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100,000 miles with mail team in the Yukon.
100,000 miles with mail team in the Yukon.
Yukon Archives: 91/112 MSS 365 f.9
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100,000 miles with Mail-team in The Yukon

Mr. P.C. DeWolfe, known familiarly as ‘Percy' in the Dawson district is the Mail-carrier between Dawson and Eagle in Alaska . Three times a month Percy makes the round trip, and it is said that he has, in the twenty years he has held the contract, never missed a trip through sickness. Such a reputation has he made for himself that he is known locally as The Iron Man, and never did a man deserve a nickname more than he.

From early in October, after the regular river steamers have ceased running, until the first boat the next spring in early June Percy handles the mail. The first few trips are made with a small gasoline-launch as long as navigation on the Yukon river [sic] is safe and before there is too much floating ice. After that he takes to the old time-honoured Yukon method of carrying it by dog-team and sleigh, later on during the winter perhaps by single horse and s1eigh.

No matter what kind of weather Old Man Winter springs on him; does the thermometer say forty -fifty -or even sixty below zero? is it only ten below with half a gale blowing which is even worse than the extreme low temperatures? or has there been a nice gentle fal1 of six inches of soft snow during the night with the temperature up around the twenty-above mark? Never mind - Percy never fai1s.

The total distance for the round trip is about two hundred miles and the usual day's run is around twenty-five miles and it is not unusual for this distance to take him ten to fifteen hours depending of course on the condition of the trail and the state of the weather. N ot so ‘hot' for speed maybe, but when it is remembered that the walking is never really good; where a careless step in the dusk off the hard beaten trail means blundering into soft, knee-deep snow -Ah, that's different! It means just this - that Percy earns his money.

Nor are low temperatures, high winds and drifted trails the only discomforts that the Mail-man has to contend with. Not by any means. During the warmer days of Apri1 and May, the snow melts and the ice on the river becomes rotten. It is then that Percy's job is not only uncomfortable but becomes positively dangerous. More than one horse has he lost through the treacherous ice. There isn' t much chance for anything tha t goes through the ice and into the swirling icy waters of the Yukon River . More than once has he been ob1iged to leave the river and with mail sacks on his back or in hastily- improvised dog-packs, take to the 'bush' and walk, and the banks of the Yukon are not the easiest places in the country to walk on even without a load. No - be it Fall, Winter or Spring, the Mail-Man's job, along the Yukon at all events, is certainly no picnic, and whatever Percy's reward may be at the end of the season he earns it .
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