Document 6: Frances Dorley, Five Finger Rapids, 1898

Melanie Mayer, Klondike Women: True Tales of the 1897-98 Gold Rush (Athens, Ohio: Swallow Press, 1989), p. 56.

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The little Scot, McChord, hooted at my "book-learned knowledge," and shouted that I, being a woman, could know nothing about navigation. With true masculine loyalty, the other men sided with him....As our shallow boat floundered helplessly in the churning water, the three men grudging conceded that I was probably right and that we'd better try to row across to the safer channel. We all grabbed oars and began rowing frantically with all our strength. We managed to force our way through the turbulent white foam until we were in midstream before we realized that we couldn't possibly reach the far side of the river. We were being drawn into the thundering rapids....Miraculously we passed through with our boat and our lives intact...

—Frances Dorley, Seattle dressmaker, on her passage through Five Finger Rapids, summer 1898.

Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest