In Pursuit of Alaska

An Anthology of Travelers' Tales, 1879-1909

Edited by Jean Morgan Meaux
Foreword by Stephen W. Haycox

  • Published: July 2015
  • Subject Listing: History / Western History; Literature
  • Bibliographic information: 328 pp., 40 illus., 4 maps, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

This collection of Alaskan adventures begins with a newspaper article written by John Muir during his first visit to Alaska in 1879, when the sole U.S. government representative in all the territory's 586,412 square miles was a lone customs official in Sitka. It closes with accounts of the gold rush and the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle. Jean Meaux has gathered a superb collection of articles and stories that captivated American readers when they were first published and that will continue to entertain us today. The authors range from Charles Hallock (the founder of Forest and Stream, a precursor of Field and Stream) to New York society woman Mary Hitchcock, who traveled with china, silver, and a 2,800 square foot tent. After explorer Henry Allen wore out his boots, he marched barefoot as he continued mapping the Tanana River, and Episcopal Archdeacon Hudson Stuck mushed by dog sled in Arctic winters across a territory encompassing 250,000 miles of the northern interior.

Although the United States acquired Alaska in 1867, it took more than a decade for American writers and explorers to focus attention on a territory so removed from their ordinary lives. These writers-adventurers, tourists, and gold seekers-would help define the nation's perception of Alaska and would contribute to an image of the state that persists today. This collection unearths early writings that offer a broad view of American encounters with Alaska accompanied by Meaux's lively and concise introductions. The present-day adventurer will find much to inspire exploration, while students of the American West can gain new access to this valuable trove of pre-Gold Rush Alaska archives.

For more information go to:
Jean Morgan Meaux lived in Alaska from 1971 to 1985, where she earned a master's degree from the University of Alaska Anchorage and did freelance writing for the Anchorage Daily News.
Foreword by Stephen Haycox
Preface: Jumping Off the End of the Earth
Note on Original Sources

1. John Muir, Fort Wrangel, Alaska, August 8, 1879
2. Charles Hallock, A Great Day in Sitka
3. C. C. Hine, The Patriarch and His Little Detective
4. Septima M. Collis, The Alaska Barnum's Dancers
5. Charles M. Taylor, Jr., Riding the Rails through White Pass Canyon

6. Caroline Willard, Chilcat Mission, Haines, Alaska
7. Lieutenant Henry T. Allen, Living Upon the Country
8. H. W. Seton Karr, Escape from Icy Bay
9. John Bremner, Living Off the Enemy
10. Herbert L. Aldrich, Whaling with the Fleet of 1887
11. Harry de Windt, Perilous Crawl Up the Chilkoot
12. Captain William Abercrombie, One Night on Valdez Glacier
13. Robert Dunn, From Nowhere to Nowhere
14. Agnes Herbert, Invitation to a Card Game
15. Hudson Stuck, Mistakes at Sixty Below

16. Ernest Ingersoll, Outfit for an Argonaut
17. Robert C. Kirk, Heartbreak on the White Pass
18. Mary E. Hitchcock, Ho for the Land of Gold!
19. J. D. Winchester, The Mosquitoes' Bugle on the Koyukuk
20. Josiah Edward Spurr, A Bureaucrat Comes to Call
21. Joseph Grinnell, Pluck on the Kowak
22. May Kellogg Sullivan, No Time for Sonatas
23. M. Clark, Playing for Stakes
24. Edward J. Devine, The Great White Silence
25. Addison M. Powell, The Alien God of Gold
26. Arthur Arnold Dietz, On the Other Side of Disenchantment Bay
27. John F. Stacey, Twenty-One Days from Rampart City

Epilogue: A Cabin on the Edge of the Forest
Chronology of Alaska History through 1910

"Each excerpt is supported by notes about the writer's background that - along with historical photographs - complement these accounts of the lives of early Alaska visitors."
-Stephanie Hsieh, Alaska Airlines, July 2013

"This is a terrific book, with archival photographs and smart, informative introductions for the various travelers' accounts."
-Mike Dillon, City Living

"Theirs are voices not often heard, but which illumine an important period of Alaska's development with color and verve. A collection compiled with intelligence, and well worth trekking into for all those intrigued by our still-enigmatic uppermost corner."
-Michelle Anne Schingler, Foreword, Summer 2013

"Offers travel writing by explorers, tourists, adventure seekers, and gold miners who traversed Alaska when it was truly the last frontier."
-Publishers Weekly, January 2013

"In Pursuit of Alaska: An Anthology of Travelers' Tales, 1879-1909 is a lively and fascinating collection filled with exceptional prose that will give modern readers a taste of Americans' first encounters with the North...For anyone interested in Alaska history, or even just exceptional writing, In Pursuit of Alaska is an absolutely essential volume."
-David A. James, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

"In Pursuit of clearly a labor of love beautifully realized by the University of Washington Press."
-Eric Heyne, Western American Literature