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DISTRESS ON ASHCROFT TRAIL.


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New York Times / Sep 29, 1898

Dozens Die of Exposure and Others Commit Suicide -- Chicago Man's Sad End.

skullTACOMA, Washington, Sept. 29. -- Rather than return to Chicago penniless, James Gardiner committed suicide on the banks of the Stickeen River, near Glenora, on Aug. 28. After losing his outfit and becoming broken in health through hardships on the trail, he deliberately blew his brains out when within sight of Glenora, where he could have taken a steamer to Fort Wrangell, and thence to civilization. Gardiner started for Dawson last Spring, and was unfortunate enough to choose the Canadian overland route via Ashcroft, which involves 2,900 miles of overland travel in order to reach Dawson. Five hundred men are stranded on this trail, prolonging their lives by eating horse flesh.

Survivors who have reached the coast within a few days say dozens have died of exposure, and others have committed suicide.

J. A. Gray of New York, one of the survivors, says that Gardiner's case was particularly sad. He had surmounted the difficulties of the trail, but shortly before he killed himself he lost the remainder of his outfit, and this greatly disheartened him. He left a letter addressed to his mother in Chicago, in which he deplored the fact that he had mortgaged his property to start on the expedition and had ignominiously failed. He left another letter requesting that he be buried on the spot where he shot himself.

Gardiner had been a clerk in a Chicago dry goods house for years.

 

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