18 November 2010

Ch 24, Pt 2: "Green Butte Copper"

Legacy of the Chief, Chapter 24, pt 2: "Green Butte Copper-1924"

click on picture for
larger image: some of these images appear in the book for
this chapter.


 Green Butte copper mine portal --snow shed & main mine entrance  

A rainstorm passed over during the night of July 21,
1924, leaving a morning of fog and mist that would soon
dissipate into bright sunshine. Cap and Johnny woke up amidst
the heavily-soaked weeds and brush, but the area under cover of
the canvas tarp was dry.

          “Johnny, wake up. We’ve got to meet Barrett today.”

          Cap was already tending to a hot fire.  He was wearing
completely dry clothing and boots that had dried under the tarp
overnight.  The water in the pot was hot.

          “I have tea ready.  Get dressed. The clothes have
dried out.  Good thing I pulled them under the tarp last night. 
This place got drenched.”

          “Tea?  How about some food?”

          “I managed to save enough for breakfast at the
Golden.  Have some tea first.  Wake up. We have to pack up and
move our gear.  Barrett’s expecting us.”

          “The potlatch blankets need drying.  They’re wet from
the mist, Cap.”

          “We’ll have to pack them like that.  No time to wait
for the sun to come out.  We’ll stretch them out after we get to
Green Butte.”

          “I’m looking forward to it now, Cap.  Think I’ve had
enough of partying with Rose and Bubbles for awhile.”

          “That’s good.  I hoped I’d hear you say that.  We need
to work. Don’t want to show up at home broke.  Have some tea and
let’s break camp.”

          “You looking forward to working at Green Butte, Cap?”

          “I want to see what it’s all about.  The stories from
the men we met at the billiard hall make the place sound better
than the railroad camps.”

          “I doubt that, but I’m getting tired of dried fish and
wet, dirty clothing and blankets that need to be dried out every

          “What are you talking about?  We stayed at Rose’s and
Bubble’s cabin until last night, remember? That cabin was dirty,
though.  It was messy too. I didn’t care for that much.  Look
forward to a clean place to live.  I like clean places.”

          “And dry ones.”

          “Yes.  Dry.  That’s good.  Let’s wander on down to the
Golden where it’s clean, dry, and has something to eat besides
dry fish.”

          “Hot food and coffee.  Ham and eggs, maybe.”

          “White man’s breakfast. I could use one today.  Enough
of the rice and smoked fish and tea.”

          “I’m with you, Cap.”

McCarthy ML power plant

Mother Lode power plant at McCarthy in the mid 1950s  --McCracken
Collection #68-33-856, UAF AK & Polar Regions photo archive

          It was not long before the two had taken down the tarp
and packed their belongings.  They followed the road down the
bluff.  McCarthy was in the fog beyond the roaring creek.  The
road past the bridge led directly to the Golden.  John Barrett
was already there. 

           “Come on in, and have some coffee, boys.   It’s too
early for breakfast here, but by the time we get to Green Butte,
there should be a good meal waiting for you.”

          “Mr. Barrett, what do you mean it’s too early for

          “Henry, bring these boys some coffee, would you?”

          “Certainly, John.”

          “You came off the hill earlier than I thought you
would.  That’s good.  No time to waste. It’s 6:30.”

          “Cap, you got me up that early?”

          “Sorry, Johnny.  All that partying must have thrown my
timing off.”

          “How’d you know we were on the hill, Mr. Barrett?”

          “Oh, that was easy, Cap.  I asked Rose.  She knew
where you were.”

          Cap gave Johnny a
strange look.  He thought he had
concealed his location well.

          So much for secrets in McCarthy.

          “Glad you’re early, boys.  I need to get back. You
didn’t make me wait. Josephine’s at camp cooking this month, so
I couldn’t get breakfast at home.  We’ll all be looking forward
to it by the time we get there.”

          “Have the coffee while I go outside and gas up the
truck.  Henry, I’m picking up ten gallons.”

          “Here’s the padlock key. You know how the pump works,

The Golden view 1

The Golden--one of the few remaining structures from The Golden Days of
  --McCracken Collection, 68-63-853, UAF Archives

          Kay-yew-nee sat just outside the door.  He remained
seated as John Barrett walked out to fuel his truck.

          “I know you, dog.  Well, don’t know your name.  You
were at the Row, weren’t you, boy?  You’re coming along, aren’t
you?  It’s okay, boy. I like dogs.”

          There was only a brief wait before the truck was ready
to head out.  Cap was particularly anxious to leave before
Johnny started thinking too much about Rose again.   Barrett
looked at the dog, shrugged, and waved the two young men
aboard.  The dog leaped into the back, which was already piled
high with supplies for the camp.   In less than an hour and ten
miles outside of McCarthy, the two-story log barrack came into
view.  Beyond the lower camp was the nearly sheer wall which was
the east side of the canyon.  It rose several thousand feet. The
aerial tram extended from the creek for a vertical distance of
1200 feet to the center portal.   The upper camp was out of
sight due to the low-lying fog.     The men could also see a
frame manager’s house, a shop and garage,  and a log stable. 
Near the canyon wall sat the small tram terminal. 

          “Somewhere up there beyond the low fog line is where
you two new apprentices are headed. Have you ever ridden an
aerial tram before?”

          “This will be the first time.”

          “Well, Johnny, get used to it.  The trail to the adit
level takes too long.  We only use it to run heavy supplies. 
Hope you don’t have a problem with heights.”

          “Not us.”

          “That’s good, Cap. What about you, Johnny?”

          “I’m with Cap.  We don’t have a fear of heights or
much of anything else.  We’re true Indians.”

          “Don’t know what that means, but I guess I’ll find out
soon enough.”

          “Don’t worry about us, Mr. Barrett.  We didn’t come
here to cause you trouble. We’re here to work.  Mining is new to
us, so we’re here to learn.  I told you that earlier.”

          “The work is easy to learn, but it’s strenuous. You’ll
catch on quickly.”

          “What about the other men?  Any Indian-haters?”

          “My men are all locals, except for the Chinese cook at
the upper barrack.  None of them has expressed any hatred toward
Indians to me.  Not that the subject ever came up.  They’re here
to work, just like you say you are.  If there’s any problem, let
me know.”

          “Sure we will.”

          Johnny said it, but he didn’t intend to tell Barrett

          Cap looked at Johnny.  “What about the dog?  He can’t
be expected to ride these tram buckets?”

          “Let Kay-yew-nee find his own way up.  He’ll figure it
out.  That dog of Violet’s is amazing.  He always seems to know
when to show up.   Don’t worry about him.”

          “Have some breakfast in the big barrack before I bring
you up to meet the mine foreman.  Go on in. Josephine will serve
you.  I have to go to my office to get some paperwork for you to
sign.  You read and write?”

          “Yes, Mr. Barrett.  Both of us can read just about
anything to be found around here. And we both write. Just
because we’re Indians doesn’t make us illiterate.”

          “Fine, Johnny.  I’ll be back to join you two in a few

GB to Kennecott

The route from McCarthy up McCarthy Creek to Green Butte Mine. Also
showing Mother Lode (ML), Kennecott, and the Kennecott mines
. --USGS map

Continue with  

"Green Butte Copper,"  pt 3

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