Money often leads to greed and sometimes even to murder, so we should not be surprised to learn about a miner killing other miners for their gold, the rawest form of currency. This story sounds believable from our jaded twenty-first-century perspective. In 1939, though, to the miners in Cache Creek country, the residents of Talkeetna, and people in Anchorage, the murders at Cache Creek represented the worst type of betrayal of the code of trust and respect followed by the independent men and women who labored in the mud to eke out a living and extract a valuable mineral from the earth. When the FBI did not quickly apprehend the killer, miners began to lock their cabins and fear their neighbors.
I based this story almost entirely on the book The Mystery of the Cache Creek Murders by Roberta Sheldon, published in 2001. I have only outlined the basics of the murders in this newsletter, so if you want more details, not only about the murders but also about the life of a gold miner in Alaska in the 1930s and 40s, I recommend Ms. Sheldon’s book. She presents the context of these murders against the backdrop of the years leading up to WWII, and she gives the reader a glimpse of how the FBI operated in those years and the near lack of law enforcement in the wilderness of Alaska.
Sheldon, Roberta, 2001. The Mystery of the Cache Creek Murders. Publication Consultants.
Alaska’s “Gold Rush” Years 1832 – 1913. History of Mining in Alaska. http://www.alaskaminers.org/mining-history-in-ak
Dunham, Mike, 2012. Fire destroys historic Forks Roadhouse in Susitna Valley. Anchorage Daily News.https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/article/fire-destroys-historic-forks-roadhouse-susitna-valley/2012/04/05/
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Robin Barefield is the author of four Alaska wilderness mystery novels, Big Game, Murder Over Kodiak, The Fisherman’s Daughter, and Karluk Bones. Sign up to subscribe to her free, monthly newsletter on true murder and mystery in Alaska.