Photo by Luc Mehl Photo by Luc Mehl Photo by Luc Mehl The first bicycles arrived in Alaska during the gold rush, hauled over Chilkoot Pass by stampeders who planned on using them for transportation upon arrival in Dawson City. It was there that Edward Jesson, a prospector and shopkeeper living along the Yukon River, purchased one after hearing that gold was being scooped from the beaches of Western Alaska and rode more than 1000 miles to Nome, mostly along the frozen Yukon River. A century later, riders would do similar things for fun.
In the 1980s, Jesson’s account of his journey caught the attention of historian Terrence Cole. A cyclist himself, Cole started digging into the archives, located four additional stories from early Alaska cyclists, and in 1985 published them in a small book called “Wheels on Ice: Bicycling in Alaska 1898-1908.”
That book holds “something of a cult status in Alaska,” Jessica Cherry said, adding that today it is “nearly unobtainable.” Seeking to bring it back into print, Cherry and the late Frank Soos went to work a few years ago on creating a greatly expanded version.
“The basic idea was, we wanted to do a reprint, but it was going to be a tiny book,” said Cherry, a climate scientist and former Fairbanks resident now living in Anchorage. They needed more material, so Cherry and Soos decided to take the original pieces Cole had gathered (ultimately only three were used), combine them with essays about riding in Alaska in […]
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