Skip navigation links (access key: Z)Library and Archives Canada - Bibliothèque et Archives Canada Canada
Home > Browse Selected Topics > SOS! Canadian Disasters Français

Archived Content

This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.

Banner: SOS! Canadian Disasters
IntroductionDisaster Media ReportsSearchHelpWaterEarthAirFireIce


Over Fifty Persons Were Killed


Thousands of Tons of Supplied Buried Under the Avalanche – A Survivor’s Story.

Seattle, Wash., April 8. – The steamer Alki arrived to-night with news that a landslide occurred on Chilkoot trail in which thirty-one men are known to have been killed and a large number injured.

The dead were crushed under an avalanche of snow and ice which came down from the mountain side upon the left side of the trail, midway between the Scales and Stone house.

At this writing the known dead are: Gus Sebarth, Seattle; Frank Sprague, Seattle; Steve Stevenson, Seattle; Tom Collins, Portland, Oregon; C. H. Harrison, Seattle; W. L. Riley, Seattle; one woman, name unknown; Ed. Atwood, New York; C. Beck, Sanfrod, Fla.; L. Widelin, Kansas City; Mrs. Ryan, Baltimore; John Morgan, Emporia, Kansas; - Grimes, Sacramento, Cal.

More than 50 Killed.

The horror on the Dyea trail is growing in magnitude hourly. As the work of rescue proceeds it becomes more apparent that many more lives were lost than at first thought possible. It is now believed that between 50 and 100 men and women were killed by the avalanche. Many bodies will never be recovered, until the summer sun melts the tons of snow and ice that now bury them from sight.

Two or three thousand men are working in relays of as many as can stand side by side, shovelling away the debris, in search of the dead and dying. Twenty-two dead bodies have been recovered and identified, and 25 have been taken out alive. A correct list of killed, as complete as possible at the hour of writing is as follows: Gus Sebrath, Seattle; Frank Sprague, Seattle; Steve Stevenson, Seattle; C. H. Harrison, Seattle; W. L. Riley, Seattle; E. D. Atwood, New York; C. Beck, Sanford, Fla.; L. Widelin, Kansas City; Mrs. Ryan, Baltimore Md.; John Morgan, Emporia, Kansas.; F. M. Grimes, Sacramento, Cal.; Mrs. Anna Moxol, Jefferson County, Pa.; Ras Hepgard, Baker City, Oregon; - Atkins, Idaho; Tom Jeffart, Seattle; E. F. Miller, Vancouver; Tom Collins, Portland, Ore.; T. Lamar.

Tons of Outfits Lost.

Seventeen employes of the Chilkoot Railway and Tram Co., who went up to the summit on the morning of the slide to work, are missing, and it is feared that they are among the lost. It is estimated that 10,000 tons of outfits are buried under the snow and ice. There were several smaller slides before the death-dealing avalanche was started.

About 2 a. m. in the morning a small slide occurred, which buried several cabins. The alarm was spread, and many people were endeavoring to work back to Sheep Camp, when the big one came. The snow storm was blinding, and crowds were coming down by the aid of a rope when overtaken.

The exact location of the slide is given at two and a half miles above Sheep Camp and 100 yards above the Oregon Improvement Co.’s power house. Here an immense gorge rises at a very steep incline into the hills, and it was down this the avalanche came.

The telephone office here has been thronged all day and night with friends anxious to get some word of friends believed to have been in the disaster. Many people have gone from this city and Dyea to Sheep Camp, to aid in the work of rescue. It is believed that when the full returns are in the dead will number nearer one hundred than fifty.

A Survivor’s Story.

J. A. Raines, of Maine, who was fortunate enough to be dug out alive, says: “All of a sudden I heard a loud report, and instantly felt myself going swiftly down the hill. Looking around I saw many others buried, some with their feet out and head buried out of sight, and others vice versa. When I struck the bottom I tried to run, but the snow caught me, and I was instantly buried beneath 20 feet of snow and rock, being on the very verge of death by suffocation when I was reached by the rescuers.

“I think the slide occurred about 11 a. m. I am thankful to be alive today. Many, I presume, were saved by taking hold of a rope for hauling freight up to the summit. By this means forty or fifty were pulled out, battered and bruised, more or less, but glad to be alive at any discount. I never want to, nor expect to, experience such an awful half hour again as long as I live.”