Prospectors are today still scouring the bush, in remote, and not so remote places, looking for the next discovery.
Robert Lee Hatcher was born June 24th 1867 in Montague, Texas. He arrived in Alaska in 1888. Hatcher had started prospecting in White Oaks, New Mexico, came north at twenty-one, spent time prospecting in Atlin, Canada, and southeast Alaska before heading to south-central Alaska.
In September 1906, Hatcher located hard rock gold. The Skyscraper Vein was a quartz gold claim 1,200 feet above the floor of Fishhook Valley and nearly 5,000 feet above sea level. It was on a ridge below Skyscraper Mountain in the southern Talkeetna Mountains.
Robert Lee sold a 25 percent interest in his gold discovery for $1500.00 worth of cash and some food. In 1909 Hatcher and his partner, J.H. Carnegie, sold the remaining 75% of the claims for $6000.00. The $7500.00 received for the claims is worth over a quarter of a million dollars today.
In 1910 Hatcher was back in Alaska prospecting on the Kenai Peninsula with a new partner, C. A. "Scotty" McPherson. The Hatcher-McPherson Groundhog claim was sold for $30,000. The purchaser was Samuel I. Silverman who started, and sold stock in, the Seward Gold Company.
Within a year Silverman had sold the Seward Gold Company for $225,000 to a group of British investors. Unfortunately the ledge pinched out, the gold disappeared and the first payment was never made.
By 1943, Robert Lee Hatcher had been responsible for the discovery of the Independence, Martin, Talkeetna, Jam, Ray Wallace and Gold Mint mines.
At the age of seventy-six he announced what he called the greatest gold discovery of his career. There was no interest from investors even though the grade, at an estimated $7 per ton, was very high. In 1933, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt had increased the price of gold from $20.67 to $35.00 per ounce. The increase in price led to more gold mining in Alaska. This expansion continued until the early years of World War II when federal order E-208 shut down gold mines throughout the United States - the United States War Production Board thought gold mining was not essential to the war effort.
In 1950, Hatcher was found in his cabin on Ptarmigan Creek twenty-three miles north of Seward; he was paralyzed on his left side and unable to speak. Robert Lee Hatcher died in Seward, Alaska, 24th September 1950 and was buried October 1st 1950 in an unmarked grave in the Seward Pioneer Cemetery.
Seekers Of Gold
“You see we prospectors are a dying breed. The world doesn't function around us anymore like it used back in the gold rush. The people who care for you can’t understand. What in the world would make you want to risk your life to look for gold? They don’t understand the dream, but in the old days everybody understood. You didn’t have to worry about your wife leaving ya or your friends scorning you because you wanted to find the gold.
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