The Way We Were

From the Sentinel 100, 75, 50 and 25 years ago

May 29, 1924

For the first time in the history of the Wrangell schools, the entire high school graduating class was composed of all boys. Such an occurrence is thought to be without parallel. Six boys graduated from Wrangell High School Monday evening at the exercises held at Redmen’s Hall and received diplomas entitling them to enter the universities of the states. There were no girl members of the class. Neil Grant, as class salutatorian, cited incidents in the life of the class and told of some of the trials and pitfalls into which any high school student may fall. Donald Sinclair then recited the class poem; a poem full of enthusiasm and hope for a brilliant future.

May 27, 1949

With the tourist season upon us, our attention has been called to the condition of the Shakes Island approach which spans the water between the road and the island. Last night’s tourists, with cameras in hand, walked down to the island. Upon reaching the bridge, they were faced with a sign that warned them that they crossed the approach “at their own risk.” And indeed, it looked a perilous crossing in the structure’s rickety condition and without handrails. It is hoped, eventually, to obtain the property for the city from the Interior Department, as that department has no funds for its upkeep but, in the meantime, it seems it would be to the advantage of the town to find some way of keeping this outstanding attraction in a more presentable shape for tourists and our own enjoyment.

May 31, 1974

Wrangell’s Port Commission has begun work tearing down the old cold storage building at the head of Front Street. The city plans to fill the area and rent it out for parking, according to Port Commission Chairman Leonard Campbell. The building and lot were purchased, upon approval from city voters, nearly two years ago from the McCormack family, which had owned it since the late 1800s. Port employee Al Riehle is doing the demolition work. Due to limited funds, the city’s original plan was to contract someone to tear down the building in return for the materials. But Campbell said the city could not find anyone willing to take the job on those terms. Campbell stressed that an effort is being made to maintain the appearance of the building during its destruction. “We’re going to make every effort to keep it cleaned up and acceptable looking from a tourist’s standpoint,” he said.

May 27, 1999

Those big white sacks being offloaded at the airport each day, that we dream to be full of gold, may not be coveted much longer. The gold mine just over the mountain in British Columbia, called the Snip Mine, is closing. Old Bristol freighters have been making daily flights since 1990 from the mine just east of Wrangell, bringing pallets of gold dust and dirt into the Wrangell airport for shipment south. Now, with the mine’s existing ore reserves dwindling, the operation is decommissioning and the land reclamation will commence. Much of the buildings and equipment will simply be buried due to the added cost of moving or maintaining them. Pilots flying over the area in about five years will find it difficult to imagine that the area was once a busy mining site with multiple facilities.


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