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The Rushden Echo, 8th July 1898, transcribed by Kay Collins
On The Way To Klondike
Interesting Letters

Mr. Basil G. Austin, of Knuston, Rushden, who recently left the old country for Klondike, has written several very interesting letters home. Writing on Easter Sunday in camp at the foot of Valdes Pass he says:-

“We have had another six inches of snow and will not start work till afternoon. Our appetites are good and we are getting fat. We are all looking forward to getting off this glacier where there is no wood or water. In two more days we expect to be in timber, about 35 miles from where we landed. It is

Awfully Slow Work,

Moving so much stuff, but are keeping up with the rest, and are ahead of the Fleming gang. There are about 1,500 people on the trail, and many of them will have to sell out and return in bad weather, as I understand the snow is getting very sloppy on the coast and they think that provisions will be cheaper down there. We are a little short of sugar, oatmeal, and baking powder, but one of our party will return a day's journey or two to see what he can get.

“The sun is very hot on the snow and burns a fellow all to pieces, and then there will be a freezing wind drifting the trail full; but I am having

Lots of Joy

and never felt better in my life. Our provisions will last 18 months at least, and in a few weeks we hope to be where we intend to start prospecting. We have not seen an Indian yet: there are very few in this country, and as for newspaper reports, do not believe a single word you read, as there is no truth in them. We shall find things out as we go along by experience. I hope the electric diaphragm screw governor is a success on the 300 ton yacht. This morning is Easter Sunday, and I am thinking of the many organs we have built, which will be pealing forth to-day."

A subsequent letter from Mr. Austin is as follows:—

Valdes Pass Camp, April 24th, 1898.
20 miles from North foot of Glacier,

"I wrote to you last Easter Sunday but failed to get it posted so will write more now. When crossing the glacier, we had

A Tough Time,

a blizzard blew for five days, and we were obliged to stay in bed for warmth. The next day was nice weather so we pulled up camp, went over the summit and down this side. After we were well started, it came on to snow and blew so that we could hardly see the trail; but by perseverance we reached the timber line by 8 p.m., on this side of the mountain. We then pitched camp and I tell you we enjoyed ourselves, having lots of wood to burn and sleeping on pine boughs. We have

Suffered No Hardships

to speak of and everybody is well. I never felt better, and the weather is now fine, perfectly clear and hot in the day but very cold at night. Last night it was four below zero. We moved camp yesterday from the timber here to the foot of the lake, the trail is getting soft in the middle of the day, and we expect the snow will go in the course of a few weeks. We are now following a river and intend to do so for 15 miles, then go north to the next river that flows into the "copper." We then intend to built a boat with big slew holes in it so as to float down to our destination. We are getting very sun burnt as the reflection from the snow is bad, also sore lips. A great number on the trail are

Snow Blind,

but we have not felt it at all. I made myself some "wooden glasses" like what the Esquimaux use, and they are the right thing to have. We have not seen an Indian, and do not believe there is one for 100 miles around. We put our two tents together and use one for cooking and one for sleeping and by keeping both stoves going we are as comfortable as you please."

Rushden Echo, Friday October 7, 1898 transcribed Sue Manton

Mr. Basil Austin’s Experiences – Mr. J. Austin of Knuston Lodge, Rushden, has just received an interesting letter from his son, Mr. Basil Austin. The letter which is dated July 15th 1898, from Tazlina River, Alaska is as follows:- “As a party of prospectors are going out tomorrow I will write a few lines. We have decided to stay another year and go over the Zanana this winter if possible. Our route will be up the Copper and Slana rivers and over the pass. We had a little rain last week, but now it is 75 in the shade. Two weeks ago I could read the smallest print at midnight easily but the days are getting a trifle shorter. Clothing is awfully cheap now as so many are selling out and going back; but we are well equipped and have everything we want and enough for a year without spending another halfpenny. About two weeks ago we made a fish trap for salmon and we catch five or six in a day. They weigh about 10lbs. We are smoking them and salting for future use besides, eating what we need fresh. The mosquitoes are awful here. We have nets to sleep under and veils and gloves to wear or we would be eaten alive. There has been no paying gold found here yet. Though we can find small colours almost anywhere, we cannot get to the bed rock. There is no game here. We tried our rifles the other day. Our 30-30 will penetrate 29 inches of solid dry spruce, going clean through one tree and halfway through another, so if a bear should stroll around it will be all up for him.”

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