pickup and it's got cleats on the back tires.

BUD SELTENREICH: Well, they might have put those on to get up there, but that's my Chevrolet pickup. That's where my other pickup went.

I think that was a 1919 model. It was a 490 Superior. One of them had a Superior. That was the deluxe model. And that had a California top on it.

Some of those with the -- it was a -- it was a touring car that was converted. Press it down by putting the side windows, permanent side windows in that with side curtains. And then that 490 Model that was a cheap model Chevrolet, but that was the pickup I had.

It was an older model one. The car. That's where it went to. I’ll be damned.

LOGAN HOVIS: There's quite a bit -- BUD SELTENREICH: But if ever I go up there, I know I'll have a car to run around in.

So anyway, they mined one season. It took them two years or three, to get that set-up going up there. And they must've put in quite a bit of equipment up there 'cause they got it all built up and then they mined one season.

And I think they took off to -- I forget, a couple hundred dollars. They cleaned up a couple hundred dollars.

So then -- then -- then my brother came over to Fairbanks. I was in Fairbanks at that time. That was in the '40s, probably 40. Around 1940, I guess.

And he drove a Model A over there that he had here. I don’t know whether it was a Model A pickup or Model A car. That's what it was.

And then he went to work as a mechanic for Pan American because I was the chief mechanic, so it wasn’t hard for him to get the job.

LOGAN HOVIS: Yeah, that would help, yes.

BUD SELTENREICH: So he got a job as a mechanic for Pan American. And Fred worked for Pan American, too, until he got in a row with the superintendent and he said, "The hell with him," and left. But I was telling you about Ted was working for Pan American. And then --

FRED SELTENREICH: Is that thing on? LOGAN HOVIS: Yes it is. FRED SELTENREICH: You can't talk this long until the people (inaudible)

LOGAN HOVIS: Oh, I know that. FRED SELTENREICH: Okay. BUD SELTENREICH: Well, I put a little -- I put a little spice in it. FRED SELTENREICH: Yeah, you've got to spice it up.

BUD SELTENREICH: Well, I told him about building the fires for the girls on the line, and taking their shoes off to -- was too cold, I mean, and that all sort of thing. FRED SELTENREICH: Coming down here and chopping the wood.

BUD SELTENREICH: Well, anyway Fred worked for Pan American. My older brother. And then he was substituting as a flight mechanic. They used to put flight mechanics on the airplanes to Nome because they didn’t have any -- they didn't have any maintenance people. They were just -- So he was on there as a temporary flight mechanic. And it was in ’42, wasn’t it? FRED SELTENREICH: '42.

BUD SELTENREICH: Was it ’42? It was coming out of Nome in a whiteout condition they ran into top of a mountain and got killed on the flight. Everybody got killed on that. It was a terrible situation. Was flying in terrible conditions. So what was I starting to say?

LOGAN HOVIS: I was -- We were talking about Chititu, or not Chititu, but Bremner. BUD SELTENREICH: Mining in (inaudible). FRED SELTENREICH: (inaudible).

BUD SELTENREICH: He said that -- he said that Chevrolet pickup of mine is out there. FRED SELTENREICH: Well, I thought it was over in the Bremner.

BUD SELTENREICH: Well, he saw that, too.

FRED SELTENREICH: It was high on the Bremner because they had it up on the hill there and (inaudible) it around.

BUD SELTENREICH: He said that engine was used to run the tram.

FRED SELTENREICH: Yeah, we took the engine and used it on running the tram from the -- where the tram come down and then right over the hill is about (inaudible).

BUD SELTENREICH: Did they have the authority to use my engine?

FRED SELTENREICH: I didn’t use it. You got to get a hold of Lee Ramer (phonetic) or -- but you got to leave this world before you see them. BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, yeah. Well, I'll take it up with them.

FRED SELTENREICH: But you ought to go up there. You can do down that way. BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, I see, oh, I'm going the wrong way. Oh, well, the hell with that then.

FRED SELTENREICH: That's like the other day, some guy was talking to me and he says, "Oh, you have a well in? How deep do you go?" I said, "Well, the well is 73 feet deep. Went through 30 feet of gravel and 30 feet of clay. And then they hit another gravel lens. It's down there about thirteen, fourteen feet and there's gravel."

And Willie says, "How deep is the gravel?" And I says, "It goes clear to hell if there is such a place." "They're all right," he says.

BUD SELTENREICH: But anyway, that's where my pickup is, up there on Calamity. That was that 490. Well, I -- I -- I thought that, yeah, I got that Henrickle Hinkley engine, only one in the world.

FRED SELTENREICH: Yeah, right, yeah. And the transmission, somebody told me they took it out there to run their dragline. You know, they have that dragline at Calamity Gulch.

LOGAN HOVIS: Yeah, I've seen that engine out there.

FRED SELTENREICH: The transmission. I don’t know what engine they used. It's a three speed transmission same as a standard transmission, but it went on an old Model T. An old Model T had bands, you know, and stuff and -- and -- and so I'd have a complete engine with everything.

BUD SELTENREICH: Maybe you can get the transmission from them. They ought to give it to you. It's yours anyway.

FRED SELTENREICH: But, yeah, I got the engine down at Barry Green’s place, a Henrickle Hinkley. LOGAN HOVIS: Well, there is a --

FRED SELTENREICH: It was a Ford Model T with a -- with a three speed transmission. Regular -- regular transmission. They weren't that advanced yet.

LOGAN HOVIS: There is a gasoline motor mounted on the winch out there. It's a three ton winch.

FRED SELTENREICH: And they had a transmission on the back of the engine? LOGAN HOVIS: Uh-huh.

BUD SELTENREICH: Well, I'd have -- a Chevrolet if they needed a Chevrolet. But you can hardly get that.

FRED SELTENREICH: Well, they didn’t use that. They're similar cars in one piece. They didn’t tear that up.

LOGAN HOVIS: The car's just sitting there rotting away. BUD SELTENREICH: It is a pickup? LOGAN HOVIS: Uh-huh. BUD SELTENREICH: But I don’t know --

FRED SELTENREICH: The engine would go on any Model T engine, so if they had another Model T engine.

BUD SELTENREICH: Oh sure, they're several around.

FRED SELTENREICH: Yeah, that's the only thing I’m missing is that thing that -- I should see.

BUD SELTENREICH: I bet they would give me that back if you wanted it.

FRED SELTENREICH: I think the frame's at Edwards? Doesn’t he -- ? BUD SELTENREICH: No, Edward, he was never out there.

FRED SELTENREICH: He -- he re-staked it when it ran out and (inaudible) were gone. I understand that he owns it.

In fact, he supposed to have sent me a pole up there to do the measuring and stuff. But nowadays, of course, I don’t think they're doing it, except once when you're just signing the papers down the -- (inaudible). LOGAN HOVIS: That's just what is happening.

FRED SELTENREICH: Unless you catch them at it, how are you going to prove it? It's a tough thing to prove.

But anyway that's -- that's s a long walk up there to get that.

BUD SELTENREICH: Get a helicopter. A helicopter pilot. LOGAN HOVIS: Yeah.

FRED SELTENREICH: Yeah, I've been trying to talk Bill into it, but he's so darn busy he can’t get away anymore. If he had lots of time, he could get away.

He didn’t have the helicopter, now he's got the helicopter and he can’t get away enough time to use it. He was going to fly over into Bremner and take a look at that junk there, too.

BUD SELTENREICH: Well, who owns that Bremner stuff now?

FRED SELTENREICH: Some guy with BLM claims he owns it.


FRED SELTENREICH: And I was in Chitina one time and the guy from BLM come in there and he hired Art Knutson to fly over in a Super Cub. And I talked to him and he said that he owned it because he has the stock in it.

Some way -- and some way even if he was hard to get. He owns it. Or said -- BUD SELTENREICH: Well, you got stock in it, too.

FRED SELTENREICH: Well, my wife said she'd married a very wealthy men for that suitcase full of stock certificates. And after three or four years, she said, "Well, what are you going to do with all that stock in the suitcase?" And I said, "Well, it's worthless." "Oh, I thought you were wealthy," she said. And so she burnt it. LOGAN HOVIS: Oh.

FRED SELTENREICH: And I could've made money by selling it. LOGAN HOVIS: Oh.

FRED SELTENREICH: It'd be valuable. It's valuable. I don’t know.

BUD SELTENREICH: Just like -- just like, you know, my mother had some of it, too. I don’t know what happened to that.

FRED SELTENREICH: I think I have 13 shares or something. BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, I see. FRED SELTENREICH: I think I have stock certificates. BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, yeah. Yeah. FRED SELTENREICH: Isn't that something.

BUD SELTENREICH: Where are you based?

LOGAN HOVIS: I’m based in Anchorage.

BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, are you? Oh, I see. You with the Park Service? LOGAN HOVIS: Yes, yes, I am.

BUD SELTENREICH: Been with them long?

LOGAN HOVIS: I've worked with them during the summers for the last five years and this is the second time that they've had enough money to keep me on in the winter now. BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, yeah.

LOGAN HOVIS: I’m not a permanent employee. I’m a seasonal.

BUD SELTENREICH: Is that machine on there? LOGAN HOVIS: Yes, it is.

BUD SELTENREICH: At one time in your life you made an honest living, huh?

LOGAN HOVIS: For 15 years I worked in the mines. BUD SELTENREICH: Where? LOGAN HOVIS: In British Columbia. BUD SELTENREICH: Oh, I see, oh, yeah. LOGAN HOVIS: Uh-huh.