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Julie Stricker

This is a recording of Julie Stricker giving a presentation titled "Falcon Joslin” on February 9, 2010 at the Friends of the Tanana Valley Railroad’s monthly "Rail Stories" public lecture series held at the Tanana Valley Railroad Train Museum at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks, Alaska. She is introduced by the organization's president, Dan Osborne. In this presentation, Julie talks about Falcon Joslin, the founder of the Tanana Valley Railroad. She discusses his personality, his personal background, and his work starting the railroad and being an entrepreneur around Alaska during the early 1900s. She also mentions his deep-seated feud with Judge James Wickersham in the early days of Fairbanks. Julie's presentation is based on a paper she wrote about Falcon Joslin titled "Falcon Joslin: Empire Dreams." Photographs from the Falcon Joslin Collection at the Alaska and Polar Region Collections and Archives at the Univeristy of Alaska Fairbanks can be viewed on-line at the Alaska Digital Archives website.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2010-02-02

Project: Railroads of Alaska
Date of Interview: Feb 9, 2010
Narrator(s): Julie Stricker
Videographer: Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Joan O'Leary
People Present: Daniel "Dan" Osborne
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.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.



Learning about Falcon Joslin, his dreams, and his accomplishments

Falcon Joslin's personal background and coming to Alaska

Falcon Joslin coming to Fairbanks and plans for a railroad

Marrying Lora Price, his homelife, and his wife's dislike of the North

Personality of Falcon Joslin

Other Alaskan projects Falcon Joslin made money from

Establishing the Tanana Valley Railroad

Lack of fuel for the railroad contributing to its demise

Trying to sell the railroad, monopoly busting, and feud with Judge James Wickersham

Promoting his ideas and Alaska

Return trip to Alaska 30 years later

Falcon Joslin's desire to strike it rich

Falcon Joslin's wealth

Raising money for construction of the Tanana Valley Railroad

Family and children

Golden spike from the Alaska Railroad in Nenana

Photographs related to Falcon Joslin and the history of the Tanana Valley Railroad

Early settlements served by the Tanana Valley Railroad, and impact of gold dredging

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


DAN OSBORNE: I'd like to welcome you all to the Friends of the of the Tanana Valley's first evening of rail stories. And we hope to have several more of these through this spring.

And I need to make an apology. I was corrected here after last month’s annual meeting of the Friends of the Tanana Valley Railroad. I never welcomed anybody before I started the meeting.

So I'm still taking lessons in chairmanship, I guess, or something. Tonight’s program is on Falcon Joslin, who is the founder of the Tanana Valley Railroad.

Falcon has been called the Harriman of the North by his admirers, and by his detractors as scoundrel.

Tonight’s presentation will be presented by Julie Stricker. Julie has a Master’s in Northern Studies from UAF and she wrote her thesis on Falcon Joslin.

JULIE STRICKER: Working on it.

DAN OSBORNE: Oh, she's -- you're still working on it then.

JULIE STRICKER: Still working on it.

DAN OSBORNE: I'm hoping she's working on the book.

Anyhow, Julie is employed by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner -- at least the last time I checked with her. And may just be the reason why the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner’s "Looking Back" column of a hundred years ago has been featuring so many rail stories. If you've been watching and reading it.

Anyhow, one of the things we may learn tonight is that Falcon Joslin is really the person responsible for keeping Fairbanks alive after the initial gold burst -- boom busted, and it was not Judge Wickersham as his supporters would have us believe.

Tonight’s presentation will be filmed by the UAF Oral History Program called the Jukebox Project. The Jukebox recordings are available on the Rasmuson Library in Archives website. And I downloaded one today and watched it and it's kind of fun to do.

Actually, I found out that I was even on their oral history page.

This presentation will be there soon, we hope. Karen Brewster and Maegan Elliott -- Ellicott, sorry, are filming the event. So here's Julie to present tonight’s program.

JULIE STRICKER: Thanks everybody for coming out. I've been telling people that I have been obsessed with Falcon Joslin for the last 13 years. And it's not really overstating it that much.

I started taking classes towards my Master’s Degree in Northern Studies. And one of them was Claus Naske’s Alaska History class in which we had to write a 20-page paper on something in Alaska history based on original sources.

And I kind of stumbled onto Falcon Joslin. I thought his name was cool. It is -- it' a neat name. Dermot assured me that there was a lot of information on him.

There was -- they were working on restoring old No. 1 . There was a house named for him. I'm like okay who is this guy?

And I figured oh, he's just your general Victorian businessman, you know. We'll write about the railroad and then I started reading his letters.

And he became very vivid, very alive in his letters. He was a dreamer.

If we had -- Falcon Joslin’s thing instead of Judge Wickersham, there would be half a million people living in the Tanana Valley according to the way he saw things.

There would be mines. There would be smelters. There would be farms on the scale of the Ohio Valley.

And these would all be linked to the rest of the United States and the world by railroads.

Railroads going to Valdez, to Haines, up to Rampart, up to the North Slope.

He was a dreamer. And he had some very, very big dreams and he came along pretty much at the exact right time for somebody to stomp them.

And he managed to do quite a bit. I think he is very much responsible for Fairbanks not falling off the map when the gold started to run off like happened in every other community just about in Alaska, because he saw transportation as the key.

If you can get transportation in place, people can get goods at a reasonable price. They can get their things to market. They can move. They can travel around.

And so he saw that as the backbone of any new -- new area is you had to get the transportation infrastructure in place, and you know --

We kind of wish they'd done that on the Old Steese Highway, but -- .

He was a little ahead of his time. Oops. On the bar on the right. There you go.

And indeed his vision was written on a brown paper bag.

He was born in Tennessee to a family that was fairly well off even despite the Civil War.

Got his law degree at Vanderbilt University, and moved to Seattle where he became a lawyer and helped write the Seattle City Charter.

And was there in 1897, when the Portland came with all of the Klondike gold -- the millionaires from the Klondike.

He immediately jumped on a ship and was over the Chilkoot Pass that same year. So he spent the first year in the Klondike before all of the other thousands of stampeders came up. And, next page.

He wasn’t exactly suited to be a stampeder. There is a very funny anecdote in his friend Martin Harrais’ papers that talked about how Martin came along and saw Falcon and a friend trying to use whipsaws to cut lumber out of a log.

And they were having a very tough time of it. The boards kept coming out twisted and warped.

And Martin Harrais went up to him and said, "You know, Falcon, you can’t twist the saw like you twist the words in a courtroom."

Falcon told him to go to hell. But so the next year he moved back into Dawson and he opened a brokerage where he did law. He did mining claims. He grubstaked miners.

He was a very solid citizen. He was very well regarded.

When there was a potential riot after a stampede that people thought the Americans had busted, he managed to calm people down.

He was very much a leader. And he started -- once he moved to Dawson he decided that they needed a few creature comforts, so he started the power and electric company, built a narrow-gauge railroad to haul coal. And it was only a short little 16-mile railroad, but that's where old No. 1 came from.

That's where it first found its home.

And by 1903 things in Dawson were pretty quiet. Everybody had already moved to Nome. He was getting restless.

And when the strike came in Fairbanks, he, his brother John, and Martin Harrais and Martin’s partner decided to go check out Fairbanks and see what kind of opportunities they were -- there were.

So they went. John and Martin and Martin’s partner and sketched out a map of the railroad.

They saw that there was gold. They saw that there was potential there. They saw that they could make this community that would last longer than just the gold rush. And indeed it was the beginning of their empire dreams.

And they sketched it out on a brown paper bag and took it back to Dawson. And the next year Falcon went to Dawson -- or went to Fairbanks and started building his plan.

He had his struggles at home. He wasn’t just a businessman.

He went to Iowa in 1900 and married Lora Price. And actually this is a part of the story I wish I knew more of -- how he met Lora.

He was from Tennessee. She was from Iowa.

She was from a fairly well-to-do family, Very strong-willed.

I found out this summer that two of Falcon’s granddaughters are still alive in Seattle. And had a wonderful phone conversation with one of them.

And she said that they grew up not knowing anything at all about their grandfather. Not knowing anything at all about Alaska, because their grandmother, Lora Price, hated Alaska, hated the Yukon.

Wanted -- Once she moved back to Seattle, she wanted nothing more to do with Alaska.

And this was a struggle between she and Falcon their entire married life.

In fact, they got married one afternoon. Later on that evening they were on a train to Chicago.

She went to Seattle. He went to New York on business and they were separated for months. And it was like that throughout their entire marriage.

And it was very hard on Falcon. He was very much a Victorian family man.

And he built this house and it's a prairie style. I think, he was trying to make her feel at home in Iowa.

And it was the nicest house in Fairbanks at the time. Second only to Judge Wickersham’s house.

And she hated it. She could not find help. She could not keep help. She was always firing, hiring servants just because they did not live up to her standards.

Apparently she was -- she filled a room. You knew when she was there. She was a very imposing woman.

But she stuck it out until 1907. And then she had had enough and moved back to Seattle; thank you very much.

But Falcon tried to quit the North several times. He never could do it.

He would get enormously depressed. He would talk about suicide. He would talk about quitting everything and going home.

And then something else would happen, and he'd get all excited and all these big ideas would come out.

But he was kind of an interesting individual from what I could tell from his letters. He was a hypochondriac. Every cold was pneumonia. He lived in terror of tuberculosis.

He was farsighted. Could not hold his liquor.

He got seasick in canoes. Was not a good traveler. Just doesn’t seem to be the type of person who loved it in Alaska, but he did.

He once asked Lora if -- jokingly, if she would consider homesteading in the Tanana Valley. And he got the answer he expected, which was a resounding, "You must be insane."

They did have three children: Falcon, Jr., Margaret, and William. And I don’t remember which one were the parents --


DAN OSBORNE: I don’t know either at the moment.

RITA OSBORNE: It was Margaret.

JULIE STRICKER: Margaret was Emily’s -- okay.

And I know that there is a sailing club that Falcon, Jr. was very much responsible for in the Seattle area, because it is still named after him. Okay.

DAN OSBORNE: I think it was Falcon, Jr.’s wife who left all the archives at Rasmuson . JULIE STRICKER: Okay.

DAN OSBORNE: Emily said it was her aunt by marriage who obtained them.

JULIE STRICKER: Okay. Well, besides his personality, as you've already been here.

He said something new would always come along.

So in 1903, he was in Dawson. He was ready to hang it all up and go back home. Lora was in Seattle. She had just had a baby.

He finally had gotten her to come up to Dawson and she hated it, Went back to Seattle, and Fairbanks happened.

So he's over here in Fairbanks -- big ideas, big plans and for the next four or five years he was kept pretty busy with the Tanana Valley Railroad.

And skipping over the railroad, which we'll get to in a minute, after the Fairbanks boom was done, he was in Iditarod in 1912 where he set up a telegraph system.

And that's really the only thing that he made big money off of. He sold it to the US Government.

After that, he was in Katalla, which was next to the Bering River coalfields. It had oil potential. It was another bust.

And then he even had the last gold rush in Alaska.

He had holdings up in Livengood. And he had those holdings up until his death in 1928.

Tanana Valley Railroad. We all know a little about that. He ran into trouble from the very beginning.

He first started building the railroad like you would anywhere else. He stripped off all of the overburden.

He stripped off the moss. Started laying the rails right on the ground, which was all permafrost, so it melted and became a big mess.

He learned later to leave the moss in place and build ditches on the other side of the track, so that when the permafrost melted, which it would, at least would run off and then they would shore it up with sand.

But it was not an ideal way to build a railroad. And maintenance was constant.

I think the only two years that the railroad had very good years were like 1907 and 1909 or 1912, and then the bottom dropped out.

They were an immediate success in that with the railroad they could get people and the huge boilers that they needed to thaw the ground to get the gold out of the ground from the river to the mines which were 20, 30 miles away.

Before that all they could do was they could carry whatever a six string of horses -- a six-horse team could carry. And they couldn’t get very far in the muddy season.

Rates were actually very cheap. You could go over from one end to the other for just a couple of dollars. They had specials.

It was really the lifeline for Chena, Fairbanks and the mining communities for about five or ten years.

But, he could not fuel them -- 1906 right when the railroad got started, Teddy Roosevelt decided that all of the oil, all of the timber, all of the coal in Alaska was now off limits.

And Falcon had been hoping to get coal from Nenana, or from Healy.

And they couldn’t even build a road to get down there. So his fuel supply was pretty much shut off.

And he said a couple years later in an article that that edict effectively strangled Alaska.

It was lifted in 1914, but by then they still could not get to Healy to get the coal. There was no road.

And it was too little too late. It pretty much killed the railroad.

About 1915, there were no trees anywhere around here. It was just denuded.

They needed the wood for the railroad. They needed it to build houses. They needed it to build fires to thaw the ground to get the gold out.

The wood prices were staggeringly high, and very inefficient.

And by, you know, he was hoping originally to sell it to the Guggenheims which was another problem that he ran into was -- not only was the conservation movement starting, the monopoly -- antimonopoly trust busting was in full vogue.

And anything that the Morgans or the Guggenheims or the other big monopolies touched was gone.

They couldn't -- they could not move. The federal government effectively shut them down.

And he blames James Wickersham for a lot of it, because James Wickersham was an avowed trust buster.

He and Falcon Joslin were on opposite ends of the political spectrum. They despised each other. Two of the most powerful men in Fairbanks.

And, in fact, Emily said that growing up the name Wickersham was never ever mentioned in her house. It was off limits.

So his plans to link to the Guggenheim’s railroad down in Chitina was gone. His plans to expand the railroad to the Yukon, to anywhere, he was -- It was effectively dead in the water.

So, yeah, he sold it for $300,000 in 1916. And they immediately sold it to the state -- to the federal government for a little bit more.

Okay. And as I said, this is the famous gold spike. And I have never been able to find -- obviously he's in this photo somewhere, but I don’t know if he's off to the side or if he's one of these gentlemen that we can’t quite identify on the left.

That's Isabelle Barnette with the gold spike and James Wickersham.

And this was before I think tensions got quite so strong with the Judge.

He -- Joslin wanted to run against Wickersham. He wanted to do anything that would get him out of the office.

And I really need to go back through Wickersham’s papers and look to see his side of the story.

'Cause I'm sure that it's fascinating. And I'm sure that in early Fairbanks these two personalities just made life a living hell for anybody who wanted to do something.

Outside of Alaska, Falcon Joslin was constantly on the road. He was in Seattle. He was in New York. He was in Washington, DC. He was in London.

He was either raising money. He was trying to get Congress to give Alaska home rule.

He was just talking up Alaska.

He would send giant vegetables outside just like Ted Stevens has done to show the agricultural potential, which was also effectively killed by the fact that it's cold up here.

You can’t really -- I don’t think his vision of the Ohio Valley would ever have quite worked out.

He organized the Arctic Club in Seattle, which was -- and it still exists in some forms today, designed to strengthen the ties between Seattle and Alaska. And those ties are still very important today. Very strong.

He wanted -- once he gave up on the Tanana Valley Railroad, he started advocating very strongly for a trunk railroad from Tidewater to the Yukon River.

He said that was the only way Alaska could ever be developed. And he was pretty much right. The Alaska Railroad opened up the Interior.

But he judged it more important than the Panama Canal to the United States.

Okay. And this is kind of the short version, but he was in Alaska pretty much every year. And I would like to sit down some time and do a timeline of his travels, and how much time he spent where, because he was constantly moving.

Discovered he was a very effective public speaker. Addressed Congress on several occasions.

Wrote quite a few articles for magazines about Alaska.

He had his fingers in a lot of different pies. He was vice president of the Washington Alaska Bank that E. T. Barnette had started that went belly up so wonderfully.

And then 30 years after he first came over the Chilkoot Pass, he retraced his steps. And I'm pretty much willing to bet that he took the railroad this time.

He went to Dawson, saw what was happening there, came back to Fairbanks. He owned some parts of the Ryan Lode Mine, which I guess was still operating until just oh, 10, 15, 20 years ago.

Got on an airplane, flew up to Livengood, which is fascinating that it took him 45 minutes in an airplane to what took him four days in 1912.

And I like this quote. He said, “He was always hopeful of striking it rich to the end, and he discussed selling his options in Livengood.

It is truly a beautiful mining property and I have a vague, dim hope that this time I may make a fortune out of it, but many similar hopes have gone awry. And I don’t know any reason why this one should not go the same way”.

And actually I understand that Livengood is being looked at very hardily for a rather large mine.

So I think he was just a little ahead of his time by a century or so in a lot of .


JULIE STRICKER: Yeah, yeah. And then he died of kidney failure in January of 1928 in Seattle. But he never -- I think he wanted to strike it rich.

He was one of these prospectors. I think if he'd struck it rich once, he would have gone on and tried to do it again.

He was always looking at the big picture, at the big haul. He had an extraordinarily successful life by most standards, but he never -- never got the gold ring, I mean.

And I really felt for him in reading his letters to his wife and his disappointments and his hopes. He was such a human person.

And so -- and obsessed. Any questions?

UNKNOWN MAN: Yes. After his marriage, life sustained the separation? They didn't get divorced?

JULIE STRICKER: They never got divorced. Yes?

UNKNOWN MAN: Well, there's one thing that's kind of puzzling.

'Cause he really never struck it rich, but I've seen a photograph of his house in Seattle and another house here. He traveled. He never --

There were people as willingly broke in mining claims, but he seems to have -- I mean he may not have gotten fabulously wealthy, but he seems to have made a pretty decent living.

By the standards of the time, I think he was pretty well off.

JULIE STRICKER: Yeah, and I agree. I think he was.

He made a comment when he was in Iditarod and he had sold the telegraph to the federal government.

He wrote to Lora and said, "Finally, now we can rest easy. We no longer have to depend on a salary."

But yeah, he was -- he was extremely well off by the times. He just was never -- never quite reached a level to which he wanted.

UNKNOWN MAN: How was he making his money?

JULIE STRICKER: He was a lawyer. And a mining broker. Yeah.

UNKNOWN MAN: Did he ever raise money through a syndicate?

JULIE STRICKER: He raised the -- when he started the Tanana Valley Railroad, he raised money from the same people who financed the White Pass and Yukon.

And they said that when you expand in three years, we'll give you another $600,000.

Well, three years later they were like no, we never said that. I’m sorry.

And he went to London. And I don’t remember who it was in London that he got the money from to expand the railroad.

But by the time the railroad finally was insolvent, they owed $600,000 in interest to their London brokers. And he sold it for $300,000.

RON INOUYE: Well, the English were the ones that were financing railroads around the world because they were essentially selling all of the goods. JULIE STRICKER: Uh-huh.

RON INOUYE: So they would probably have a stake in it for certain areas.

JULIE STRICKER: And I think that's probably why he got it 'cause nobody else would touch him.

The Guggenheims and the Morgans, the Alaska Syndicate, he -- actually contacted him to talk about expanding the -- I never can say it -- can’t run and never will railroad.

UNKNOWN MAN: Copper River.


JULIE STRICKER: Expand that railroad north. And they were actually in meetings when this edict came down from Teddy Roosevelt that you will not have any coal.

You will not have any timber. You will not have any oil. And by the way, these guys are bad.

RON INOUYE: Was his wife wealthy?

JULIE STRICKER: I can’t tell. She's -- the way she acted, she came from a fairly well-off family. Certainly not a farm family. She was used to having servants.

RON INOUYE: Maybe that was his initial stake?

JULIE STRICKER: Could be. And I'm dying to find out more about her 'cause I know really nothing. I don’t know how they would possibly meet.

UNKNOWN MAN: Sounds like he paid for it.

UNKNOWN MAN: What about his kids? What did they wind up doing?

JULIE STRICKER: I don’t know. I think Falcon -- I only know that Falcon, Jr., was an avid boater. I don’t know anything at all about William.

UNKNOWN MAN: The reason I ask is that there was a plane that was successfully ditched in the Pacific Ocean about 1960. And the pilot’s name was Joslin. JULIE STRICKER: Huh.

UNKNOWN MAN: It was one of the six -- I think it was a DC-6. And it successfully landed on the water and they got everyone out.

I noticed it -- at the time I was also very interested in Falcon Joslin 'cause .

JULIE STRICKER: Well, I'm hoping to get together with his granddaughters. Emily said that they would try to come up to Fairbanks this year. Or I'm trying to raise -- write some grants so that I can do some traveling and do some more research.

Emily said that they have a box of stuff that's been up in the attic from her grandmother. And would just love to sit with them for a few days and just see what kind of stories come out.

Oh, go ahead.

UNKNOWN MAN: Is your effort when this is all done are you going to write a book?

JULIE STRICKER: Yes, I think there is definitely a book or two.

UNKNOWN MAN: Oh, good. Interesting.

JULIE STRICKER: I mean, I could write a whole chapter just on the Wickersham-Joslin interactions.

UNKNOWN WOMAN: Did he have something to do with starting the News-Miner or owning it or is that somebody else?

JULIE STRICKER: I don’t recall anything about newspapers.

RON INOUYE: What about the spike that was put in in Nenana? Does anyone know where that is?

JULIE STRICKER: The one that went in in Nenana, no, I don’t. And I'm not even sure he would have been there 'cause that was kind of his defeat.

RON INOUYE: That was Harding.

JULIE STRICKER: Do you know, Dan?

RON INOUYE: I don’t know if anyone has ever found that stake.

DAN OSBORNE: I chased the spike for a while. It's been kind of a Holy Grail of many people. Chasing of the Alaska Railroad golden spike.

And there is a book that's written called "Get Mears" is the title and the author lived in Anchorage. And I can’t remember her name.

And when I read that book, she mentioned the golden spike and the story behind it. And I wrote her and contacted her. She put me in touch with one of Mears’ granddaughters who told me what she believed happened with the spike.

And Mears was fired by his manipulations in Washington by Wickersham about a month or two or three before the golden spike was put in.

And this is out of the book "Get Mears," if I'm paraphrasing it correctly.

And so the spike was actually a personal gift to Mears by the Anchorage Commercial Club, which is a predecessor of the Chamber of Commerce.

And they inscribed on it "To Frederick Mears of the Anchorage Commercial Company." You know, because he founded Anchorage. He basically made all the businessmen in Anchorage rich by creating that town. By making it the headquarters of the Alaska Railroad.

And so he had the spike, but he got fired. And so he left with his family and all. He was still in the US Army Corps of Engineers as he had been in Panama previously before coming up to build the Alaska Railroad.

And on his way south, when the boat stopped in Juneau, just a little bit before the boat was to go further south to Seattle, he went to the purser and said, "Here, give this to the governor before we leave."

And he went and he put it on the gov -- the purser went and put it on the governor’s desk, opened the box and looked at it and said, "Oh, my God we've made a mistake."

And the purser said I gotta go. Ship's sailing. And was gone. And the governor was left with the golden spike.

Then when Harding and everybody came up, they carried the golden spike up. Drove it in the ground. Pulled it back out again because it was Mears’ personal property, returned it to him.

It stayed in the Mears’ family for many years. I believe it was -- went to his eldest daughter when he died.

She held it for many years, and according to the conversation I had with one of the Mears’ relatives was that daughter was very financially strapped late in life.

And she took it down, and they believe took it to a pawn shop and sold it.

And it was -- I tried to figure out the timing through all that based on a little bit of information. And it might have been about the time gold hit $800 an ounce and the Russians invaded Afghanistan.

And so that would have been a tidy sum for a very elderly widow at that time. Enough to buy her more cat food, if nothing else, you know, for a good number of years.

Who knows. But it probably got melted back.

And I know the Alaska Railroad has searched for it. Numerous other people have hunted for it, but that's the material I've read.

There is a book published where it was said it was owned by the Southern California Firearms Collections Association or some title similar to that.

I chased that down with that organization. They have no knowledge. Or they would not say anything more than that.

But I did get a letter back from them saying not us. So as far as we know that golden spike has disappeared.

JULIE STRICKER: Dan, do you have a question?

DAN ?: No, I don’t. Dan can say basically what I was going to.

DAN OSBORNE: Anything else? More questions ?

RON INOUYE: Have you gotten very many pictures or other ways to sort of illustrate what was happening at the time with him or his family?

JULIE STRICKER: There are quite a few in the Archives . I haven’t been back to the Archives for several years. And a lot of what I've done has just been -- if I've been in Dawson I'll go see what they have or, you know, every time there's a book I look at the index to see if he's mentioned in it.

But there are quite a few collections and I have a lot of tracking down to do, but there's probably a tidy amount to be found. Yeah?

DAN OSBORNE: I just had some -- my wife found it by accident and we were looking for this program. It's in the digital archives of the Archives in whatever holdings of the Rasmuson Library is they now have put them all on-line.

And you can just Goggle and get into the collection and there's about, I think, it's almost 500 photographs of the Falcon Joslin collection in the Archives.

However, there are many other collections in the Archives which contain pictures also of the railroad, etc. and Falcon Joslin and many are repeats.

So there's a whole treasure trove to be looked at. And that is one of the goals of our organization is to attempt to collect all of the known images of the Tanana Valley Railroad or people pertaining to it.

And towards that end we got last year a aid from the state library as a grant to start finding people a finding aid and as a result this is the book.

This is what we paid $2,000 for. It's going to pay for our research. And it was done by a researcher at the -- called Lisa Morris, at the University Archives.

You know her, I guess. And she produced a research guide and finder's aid, and then she copied all the other finder's aides she could get a hold of of the collections she references.

So we kind of have a cheat sheet for anybody wanting to research the railroad these days.

And hopefully someone will take us up on the challenge and write a book on it. .

JULIE STRICKER: There should be quite a few in Seattle, as well. Quite a few photos with the article.

DAN OSBORNE: And both Emily and her cousin who are both granddaughters of Falcon Joslin have large trunks full of stuff.

And was one of the other members of the family who left all of their stuff to the University Archives. So we probably only have about one-third of the collection in the University Archives. The other two-thirds is still in Seattle.

Emily has promised us that she's going to come up here this summer with her cousin.

And I told her if she gives us a heads-up and we can arrange it, we'll do a special steam-up run for her and everything else.

And what I would like to do is have a gathering like this -- a picnic or something where we could also chat and meet with her and maybe convince her to ship that trunk north.

JULIE STRICKER: If not, I'm definitely going south.

DAN OSBORNE: My wife and I had dinner with her last September or something, and she's a very nice, personable person.

And we didn’t meet her cousin because her cousin had some health issues and wasn't able to meet us. But they're both placed to come up, unlike their grandmother.

RON INOUYE: If you have a chance to go to the University of Washington and see those archives.

Their Pacific Northwest collection has all the Alaskan material. So go there, too, because they have a wealth of stuff.

JULIE STRICKER: I'm going to pick your brain. RON INOUYE: Yeah. It's very rich. JULIE STRICKER: Yes, sir.

JAMES BARKER: I’d be curious, since the railroad was begun in 1905 and not knowing all of the history of when a lot of the sights were founded and what stage of development.

But I was kind of curious, for instance, like was Chatanika already started? Were they already working? Was there a -- did a lot of the mines -- ?

Joslin was in Fairbanks looking around where they say, look, we need a railroad? How was that looked at and what kind of decided that this would be a worthwhile thing?

And I'm kinda curious as what is dredge at Chatanika, for instance, was it all there on the railroad in parts obviously?

JULIE STRICKER: When John and Martin came up here, they had been digging -- I guess Pedro found gold in 1901.

And so they had found quite a bit of gold. And they looked around and they were very experienced miners and mining brokers and realized that there was a lot of material up here.

There were already mines established and communities in Chatanika, in Vault, in Gilmore. In Olnes.

All of those little places that are just kind of place names on a map now. And they had just discovered gold in Ester and in Fox. So they never did link to Ester that I know of.

DAN OSBORNE: Cleary, which is just over the summit down on Cleary Creek. In 1903, was bigger than Seattle. Is what's been quoted to me many times.

More people were living there. And like where the Pedro Monument is, there was 10,000 people living there at one time.

JULIE STRICKER: And Chatanika had 30,000 people before the dredges came.

The dredges came in the '20’s and '30’s. And pretty much dredged the entire townsite.

It doesn’t exist anymore. Yes?

UNKNOWN MAN: My understanding is one of the last things the railroad did was before it was tore up was to carry in all the dredges in pieces.

But by that time, of course, it was owned by the Alaska Railroad. And they had been significantly upgraded.


UNKNOWN MAN: They improved it quite a bit.

JULIE STRICKER: Yeah, it was no longer a narrow-gauge. . JULIE STRICKER: Oh, yeah, out here, okay.

UNKNOWN MAN: It was still narrow gauge all the way. They had three rail track all the way up to Happy. And then this narrow gauge diverted and went through .

But I think the railroad -- it was a branch line and it had been losing money for a long time. And I think that was just one of the last things he did.

And also I think it was going to be in the way of some of the dredging operations, you know.

JULIE STRICKER: When did they tear up the tracks?