Staking a Claim to the Panhandle
After 1840, when the Hudson's Bay Company leased the mainland portion of the Panhandle, the actual location of the boundary line meant very little. There was no need for company men to travel the country; its fur trade was bottled up between coastal stations and inland posts reached from the Mackenzie River. But the isolation was ending, especially after 1862 when Captain Moore took his sternwheeler, the Flying Dutchman, up the Stikine River. The first gold rush had been short-lived, but other miners were still searching. The Hudson's Bay Company had followed them, building a temporary post about 135 miles up the Stikine River in the summer of 1867. 1 A year earlier the river steamer Mumford had landed thirty-three thousand pounds of telegraph wire at the site of Telegraph Creek, part of the Western Union scheme to build a land line to Europe via Alaska and Siberia. 2 The scheme collapsed the same year with the successful laying of the first trans-Atlantic cable, and the wire was hauled away. But, like the phoenix, it would return in 1901 when a land line from Dawson to Ashcroft, B.C., was laid over a long section of the original route.
In 1867, the United States had purchased Alaska on an "as is, where is" basis with the boundary description with British territory copied word for word from the Anglo-Russian Treaty of 1825. In 1872, the government of British Columbia had asked the government of Canada to discuss a joint survey of the boundary line with the United States government. President Grant recommended it in his