"ALWAYS, after any stampede, it's not the successes who build up the country. They go home with the stakes they made. It's the failures who stay on, decade after decade, and establish homes."
This remark of Albert Ness is one of the most fundamental things one can say about the white people of the Koyukuk. They are failures in the usually accredited sense of the term. They came to the North country to make great fortunes, and, with the exception of a minor fraction of their number, they did not. To-day more than half of them are as poor or poorer than when they set out for the North. In the entire history of the region only about twenty-five people have accumulated more than $20,000, which is a great deal more modest a fortune than many of them had expected to make in thirty weeks, let alone thirty years.
That their original purpose was to make fortunes there can be no doubt. One wanted money that he might take music lessons, another aimed to buy a ranch and settle on it with "the best-looking girl in the Methow Valley," a third wanted to go to college that he might engage in research, still another expected to make enough money to travel all over the world. Some also came for adventure, and perhaps one or two even contemplated the possibility of making