Explosive Swine

In the early days, mining was a dangerous occupation as was daily life in a mining camp. The following story comes from the old mining camp of Chatanika where there were lots of miners and establishments of entertainment but no animal control, police, or fire departments to call upon when livestock got out of hand. There was a mining commissioner for mining disputes and criminal issues but the residents of Chatanika had to take care of most civil situations themselves as best they could. And sometimes, things could get a bit unusual.

Fairbanks Daily Times- August 25, 1915


CHATANIKA- E. M. Keys, of the mining firm of Keys & Rettig, is bemoaning the loss of a quantity of dynamite; at the same time he is congratulating himself that the was not blown up in an attempt to prevent the theft of the explosive.

It seems that stray hogs have been frequent visitors at the Keys chicken house of late, causing the operator much annoyance. In desperation, Mr. Keys finally decided to teach the prowlers a lesson and went to the chicken house, while the hogs were on the inside, intending to lambast the porkers with a large club, with which he had armed himself.

His plans were upset, however, when he discovered that the hogs had eaten a quantity of dynamite, which had been stored in the chicken house. Instead of using the club, as he had intended, he evacuated his position, leaving the enemy in undisputed possession.

The operator is now trying to figure out how long it will be, before it will be safe to resume the attack.

Note: Ed Keys and Pete Rettig were both members of Pioneers of Alaska Men’s Igloo No. 4. Mr. Keys also served as a representative in the 18th Territorial Legislature. The Fairbanks Pioneers would like to remind everyone to please keep their hogs restrained or run the risk of it raining bacon all over the neighborhood! This History Nugget has been proudly brought to you by Fairbanks Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8.

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