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George Lounsbury

George Lounsbury was interviewed on December 17, 1992 by David Krupa at George's home on Ester Dome, just outside Fairbanks, Alaska. George was surrounded by stacks of old photographs and other historic memorabilia from Wiseman, Alaska. The collection of materials were willed to him and his brother Jim ("Clutch") by the late Harry Leonard, a Wiseman old-timer who befriended the Lounsbury's during the pipeline construction days. Like his brother, George lights up whenever he's discussing Wiseman, an area that the two brothers have grown quite fond of since they began visiting there over twenty years ago. The Lounsbury's mined on claims near Wiseman that they inherited from Harry Leonard after his death. Harry Leonard's property, also inherited, has been upgraded with the addition of a Wiseman Historical Museum in one of the cabins. Many a weekend is spent shuttling back and forth between Fairbanks and Wiseman. George's interest in history led him to learn a lot of the local oral history, and on tape he tells many stories about colorful old-timers and important events in Wiseman history. He and Jim became close friends of Harry Leonard, and George tells stories about their friendship and some of Harry's endearing idiosyncrasies--including his tendency to treat his dogs as full family members, even going so far as to set a place for them at the dinner table. This tape is full of anecdotes that illustrate that the people of Wiseman are as interesting as the land itself.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 93-15-59

Project: Gates of the Arctic National Park
Date of Interview: Dec 17, 1992
Narrator(s): George Lounsbury
Interviewer(s): David Krupa
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

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


1) George Lounsbury discusses his personal background

2) Early recollections of Wiseman

3) Some stories of old-timers

4) More stories of old-timers

5) Still more stories of old-timers

6) Social life of Wiseman during 1970's

7) Charlie Breck and Harry Leonard

8) Old Arctic John and why old-timers stayed after the Gold Rush

9) Harry Leonard and how George developed his friendship with him

10) Stories about Harry Leonard

11) Old-timers' use of the area that is now encompassed in Gates

12) George Lounsbury's involvement in mining

13) Federal management turnover in mining industry

14) Outlooks for the future in Wiseman

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.


Section 1: born -- April 8, 1944\ Fairbanks\ Johnson, Ernie\ Marshall, Robert\ Brooks Range|

Section 2: Wiseman -- history\ Lathrop High School\ Harry, Ross\ Arctic John\ Leonard, Harry\ Breck, Charlie\ Brockman, Ross\ Jonas, Mrs.\ Reakoff family\ mining -- gold\ Heflinger, Fred\ Fairbanks\ Fortymile\ Harry, Ross\ Coldfoot\ Boulder Creek\ mining -- gold\ Leonard, Harry\ aviation\ Wiseman|

Section 3: Leonard, Harry\ Creecy, R.H. -- black miner\ Gold Creek\ Wiseman\ Koyukuk\ Mining\ Kelly's Mistake\ Windmills\ Indian Wars\ Murphy, Jim\ Coldfoot\ Hope, Sammy\ Breck, Charlie\ Wiseman\ Sitka -- Pioneer Home\ Pingle, Henry\ Carpenter, Louie\ Nolan Creek\ Jones, Bobby\ Watts, Vern\ Hammond River\ mining -- placer\ Ester Dome\ Miscovich, George\ Martin Slisco Bench\ Vermont Creek\ Wiseman\ D-7 Cat\ English, Bill\ Ulen, Benny|

Section 4: Ellingson, Knut\ Myrtle Creek\ Coldfoot\ gold\ Repo Brothers\ Dubin, Sam\ Old Bettles\ Etherington, Wes\ Brockman, Ross\ Palmer -- Pioneer Home\ Miller, Frank\ Miller, Vern\ Miller, Jim\ Colville River\ Wiseman\ Archibald Gulch\ Watts, Vern\ Nolan Creek\ Sheep Creek\ Neck, Victor\ Jones, Bobby\ Beaver -- village\ Chandalar River\ Koyukuk -- Southfork\ Koyukuk -- Middle Fork\ Myrtle Creek\ Wiseman\ Leonard, Harry\ Hope, Sammy\ "lost gold"\ Johnson, Jim|

Section 5: Slisco, Martin\ Wiseman -- roadhouse\ celebrations -- Fourth of July\ Wiseman -- Pioneer Hall\ Yugoslavia\ Slisco -- dentists\ Leonard, Harry\ Standish Brothers\ Porcupine Creek\ Wiseman\ mining -- gold\ Laird, Archie\ Tramway Bar\ Koyukuk -- Middle Fork\ Wiseman -- mining district\ Porcupine Creek\ Swift, Fred\ Swift Creek\ Hammond River\ Wild Lake\ Bettles\ Fairbanks -- dance halls\ Fairbanks -- Pioneer Igloo #8\ Wiseman\ Tillman, Warren|

Section 6: Leonard, Harry\ Breck, Charlie\ Brockman, Ross\ Jonas, Mrs.\ Reakoff family\ University of Southern California\ Arctic Village\ Koyukuk -- North Fork\ trapping\ Wiseman -- early factions\ Ulen, Joe\ Jones, Bobby\ Leonard, Harry\ story -- mail\ pipeline|

Section 7: Breck, Charlie\ Haul Road\ Fairbanks\ Wiseman\ story -- hearing aid\ pipeline -- Middle Fork drainage\ mining -- claims\ Rivers, Guy\ Bullock, Jack\ Hammond River -- upper\ Coldfoot\ Alyeska\ Koyukuk -- Middlefork bridge\ Leonard, Harry\ pipeline\ hernia\ Jonas, Mrs.\ Reakoff, Mrs.\ Wiseman -- Native population|

Section 8: Arctic John\ hunting -- moose\ Leonard, Harry\ grizzly bear\ Breck, Charlie\ Brockman, Ross\ Golden Towers -- Fairbanks\ Leonard, Harry\ Mayo Clinic -- Minneapolis|

Section 9: Leonard, Harry\ Lounsbury, George\ Leonard, Savanna\ Wiseman -- history\ Service Motors\ Fairbanks Exploration Company\ Poncho Villa\ Marshall, Bob\ Brockman, Ross\ mining -- gold\ Gold Creek\ Nolan Creek\ Archibald Gulch\ Sexauer, Art -- 20 oz nugget, 1964\ Silverado Mining Company\ stock market\ Wiseman -- Leonard's reactions to change\ pipeline\ Haul Road\ game -- decline\ Wiseman -- change|

Section 10: Anderson, Terry\ Gold Creek\ Wiseman\ old-timers\ gold -- scales\ Breck, Charlie\ Jonas, Mrs.\ Brockman, Ross\ dogs\ dog -- burial\ National Park Service -- opinions of\ Nolan Creek\ Wiseman|

Section 11: Leonard, Harry\ Wiseman\ Nolan Creek\ Mascot Creek\ Wild Lake\ Breck, Charlie\ Koyukuk -- North Fork\ Anaktuvuk Pass\ Brockman, Ross|

Section 12: Leonard, Harry -- inheritance of property\ Wiseman\ Union Gulch\ mining -- gold\ Hammond River\ mining -- sluicing|

Section 13: management -- federal mining turnover\ management -- mining\ National Park Service -- Gates of the Arctic\ Bureau of Land Management|

Section 14: Wiseman -- future\ Eagle\ Manley\ tourism\ Haul Road\ Wiseman -- store\ Wiseman -- post office\ Alyeska\ pipeline\ Harry, Ross|