The Fur Farms of Alaska: Two Centuries of History and a Forgotten Stampede

By Sarah Crawford Isto

After its rudimentary starting in 1749, fur farming in Alaska rose and fell for 2 centuries. It thrived in the course of the Nineties and back in the Nineteen Twenties, while emerging fur costs prompted a stampede for land and breed inventory and resulted in countless numbers of farms being began in Alaska inside a couple of years. the good melancholy, and later the improvement of hot, sturdy, and light-weight artificial fabrics in the course of global conflict II, introduced extra decline and eventual failure to the because the postwar financial system of Alaska grew to become to safeguard and later to grease. The Fur Farms of Alaska brings this heritage to existence through taking pictures the amazing tales of the lads and ladies who made fur their livelihood.
“For greater than two hundred years ‘soft gold’ introduced many of us to Alaska. Fur farming was once Alaska’s third-largest within the Nineteen Twenties, and Sarah Isto writes of the numerous efforts, successes, and finally of the fur farming industry’s failure. This well-researched background contextualizes present fox removal tasks on Alaska islands and explains the deserted pens one stumbles throughout. it is a tale that has lengthy wanted to be written.”—Joan M. Antonson, Alaska nation Historian

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He additionally had different urgent enterprise pursuits and at last turned a far off companion. In 1901, the Alaska advertisement corporation, having misplaced the Pribilof agreement a decade prior to, offered so much of its resources to sister companies—its delivery operations went to Northern Navigation corporation and its retail shops to Northern advertisement corporation. Washburn controlled the Kodiak shop for N. C. for 6 years sooner than being promoted to corporation vp. He left Kodiak to paintings on the major workplace of the Northern advertisement corporation in San Francisco. whilst he died in April 1911, corporation shops in Alaska have been closed till midday and their crimson “N. C. Co. ” flags have been dropped to half-mast. forty nine W. J. Erskine and the Kodiak Fur Farm on new york To Kodiak citizens it should have appeared as though Washburn’s absence created a vacuum that attracted one other vigorous younger entrepreneur. W. J. Erskine was once the scion of a relations with ties to coastal Alaska. His grandfather had sailed for the Russian-American corporation, and his father used to be the manager officer on an Alaska advertisement corporation steamship. 50 In 1900, 18-year-old W. J. Erskine made his first journey to Alaska as a purser on a boat captained via his father. He remained in Nome to cashier for the Alaska advertisement corporation through the gold strike, after which he endured with the Northern advertisement in San Francisco, advancing quick to normal supervisor. He used to be fifty eight W. J. Erskine in Kodiak, Twenties. Baranov Museum, Carolyn Erskine assortment, P368-1-40. fifty nine The Fur Farms of Alaska operating within the San Francisco place of work while the devastating earthquake of 1906 struck. That cataclysmic occasion appeared to solidify his choice to go away the city, company international of town and go back to Alaska as an self sustaining entrepreneur. fifty one Erskine tested a small corporation with 3 ships sporting items among Seattle, Kodiak, and intervening ports. In 1908, he changed Washburn as supervisor of the Northern advertisement corporation shop in Kodiak. 3 years later, while Northern advertisement placed the shop up on the market, Erskine acquired it. In 1914, while the Semidi corporation bought its big apple fox farm, Erskine and 3 traders obtained that too, renaming it the Kodiak Fur Farm. fifty two the dept of trade issued Erskine a fur farm license in 1914. This license required him to post an annual executive shape that indexed constructions, animals, and pelt revenues for the earlier 12 months. He was once instructed the document shape could arrive on one of many autumn mail boats. while no shape had arrived via December, Erskine despatched the Secretary of trade his personal report—a twenty-three-page, typed and sure booklet with coloured subtitles, drawings, images, blueprints, and a few thoughts for presidency motion. fifty three The rfile defined alterations at the island because the Semidi days. livestock were got rid of and penned silver foxes were additional. additionally, the companions have been experimenting with remedies for fox ailments, selective breeding, and new meals. They have been feeding foxes salted salmon heads from a close-by cannery, offal from livestock ranches, and Belgian hares raised at the island.

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