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STAN BISHOP—A TRUE SOURDOUGH 

INTRODUCTION

 

Stan Bishop
at his home, near Ketchikan, Alaska
December, 1997

Photograph by Don MacMillan

 

Anyone who had the opportunity to spend some time with Stan Bishop probably heard him tell some of his hard-to-believe tales about life in southeast Alaska from the Depression days onward. It would be easy to suspect him of spinning tall Alaskan tales but I don’t think so.  Stan said he came to Alaska to find adventure and Alaska certainly did not disappoint him!  

My own life and Stan’s intersected in 1932 when I was just an infant, living with my parents at a remote salmon hatchery near Yes Bay, Alaska—some 50 miles northeast of Ketchikan.  Stan was wearing a heavy backpack full of canned milk for me and two other infants at the Yes Bay hatchery when he broke through the April ice on Lake McDonald.  He barely survived, thanks to the quick thinking of the other men crossing the frozen lake with him.  [See the full story at “Stan and the Milk Run.”] 

That probably wasn’t Stan Bishop’s first brush with death nor was it his last!  It seems nothing short of a miracle that Stan survived so many adventures in the harsh Alaskan wilderness and then lived to tell about them, as a very old man. 

In 1997, Louise Harrington and Don MacMillan, two volunteer interviewers with the Friends of the Ketchikan Public Library Oral History Project, spent some time with Stan, and his wife, Irene, taping his recollections.  Stan passed away on March 24, 2003.  Apparently no obituary was published and his wife preceded him in death.  How old was Stan?  I don’t have his birth date, but he was about 85 years old when his interview was taped in 1997 and a web search for death records indicated that Stan was 91 when he passed away.  That would mean he was born about 1912.  In this interview, Stan mentions that he was born in California. 

Thanks to Louise and Don, the slice of Alaskan history that might have gone to the grave with Stan is still alive.

 

NOTES ABOUT THE TRANSCRIPTION

“Transcribed by Louise Harrington; December, 1997. This tape is being made for the Friends of the Ketchikan Public Library Oral History Project on December 1, 1997. Louise Harrington and Don MacMillan interviewing Stanley Bishop.”

“Note: Throughout the manuscript the colloquial name ‘Ooligan River’ is used. It is spelled ‘Eulachon River’ on current maps and charts.”

[The Eulachon is a smelt, also known as a “candlefish,” which was traditionally used by Native Americans for food and for its very high oil content. When dried and fitted with a wick, a eulachon can be burned like a candle. BH]

[I have rearranged segments from the taped interview for a better chronological “fit” and given each segment a heading. In some cases I’ve inserted explanatory words and some of my own comments in brackets. BH]

Some of the places Stan mentions can be located on these maps:

 

 

Behm Canal Area and Location of Major Chinook Systems and Hatcheries.
Note location of Yes Bay Hatchery at upper left, off West Behm Canal
Unuk River is at top of map and empties into Burroughs Bay

Map courtesy of the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game. Permission granted to reproduce.

 

 

 

Unuk River Area, Showing Major Tributaries, Barriers to Fish Migration
and Location of ADF&G Research Sites.

Map courtesy of the Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game. Permission granted to reproduce.

 

1. INTRODUCTION

2. EARLY YEARS IN CALIFORNIA

3. COMING TO ALASKA AND THE YES BAY HATCHERY

4. BECOMING A "DISCIPLE" OF ALASKA

5. THE UNUK RIVER

6. KEEPING THE LIGHT ON

7. HOMESTEAD ON THE OOLIGAN (EULACHON) RIVER

8. FUR TRAPPING

9. COMING HOME FOR THANKSGIVING

10. PLACER GOLD MINING ON THE UNUK

11. WORKING ON A ROAD TO CANADA

12. FREIGHTING ON THE UNUK

13. KETCHIKAN

14. WARTIME WORK IN KETCHIKAN-1940'S

15.PORT STEWART AND THE KETCHIKAN PULP COMPANY

16. EPILOGUE

* * * * * * * * *

 

 

1.Introduction 2. Early Years in California 3.Coming to Alaska-
Yes Bay
4.Becoming a
Disciple of Alaska
5.The Unuk River 6. Keeping the Light On 7.Homestead on the
Eulachon River
8.Fur Trapping
9.Home for Thanksgiving 10.Placer Mine
on the Unuk
11.Building a Road
to Canada
12.Freighting on the Unuk 13.Ketchikan 14.Wartime Work - Ketchikan 15.Port Stewart & Ketchikan Pulp Company 16.Epilogue

GB Halliday Home Page  

Related Alaskan stories:

"Stan and the Milk Run"

"Tales of Yes Bay, Alaska"

         
Unless otherwise noted, text and photos are the property of Glenn and Barbara Halliday, © 2004