1954 - 1955 TWO (2) ORIGINAL HANDWRITTEN LOGBOOKS AND JOURNALS OF THE CAPTAIN OF A HIRED FREIGHTER IN ALASKA FIGHTING DANGEROUS WEATHER, BEING ARRESTED AND ENDURING MONTHS OF ‘BLOOD, SWEAT AND MISERY’

By: LORAN COOLIDGE

Price: $2,255.99

Quantity: 1 available

Book Condition: Good


On offer are two (2) logbooks of the Freighter ‘Cinnabar’ plying its trade along the Kuskokwim River, Alaska in 1954 and 1955, describing two separate trips taken by Captain Loran Coolidge, a ship captain for hire. They are two trips to Alaska, the first from Seattle to the Red Devil Mine in Sleemute, Alaska and the second to and from Ivanof Bay. The second journal (1955) goes smoothly and comfortably for Coolidge, transferring cargo to and from canneries in Alaska. The first journal is of a harrowing, horrible and miserable trip from Seattle up to Bethel, Alaska and back and forth from the Red Devil Mine. The Freighter ‘Cinnabar’ is besot with constant horrible weather, dangerous conditions and weeks of sleepless and uncomfortable nights. It even ends with Captain Coolidge being arrested for operating without a license that the company he is working for was supposed to obtain. It is an extraordinary document of human resistance to the elements and the toll it takes on the life of this poor Captain. The first log book begins: “April 12, 1944. Harry Sherman Decoursey Mt. Mining Co. representative in Seattle contacts me to take job of managing and navigating and engineering Tanker Freight barge ‘Cinnabar’ from Seattle to the mercury mine at Sleetmute on the Kuskokwim River in Alaska. The self propelled barge was to be built by Central Sheet Metal Co. of Seattle, at Maritime Ship yd. On the Lake Wash. Ship Canal. For two weeks I pondered the prospect. Considering the distance of the voyage all the conditions involved to get there. Stats of Cinnabar.: 64.6’, hull depth 11 feet, Beam 23 feet. Steel welded construction, Deck House (steel) aft, engine: 165 HP GMC diesel; simple (?) semi tunnel hull. Speed: (unhindered) 6 knots.” The rest of the book is a fairly matter-of-fact log book, detailing all actions taken at specific times of each day. For the log on July 19, 1954 (the day of departure from Seattle), the log reads like such: “1215 - start engine; 1220 - Proceed to Lk. Union to take compass adjuster aboard; 1255 - Secure at Lk. Standard Oil Dk.; 1315 - Mr. Kaufman, compass adjuster, comes aboard. Mounts compass. Compass avast wheel man. Must steer reversed courses; 1325 - L.V. for swing. Having considerable difficulty compensating compass; 1450 - Complete swing. Go to Stand. Oil. Lk. Union; 1500 - Permanently mountain compass and magnets; 1525 - Lv. stand Oil. Lk. Union; 1600 - SEcure at Stand. Oil Ballard; 1700 - Secure at Maritime Shp. yd. Hang fire fighting equipment; 2200 - Complete hanging fire fighting equipment.” There are also additional details on the page: “Loran Coolidge, Capt; Thomas Smith, Mate (2 man crew).” The ship also contains “15 tons unslaked lime; 300 carbide cans; 19 ton International bulldozer w/ blade; Lime in forward cargo tanks; Tractor over after cargo tanks.” The next day, the ship leaves for Alaska. Each day contains two pages. The left side of each page contains the strict ship logs, while the right is reserved for more casual remarks, such as “Mama & kiddies, Lilly, and Po to see us off,” “Running 1000 R.P.M.,” “must repair leak in F.W. cooling system,” “Black night. Nearly run down by Halibut schooner” “Roughest I have seen it in Queen Charlotte. Really tough,” and many other remarks on the weather, the things needed to fix on the ship, direction of the ship, and other observations from Coolidge. The weather especially provides much trouble: “Weather report is that SE winds of 30 MPH will continue tomorrow. Plan to angle into Icy Bay and have some rest. This would kill the average sailor. Need at least 2 more men for wheel turn.” In another entry he writes, “Take beating from this SE 40 knots solid water over the top of wheelhouse.” Later: “Marker buoy dragged its anchor and is lost. Life ring and lamp. Prepare to abandon ship if necessary. Howling gale and vicious sea. Don’t know our position. Don’t know how far we drifted while jogging. No contact during the night so must speculate sas to position. Constant danger of striking on shallow bars. This trip is the most vicious I’ve made to Alaska in 20 yrs.” Finally, after weeks of awful and harrowing weather, they reach Bethel, Alaska, a town near the start of the Kuskokwim River where they finally get some rest for a night. Three more people join on the boat: Claude Swan, Capt. Peterson, and Charles Owen. The weather subsides for the most part and the boat reaches the Red Devil mine at the end of August. The log book only continues for another 9 days. Coolidge describes his daily tasks on the ship while it is in the mine. He drops off the cargo they brought to the mine and takes on “24000 gals. Diesel, 9 drums wh. Gas, 67 drums full on deck.” The freighter mostly carries cargo from the mine up and down the river. On September 9th, the log book reads: “This log is incomplete because it was copied from Pilot House log hurriedly on last day at the Mine and the airplane to take Tom Smith and me to Anchorage came 4 hours early.” However, after a few blank pages the logbook reads: “Made 4 round trips Bethel to Red Devil Mine 230 miles up Kuskokwim River after initial trip on 27, 28, 29, 30 Sept ‘54. Secure At Mine Oct. 6 last trip in Fairbanks for hearing. Complete security equipment for Winter by 12th Oct. Haul Barge Cinnabar out of river. I put in shift. Smith & I fly to Anchorage on 14th Oct. Seattle 15th. H.C. Hanson, Naval Architect, calls Oct. 20 and tells me mine production buildings at Red Devil North Sleet mate Mine burned to the ground last night of 19th Oct. There goes the whole summer of blood, sweat and misery. I’m arrested by Deputy Marshall Geo. Cuilshed for operating barge on river without certificate of final inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard. This was determined by the US District Attorney to be a responsibility of the Mine Co. and the charges against me were dropped. I was taken to Fed. Jail at Fairbanks; mugged, finger-printed and spent time from Sat. aft. 1500 hrs to Monday 1000 hrs. Because govt offices were closed on Sat. when we arrived Fairbanks and Guilsher was unable to get me off on own recognizance as he had planned - L. J. Coolidge.” There are a couple of log entries at the very end of the book. These are written by the first mate Ian Smith. October 1st reads, “Capt. Loren Coolidge was arrested on 9-30-1954 at about 1945 by the U.S. Marshall at Bethel. He and the Marshall accompanied by Boby Lyman went to Fairbanks this date for hearing. I (Ian Smith) will take vessel to Red Devil mine or until Capt. Coolidge returns from Fairbanks and resumes his command.” The second book is the same engineer, this time working on the steamer ‘General Pershing’. The layout of the logbook is the very same as the previous book. The logbook is of another trip in Alaska. Coolidge does not state who he is working for or who owns the ‘General Pershing’ though there are mentions of a cannery in Ivanof Bay that the ship goes back to often that might be the employer. The first part is from Cordova to Ivanof Bay. In Ivanof Bay, the ships drops off fish and takes on cargo of ice and gas from a cannery there. The ship goes on to Chignik, then Fox Bay, dropping off and taking on more cargo along the way at various canneries. The ship goes on to Vyok Bay, where the steamer stops at a Herring Plant to unload its cargo. The ship stays in Vyok bay for a couple weeks, the longest it stays in any place in the logbook. Finally the steamer heads to Kulukta Bay, and the author states he has no more orders and the logbook ends. The first book has roughly 120 pages of writing and 30 or so pages of blank space. The second book is a bit smaller than the first and fully filled with about 120 or so pages of writing. Both books are easily readable in Coolidge’s pencil script and are both are in excellent structural shape.; Manuscript; Folio - over 12" - 15" tall; KEYWORDS: HISTORY OF, LORAN COOLIDGE, THOMAS SMITH, TANKER FREIGHT BARGE, CINNABAR, SLEETMUTE, KUSKOKWIM RIVER, BETHEL, RED DEVIL MINE, CORDOVA, IVANOF BAY, CHIGNIK, FOX BAY, VYOK BAY, KULUKTA BAY, ALASKA, MOUNTAIN MINING COMPANY, MERCURY MINING IN ALASKA, CARGO SHIP, RIVER NAVIGATION, , GENERAL PERSHING, AMERICANA, HANDWRITTEN, MANUSCRIPT, DOCUMENT, LETTER, AUTOGRAPH, WRITER, HAND WRITTEN, DOCUMENTS, SIGNED, LETTERS, MANUSCRIPTS, HISTORICAL, HOLOGRAPH, WRITERS, AUTOGRAPHS, PERSONAL, MEMOIR, MEMORIAL, AMERICANA, ANTIQUITÉ, CONTRAT, VÉLIN, DOCUMENT, MANUSCRIT, PAPIER ANTIKE, BRIEF, PERGAMENT, DOKUMENT, MANUSKRIPT, PAPIER OGGETTO D’ANTIQUARIATO, ATTO, VELINA, DOCUMENTO, MANOSCRITTO, CARTA ANTIGÜEDAD, HECHO, VITELA, DOCUMENTO, MANUSCRITO, PAPEL

Title: 1954 - 1955 TWO (2) ORIGINAL HANDWRITTEN LOGBOOKS AND JOURNALS OF THE CAPTAIN OF A HIRED FREIGHTER IN ALASKA FIGHTING DANGEROUS WEATHER, BEING ARRESTED AND ENDURING MONTHS OF ‘BLOOD, SWEAT AND MISERY’

Author Name: LORAN COOLIDGE

Categories: 20th Century Manuscript, 20th Century Diary, All, Books and Manuscripts General Overview,

Publisher: RED DEVIL MINE BETHEL ALASKA AL KUSKOKWIM RIVER, 1954

Book Condition: Good

Seller ID: 0009028

Keywords: Keywords: History Of Loran Coolidge Thomas Smith Tanker Freight Barge CINNABAR SLEETMUTE Kuskokwim River BETHEL Red Devil Mine