This Day in Alaska History-July 28th, 1899


Company L stands at attention on the Dyea-Klondike wharf in Dyea, Alaska 1899. Photo courtesy of the Alaska State Library William Norton Collection (ASL-P226-868)
Company L of the 14th Infantry stands at attention on the Dyea-Klondike wharf in Dyea, Alaska 1899. Photo courtesy of the Alaska State Library William Norton Collection (ASL-P226-868)

In March of 1898, Colonel Thomas M Anderson and a battalion of the 14th U.S. Infantry established Camp Dyea approximately six miles north of the newly built boomtown of Dyea.

The location for the camp was poorly chosen, having no potable water and poor accessibility. By October, 1898, the camp pulled up stakes and moved to the Dyea-Klondike Transportation Company Dock three miles to the south and re-established itself.

Even there, the camp would not last long. On July 28th, 1899, a wildfire swept through the area destroying Camp Dyea. 

According to military documents, “At about 8 AM that day a fire was discovered about 1000 yds north of Camp. Upon examination it was found that efforts to extinguish it would be unavailing, and the preparations for removal were ordered. After removing as many stores as possible the command left at 610 PM – a guard of five men remaining. In about twenty minutes the wind changed, and the fire came down rapidly through the forest, destroying everything, in its path, including all buildings occupied by troops.”

The camp was moved to Skagway and re-established at the camp set up by  A and G Companies of the 14th Infantry.

Even their stay in Skagway was short-lived, by May 1902 the soldiers of the original Camp Dyea boarded the SS City of Seattle and sailed south to be redeployed to Fort Missoula in Montana.

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The 106th Battery of the Coast Artillery would take over the 14th U.S. infantry’s duties in Skagway.