Entrepreneurship on the Valdez Glacier Trail


While some stampeders came only to hunt for gold, others also planned to make a profit providing for the needs of their fellow gold rushers. One such company was the Connecticut Alaska Mining and Trading Company (Conn&AMT) whose expedition is described by Charles Margeson in Experiences of Gold Hunters in Alaska .

When gold rushers found sleeping directly on the snow uncomfortable, Conn&AMT came to the rescue: they sold all 75 mattresses they'd used on shipboard and their extra lumber.

Others were told in Seattle that they would not need ice-creepers. But as Dr. Townsend wrote: "When we landed here, it was upon the ice and about a mile from where we are camped. I can tell you, it was hard work to pack our goods in to land. The ice was smooth and rough by turns, and we had no ice-creepers."



Margeson describes how the Connecticut Yankees quickly set one of their two blacksmiths to work making ice creepers from their large quanity of sheet steel. "He could made a dozen pairs a day, which sold for $3.50 each. Thus we were able to reap a large revenue off the labors of one man."

Individual proprietors included Melvin Dempsey who built one of the first restaurants in Valdez, and Adam Swan and Smith Gray who opened the first hotels. At Klutina Lake, Anna Barret combined prospecting with running her own restaurant which became famous for its berry pies.

Although the search for gold and a life of ease dominated their quest, many of the more successful stampedeers were also alert to alternative business opportunities along the way.

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