The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project

Reflections on Life, Family and Community

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Albert Schweitzer – Vorwort zu den Kinder Seminaren von Prof. Dr. Hartmut Kegler

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Im Sommer des Jahres 2003 lud mich die Freie Montessori Grundschule Aschersleben ein, ihren jüngsten Schülern etwas über Albert Schweitzer zu erzählen. Damit sollte ihr Ethikunterricht ein wenig ergänzt werden. Nur zu gerne bin ich dieser Einladung gefolgt, denn es konnte für mich nichts Schöneres geben, als jungen Menschen diesen großartigen Humanisten und beispielhaften Christen nahe zu bringen.

Da ich selbst kein Pädagoge bin, traute ich mir auch nicht zu, ordentlichen Unterricht zu geben. So entschloss ich mich zu einer Art von Seminar. Meine „Schüler“ hatten sich freiwillig dazu gemeldet, keiner wurde zur Teilnahme gezwungen. Einige von ihnen schienen durch ein aufgeklärtes Elternhaus zu dem Entschluss ermuntert worden zu sein, denn sie zeigten mir später Bücher Albert Schweitzers aus ihrer Hausbibliothek.

Meine Seminare dauerten jeweils eine Dreiviertelstunde. Diese Zeit hatte ich dreigeteilt. Zunächst erzählte ich ihnen jeweils eine der nachfolgenden Geschichten. Dann spielten wir einige Geschichten als kleine Theaterstücke nach. Das begeisterte die Jungen und Mädchen am meisten. Jeder wollte einmal Albert oder Helene, Joseph, Emma oder Mausche, Esel, Fiffi oder sogar Regenwurm spielen. Oft genug musste ich die Begeisterung bremsen, um nicht in Verdacht zu geraten, im Klassenzimmer Volksfeste zu veranstalten. Doch im letzten Drittel der Stunde setzten wir uns hin und malten eine ganz bestimmte Szene nach. Wie viele liebevolle Zeichnungen künden von dem gerade erzählten und nachgespielten Erlebnis!

So entstand nicht nur ein beglückendes Freundschaftsverhältnis zwischen meinen Schülern und mir, sondern ich erlebte zunehmend, wie Albert Schweitzers guter Geist Eingang in ihre Herzen fand. Das gab mir Hoffnung und auch etwas Mut, vor älteren Schülern aufzutreten, dort allerdings mit regelrechten Vorträgen über das Leben und Denken dieses wunderbaren Menschen. Auch hier in Sekundarschulen und Gymnasien stellte ich große Aufgeschlossenheit und Aufmerksamkeit fest. Es schien mir, dass die jungen Menschen geradezu danach verlangten, außerhalb der regulären Schule ein­mal etwas anderes zu vernehmen als ihnen eine flache Unterhaltungsindustrie ansonsten bietet.

Meine Geschichten habe ich weitgehend dem ausgezeichneten Kinder- und Jugendbuch von Werner Laubi „Albert Schweitzer, der Urwalddoktor“ sowie den am Schluss genannten Büchern Albert Schweitzers entnommen. Von all dem habe ich kurze Texte verfasst, die ich den Schülern übergeben habe, damit sie sich damit später noch einmal befassen oder ihre Eltern ihnen daraus vorlesen können. Jedem Text habe ich einen kleinen Fingerzeig angefügt, bei dem es um die wichtigste ethische Aussage ging, über die man nachdenken und die man beherzigen sollte. Damit sollten Samenkörner ausgelegt werden.

in der Hoffnung, dass das eine oder andere trotz einer für menschliche Werte wenig zugänglichen Umwelt keimen und wachsen möge. Ohne Hoffnung kann kein Mensch leben und Hoffnung ist Kraft, hat Schweitzer einmal selbst gesagt.

Hartmut Kegler

The Wonderful World of Cacti

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Wednesday’s Photos

Photos by Klaus-Dieter Barge

In my youth I once watched the Walt Disney documentary ‘The Living Desert’ (Die Wüste Lebt). It showed how the arid landscape after a rare rainfall literally exploded into a colourful display of the blooming desert flowers including the incredibly beautiful shapes of the cacti. As it often happens, the images gradually faded from my memory and all that remained was the idea  that cacti are nondescript plants extremely prickly and not exactly pretty to look at. Therefore, I am very grateful to my friend Dieter Barge who told me about his passion for raising and cultivating a large variety of cacti in his greenhouse. He kindly provided the photos of these marvelous desert plants complete with their botanical names. I turned the images with the help of a video editor into the short two-minute video below. Enjoy.

Kindred Time Travel Narrative by Justin Shaw

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Please note: Justin’s great-great-grandparents are my grandparents Carl and Elisabeth Kegler. Inspired by an account of my uncle’s (Günther Kegler) near death experience on the battle field in WW1, he wrote this highly creative piece and gave me his kind permission to publish it as a guest post in the Klopp Family Blog.

Kindred Time Travel Narrative

A deafening explosion burst nearby, sending a fountain of soil all around me. I fell to the floor, knocking the air out of my lungs. As I rolled over and gasped for air, another shell exploded near the trenches not too far away from me. Paralysed for a second, my mind started whirring through the countless questions that arose from my situation: Where am I? How did I get here? Am I going to die?

Yet, I had nowhere near enough time to think as a round of bullets caused me to dive into a trench. Spitting out dirt, I looked up through the smoky air to see a face looking down at me.

“Who are you?”

A young man in his early 20s wearing a military uniform peered down at me. I coughed, preparing to answer him, when I realised that I had just understood what seemed to be perfect German.

“What- what year is it?” I managed to sputter out, the words finding themselves without me having to attempt to translate.

“1917- what’s going on?” the German man shouted, confused. I would have answered him, but my mind was going through a thousand thoughts at once. I felt myself falling to the floor, but before I hit the ground, I was gone.

Gasping for air, I shot up to find myself half-asleep at my kitchen table, head buried in an old family tree. I picked myself up cautiously, half-expecting to find myself back on the Western front. I blinked once or twice, taking a moment to assess my situation. My experience felt surreal, but too lifelike to be a dream. Rubbing my eyes, I was still feeling remnants of the smoke and dirt that filled the air of the battlefield. World War I… Germany… Slowly things began to click into place. I turned towards the record of my family’s history and began to flip through the pages of information feverishly, looking for a clue as to where I had just been. Pouring through the text, I skimmed for any clue related to what I had just witnessed. Finally, something caught my eye.

It was a distant relative, Gunther Kegler. He had been born in Germany in 1894, and had joined the army at the beginning of WWI. In 1916, he became the commander of a machine gun company and traveled around Europe, fighting in many different battles for the Imperial German Army. Next to the description I found an aged picture. The man was much older than the boy I had seen in the trenches, but his face was familiar.

As I gently touched the photograph, I began to slip away again. I found myself back on the battlefield. Quickly, I threw myself to the ground expecting hails of bullets, but this time, none came. The battle must be over, I thought as I pulled myself up relieved. I began to look around the large expanse of land that had been home to the violence and human misery I had briefly witnessed before.

Trying to find my only link to this place, I scanned the scene for Gunther. As I looked around the battlefield, my eyes found large large craters from shells, and extensive networks of trenches carved like scars into the ground. My gaze came to rest on a large military truck. It was filled with corpses, a gruesome image. But my expression froze with surprise when I saw Gunther lying in the hearse. I rushed over. This didn’t make sense, Gunther didn’t die in this battle! What was going on?

“Gunther!” I shouted loudly. I ran over to the edge of the truck. He was lying still, and it looked like he had been very badly injured.

“Gunther!” I called again desperately. Had history changed itself? Was it my fault?

Gunther coughed gently. He was still alive! I pulled him out of the truck and glanced around worriedly. Nobody seemed to be around. Straining myself, I lifted him onto my back, barely able to stand under his weight. I began to slowly lumber over to the camp in the distance.

After struggling forward slowly for what felt like hours, I made it to the tents. Looking around frantically, I saw wounded soldiers slowly shuffling into a hospital tent. Pulling Gunther towards them quickly, I called out for help.

Weary eyes turned to face me, but I was already gone.

 

Works consulted: “The Kegler Tree.” The Peter and Gertrud Klopp Family Project, klopp-family.com/our-family/the-kegler-tree/. Accessed 5 Apr. 2017.

STEEP AND CROOKED … by Late Writer, Artist & Castle Builder Bill Laux

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  CHAPTER FIFTEEN

RED MOUNTAIN: BOOM AND DECLINE 1900 – 1997

Trail_Smelter_in_Year_1929

Trail Smelter 1929 – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

When standard gauging its Rossland line, the CPR moved the Rossland yards to a flat between Second and Third Avenues, extending from Washington to Butte.   A commodious station was built on the site now occupied by the Rossland fire hall.   On the north side of the four track yard, a freight shed was erected, and at the east end, near Butte, a two stall engine house.   Alongside the yard tracks private interests put in a coal yard, a feed store, and a drayage warehouse.     Down in the lower town at Cook Avenue, a roofed platform for passengers was built at the water tower.   As in its narrow gauge days, this was still called “Union Avenue.”

 With both the CPR and the Great Northern in town, their bitter rivalry was not long in breaking out.     At the west end of Rossland, the Red Mountain Railway had a spur up behind the present museum which hauled ore from the Black Bear mine, delivered coal for its power plant, and timbers for mine props.  Further east and some hundreds of feet up Red Mountain was the second class dump of the great Le Roi mine.  The Northport smelter had installed a concentrating plant and now wanted that ore.

Accordingly, in the first days of November, 1900, the Red Mountain Railway sent out its engineers to stake out a line climbing west from the Black Bear spur to a switchback on the Annie claim.   Reversing there, the line climbed back east to the Le Roi second class ore dump and on to the end of the CPR track at the War Eagle ore bunkers.   This line would allow the Northport smelter to bid for both the Le Roi second class ore and for the War Eagle ores.

            For once in its long life, the CPR moved with dispatch. On the Ninth of November, the train from Nelson brought a full crew of workmen, engineers, and their tools.   The next morning, as the dawn sun was glimmering through the fog-shrouded town, the CPR men with teams and scrapers assembled at the War Eagle ore bunkers.     Running west and slightly downhill was the line of Red Mountain survey stakes.   After a careful sight through his instrument, the CPR engineer pronounced the Red Mountain grade suitable.   At once the CPR crew began to grade it with shovels, picks, wheelbarrows and horse drawn scrapers.  It was not until the next day that an outraged Red Mountain crew arrived from Marcus to find the CPR had graded their own line down to the Black Bear mine on the Red Mountain survey and were preparing to lay ties and rails

.               Howls of indignation went up, but this was Canada, and no pistols were drawn.   The Red Mountain telegrapher in Rossland sent out an SOS to Spokane.   Spokane wired Jim Hill in St Paul.   The mighty Empire Builder raged.   His Spokane lawyers were roused from their beds at midnight and bustled onto a hastily assembled special train at the Spokane depot.   They were to be in court in Rossland promptly at ten in the morning.   On came the Lawyers’ Special, storming up the hill to Rossland, and screeching to a halt at the Spokane Street station.   A squad of shivering and sleepless attorneys descended, and clutching their briefcases, hurried down to the courthouse on Columbia Avenue.

           But, as they were to learn, the CPR was a power in Canada.   The legal arguments were many, learned, and passionate.   Still, the owners of the mining claims over which the disputed rails passed, raised no objection; they were quite delighted to have rails at their mine mouths.   His Honour could find no injured party.

            On December 14, the judge upheld the CPR rails and the Spokane lawyers departed.   On the 16th, the Red Mountain capitulated, and connected its rails at the Black Bear with the CPR tracks.   Both lines could now compete for ore from the Black Bear, the War Eagle, and the Le Roi second class dump.   Belatedly, on the 23rd, the CPR published its “Notice of Application to Build a Branch Line to the Black Bear Claim.”   That closed any legal loopholes, and the Red Mountain Railway resigned itself to the interchange track.

                 With the end of regular sternwheeler service, the CPR removed the tracks from Bay Avenue and the Trail station to a more central location at Cedar and Farwell (where the Super Valu market now stands).   A wye was installed here to turn the engines. The War Eagle and Centre Star mines were bought in 1906 by the newly organized Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company (COMINCO) which began a policy of buying mining properties to assure the smelter of a continuous and predictable supply of ore.   The Northport smelter was still bidding for ores and faced uneconomic shutdowns when they were not forthcoming. As Rossland entered the present century, the results of the early high grading days became evident.   The Red Mountain mines had been opened in a virtual wilderness by the Spokane Colonels and Canadian Honourables when only the richest shoots of ore could pay their way to a railway siding by pack team or rawhiding.

              In 1896 the ore shipped out ran an average of 1.45 oz. in gold, 2.34 oz. silver, and 40.9 pounds of copper per ton.   That rich ore was worth $32.64 per ton.   The charges at the pioneer smelters were high, between $10 and $14 per ton, reflecting the high cost of getting coke and coal to the smelters by the roundabout rail and water routes.   Two years later, the average ore being mined contained only half as much gold, but owing to a doubling of the copper price, was still bringing a profit of about $20 per ton.

            The Le Roi, hoisting twenty six carloads daily in 1901, could claim ore values of only $13.16 per ton.   With the CPR bringing coal and coke directly from the Crowsnest fields, the smelter charges were more modest.   Combined mining, haulage and smelting charges averaged just $10.72 per ton.   This yielded a profit of $2.44 per ton, a tenth of what it had been three years earlier.   $2.00 per ton remained an average profit for the red Mountain mines for some years thereafter. High grade ore shoots were still being uncovered from time to time; each was announced with great fanfare in the mining press. But breathless publicity was largely a device to bolster stock prices and keep investors buying.   As the mines went deeper, the tenor of the ore steadily declined.   Smelter managers sent ore buyers into the field to purchase ores with a high sulfur content which would reduce the amount of coal required in the furnaces.     For this reason it was economic to bring in the bornite and chalcopyrite ores from Phoenix to blend with the lower sulfur Rossland ores.   The much lower mining costs at Phoenix where the massive deposits could be worked with power shovels from huge glory holes, more than offset the cost of hauling these ores over the Monashees to Trail or around by Marcus to Northport.

           With a progressive decline in the quality of ore as their mines went deeper, the Rossland mine managers blamed their inability to pay dividends on high labor costs.They refused to honor the legally mandated eight hour day, and instituted a change from an hourly wage to a contract system, paying their miners so much per ton or per foot of tunnel dug.   The Rossland miners refused and struck on July 11, 1901. The strike was long and bitter, but eventually failed as the local union broke away from the Western Miners Federation in Denver, uncomfortable with its openly Socialist ideology.   With the miners now on a contract system, the mine managers were no longer able to blame their failure to produce rich dividends on excessive labor costs.   The truth was was that the Le Roi, the Centre Star and War Eagle had been bought from the Spokane Colonels at vastly inflated prices in the speculative boom of 1898.   The ore being mined after 1898 could simply not pay the dividends demanded.     General informed belief was that the miners had been scapegoated.   The British Columbia Mining Record editorialized that the real reasons for the unprofitability of the Rossland Mines after 1898 were, “…the exaggerated anticipations on the part of investors; extravagance and incompetence on the part of the representatives of the investors” (the mine  managers); “over taxation… and extensive swindling on the part of company promoters.”

                To reduce mining costs Aldridge of the Trail smelter proposed uniting all the major producers into one company.   All were interconnected underground; amalgamation would allow all hoisting to be done through one shaft, and a single compressor station and lighting works would serve all the mines.   The owners refused, believing the proposal to be a CPR grab for monopoly control.   Aldridge was persistent; he believed that if the CPR did not buy the mines, the Great Northern would.[v]     Gradually, opposition weakened, except for Mc Millan, manager of the Le Roi.   He was especially obstructive, attacking the condition for merger that gave the CPR all the haulage of the combined ores, and the Trail smelter all the treatment.   Aldridge saw Mc Millan as representing Jim Hill’s interests.   This was true.   J.J. Hill, in far off St Paul, had been myopically buying shares in the declining Le Roi for the express purpose of preventing the CPR from getting hold of it, and denying Hill’s Red Mountain Railway of its traffic.

            In 1905 Aldridge was able to buy the War Eagle/Centre Star (already consolidated) from the Gooderham-Blackstock families in Toronto for $825,000. With these and other purchases, the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company, Ltd. (COMINCO) was created in 1906.   Cominco was capitalized at 5 million dollars, a wringing out of the excessive capitalization which had hamstrung the separate companies.   It comprised the War Eagle,. Centre Star, the Trail smelter, The Rossland Power Company (an ore concentrating works), and the St Eugene mine, a lead-silver property in the East Kootenay which Aldridge optimistically expected to replace the Le Roi as the primary supplier of ore to the smelter.   The St Eugene was largely owned by the Spokane Colonels.   They had its manager, James Cronin, working his miners overtime in the months before the merger, a repetition of their 1898 stripping of the Le Roi, by removing as much of the high grade ore as possible to show a high valuation.   The St Eugene, as a result of the Colonels’ manipulations, was assigned 49.8% of the new Cominco stock, while the War Eagle-Centre Star got 33.2%, the Trail smelter, 15.8 % and the unsuccessful Rossland Power Company 1.2%.   Turning over their virtually depleted St Eugene mine to Cominco, the Spokane Colonels retired with half the Cominco stock, having fleeced the Canadians once again.

           Five years later, the worked out St Eugene was abandoned to a few leasers to pick its bones foe what they could find.   Cronin, when the deception was discovered, was unceremoniously removed from the Cominco board. Mc Millan of the Le Roi, doing Jim Hill’s bidding, refused to join the merger.   But Hill’s intransigence could not save his mine.   Five years later, in 1911, the Le Roi went into liquidation and was sold to Cominco for $250,000. As the supplies of copper-gold ores diminished in quantity and value, Cominco switched its interest to the huge deposit of low grade lead-silver ores of the Sullivan mine at Kimberly in the East Kootenay.

            This had been another of the Spokane Colonels’ properties, but here they had lost their shirts.   They had spent millions building a smelter to process its zinc-contaminated ores.   Then the usually shrewd Colonels became victims of their own exuberance.   Hiring by mistake, the brother of the engineer they had intended to employ, the smelter he built for them was an utter failure.   They sold out to the Guggenheims’ American ASARCO combine. Asarco as well was unable to treat the Sullivan ores successfully, and Cominco picked up the mine nobody wanted in 1910 for $116,000.  The separation of the troublesome zinc was finally achieved with a flotation process, and the Sullivan, together with the Bluebell (the deposit the Indians and Hudson’s Bay Company employees cast their bullets from in the 1840s) on Kootenay Lake furnished the bulk of Cominco’s ores until the 1970s.

         Still, copper-gold ores continued to come down the steep and crooked rails from Rossland, though, after 1916 in diminished tonnage.   By 1910, the CPR M4 series Consolidation locomotives were assigned to the Rossland run, and for these heavier engines the existing 60 pound rail was replaced with 85 pound steel.   Rails on the tight 20 degree curves had to be braced against the weight of these engines with ties wedged between the outside rail and the embankment.   On other curves the outside rail was cabled to an iron pin driven into bedrock.

               Braking on the downhill runs was always a problem.   The older cars with wooden brake beams often arrived at Smelter Junction with the beams so badly scorched they would need to be replaced before the car could be sent up the hill again. A judicious handling of the brakes was required so as not to burn off the brake beams and lose the train brakes.   In the Twenties all steel gondolas arrived with steel brake beams and the problem was eliminated.

           In the early years, the Rossland branch used tiny 4 wheel cabooses just 15 feet long.   These had been built in 1907 and 1908.   They lasted until the CPR banned 4 wheel equipment in the 1920s.   They were replaced by standard plan cabooses which had been shortened by ten feet.   A home made flanger, built on the single car truck, lasted well into the 1940s.

            After WWI the end was in sight for the Rossland mines.   They were following leaner and leaner veins down into the mountain, almost down to the level of the Columbia.   A plan was mooted to drive a tunnel from Warfield to intercept the deep workings and allow the ore to come out near present Haley Park.   This would have eliminated the need for trackage above Warfield.   The tunnel was begun, but too late.   The Red Mountain mines were nearing exhaustion and further expenditure was not justified.

               The Northport smelter had closed after the war for lack of ore.   On July 1, 1921, the last Great Northern train departed from Rossland and the Red Mountain Railway was closed.   In 1922, the rails were pulled and a one lane gravel road graded, most of it on the old railway line.   The great Columbia bridge at Northport was given a wooden deck for automobile traffic.   It served, an increasingly shaky structure old timers remember, until 1948, when one span collapsed and a ferry had to be put in service until a new highway bridge could be built.

               With the closing of the Phoenix mines in 1919 and the diminishing amounts of ore coming out of the deep levels of the Red Mountain mines, Cominco decided in 1929 to close its Rossland mines.   The next year it ended its copper smelting operations, and smelted exclusively lead-zinc-silver ores from the East and West Kootenay.   A good many of the Rossland miners found work in the Trail smelter, and a Rossland-Smelter Junction commuter coach was added to the 6:00 AM passenger train to Nelson.   The coach would be dropped off at Tadanac, as Smelter junction had been renamed.   On the return run from Nelson, the train would pick up the miner’s coach at 4:15 PM and haul them back up the hill to Rossland.

           When the great depression struck in the Thirties, the demand for metals dwindled and many smelter workers were laid off.   To assist these men, Cominco leased its Rossland mines from 1933 to 1940 to its laid-off employees.   A truck dumping facility was established on Washington Street.   The miners would truck their ore to the ramp and raise the body with a chain fall to dump the ore into the CPR gondolas.   The ore cars ran again in the three times per week service the CPR maintained to Rossland.

               A paved highway down the hill to Trail opened in 1937.   The miners then established their own commuting bus service to the smelter, a fifteen minute trip, as compared to an hour by train.   That year, all passenger service to Rossland was withdrawn.   Still, the freight climbed the hill three times a week, as Rossland, high above the smelter fumes, became the favored bedroom community for Trail employees.

           Conversion from coal to oil fired locomotives came in the late 1940s.   In 1953, diesel locomotives replaced steam.   In 1962 the line down the gulch to the Trail City station was lifted, and in March, 1966, the Rossland line was abandoned.   Track was lifted down to Warfield where the Cominco fertilizer plant still requires regular freight service bringing in phosphate and potash rock for conversion into fertilizer with the sulfuric acid formerly wasted up the stack.

            The Red Mountain mines and the steep and crooked line that served them, had outlasted Phoenix which had sunk into its own pits.   Rossland today remains a thriving community, and the Trail smelter, one of the world’s largest, processes ores brought from Alaska’s North Slope to Sayward up those historic Spokane Falls and Northern rails.   At the Sayward transfer facility, the ores are transferred to trucks for the remaining six miles to Trail. The failure of Fritz Heinze, in 1895, to keep his promise to Dan Corbin to lay track from Trail to Sayward is perpetuated today in that costly and irrational trucking operation.

            The inexplicable failure of the CPR to underbid BN for the Alaska ore traffic, has ended the procession of heavy ore trains from Cranbrook to Nelson to Trail, and the line from Yahk to Warfield has been sold to its employees.   The Canadian Pacific, reluctant in the beginning to enter the Kootenay-Boundary country, has hastened to leave it, abandoning its rail future to the always aggressive Americans.   BNSF trains still call at the old Great Northern points, at Sayward, at Salmo, at Grand Forks, at San Poil, and Curlew.   The departing CPR has sold the Trail Smelter, and pulled all of its track west of Castlegar.   Kootenay rail transport is back to where it was in 1899.

 

STEEP AND CROOKED … by Late Writer, Artist & Castle Builder Bill Laux – Introduction

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For information on the author search for Bill Laux on this blog.

STEEP AND CROOKED:

THE MINING RAILROADS

OF

THE CANADIAN BORDER

By

Bill Laux

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

In the last decade of the Nineteenth Century, the discovery of three successive copper-gold bonanzas along the international border between Washington and British Columbia, brought the railroad builders of the Northwest into a fierce rivalry to get their tracks to the new camps and control the traffic in ores, coal and merchandise.

The mining potential of the Kootenay country in southeast British Columbia had been known since the 1840s.   The voyageurs of the Hudson’s Bay Company had been shown the lead deposits on the shores of Kootenay Lake by the local Indians, and for years had melted down those silver-rich ores on wood fires to cast bullets for their muskets.[i]

The Big Bend gold strike of 1864 on the Upper Columbia in British Columbia attracted the attention of Captain John C. Ainsworth of Portland, Oregon and the Oregon Steam Navigation Company.   The Oregon Steam Navigation Company had a near monopoly on steamer transportation on the Columbia and Snake Rivers and Captain Ainsworth was determined that any development in Interior British Columbia should be made tributary to Portland merchants through his steamers.   He therefore financed the building of the small sternwheel steamer, Forty Nine, (named for the Forty Ninth Parallel, the international boundary), at Marcus, Washington Territory.   By the next year, 4000 miners, mostly Americans, were at work, washing the gravel bars of the Big Bend.   All were supplied by Captain Leonard White and the steamer, Forty Nine.[ii] The Big Bend boom fizzled out in a few years, and with no one to hire her, the Forty Nine was beached.

The next effort to exploit Kootenay minerals came in the 1870s when Henry Doan, a Colville prospector, claimed to have a deposit of very rich ore on the shore of Kootenay Lake.   It was actually that same deposit the Hudson’s Bay fur traders had been exploiting for their musket bullets.   Doan sent what he claimed was a sample from his deposit to George Hearst (later Senator) of San Francisco.   In fact it was not.; it was high grade silver-lead ore, probably from Colorado.   Hearst came north by train, steamer, and stagecoach to Colville, and engaged Albert Pingston,[iii] mate of the Forty Nine, to take him, Doan, and an assay outfit to Kootenay Lake by rowboat.   Pingston rowed the party up the Columbia from Marcus to the mouth of the Kootenay River.   During the long portage around the falls and rapids of the Kootenay, Doan secretly proposed to Pingston that he should “lose” the assay outfit so that Hearst would not be able to make any tests on the deposit Doan was going to show him.   Pingston indignantly refused, and brought the two men and the assay kit successfully to Kootenay Lake.   Hearst, on testing the ore, saw that he had been duped; it did not resemble the sample sent to him.   Furious at having come all the way from San Francisco, Hearst refused to let Doan into the boat for the return.   He proposed to abandon the man there on that wilderness lake.   Pingston told Hearst, “You can go and thrash him if you like but you cannot leave him here to starve and you must let him come back in the boat to where he can get something to eat.”[iv]

Pingston was concerned more for his reputation than for Doan.   There was a tradition on the Upper Columbia that one never left a penniless prospector on the beach in that wild and empty country.   Hearst went back to San Francisco, damning the Kootenay and its scoundrelly prospectors.

Captain Ainsworth, however, was still interested.   The Northern Pacific Railway would be been completed in 1883 putting Kootenay minerals within reach of a transcontinental railroad.   Small quantities of rich silver-lead ores were beginning to come out of that country by boat to Bonner’s Ferry and from there by pack-horse to the Northern Pacific at Kootenay Station (a few miles east of Sand Point).   A party of his people, including his son, George, made their way into the Kootenay and visited the small mining camps that were springing up on Kootenay lake in 1882.   They staked some claims, laid out a townsite called “Ainsworth,” (still in existence), and proposed a portage railway around those falls and rapids in the lower Kootenay River so that a rail and steamer service could link the area via the Columbia River to Portland.[v]     To that end, Captain Ainsworth had, the year before, commissioned Albert Pingston to make a survey of the Columbia River from Wallulla to its confluence with the Kootenay, to see if a through steamer service would be feasible.   Pingston reported that with three portage sections, boats could navigate the Columbia as far as Rickey’s Rapids (below Kettle Falls) “for 2/3 of the year.”   However, a portage railway would definitely be needed around the twenty foot drop of Kettle Falls.[vi]

Ainsworth lobbied the U.S. Congress for the navigation improvements Pingston had recommended.   Congress sent out Lt. Symons in the fall of 1881 to repeat Pingstone’s survey, and report on what engineering works might be necessary.[vii]

To get a charter from the B.C. Government to build the portage railroad, it would be necessary for Captain Ainsworth to present the project as a thoroughly Canadian plan to keep the Kootenay trade for B.C. merchants.   Accordingly, Ainsworth went to Victoria posing as a friend of Canada.

Captain Ainsworth’s plan was to construct a wagon road from the head of navigation on the South Thompson River over Eagle pass to the Columbia River at Big Eddy (Revelstoke).   He promised the legislators that he would then put his steamers on a route down the Columbia and through the Arrow Lakes to the mouth of the Kootenay River.   Here he would build a forty mile portage railway to Queen’s Bay on Kootenay Lake.   This “All Canadian route” would secure the Kootenay trade for the B.C. merchants.

The B.C. legislature, alarmed by the rumor that the just completed Northern Pacific was planning to tap the Kootenay Lake trade with a branch from Sandpoint to Bonner’s Ferry on the Kootenai River, gave Captain Ainsworth his charter and a wildly generous land grant of 750,000 acres of Kootenay land.   Only when the charter was submitted to the Dominion Parliament for approval, did someone actually look at a map.[viii]   What the Federal Railway Commissioner saw, was that Kootenay traffic, moving down the portage railroad to the Columbia, could just as easily move south, down the river into Washington and on to Portland via the canals and portage railways Congress was expected to authorize.   The Dominion Government therefore disallowed the B.C. legislature’s charter, creating outrage in the Province.   In an attempt to resolve the bitter conflict following, the whole affair was thrown into the courts to wind slowly through their procedures for seven years.     Eventually the Ainsworth syndicate, getting nowhere in courts, sold their charter to the Canadian Pacific Railway, which satisfied both the Dominion Government and most British Columbians.

The completion of the Northern Pacific in 1883 was bringing the era of steamboat transportation on the Middle Columbia to a close.[ix]   Captain Ainsworth sold his Oregon Steam Navigation Company to the new Oregon Railway and Navigation Company.   The American Congress took note of this and failed to vote any new river improvement projects for the Columbia.   Railroads, not dredged waterways, were to be the new mode of access in the Northwest.

As the new railway era opened in the Northwest, it was Daniel Chase Corbin, a Spokane mining and railroad investor, who was the first to lay tracks toward the Kootenays.   The Northern Pacific was receiving ores from the Kootenay Lake mines via a laborious wagon haul from Bonner’s Ferry to Kootenai Station.   Corbin’s plan was to run his rails all the way to Kootenay Lake via Colville, the Columbia and Salmo rivers.   His survey included, as a branch, Captain Ainsworth’s portage railway for steamer traffic around Kettle Falls, just in case Congress changed its mind.   Corbin began building his Spokane Falls and Northern Railway in 1890, and reached Colville that year.   The following year he had his rails to Little Dalles, a steamer landing, on the Columbia, seven miles north of Marcus.[x]   From Little Dalles he had navigable water all the way to the Canadian Pacific main line at Revelstoke.

Corbin joined forces with a syndicate of Kamloops, B.C. businessmen who had organized the Columbia and Kootenay Steam Navigation Company to link the two transcontinentals with a sternwheel steamer service from Revelstoke to Little Dalles.[xi]

                Corbin kept his track layers moving north.   In 1893 his rails crossed the border at Waneta and climbed Beaver Creek to a low pass leading to the Salmo River.   From the headwaters of the Salmo his graders laid the line steeply down Cottonwood Creek to reach Kootenay lake 5 miles east of Nelson.   But her he found himself blocked by William Van Horne ofthe mighty Canadian Pacific.

The CPR was in no position to build a new rail line into the Kootenays from Alberta. It was still paying off its construction debt and was financially cripples by having to rebuild hundreds of miles of line washed out by the great flood of 1894 in B.C.   However, it had Captain Ainsworth’s charter for that portage railway around the falls in the Kootenay River.   Van Horne believed that by building that portage railway and buying the CKSN steamship company he could control Kootenay traffic by rail and boat service to the main line at Revelstoke. He had also committed to the CPR building at some future time, that rail line in from Alberta over Crowsnest Pass.   To secure that right of way and to block Corbin’s line from entering Nelson, Van Horne had the B.C Government declare a “Canadian Pacific Railway Reserve” along the south shore of Kootenay Lake.

Corbin, blocked out of Nelson, simply ran his tracks down to the water where freight and passengers would transfer to a steamer for the five miles to Nelson.

 

The lure of a substantial mining and coal traffic now brought James J. Hill and his unfinished Great Northern Railway into the contest.   His Great Northern was to run through Bonner’s Ferry, from which a boat service down the river to Kootenay Lake would give him access to the new mining districts there at Ainsworth, Nelson and Bluebell.

The entry of J.J. Hill alarmed his bitter adversary, William Van Horne, President of the Canadian Pacific.   As Hill had patiently built his Great Northern across the Dakota and Montana prairies, he had run feeder lines up to the border to siphon off Canadian traffic.   Van Horne knew he had to preempt the Kootenays for the CPR or lose them to the aggressive J.J. Hill.  He sent his surveyors out to locate a line from Lethbridge, Alberta to Hope, B.C. through the mineral-rich Kootenay and Boundary country.   They reported back that such a line was possible, but would be difficult and very expensive to build.       Jim Hill countered this by incorporating the Bedlington and Nelson Ry. to connect at the border with his American branch, the Kootenay Valley Ry running up from from his main line at Bonner’s Ferry.[1]   When built,that line would put Great Northern steel on Kootenay Lake.   Van Horne had no choice.   His rail steamer service was summer only.     When the Arrow Lakes froze each winter, service had to be suspended until spring.   Van Horne began laying track through Crowsnest Pass to enter the Kootenays in 1898.

With the three great Captains eying the increasing rich Kootenay mines, and each intent on seizing the traffic for his railroad, a serious clash was imminent.   It came in the 1890s when three great gold-copper bonanzas of international importance were uncovered along the border, at Red Mountain and Phoenix in British Columbia, and at Eureka Creek in Washington.   Now the railroad wars were on.                     Daniel Chase Corbin, William Van Horne, James Jerome Hill, and a newcomer, Frederick Augustus Heinze, a 26 year old American mining millionaire, were all determined to put their own rails to the new mining camps.   In the ensuing struggle to control the mineral traffic, seven steep and crooked mining railroads were built from the main lines.     Each of the now four great captains was determined to put his tracks to the mouth of every substantial mine to freeze out the other three.     Engineers were called in and tracks were laid, competing sets of them, switchbacking up dangerously steep grades, over towering wooden trestles, and around cranky curves to mouths of the mines themselves.   Mine owners, finding two competing sets of tracks at their loading bunkers, bargained for lower and still lower rates.   The railroads, fighting for the ore hauls, dropped their rates to cost. And then to below.   At 75 cents a ton, even low grade ores, discarded as uncommercial, could be shipped to the smelters, and the great boom was on

.

This is the chronicle of those seven small railroads through their short and contentious lives from 1896 until 1921.

 

 

NOTES TO INTRODUCTION    [i]   Letter of Archibald Mc Donald, HBC factor at Fort Colvile (not “Colville”), to James Douglas,                         Governor of the Colony of British Columbia, September 29, 1844.   It is quoted in Edward                         L. Affleck, Kootenay Lake Chronicles, (Vancouver, 1978), p. 33.

[ii]   Affleck, Columbia River Chronicles, (Vancouver, 1976), p. 49 & 58, note 4.   Letter from                                 Magistrate Haynes at Osooyoos to Colonial Secretary, August 11, 1865, “A steamer is now             being built near Fort Colville by a company represented by one Captain White, which will, I                 am told, be ready to start in about six weeks.   I would beg for instructions as regards U.S.                  steamers running up here.”   Quoted in Affleck, op. cit., p. 54, note e.

[iii]   The name is spelled “Pingstone” in the US and “Pingston” in Canada.

[iv]   Related by William Fernie in a letter to S.S. Fowler, manager of the Bluebell mine, in 1909.               Quoted in Affleck, Sternwheelers, Sandbars and Switchbacks, (Vancouver, 1973), p. 8.                    Fernie was an early Kootenay settler and trail builder.

[v]   Affleck, Kootenay Lake Chronicles, pp. 25 – 26.

[vi]   Albert Pingstone, A Memorial to Captain John C. Ainsworth, n.d. in WSU library, Pullman.

[vii]   Symons’ Report, Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 186, 1st Session, 47th Congress.

[viii]   Affleck, Columbia River Chronicles, p. 125.

[ix]   In British Columbia, “Lower Columbia” meant that part of the river in the U.S.; the “Upper                         Columbia “ designated that part of the river inth Rocky Mountain trench, above Boat                 Encampment.   In Washington State “Lower Columbia” meant the part of the river from             Portland to the Pacific, “Middle Columbia” referred to the river from Portland to the                           confluence with the Snake, and the “Upper Columbia” meant the remainder of the river in               both countries.

[x]   Fahey, Inland Empire, p.  10       Affleck, Sternwheelers, Sandbars and Switchbacks, p. 18.

11   Ibid. pp. 19 & 20.

Gerhard Kegler – Military and Civilian Hero (Guest Post in German)

4

Gerhard Kegler – ein militärischer und ziviler Held

Biographische Skizze
Beitrag von Dietrich Kegler

 

Die militärische Laufbahn meines Vaters ist hinreichend bekannt und verschiedentlich nachzulesen, nicht zuletzt im Internet, wo die Generale der Wehrmacht ausführlich vorgestellt werden. Bekannt wurde Generalmajor Kegler in Deutschland vor allem durch die Ereignisse am Ende des Krieges, als er in hoffnungsloser Situation die Stadt Landsberg (ehemals in der Neumark gelegen, heute polnisch) auf Befehl Himmlers verteidigen sollte, der sich die Befehlskompetenz der 9. Armee anmaßte, die eigentlich dem Kommandeur der Armee, General Busse, zustand. Wie man weiß, weigerte sich mein Vater, diesen unsinnigen Befehl auszuführen, wurde sofort zum Kriegsgericht nach Torgau bestellt und dort in einem Schnellverfahren zum Tod durch Erschießen verurteilt.

Generalleutnant Gerhard Kegler - Gutfelde 1944

Oberst Gerhard Kegler – Gutfelde 1944

Nur dem Untersuchungsrichter Freiherr von Dörnberg ist es zu verdanken, dass mein Vater überlebte. Er wurde zum Schützen degradiert und als einfacher Soldat wieder an die Ostfront geschickt, die sich bereits an der Oder befand. Dort, unweit von Frankfurt/Oder, wurde er verwundet und in einem langen und sehr beschwerlichen, immer wieder aus der Luft beschossenen Bahntransport nach Eutin in Schleswig-Holstein gebracht. Da hatte sich die ursprünglich kleine Wunde (ein Granatsplitter in der linken Schulter) derartig verschlechtert, dass der linke Arm abgenommen werden musste. Mein Vater blieb noch eine kurze Zeit der Rekonvaleszenz in Eutin und wurde dann aus englischer Gefangenschaft noch 1945 nach Gießen entlassen, wo unsere Familie im Jahre 1947 wieder zusammenfand.

Gerhard Kegler between his Daughter Helga and Brother Günther 1964

Gerhard Kegler zwischen Tochter Helga und Bruder Günther Kegler; rechts folgen die beiden Schwestern von Gerhard, Erika Klopp und Maria Kegler, und Günter Keglers Frau Luci (1964)

Da die Bundesrepublik sich noch lange auf das von Himmler befohlene Urteil des Kriegsgerichts (Degradierung vom Generalmajor zum Schützen) berief und meinem Vater die ihm zustehende Pension verweigerte, bedurfte es erst einer großen Pressekampagne, um die Behörde zu bewegen, das Urteil aufzuheben, was schließlich durch den Bundespräsidenten geschah. Dann konnte mein Vater seine Pension erhalten.

Die große Pressekampagne zeitigte noch eine andere positive Folge. Freunde und Bekannte, die in den Wirren des Kriegsendes, durch Flucht, Ausbombung usw. überallhin verschlagen worden waren, wurden aufmerksam und nahmen Kontakt zu unseren Eltern auf. Ich erinnere mich an viele Besuche ehemaliger Freunde, Kameraden oder Untergebener meines Vaters. Und immer hörten wir großes Lob und große Anerkennung, wenn diese Menschen von den Ereignissen erzählten, die sie zusammen mit meinem Vater erlebt hatten.

Die tapfere und verantwortungsvolle Handlungsweise meines Vaters bei Landsberg ist nicht das einzige Ereignis dieser Art. Immer wieder wagte er, Vorgesetzte zu kritisieren, wenn sie unsinnige Befehle gaben. Dafür wurde er mitunter durch Versetzungen bestraft.

Umsichtiges Handeln in schwierigen Situationen berichtet auch schon die Regimentsgeschichte des Westpreußischen Infanterieregiments 149, dem mein Vater im Ersten Weltkrieg angehörte. Eine dieser Aktionen war die nächtliche Aushebung eines französischen Doppelpostens bei Reims in der Champagne, die dem Regiment wertvolle Informationen lieferte und, wie ausdrücklich betont wird, größere Verluste ersparte. Mein Vater hat uns auf einer Frankreichreise in den sechziger Jahren die Stelle gezeigt, wo er mit ein paar freiwilligen Leuten die Franzosen nachts überraschte, gefangen nahm und hinter die deutschen Linien brachte, wo man sie verhören konnte.

Soweit der militärische Teil im Leben meines Vaters. Aber das Leben ging ja nach dem überstandenen Krieg in Gießen weiter und gewährte meinen Eltern nach der ersten harten und entbehrungsreichen Zeit auch noch schöne Jahre.

Unsere Mutter hatte ebenfalls seit Kriegsbeginn Schweres durchgemacht. Aus München, wo das Leben durch die Luftangriffe immer unsicherer wurde, zog sie mit uns Kindern in den Warthegau. Von dort musste sie sich mit Jutta und mir wie Millionen anderer Menschen auf die wochenlange winterliche Flucht begeben. Wir fuhren zunächst in einem Planwagen mit polnischem Kutscher durch das winterliche Westpreußen, bis der Pole irgendwo in Pommern umkehrte. Ein Offizier nahm uns mit seinem Fahrzeugkonvoi bis nach Berlin mit, von dort ging es in überfüllten Zügen nach Dresden zu meiner Großmutter. Helga und Nati waren vorher schon nach Augustusburg (bei Chemnitz) gebracht worden. Bevor wir aber dort sein konnten, erlebten wir die drei verheerenden Bombenangriffe, an die ich mich lebhaft erinnere.

Im Sommer 1947 verließen wir die sowjetische Besatzungszone und gingen bei Philippstal an der Werra schwarz über die grüne Grenze, wobei uns die ortskundige Tante Lucie half. Unsere Familie fand nun in Gießen wieder zusammen. Wir wohnten zunächst in zwei Zimmern der Bergschenke, einem Hotel und Restaurant, das ursprünglich zum Kruppschen Bergbaubetrieb gehörte. Vater hatte in der Bergschenke eine vorläufige Bleibe gefunden und die Aufgabe eines Hausmeisters und Betreuers der dort wohnenden Studenten übernommen. Diese Studenten waren zumeist bereits Kriegsteilnehmer gewesen und studierten an der Universität Gießen Tiermedizin. Als Familie Stolcke, Onkel Werner, Tante Anni und ihre drei Kinder, nach Argentinien auswanderte, konnten wir aus der Bergschenke in die relativ komfortable „Baracke“ auf dem Bergschenkengelände umziehen, die sie bewohnt hatten.

Die Lebenssituation war in dieser Zeit zwischen Kriegsende und Währungsreform (1948) bekanntlich äußerst prekär. Als Vater uns in jenem Sommer 1947 in Gießen erwartete, sammelte er in einer ehemaligen Munitionskiste eine Menge von Lebensmitteln, die er sich vom Mund abgespart hatte, um seiner Familie einen guten Empfang zu bereiten. Das ist eine Tatsache, die ich selbst nicht bezeugen kann, Helga mir aber erzählte.

Besser wurde die Situation erst, als Vater die Stelle eines Stadtjugendpflegers der Stadt Gießen übernehmen konnte. In dieser Zeit, Anfang der fünfziger Jahre, erfolgte auch seine Rehabilitierung, wodurch sich unsere Lebenssituation entscheidend verbesserte.

164_69

Gerhard Kegler zwischen Bruder Günther und Sohn Dietrich (1969)

Das Leben mit der Einarmigkeit verlangt sehr viel Geduld und Geschicklichkeit. Durch Geduld zeichnete sich unser Vater gewiss nicht aus, aber er war sehr geschickt bei allen Verrichtungen, wozu ein Mensch normalerweise beide Arme braucht. Und der Stolz über die relative Unabhängigkeit und Selbständigkeit, die Vater sich trotz der Einarmigkeit erworben hatte, kam zum Beispiel in einem Reim zum Ausdruck, den Helga und Nati zum 50. Geburtstag unseres Vaters in einem Gratulationsgedicht formulierten. Sie legten ihrem Vater folgende Worte in den Mund, die er sicherlich in „Prosa“ geäußert hatte: „Was ich mit einer Hand kann richten, macht Ihr mit zweien stets zunichten.“ Vater brauchte nur zu wenigen Handlungen im Alltag Hilfe, so etwa zum Schnüren der Schuhe. Aber Rasieren, Schlips binden, Schreibarbeiten usw. erledigte er ohne Hilfe, auch Autofahren in Fahrzeugen, die dafür nicht besonders präpariert waren. In den Wagen mit Schaltgetriebe, die er zuerst fuhr, musste er zum Schalten das Steuer loslassen. Er fuhr sicher, aber ich erinnere mich, dass mir als Mitfahrer immer etwas mulmig wurde, wenn er schaltete.

In der einsam am Waldrand gelegenen Baracke hatte der General natürlich auch an mögliche Einbrecher gedacht. Die Fenster waren sehr niedrig und stellten kein Hindernis für kriminelle Besucher dar. Vater hatte einen kurzen dicken Knüppel an seinem Bett und sagte mir, als wir uns einmal über die “militärische Lage“ der Baracke unterhielten, dass er hart zuschlagen würde, wenn ein Bursche es wagen sollte, einzusteigen.

Und als Held zeigte sich unser Vater später wieder einmal, als die Eltern in Leihgestern (Am Hasenpfad) wohnten. In einer Sommernacht schlief er allein in seinem Zimmer im ersten Stock. Die Balkontür stand offen, es war eine warme Nacht. Vater wird durch ein Geräusch geweckt und sieht von seinem Lager aus, wie sich ein Einbrecher, der über den Balkon in das Zimmer gekommen war, am Kleiderständer an der Jackentasche des schlafenden Generals zu schaffen macht und sie untersucht. Vater erkennt sie Situation sofort und brüllt ihn noch im Bett liegend an, worauf der Dieb sofort das Weite sucht. Die Reaktion unseres Vaters ist erstaunlich und bewundernswert, denn aus dem Schlaf direkt zum Angriff überzugehen, erfordert Mut, und in schlaftrunkenem Zustand ist man normalerweise moralisch nicht gerade stark.

Die Krankheit, die ihn dann im Jahre 1986 auf das Krankenbett warf, hat er tapfer ertragen. In dieser Zeit war auch unsere Mutter kränklich und pflegebedürftig. Unsere Eltern waren nun auf Hilfe angewiesen, die ihnen vor allem Helga treu und fürsorglich zukommen ließ. Mittlerweile lebten sie in einem kleinen Haus am Alten Friedhof in Gießen.

Der ältere Bruder meines Vaters, Onkel Günter, mein Patenonkel, war schon im Januar desselben Jahres verstorben, und Vater hat ihn noch bis zum Juli 1986 überlebt. Vaters langjähriger Freund, Horst Schubring, ebenfalls Hinterpommer, den er in den ersten schweren Gießener Jahren zufällig kennengelernt hatte – damals Gemeindepfarrer in Wieseck, dann Propst von Oberhessen – begleitete unseren Vater auf dem letzten Gang. Sein Grab, das einige Jahre später auch unsere Mutter und in jüngster Zeit unsere Schwester Renate aufnahm, liegt auf dem Neuen Friedhof in Gießen.

Ein tapferer Mann, dessen Leben im Pfarrhaus von Hinterpommern begonnen hatte, der in den Kadettencorps von Plön und Berlin seine Erziehung zum Offizier erhalten und zwei Kriege und große Belastungen durchlitten hatte und der nach allen Katastrophen noch viele friedliche und gute Jahre erleben durfte, war an sein Ende gekommen.

 

Dormagen (Gohr) im September 2016

  Dietrich Kegler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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