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George O'Leary and Frank Warren
George O'Leary and Frank Warren were interviewed on January 11, 2008 by William Schneider at Frank and Mary Warren's home in Fairbanks, Alaska. In this interview, George and Frank talk about trail routes, using dog teams and horses to freight supplies, and making the trip between Circle and Fairbanks. They also comment on a collection of family photographs related to dog mushing and the old winter trail. This recording has been edited from the original in order to facilitate the flow of the interview and conversation.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2008-01

Project: Dog Mushing in Alaska
Date of Interview: Jan 11, 2008
Narrator(s): Frank Warren, George O'Leary
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
Transcriber: Joan O'Leary
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
Alaska State Library, Institute of Museum and Library Services
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
There is no slideshow for this person.

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Spring mushing trip with George's father

Negotiating summits and steep slopes

Food for the dogs

Traveling with a heavy sled

Graded steep trails

Mail carrying payment

Dog teams vs. airplane mail delivery

Items the mail carriers hauled

Other mail carriers

Road from Circle to Fairbanks closed in the winter

Picture on the saddle

12 Mile Roadhouse

Maurice and Mary Alice at Eagle Summit

Yukon, Maurice's leader

Dog houses at 100 mile Fish Creek

Maurice O'Leary in warm weather

Cabin at Sourdogh Creek

Hay barn in Circle

Dog team on a frozen river - possibly McManus Creek

Heavy mail sled tipped over on it's side

Picture of Jack Bolton in front of his Do Drop Inn

Walter Roman, Maurice and Bill O'Leary and Jack Bolton

Maurice O'Leary at Fish Creek

Steep terrain for dog travel

Going up Eagle Summit on the Circle side 1939

Mary Alice on the mail run with Maurice.

Model A on the Eagle Summit

Accident at Long Creek

Bill and Maurice on the Steese Highway

Mary Alice, Maurice and William O'Leary at Faith Creek

Head of Birch or Fish Creek

Walter and Edie Roman

Map of Circle to Fairbanks trail

Birch Creek and Ferry

12 Mile House across Birch Creek Flats

Heading into Central on the trail

Central to Miller House

Miller House to Chatanika

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WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Ok, I wanted to have you talk a little about that trip you took with your dad .

GEORGE O’LEARY: It was kind of a spring time trip. Good weather end of March or April. Beautiful weather all the way.

We went over the hills, stayed there at 101 mile or 100 mile that night and then back over to Miller House and -- I couldn’t remember. No, we didn’t have a truck that was the springtime -- and then back to Central. And I forget how we got back to Circle. I think -- yeah, my dad probably took the dogs in to Circle.

When I came out to go on that trip, I rode out Walter Jewell, and his wife Ida. And it was another beautiful spring day and took us probably, what 32 miles, in about five, six hours And it was an easy trip. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Easy going? GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Tell us how you negotiated the summits and steep slopes.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, it's like they do today with the -- with the Quest. You’re climbing out of the other, the north side coming up, you have to stop and hold the brake and hold the dogs so everything don’t slide back.

And give them a break, you know, maybe four or five times to get over the hill. And then the rough locks on and go down the other side.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: And how many dogs would you be running?

GEORGE O’LEARY: I think they had up to eight or nine or ten -- big dogs. Not these little poodles they run in the Quest, now. See they're 40, 45 pound dogs and they had dogs, I think, were over a hundred pounds and big -- lots of fur.

You could tie them outdoors 50, 60 below weather and they’d survive, see.

And feed them half of a salmon every day. But when they were back in camp, like at Central and Circle, they always cooked for the dogs.

The cornmeal and rice and certain -- whatever meat they had, a lot of fish and they fed them pretty good, you know, once or twice a week.

So, but when they went over to like Fish Creek or maybe even in Central, they’d just feed them half a salmon maybe -- maybe a big salmon, you know.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah, that’s amazing that they could digest that and be perfectly fine with just that.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah, and one fish is a lot of nutrient, you know, the bears live on it look what it does for them.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: So, how did you travel that time were you on a Ouija board or on a --

GEORGE O’LEARY: No, no, they did have Ouija boards but they never used them. Unless they -- a lot of the guys used them, but where you would on a trapline trail -- what do they call them?

You’d sit up in the front of the sled and you’d have a couple of handlebars and you’d have a couple of short skis. And the idea of being - FRANK WARREN: Gee pole. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Gee pole.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Gee pole. And you could maneuver the front of the sled that way through the rough roads or bad trails. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah.

GEORGE O’LEARY: I don’t know what they did when they ever got caught underneath the sled, but I suppose you could get the team stopped, but my dad and Walter never used them. They had better -- better trails than that.

FRANK WARREN: How old were you then George?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Come a little closer to the mic. That's alright.

FRANK WARREN: I just thought that I'd bring that up, how old he was when he made that trip?

GEORGE O’LEARY: Seven or eight years old. It had to be about 1938, ’39 and it might have even been the last year that they ever hauled mail. I’m not sure.

FRANK WARREN: You know what I’m talking about?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Where the road would have gone?

FRANK WARREN: No, where the trail went, but they made the old timers pick and shovel. It was so steep there they cut a grade for about a quarter of a mile.

GEORGE O’LEARY: So it wouldn’t be sideling. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Oh, I see what you’re saying.

FRANK WARREN: It wouldn’t be so straight down. So they cut a grade around -- GEORGE O’LEARY: They could've, they could've.

FRANK WARREN: I’ve seen it from the air many times. It is as plain as can be, but --

GEORGE O’LEARY: I've never heard anybody talk about it. Of course, these guys nowadays, the Yukon Quest, they wouldn’t even know what it is, see.

FRANK WARREN: Well, they might use it. GEORGE O’LEARY: They might use it. Well, they probably do use it, yeah.

FRANK WARREN: It’s the only place on the trail where there is a grade cut like that by -- it had to be pick and shovel.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah. Well, the federal government might even have done that. FRANK WARREN: Might have.

GEORGE O’LEARY: See, like they did up the Yukon, above the mouth of Kandik, under Castle Bluff. They put a cut grade all the way around the bottom there. FRANK WARREN: Yeah.

GEORGE O’LEARY: About that wide. You could almost drive your Jeep through it. FRANK WARREN: Probably, yeah.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: So did you say you were on the Gee pole that time?

GEORGE O’LEARY: No, no, no, Gee poles. They never used them.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: So where were you riding, on the sled itself?

GEORGE O’LEARY: Oh, probably either they made me walk or run, so, but when the going was good I was probably in the sled.

So, you know. I don’t know what they had for a payload, maybe four, five hundred pounds at the most, you know.

And there wasn’t that much mail going back and forth and then a little bit of freight once in a while.

FRANK WARREN: Well, they had in their contract that said that there was a maximum they would haul.

GEORGE O’LEARY: They probably got paid a minimum. FRANK WARREN: And it had to be by a certain date.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah, they got fined otherwise. FRANK WARREN: If they were late, they didn’t get paid.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Well, that’s something I’d like to pick up on. You say, if they were late, they didn’t get paid?

FRANK WARREN: They were supposed to be in Circle with the mail at a certain date and time, like noon on Saturday or Sunday. If they were late, they didn’t get paid. That was in the contract, according to what his dad said.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah, I’ve read that other places, too, and even up and down the Tanana and the Yukon.

FRANK WARREN: So they encouraged them to go in bad weather and stuff like that, you know.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Well, it is interesting because when the airplanes came in, sometimes there were complaints that the airplanes would get weathered out.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Which was half the time. FRANK WARREN: Yeah. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: You know, and --

GEORGE O’LEARY: That was a big -- the story I remember then that the dog team were more reliable.

FRANK WARREN: We were in Circle -- we had a stretch of 30 days one time, that we never had an airplane. GEORGE O’LEARY: Yep.

FRANK WARREN: It was below 50 below for 30 days and we never had an airplane.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Even today, in like Central and Circle, I seen it this year, you get that fog that lays in there. And it’s the fog off the Yukon River. It would be two weeks sometimes before it clears up. You don’t get no airplane.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Well, it is interesting those -- because there was a whole chain and of course, if the mail didn’t get to Circle, it didn’t get down river or up river.

And so, you know, and Dan did an interesting thing, O'Neill. He sent a postcard from Dawson to himself in Eagle and checked how long it would take and found, of course, that it took something like 10 days.

You know, where in the old days by dog team it would have been about four days or something from Dawson to -- FRANK WARREN: To Eagle, yeah.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: But the lynchpin, it seems to me, must have been Circle, getting from Chatanika to Circle, you know. I mean getting over those passes --

FRANK WARREN: Everything else was pretty level. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah. FRANK WARREN: Once you got over the Steese.

GEORGE O’LEARY: No, I think that even in bad weather they made it with dogs. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah, but with airplanes --

GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, like right now last -- just within the last fall, they had that fog over there and they didn’t have a plane in Central for two weeks. I used to -- I’d go up and check the mail once in a while, so.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah, now there was one old timer that you know, Frank, I’m sure. Helge Boquist? FRANK WARREN: Helge Boquist.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Helge. And he said that there was a petition when the airplanes first came in, a petition when they couldn’t get the mail, the people would sign up to haul it themselves with dogs. FRANK WARREN: Yeah.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Did you ever hear about? FRANK WARREN: I never heard about that. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: I got no record of it. GEORGE O’LEARY: No.

FRANK WARREN: Helge told that to somebody? WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah, we have it. FRANK WARREN: Yeah. I never heard that. GEORGE O’LEARY: I never heard that.

FRANK WARREN: But maybe in some instances maybe that was true, you know. Especially in the case like we didn’t get it for 30 days one time, but then it was so cold, the dog mushers at that time 50 below, they don’t want to be on the trail either.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: No. FRANK WARREN: But, of course, there was any dog mushers left. GEORGE O’LEARY: Wasn't any -- there wasn’t hardly any good dogs left.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: One of the questions that comes up is what were the mail carriers carrying? Were they carrying just letters or other stuff?

GEORGE O’LEARY: I think -- I think they could carry other stuff, freight, salt, pepper, flour, people. Something the people thought they needed, see.

FRANK WARREN: Whatever they had room for. GEORGE O’LEARY: Whatever they had room for. Mail came first.

FRANK WARREN: Mail came first. Mail had priority, but that was parcel post, too. It wasn’t just letters, you know. It was parcel post, too, so could have been a lot of anything. But they had a maximum they had to haul. They couldn’t throw him a thousand pounds and say 'here take it'.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah. FRANK WARREN: But I don’t know what the maximum was. I wouldn’t think it would be -- what do you think it would be?

GEORGE O’LEARY: I would say four, five, six hundred pounds. FRANK WARREN: Do you think that much?

GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah. Five hundred pound wouldn’t be too much, you know. FRANK WARREN: Going up those summits -- GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah.

FRANK WARREN: Pretty tough. Well, they had rough locks to chain them up to down the other side so --

GEORGE O’LEARY: We got pictures somewhere, Mary's probably got them. FRANK WARREN: I think I got them somewhere.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Showing them climbing from the north side up and the dog teams are like this and they’re standing like this and it shows how steep it is, see.

FRANK WARREN: That picture of Walter by the tripod? GEORGE O’LEARY: I think that’s Walter, yeah. Uh-huh.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah. She pulled out some pictures. I want to take a look at those in a minute. But would you talk about some of the other mushers that carried the mail. We had mentioned earlier, Curly Wells.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Now, Curly Wells I never seen him and never knew him, but I knew some of his kids like Jimmy and his wife Elizabeth and I think a couple of the daughters that lived there.

They rented from my dad and Walter right over here in Ghrael, in Fairbanks, for many years. And I think there is one daughter living yet Outside, the youngest daughter and then, of course, Jimmy is in Fort Yukon yet. Okay.

FRANK WARREN: Well, you know Horace Biederman? GEORGE O’LEARY: Oh, yeah, well -- FRANK WARREN: Going the other way. GEORGE O’LEARY: I met the old man once at --

FRANK WARREN: Horace carried it, too? GEORGE O’LEARY: The Kandik at Biederman’s camp. FRANK WARREN: Yeah.

GEORGE O’LEARY: And then Charlie, of course, I knew Charlie. He had carried the mail for a while, see. And I remember him being in Circle after his dad froze his feet, see. And he was only about 17, 18 years old. FRANK WARREN: Uh-huh.

GEORGE O’LEARY: And, of course, Horace but I -- Horace, I don’t know whether Horace carried the mail or not.

FRANK WARREN: Supposedly. GEORGE O’LEARY: He might have helped out, yeah. Horace had a store in Eagle for many years.

FRANK WARREN: Well, he run the NC Store. GEORGE O’LEARY: And he run the NC Store before that. In fact, he bought --

FRANK WARREN: He bought the NC Store. GEORGE O’LEARY: I think he bought the NC out, yeah.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah, Biedermans are sure associated with that stretch. GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah.

FRANK WARREN: Well, they had a fish camp. Their main camp was at the mouth of the Kandik River, which is roughly half way between Eagle and Circle.

And they put up a tremendous amount of fish every year. They had fish racks there that were, god, fifty feet long, you know. They had fishwheels there. GEORGE O’LEARY: Two fishwheels.

FRANK WARREN: Two fishwheels, yeah. And that was for their dog teams and they sold a lot, too.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Sold a lot. Well, when you catch 500 salmon in a fishwheel and you can’t keep up with the cleaning you got to -- fed them down, that’s how many fish there were, see.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: That’s amazing. And a way up above I guess it was Percy DeWolfe was the guy that -- GEORGE O’LEARY: From Eagle. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Dawson.

GEORGE O’LEARY: And he had done that for how many years? Thirty years. A long time, yeah.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: A long time, yeah. Are there others that we -- that I’ve missed?

GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, there are some in there. In the Circle area there's -- I think there was guys come and go like, the guy out at Chatanika and they wrote a book about him -- FRANK WARREN: Bob

GEORGE O’LEARY: Not Hanson -- just -- that book just come out. FRANK WARREN: Got the book right there, somewhere.

GEORGE O’LEARY: But he carried the mail for a couple years in there and used horses. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Horace? FRANK WARREN: His dad. GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, no, the book was written about the dad. FRANK WARREN: That’s what I mean, yeah. The guy who wrote the book, it was his dad.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, the kid never wrote the book. The guy who wrote the book was a -- he's wrote other stuff, too.

FRANK WARREN: Mary has moved it somewhere. GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, she is moving stuff all the time I can’t nothing.

FRANK WARREN: You got to live with her, you --

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Well, we’ll think of it. We’ll think of his name. FRANK WARREN: I can't see it.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Any others that come to mind?

GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, way back before that, I think they had different guys that worked at it, but they never stayed, you know, for any length of time. FRANK WARREN: Did Burton (phonetic) ever have anything to do with carrying mail? GEORGE O’LEARY: Burton?

FRANK WARREN: Burton, I guess not, huh? The one that Walter's mentioned.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Oh, no, Bob didn’t, no. They weren’t carrying the mail by dogs then. FRANK WARREN: Oh, Okay.

GEORGE O’LEARY: He worked up there for Walter Jewell and the mines and that cutting wood. He's got to be a geologist, now, he is eighty some years old down there in Texas, so, I just, we got a letter -- Frank and Mary just got a letter from him.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: I'll be darned. Yeah. And then when they got to Chatanika, they -- the mail would go on, on the, on the railroad, right?

GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, if that railroad was still running and they might have trucked it in to Fairbanks. I don’t know.

I know that road used to close in the wintertime because I remember -- I can remember when we used to have to go out and open the road to Chatanika.

But I think there was probably enough travel, it was kept open pretty much most of the year, you know.

But the Alaska Road Commission didn’t -- I don’t think they plowed it in the wintertime. All the roads were shut down, you know. They didn’t have no snowplows like they do now or anything.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Well, let’s look at some pictures. Tell us about this picture here. FRANK WARREN: It’s on the saddle. GEORGE O’LEARY: I don’t know which way he is going, but -- FRANK WARREN: It's on the saddle. GEORGE O’LEARY: On the saddle, yeah.

FRANK WARREN: Probably going -- GEORGE O’LEARY: Look at the size of the tripod. FRANK WARREN: Probably going north, yeah.

GEORGE O’LEARY: I don’t remember some of them being that big, but they probably were.

FRANK WARREN: You can see the rough lock chain hanging there -- WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Oh good, FRANK WARREN: -- on that side there, see it? WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah.

Looks like it is almost a basket sled. GEORGE O’LEARY: They are basket sleds. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: They were basket sleds. GEORGE O’LEARY: Oh, yeah, no toboggans. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: No toboggans.

GEORGE O’LEARY: No. They had toboggans, but I mean for hauling heavy loads you had to use a basket sled. And Walter Jewell built those sleds. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Oh, tell us about that.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, he -- he was a master carpenter and he could build -- he could build a boat, he could build a house, anything. FRANK WARREN: Well, he built two houses there in... GEORGE O’LEARY: Oh, he built more than. He built two houses -- FRANK WARREN: Trucks, vans, and all that stuff.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Ok, this -- I guess this is Ruth Olson. FRANK WARREN: 12 Mile Roadhouse. GEORGE O’LEARY: 12 Mile Roadhouse. It is all boarded up.

And then there is a cabin behind here on the left that people used to use but the roadhouse was closed down at this time.

That little guy, his name is VanGundy and I think that -- it says Ruth Olson, but that could have been -- FRANK WARREN: Looks like your aunt not Mary Alice but Josephine.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Oh, Josephine, FRANK WARREN: Looks like Josephine. GEORGE O’LEARY: Okay, Josephine, all right. FRANK WARREN: Doesn’t it? GEORGE O’LEARY: It does, yeah. FRANK WARREN: Josephine.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah, that would be Mary Alice’s sister. FRANK WARREN: Yeah. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Then this is 12 Mile Roadhouse?

GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah. It burnt and interesting thing in the recent year or so, the log book showed up out of that roadhouse. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Oh, really! GEORGE O’LEARY: And I got to look through it. You looked through it. FRANK WARREN: Yeah.

GEORGE O’LEARY: And it opened back in the late -- well, after the road opened and then it was open for four, five, six years in there.

And then anyway, it was closed at this time. There was no travel in the winter anyway to speak of.

And sometime in the beginning of -- just about the beginning of World War II, this place burnt and another one burnt on top of Cleary Summit, which was a roadhouse -- I mean a night club.

And I’m sure they burnt both the same night, probably the same person, see. And there is no electricity there, nothing to catch fire, but how that log book -- log book survived I don’t know.

It was found in Circle and a lot of old names in it from that period.

FRANK WARREN: But this was built in the creek and when they built the road it was half a mile from it, so that kind of died after the road opened.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Reed Creek was named after Art Reed, the guy that built this building, and he was also a miner and he mined the head ground up on Porcupine Creek and other places.

But he is the guy that got credit for building this, so. But he ran other roadhouses like down at Bell Creek. He ran that one there. FRANK WARREN: At what creek? GEORGE O’LEARY: Bell Creek.

Well, this definitely shows a team coming up there -- does that look like dad or maybe Alice? FRANK WARREN: Yeah, that’s your dad with Mary Alice, I guess, yeah.

GEORGE O’LEARY: That probably shows them climbing up out of Eagle Creek or on Eagle Summit somewhere. FRANK WARREN: Probably Eagle Summit. From the south -- going south. GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah. FRANK WARREN: Yeah.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Oh, that’s Yukon, my dad’s leader. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Oh, ok. Tell us about Yukon.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Oh, probably the best leader he ever had. He could turn them loose, loose leader. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Uh-huh. GEORGE O’LEARY: He’d stay in front of the dogs. He wouldn’t chase caribou or anything.

FRANK WARREN: He was big -- big dog. GEORGE O’LEARY: Probably 94 pounds.

This could be Fish Creek. They did have some dog houses there and big man tripod, I don’t know what them were for. It kind of looks like right at Fish Creek looking south. FRANK WARREN: Looks like the chain is tied up to the tripod.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, that’s probably -- FRANK WARREN: See the chain over there. GEORGE O’LEARY: Probably from the top if they jerked on it would just pull down see. FRANK WARREN: Yeah.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: So, this is at -- this might be at Fish Creek? GEORGE O’LEARY: Might be 100 Mile Fish Creek.

Yeah, that’s my dad there. That’s warm weather, you can see by the hat he is wearing.

FRANK WARREN: This is his sister, but that has got to be on the trail some where. GEORGE O’LEARY: That's on the -- you know where that could be? Up Sourdough Creek at Hilty’s cabin. FRANK WARREN: Oh.

GEORGE O’LEARY: They stayed up there and they took some pictures up there. The cabin is still standing. FRANK WARREN: Is it?

GEORGE O’LEARY: Somebody put a roof on it in recent years, you know, just a board roof and then other people have come along, repaired it, but God that cabin goes back before almost 1900 I’ll bet.

Well, that’s probably where Walter used to stay when -- if he got down there. Maybe he never stayed at Bolton’s, he went down to Al Hilty. FRANK WARREN: Oh, yeah.

GEORGE O’LEARY: We’re thinking this could have been up on Sourdough Creek which is not far off from Steese Highway and it was a guy named Al Hilty or Dave Hilty.

There were two brothers but one of them at that time was passed away, but I think Walter would always go up there to stay, you see. FRANK WARREN: Yeah.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: So that would have been on his way in and out of --. GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Chatanika. GEORGE O’LEARY: Uh-huh.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: So then we think is Sourdough Creek. We don’t know who this person is, huh? GEORGE O’LEARY: It was probably Mary Alice. FRANK WARREN: Or Josephine. GEORGE O’LEARY: Or Jose - yeah, Josephine, yeah. FRANK WARREN: One of the two, yeah. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Josephine? FRANK WARREN: Sister of Maurice.

GEORGE O’LEARY: This has got to the hay barn in Circle and the horses inside there with the hay. That old gray horse, that's probably the Gray Kid. FRANK WARREN: Let me see that hay barn -- that’s the old -- GEORGE O’LEARY: Hay shed.

FRANK WARREN: No, no, that’s the barn right -- that Wilbur made into a tractor shed with the stalls in it, isn’t it? You know the first one behind the store. It's got the stalls in it with the manger and --

GEORGE O’LEARY: They had stalls in that, but yeah, it could have been the -- FRANK WARREN: Didn’t have any stalls in the hay shed. GEORGE O’LEARY: There was stalls in that building next to the store, yeah. FRANK WARREN: Yeah, it’s a log - GEORGE O’LEARY: They had individual stalls for the horses. FRANK WARREN: Yeah, that’s what that little -- GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah. FRANK WARREN: Horse barn they called it.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah. That has got to be somewhere down like on the Chatanika or McManus Creek. FRANK WARREN: Glacier -- on the glacier. GEORGE O’LEARY: With all that ice. FRANK WARREN: Yeah.

GEORGE O’LEARY: The creek is not that big, but it builds up with that glacier. FRANK WARREN: It’s probably -- it could be between the summits even too, you know. GEORGE O’LEARY: Even between summits, yeah.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: So, you think that is on McManus Creek? GEORGE O’LEARY: It could be down on the McManus, yeah. Right about -- FRANK WARREN: Where it glaciers up. GEORGE O’LEARY: Eighty -- 80 Mile Camp and then about 78, 79 it glaciers up in there real bad.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: This is a McManus Creek photo? GEORGE O’LEARY: We think. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: We think.

GEORGE O’LEARY: This is a picture of my dad. I suppose he took the picture, so. FRANK WARREN: What's the writing on the back? GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Oh, that’s a good one of the outfit, though, huh. And you said Walter Jewell made the sleds? GEORGE O’LEARY: He made the sleds yeah. Toboggan sleds. He could make all that stuff.

And here is an interesting one. It is the only one I know of Jack Bolton. FRANK WARREN: Oh. GEORGE O’LEARY: At Faith Creek. FRANK WARREN: At Faith Creek, yeah.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Oh, so this is the roadhouse where they'd stop -- GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah, he called it Jack’s Do Drop Inn. FRANK WARREN: Couple -- WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Do Drop Inn. FRANK WARREN: Do Drop Inn.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: And is this Jack Bolton standing in front -- GEORGE O’LEARY: That old guy, yeah. FRANK WARREN: Yep. A little --

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Pouring himself a little whiskey. GEORGE O’LEARY: Oh, yeah, he always did. Is that what he is doing? WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Yeah. GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah. FRANK WARREN: Didn’t even notice that.

That’s a pretty good picture for back then. That’s 50 years old. GEORGE O’LEARY: It was a pretty good cabin. I slept in there a couple of times. FRANK WARREN: Yeah.

GEORGE O’LEARY: This picture there is the same cabin. Walter Roman on the left, my dad is on the next one, and then Bill O’Leary, his brother, and then Jack Bolton - FRANK WARREN: Maurice’s brother. GEORGE O’LEARY: Maurice's brother. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: So, we are going from left to right?

GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah, this is summertime. It don’t look like winter. It's either that or springtime. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: And that is at Jack Bolton’s place?

GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah. There is another cabin off the left there. FRANK WARREN: Yeah.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Fish Creek? GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah, it says -- my dad and Mary Alice’s sister in the cabin at Fish Creek. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Oh, good. So this is the cabin at Fish Creek?

GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah, I didn’t know there was a picture of it. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Oh, that’s a great picture. Look at the size of those dogs.

GEORGE O’LEARY: That’s the one I was talking about where the dogs -- you can see how steep it is. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Wow! That's pretty dramatic.

FRANK WARREN: That could have been -- that could have been either side. GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah, it could have been either side, yeah. FRANK WARREN: North or south.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: This is the Eagle Summit -- GEORGE O’LEARY: Going up Eagle Summit on the Circle side 1939. FRANK WARREN: Oh, on Circle side.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Because ’39 they were still carrying the mail in. FRANK WARREN: Yeah, is that the same picture? GEORGE O’LEARY: Looks like almost the same picture. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Oh, that’s --

FRANK WARREN: Yeah, the background is different so it's, yeah. You said that was on the back ’39? GEORGE O’LEARY: ’39, yeah.

FRANK WARREN: Yeah. It must have been close to the end of -- GEORGE O’LEARY: That might have been the last year.

FRANK WARREN: And who’s in that picture? GEORGE O’LEARY: I think it is supposed to be my dad and --

FRANK WARREN: Hard to tell, it's so far away. There’s a double sled there. Two sleds, real long one and a short one.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, maybe some of the dog team is partly hidden there, the second team. FRANK WARREN: Oh, yeah.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah. ’39 might have been the trip I made, too. That would have been the last trip. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Do you think yours was the last trip? GEORGE O’LEARY: Maybe one of the last trips.

Ok, this is Mary Alice, mail run. FRANK WARREN: Oh, yeah, I seen it, yeah.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Mary Alice lived out in Seattle and she lived up here when she was young, see and then she wanted to come back and make -- maybe that was the last year they were going to haul the mail and she come up and made that trip in the springtime, so.

FRANK WARREN: Come from California to make that trip? GEORGE O’LEARY: No, Seattle. FRANK WARREN: Oh, she was -- GEORGE O’LEARY: She was married to a guy named Bob -- FRANK WARREN: Oh, yeah, that’s right. GEORGE O’LEARY: Bob something.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Mary Alice is in the sled. GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: And your dad is on the handlebars. GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah.

That might have been taken even on Eagle Summit before they widened it on the old road. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: The model T or an old truck.

FRANK WARREN: What is that a T or A? Yeah, that’s an A. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: It is a Model A?

FRANK WARREN: Yeah. Look at the chain on the front in case you needed to get pulled. GEORGE O’LEARY: Everybody had chains on the front.

This one here my dad had an accident out by Long Creek one time when they were over load, remember the spring broke? FRANK WARREN: Uh-huh.

GEORGE O’LEARY: And he went down over the bank. He had two people in the cab. One of them was the old schoolteacher and Mrs. Call and she had two girls -- two girls and Lee Alder, who was still alive,

and my brother Eddie were on the back and it rolled over on them. And I think the only one that got hurt was Eddie -- either broke or dislocated his shoulder.

FRANK WARREN: Well, you said Lee's still alive, your brother Eddie's still alive, too. GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah. FRANK WARREN: He’s younger than you.

GEORGE O’LEARY: A little bit. But anyway, that’s a picture of the truck, they think, after they got it up on the road and had a dent in the fender. That was one of Johnnie Palm’s trucks. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: A Dodge? FRANK WARREN: Is that a -- GEORGE O’LEARY: An old Dodge.

FRANK WARREN: That’s a Chevrolet there. GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah. It just says Steese Highway, it don’t say -- my dad and uncle -- his brother Bill, so I don’t know where that was taken so. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Looks like the dogs are ready to help out.

FRANK WARREN: Here’s Faith Creek again. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: This is Faith Creek? GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah, Jack Bolton’s cabin.

FRANK WARREN: Almost the same picture, isn’t it? GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, a little different. He has still got the bottle.

Mary Alice has probably got the parka on, then my dad, then William with the rifle there.

Let’s see, just looking at the terrain I’d say it is up around the head of Birch Creek, maybe -- maybe Fish Creek. This might be right outside the cabin at Fish Creek.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: So this is the one where they are in the deep snow?

GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, snow don’t look that deep. Of course, if it is out in the yard it is packed down anyway, but just looking downstream from there that looks like upper Birch Creek.

FRANK WARREN: Yeah, I don’t think it is on the north side. GEORGE O’LEARY: No. FRANK WARREN: So, so it’s probably -- GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, these -- FRANK WARREN: Probably the south side of -- GEORGE O’LEARY: Fish Creek. FRANK WARREN: 12 Mile, Fish Creek, in that area.

Looks like Walter Roman -- GEORGE O’LEARY: That’s Walter Roland and -- FRANK WARREN: And his wife Josie or Edie, I mean. GEORGE O’LEARY: Edie. Walter and Edie Rasmussen at Clum’s Fork. Up Birch Creek. Okay.

FRANK WARREN: Edie was his mother’s sister. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Uh-huh. GEORGE O’LEARY: It showed the cabin down there, too.

FRANK WARREN: Yeah. There’s another picture of them by the cabin. GEORGE O’LEARY: By the cabin. FRANK WARREN: I got it somewhere in there -- computer.

GEORGE O’LEARY: They trap -- he trapped down there two winters. Edie was down there with him one winter.

And that Clum’s Fork is down below 94 Mile on the Steese about 10, 12, 15 miles, then it comes into Birch Creek.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Well, that’s been -- this really has been helpful. This has been great. GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Point with your finger as you -- as you -- as the trail went out of Circle and so we get this down once more.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, let’s see where's Circle? WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: There's Circle there.

GEORGE O’LEARY: Ok. If you follow the road out even now today, it goes out to the hills and follow the hills but the old trail had to go across the flats about two and a half miles and then it hit the foothills and then followed the foothills all the way over to Birch Creek.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Ok. Here’s Birch Creek and that’s Ferry. GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah, that -- and down below Ferry was 12 Mile and 12 Mile they call it 12 Mile House and there was a roadhouse there, too.

Nobody knows who started it in the beginning, but when they put the road in, they moved the roadhouse up to where the bridge is now, but they didn’t have the bridge right away and they used the ferry there for crossing.

And after they left Birch, the ferry, they had to go out kind of across the Yuk -- Birch Creek flats and until they hit the hills and then in the summer they followed the hills with pack horses all the way to Central.

But in the winter they can go right down on the frozen Birch Creek, you know, on the - WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Uh-huh. GEORGE O’LEARY: On the flats there. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Ok.

GEORGE O’LEARY: And there's a-- there's a -- they tell me that when you get to Albert Creek, which is about three miles this side of Central, there’s another road that takes off and went to the Circle Hot Springs.

When they -- when they built the Circle Hot Springs, they hauled a lot of stuff down from that Army fort at Eagle and took it over there and built -- Frank Leach built the hot springs there.

Well, from 12 Mile House, the old 12 Mile, you can go right across Birch Creek Flats and get up on the hills and follow the foothills. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Uh-huh.

GEORGE O’LEARY: They could get up far enough up on the foothills, not very high, just to make a trail around there like with pack horses.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: And you’d still be south of the existing road here? GEORGE O’LEARY: You would be north. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: North, ok. Uh-huh. And that would take you into Central?

GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah. It would take you to Central, probably the hills would dissipate out about two, three miles from Central and you’d have to go down into the flats again and cross -- you’d be on part of Birch Creek drainage then and then into Central.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Uh-huh. And then from Central?

GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, from Central, I think on the old trail they just went right up Crooked Creek. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Uh-huh.

GEORGE O’LEARY: And up there at Sawpit where Regan’s mined, there was an old roadhouse there and that is where people used to cut -- as whipsaw lumber for sluice boxes because there was big timber in there.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: It says Sawpit here. GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah, Sawpit Creek -- still there.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Uh-huh. And then it continued down? GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, they’d go -- they’d go right up Crooked and when they got to the mouth of Porcupine, they’d turn left on Mammoth Creek and go up Mammoth Creek to Miller House.

And then of course, there were a lot of people up there mining, cabins. In fact, what they call Miller House today, there's not really anything there, but there was almost like a little town there.

But in later years when Berry bought up all that ground and dredged it, all those buildings come down, except Miller House. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Uh-huh.

GEORGE O’LEARY: And they -- they -- the Miller House bought that one acre there for the building to sit on and it was bought for insurance back in the 60’s and burnt.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: So then from Miller House -- GEORGE O’LEARY: Miller House you went up a little ways and you turned -- well, Miller Creek was right there. Then you went up Miller Creek and then over Eagle Summit where the dog teams went and where the Yukon Quest goes now, so. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Uh-huh.

GEORGE O’LEARY: And then down this side you came down another fork. I think they call it -- they call it Miller Fork and then you’re in the head of Eagle Creek and you go down Eagle Creek to where you hit Ptarmigan Creek and that’s the headwaters of Birch Creek.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: That might be Eagle Creek there. GEORGE O’LEARY: Yeah. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: And then you hit the headwaters of --

GEORGE O’LEARY: Well, you go down the -- that’s Birch Creek. You go down Birch Creek until you come to the mouth of 12 Mile Creek.

You go up 12 Mile Creek and then over 12 Mile Summit and you come down this side of 12 Mile Summit and you’re in McManus Creek. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Uh-huh.

GEORGE O’LEARY: And then when you get to Faith Creek, you’re in the headwaters of the Chatanika then. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. And then it’s a straight shot and you go down. GEORGE O’LEARY: That’s all the way down to Chatanika, yeah. WILLIAM SCHNEIDER: Okay. Good. Good. Thank you. That’s perfect.