Saved by Choice Words

One hundred years ago, there was no such thing as bear spray and often men worked in the woods without a gun for protection. The following is a story about an unarmed encounter between man and bear near Chena Hot Springs.

Fairbanks Daily Times- September 15, 1914


If there is anyone who doubts that a little cussing, administered in the proper manner, is highly commendable, he should confer with Archie McIntosh, of the Big Chena district, who has the best bear story of the season. According to Archie, cuss words and a long-handled shovel saved his life and that of his dog, both of whom were endangered by a grizzly bear.

Not long ago, Archie was walking along toward his cabin with a shovel thrown over his shoulder, and his dog trailing along a few feet behind his heels. Hearing a rather unusual noise, he turned and saw a big grizzly bear attacking his pet. Without realizing the danger to which he was subjecting himself, the prospector turned and hit the bear a hard blow on the head. Dazed at first, the bear started for the underbrush, but upon second thought he turned and started for Archie. The latter commenced howling like a Comanche Indian, hurling cuss word after cuss word at the bear, and at the same time swinging his shovel over his head at about thirty revolutions a minute. Whether scared by the cusses or by the shovel, the bear thought discretion the better of valor and started for the woods.

Note: Archie McIntosh was a member of Igloo No. 4, who came to Skagway, Alaska in 1897, and to Fairbanks before 1910. When he wasn’t busy swearing off bears, he worked as a blacksmith and tried his hand a gold mining as well. Archie passed away in 1939 and he was laid to rest in the Pioneer Plot of Birch Hill Cemetery in Fairbanks. This History Nugget has been proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska Fairbanks.

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