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Sunken Klondike Gold: How a Lost Fortune Inspired an Ambitious Effort to Raise the S.S. Islanderby Leonard H Delano
Synopses & Reviews
Disaster Struck in the Wee Hours of August 15, 1901
When the 240-foot SS Islander hit an iceberg in Alaska’s inside waters just twelve miles from Juneau, Capt. Douglas H.R. Foote decided to make a desperate run for nearby Douglas Island. But it was too late. Water was pouring into a huge gash in the port bow. The stern was rising. The pride of the Canadian Pacific fleet quickly sank.
Sixty-five of the 176 passengers and crew were lost, including Captain Foote, whose final words were: “Tell ‘em I tried to beach her.”
The newspapers had a field day. Gold worth $3 million was rumored to have been put aboard in Skagway. There was talk of a salvage operation, but for thirty-three years the passenger vessel lay out of reach in 350 feet of water. In 1933, Seattle and Portland house-mover Frank Curtis proposed a bold salvage plan using two lift vessels, giant winches, diving bells, tidal power, and a determined crew of thirty or so house-movers, loggers, and rigging mechanics. Curtis was backed by a group of businessmen including future Weyerhaeuser Timber Company president Norton Clapp, who later invested in construction of Seattle’s Space Needle.
Accompanied by eight-five extraordinary photographs and illustrations, this is an insider’s story of a two-year struggle to raise the Islander, a record-breaking salvage that focused on a single prize – an elusive fortune in gold.
ABOUT THE Author - Leonard H. Delano of Portland worked on the Islander salvage crew and was its official photographer. Later, he worked as a motion-picture cameraman for the 1938 film Call of the Yukon. Delano died in 1989. His son, Doug, fulfilled his later father’s dream in 2011 with publication of this book.
On August 15, 1901, the 240-foot SS Islander hit an iceberg in Alaska’s inside waters just twelve miles from Juneau. Gold worth $3 million was rumored to have been put aboard in Skagway. There was talk of a salvage operation, but for thirty-three years the passenger vessel lay out of reach in 350 feet of water. Accompanied by eight-five extraordinary photographs and illustrations, this is an insider’s story of a two-year struggle to raise the Islander, a record-breaking salvage that focused on a single prize – an elusive fortune in gold.
About the Author
Leonard H. Delano was born in Seattle, Washington, on August 30, 1908; except for four years in Alaska (including two years with the Islander raising), he lived in Oregon. While in Alaska he worked as a motion picture cameraman for the 1938 movie Call of the Yukon. After returning to Oregon, he did newsreel work using a 35mm motion picture camera and worked as a reporter for the Oregonian and the Oregon Journal.
Leonard attended Benson Tech High School in Portland and was a member of the University of Oregon class of 1930, majoring in geology and journalism. He began working for Brubaker Aerial Surveys while learning photogrammetry. He eventually bought the company as well as several other photographic businesses, all operating as Delano Photgraphics and Western Mapping Company in Portland. He retired in 1983 after working 48 years in commercial photography and photogrammetric mapping. He accumulated a larger collection of historical photographs and continued to be interested in the Geological Society of the Oregon Country. Often he was asked to speak on illustrated geology subjects for this and other groups.
Leonard was a member of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, the Photographers Association of America, the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers, and the Masonic Lodge. The father of two boys, Leonard often shared with them stories of his adventure in Alaska. He died in 1989 without realizing his dream of publishing his account of the Islander’s raising.
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