An Accounting of the Different Camps

The following are summaries of the 32 A-B Camps that were established from 1899.  As one could imagine, finding specific information on many of the remote camps of this long-defunct organization was quite challenging.  A special thanks to the following who provided research material:  Ashley Bowman, Brett Chambers, Jerry Lake and Kathy Jones-Gates.

Camp Skagway No. 1:  The very first meeting of the Arctic Brotherhood was held at Keelers Hall, March 6, 1899.  This was the Grand Camp.  Skagway was the primary launching point for the Klondike gold rush.  The A-B Hall, with its driftwood exterior facade, is an iconic and had been called the most-photographed building in Alaska.  Skagway has become a cruise-ship town and the population of Skagway is 910.

Skagway A-B Hall street

Camp Bennett No. 2:  Established April 1899.  Bennett was a thriving town and gave promise of permanency when the camp was established.  It has a rich history of being where the stampeders hand-built their boats in the spring of 1899 and waited for the river ice to thaw. Within a year or two Bennett became no more than a railroad station. [1] Today, that refurbished station is a welcome sight to hikers as the terminus of the rugged Chilkoot trail.

Camp Atlin No. 3:  Established in April 1899.  By August 1903, it was reported as defunct but without any detail.  Oddly enough, the community was thriving at that time. [1] Prospectors hit pay-dirt on nearby Pine Creek in 1898.  When news broke of the discovery, it was only a matter of time before nearly 5,000 gold-seeking hopefuls set up in Atlin — many of them tired and discouraged miners trying to reach Dawson City. By 1899, Atlin was booming,with trading posts and services that catered to the influx of residents, whose numbers were pushing 10,000.  As of 2014 the population is about 500.

Camp Dawson No 4:  Was formally organized November 24, 1899 in McDonald Hall, Second Ave, Dawson.  [1]  Despite the boom & bust of this original gold rush town, the Camp was one of the most active and sustaining.  They built an A-B hall which was the center of Dawson’s most important social gatherings. The City obtained title to the property in 1951 and operated it as a community center for many years. The Klondike Visitors Center has leased it from the city since 1971.  After a major renovation in 1982-83, the old A-B Hall has once again become the venue for important social functions. [11] The estimated population in of Dawson 1898 was estimated at 40,000.  Today, Dawson has about 1,311 permanent residents.

Dawson A-B Hall

Dawson A-B Hall interior

Camp Douglas No 5:  Finding any documentation on this camp has been impossible.  When considering the geography, it does not seem likely that the town of Douglas (on Douglas Island, near Juneau) would be the 5th subordinate chapter of the organization.  The flow of stampeders was moving north to the gold fields of the Yukon, and not south (although there was a gold operation in Treadwell which organized a camp years later).  One would suspect that the initial Camp 5 was somewhere near Dawson but failed as the prospectors moved on elsewhere and the number was assigned much later to a new Camp in Douglas.   Today, the population of Douglas is about 3,000.

Camp Sitka No 6:  Organized March 29, 1902 in the Golden Gate Hall (with a charter membership of 11 according to official reports).   It was also reported that by 1904, the membership was 31 in a town with a population of only 200. [2]  From the dates and charter number reference, it is obvious that Sitka was not the original Camp No. 6 of the A-B.  No records have been found of the location of the original #6 but one would assume it was somewhere near Dawson.  Sitka was the cultural and political hub of Russian America in the early 19th century.  It was was not directly part of the Klondike gold rush of 1899, however,  gold was discovered there in 1872.  After the transfer from Russia in 1867, Sitka remained the federal headquarters of the Alaska Territory until it was moved to Juneau in 1906 by order of the U.S. Congress. Thanks to the lobbying efforts of the Arctic Brotherhood Camp, Sitka National Historical Park became a national monument in 1910 to commemorate the 1804 Battle of Sitka fought between the Tlingits and the Russians. The population was 8,881 as of the 2010 census.

Camp Circle City No 7:  In a letter dated April 16, 1904, Circle City Camp asked to have its charter cancelled.  The reasons sited were that Circle City had become little more than a trading post.  The creeks where the miners worked were too far away for them attend meetings.  A large number of their members had moved to Fairbanks. [1] The 1909 book, History of the Arctic Brotherhood states that the Camp was wreaked by a few unworthy brothers.  Circle was established in as a settlement in 1893 when gold was discovered in Birch Creek, and served as an unloading point for supplies shipped up the Yukon River from the Bering Sea. The goods were sent overland to gold mining camps. In 1896, before the Klondike Gold Rush, Circle was the largest mining town on the Yukon River, with a population of 700. It had a store, a few dance halls, an opera house, a library, a school, a hospital, an Episcopal church, a newspaper, a United States commissioner, marshal, customs inspector, tax collector and a postmaster.  Circle lost much of its population after gold discoveries in the Klondike, in 1897, and Nome, in 1899. A few miners stayed near Circle and mining in the area continues to the present.  Most of the people in Circle today are Athabascan.  As of 2000, the population was 100.

Circle City 1899

Circle City 1899

Camp St. Michael No 8:  This camp was formally organized November 28, 1899 in the Alaska Commercial Companys hotel.  St. Michael’s was essentially a summer post and affording work only 4 to 5 months a year.  Although 82 members joined, by winter of 1904 there were only 6 remaining.  Leaders complained that it was impossible to raise funding for their own hall due to the towns seasonal nature and that it was primarily a military installation.   [1][2]  Eventually an A-B Hall was built.  Today, the population is about 370.

St. Michael’s Hall – Date Unknown

Camp Nome No. 9:  This camp was well organized and built their own Hall.  By 1904, they had 235 members. [2]  By all accounts Camp Nome was one the most successful and sustaining A-B chapters.  In September 1898, gold was discovered gold on Anvil Creek.  News of the discovery reached the outside world that winter.  By 1899, Nome had a population of 10,000 many of whom had arrived from the Klondike gold rush area. In that year, gold was found in the beach sands for dozens of miles along the coast at Nome, which spurred the stampede to new heights. Thousands more people poured into Nome during the spring of 1900 aboard steamships from the ports of Seattle and San Francisco. By 1900, a tent city on the beaches and treeless coast reached 30 miles long.  The 2010 census reported the the population as 3,400.

Nome tent city on beach 1900

Nome tent city on beach 1900

Nome

Nome

Camp Valdez No 10:  In a report dated March 1904, it showed they had 84 paying members. [1]  However, I. N. Davidsons 1909 book, The Arctic Brotherhood, did not make mention of the Camp Valdez at all, which probably means it had failed.  Seven years later Camp Valdez was rechartered.[3]  What helped develop the town was the building of a pack trail from the port at Valdez to Eagle, (distance of about 409 miles) by the U.S. Army to provide an all-American route to the Klondike gold fields.  The population today is about 4,000.

Camp Council City No. 11:  Organized on October 22, 1900, it was actually the 10th A-B Camp.  Valdez was organized soon after.  However, due to poor communications, the Grand Club received the Valdez application far in advance of the Council application.  This camp was made up mostly of rivermen.  They bought a hall for $4,00o and later sold it for less than the mortgage.[2]  Located about 57 miles northeast of Nome, Council is now an abandoned town site on the banks of the Niukluk River on the central Seward Peninsula.  Council was built in 1897 and 1898 when gold was discovered near the Ophir Creek.  Council may have had as many as 15,000 inhabitants during those years. The residents left to work larger discoveries of gold near Nome around 1900. Today, Council has about 25 old buildings and much old mining equipment, including a dredge, laying about.

Camp White Horse No. 12:  This camp was organized in 1901.  An A-B hall was built, costing $4,ooo.  By 1909, the Camp was defunct and the hall had been foreclosed on. [2]  Many stampeders passed through Whitehorse on the way to Dawson and back (the White Pass & Yukon railway was completed to Whitehorse in 1900).  On their way to find gold, sourdoughs also found copper in the in the hills west of Whitehorse,  Today, Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon province with a population of 27,000.

Camp Eagle No. 13:  Organized in May 1901.  Eagle is situated 40 miles below Dawson.  In June 1904, they reported 61 dues-paying members.  By 1909 they were down to 30 members. [2]  Eagle became a supply and trading center for miners working the upper Yukon River and its tributaries. By 1898, its population had exceeded 1,700, as people were coming into the area because of the Klondike Gold Rush. In 1901 Eagle became the first incorporated city in the Alaska Interior.  By 1910, Eagles population had declined to its present-day level (below 200 people).

Eagle A-B Hall building on left. Eagle Historical Society

Camp Treadwell No. 14:  It was organized on May 5th 1902, with 47 members initiated.[2]  According to Dr. I.H. Moore, in a series of articles he wrote in 1932 for a Seattle newspaper in 1932, the Camp Treadwell thrived on extravagance, but was short-lived.  The Treadwell gold mine was on the north side of Douglas Island.  At its height, it was the largest and most advanced gold mine in existence, employing approximately 2,000 men and women and producing $70 million worth of gold.  It was a full-scale industrial operation that reached its peak in 1915.  The towns of Douglas and Treadwell underwent changes after the 1917 cave-in of the Treadwell mine. While one section still operated until 1926, Treadwell faded away and Douglas became the only town on Douglas Island.  Of the 144 dwellings that stood in Treadwell in 1910, only one building in ruins and a few other foundations still exist.

Camp Rampart No. 15:  A report dated June 30, 1904 indicated there were 21 dues-paying members.[1]   It was still very active in 1909 according to reports filed with the Grand Camp.[2]  Rampart City is located on the Yukon river, 975 miles up the Yukon River from St Michael and 650 miles downstream from Dawson.  The first diggings of gold were discovered  in 1895.  There were stores, a post office and telegraph station at Rampart and a population of about 200 and possibly 400 including the men engaged in mining in the area.  [6] [8]   As of 2010, the population was 10.

Rampart 1905

Camp Fairbanks No. 16:   According to Ashley Bowman’s blog about the A-B, the Camp in Fairbanks was re-organized in October 1907.  It had originally been founded in 1903, but poor management had caused its breakdown and its members decided that a re-establishment was in order. On July 22, 1902, gold was discovered north of Fairbanks which triggered the beginning of the Fairbanks Gold Rush.  Today the population for the Fairbanks is about 30,000.

Fairbanks Street Scene ca 1911

Fairbanks Street Scene ca 1911

Fairbanks - H.C Davis Sash & Door Factory during Flood of 1911 (D

Fairbanks H.C Davis Sash & Door Factory during Flood of 1911 (HC Davis is Don Lakes great grandfather.

Camp Haines No. 17:  This camp was organized on April 21, 1904.  As one would expect with such close proximity, a large delegation from Skagway attended the ceremony.  [2]  Haines is located on the Lyn Canal near Skagway.  Haines grew as a supply center for the Klondike stampede, since the Dalton Trail from Chilkat Inlet offered a route to the Yukon for prospectors. Gold was also discovered 36 miles from Haines in 1899.  However, the completion of the White Pass and Yukon Route railway in neighboring Skagway that same year led to the Dalton Trails eventual abandonment and Haines economic decline.  Today the permanent population of Haines is 1,811.

(Click the following link to see the note we received from Mark & Julie Cozzi regarding the Haines A-B Hall.)

Haines A-B Hall building on right

Camp Chena No 18:  This Camp was organized in 1904 and by 1909 had a very comfortable hall , about 35 by 75 feet, well furnished and entirely free of debt.  [2]  Chena was a small town in interior Alaska near the confluence of the Chena and Tanana rivers with a peak population of about 400 in 1907. By 1910 the population had fallen to 138.  The area is now part of the outskirts of Fairbanks. The town was fairly prosperous for a time with two hotels, two general stores, a bakery, a laundry, and two restaurants and even its own newspaper. By 1910, Chena had a police department, a public school, churches, and a fire department. After the outbreak of WWI, however, the population had dropped to 50. By 1920, the population had dropped to only 18.  The town was gradually taken over by the Tanana River and lies under a pile of silt and dirt. [5]

 

Camp Discovery No. 19:  Discovery was granted its charter in June 1905.  As of 1909 there were 182 members. [2] Discovery City is now a ghost town located just 10km from the former Camp #3 at Atlin, British Columbia.  The town was founded in 1898 with the discovery of gold in Pine Creek. For a few years it had a population of 1,000. A post office was opened July 1, 1899 and finally closed in 1930.  Records show that the town had at least 3 hotels. When the gold was depleted, the town was vacated. By 1915 it was deserted.

Camp Ketchikan No. 20:  Ketchikan was chartered in August 1905 by the help of Grand Recorder, Geoffrey Chealander (who later became notable as the organizer of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Expo in Seattle).  As of 1909, they recorded 50 members.  Ketchikan was the first port in Alaska reached by steamship making the northerly inside passage.[2] With a population at the 2010 census of 8,050 within the city limits, it is the sixth-most populous city in the state.

Ketchikan 1905

Camp Seward No. 21:  Organized in January 1906 and disbanded in 1923.[2]   According to the towns website the Arctic Brotherhood chapter constructed a social hall on the corner of Fifth and Washington in 1917. Later used as a gymnasium, theater and garage, it has housed Dreamland Bowl since 1948.  As of 2010, the population of Seward was 2,600.

Camp Cleary No. 22: Camp Cleary was organized in 1904.  An A-B Hall was built in 1906 for an outrageous cost of $11,000.  The mortgage was paid off 18 months after the laying of the foundation.[2]  Twenty four miles from Fairbanks, Cleary City was the local supply point of Ceary Creek. At one time Cleary City had more than 1,000 inhabitants but by 1909 the partial exhaustion of the mines the population has considerably decreased.  Mining is still going on the area, however, the settlement no longer exists.

Cleary City 1907

Camp Vault City No 23:  There is some debate on when this camp was founded.  An article from the Dawson newspaper stated that the  camp was organized (along with 3 others) in 1911. [3]   However, The Arctic Brotherhood book from the A-Y-P Expo published in 1909 shows the Camp in existence.  Vault City was a settlement located on Vault Creek, about 20 miles from Fairbanks. It’s population was about 200. Served as a local supply point for the nearby creeks.[6] The settlement no longer exists.

Camp Hot Springs No 24:    The camp was organized October 15, 1908. [2]   Now known as Manley Hot Springs, the town is located on the Tanana River 100 miles west of Fairbanks.  In 1902 a prospector discovered several hot springs in the area. The area became a service and supply point for miners in the area.  In 1907 a miner named Frank Manley built the Hot Springs Resort Hotel. The resort was a four-story building with 45 guest rooms, steam heat, electric lights, hot baths, a bar, a restaurant, a billiard room, a bowling alley, a barber shop, and an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool which used heated water from the hot springs.  In 1910 the population was over 500 residents.  In 1913 the resort burned to the ground. Mining activity was also in decline and by 1920 only 29 residents lived in Hot Springs.  The towns name was changed to Manley Hot Springs in 1957.  Today, the population is 89. [8]

Manley Hot Springs Hotel & Bridge circa 1910

Camp Ft. Gibbon (Tanana) No. 25:  The camp was officially organized in June 1909 [2]  Fort Gibbon was a U.S. Army base near Tanana, Alaska. It was active from 1899 to 1923.  Nearby Tanana is on the banks of the Yukon opposite the mouth of the Tanana River.   In 1899, the U.S.  government built six forts at the most popular mining sites and widely used trade routes. Three forts were placed at critical junctions on the Yukon River transportation system. They were Fort Gibbon, Fort Egbert (Eagle, near Canada border), and Fort St. Michael (on the Bering Sea, at the mouth of the Yukon River). The three forts would connect the east, central, and westernmost segments of the Yukon River.  According to the 2000 federal census, about 300 people most of them Athabascans were living in Tanana.  Remnants of the once-bustling Fort Gibbon are no longer visible.  [8]  [9]

Ft. Gibbon Waterfront

Tanana Postcard 1919

 

Camp Flat Creek No. 26:   This camp was organized in 1911 and was located just 7 miles east of Iditarod. [2]  Prospectors discovered gold on Otter Creek on 25 December 1908. News of the discovery spread slowly, but some miners arrived in the summer of 1909 and built a small camp they called Flat City. More gold was discovered on nearby Flat Creek and more miners arrived in 1910.  By 1914, the community had grown to about 6,000 people, complete with an elementary school, a telephone system, two stores, a hotel, restaurant, pool hall, laundry and jail. However, by 1930, the population had declined to 124. No plat was filed for Flat, and the town site rests on mining claims, so the existence of Flat may contravene the law, but the U.S. Post Office acknowledged the community and served its few residents with an office until the year 2000.  There was once a light railway between Flat and the neighboring town of Iditarod, which is also abandoned.

Flat_AK_1911

Camp Iditarod No. 27:  This camp was chartered in 1911.[3]  The camp seemed to be very successul  as there are several surviving vintage photos of shows, balls and gatherings at the Iditarod Hall.  On Christmas Day 1908, prospectors found gold on Otter Creek, a tributary to the Iditarod River.  News of the find spread and in the summer of 1909 miners arrived in the gold fields and built a small camp that was later known as Flat.  In 1910,  more gold was discovered in Flat and a massive stampede headed  there.  The city of Iditarod was founded as a head of navigation for all the surrounding gold fields, including Flat, Discover.  It quickly became a bustling boomtown, with hotels, cafés, brothels, three newspapers, a bank, a mercantile store, electricity, telephones, automobiles, and a light railway to Flat.  By 1930 the gold was gone and most of the miners had moved to Flat, taking many of the buildings with them. Iditarod is now a ghost town.

A-B Ball Iditarod AK

A-B Ball Iditarod AK

Camp Wrangell No. 28:  We have not found any specific information regarding this camp other than is was started in 1911. [3] Wrangell was founded by Russians as one of the oldest non-Native settlements in Alaska. They started trading for furs with area Tlingit in 1811 at the site of present-day Wrangell.  Today the population is about 2,300.

Camp Stewart City No. 29:  No information has been found on this camp other than the name & number. [4]  Further research into the area supports the late timing of this Camp addition near Dawson.  While mining continued in the Klondike district, increasingly corporate mining interests were acquiring Klondike mining claims and mechanized gold dredges were replacing hand mining operations. Individual hand miners meanwhile fanned out to work other rivers in the upper Yukon basin in search of a new bonanza.  In 1914 a hard rock silver find on a tributary of the Stewart River started a staking rush. In 1918 a second, even richer, ore body was discovered on nearby Keno Hill attracting the attention of corporate mining interests. By 1923 the value of silver coming out of the area had bypassed the value of gold coming out of the Klondike.  Today, the village is mostly abandoned.  A few individual residents possibly remain.

Stewart City

Camp Petersburg No. 30:  This Camp was organized in 1910 by Jim Brennan, who was a veteran gold rush stampeder and past-member of A-B Camps in Skagway, Dawson and Fairbanks.[10]  Petersburg, AK was not a gold rush town, but a fishing village  located on the north end of Mitkof Island.  Petersburg is halfway between Juneau to the north, and Ketchikan, to the south.  Today the population of the area is about 3,200.

Camp Chitina No 31:  We have not located records of when this Camp was founded.  They did build a A-B Hall which survives today as the Chitina Hotel.  The settlement of Chitina was settled in about 1908 as a transportation hub for the Kennecutt Copper Mine.  It is located on the confluence of the Copper River and the Chitina River.   The Copper River and Northwestern Railway enabled Chitina to develop into a thriving community by 1914.  It had a general store, a clothing store, a meat market, stables, a tinsmith, five hotels, several rooming houses, a pool hall, bars, restaurants, dance halls and a movie theater. The mines closed in 1938 and the remaining support activities moved to what is now the Glennallen area. The population today is about 124.

Chitina Hotel - formally the Chitina A-B Hall built in 1914

Chitina Hotel formally the Chitina A-B Hall built in 1914

Camp Juneau No 32:   Information on this Camp has been difficult to come by.  They apparently had a huge, well-provisioned Hall.  Documents show that the Juneau Camp was still active on October 1917.  [7]  Juneau is the capital of the State and today the population is about 30,000.

Juneau A-B Hall left 1918

A-B Hall on left Juneau 1918

1 History of the Arctic Brotherhood, August 1904
2 The Arctic Brotherhood, I.N. Davidson, September 1909
3 The Dawson Daily News December 36, 1911
4 Brett Chambers, of Anchorage, informed us that Stewart City was Camp No. 29 from his research at the Resurrection Bay Historical Society (Seward, AK).
5 Fairbanks Daily News Miner
6 1909 Alaska Almanac
7  Register, Camp Juneau, No. 32, Arctic Brotherhood, 1916-1917
8 Prospecting and Mining Activity in the Rampart, Manley Hot Springs and Fort Gibbon Mining Districts of Alaska,
1894 to the Present Era – BlM-Alaska Open File Report 61 1997
9 Ft. Gibbon and Village of Tanana by Jason Wenger LitSite Alaska
10 Petersburg Camp No. 30 JimEdnaBrennan
11 Klondike Visitors Center

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