Cornell's Influence on Washington Rowing - Family Version 8-6-16.pdf


Revised 8 - 6 - 16
By John W. Lundin and Stephen J. Lundin, Seattle Wa.,
Copyright 2021
John took advantage of the contributions of his grandfather (Mark Odell, Cornell 1897) to
Washington rowing, and rows out of the Pocock Rowing Center in Seattle with a club that uses the
classic Thames watermen’s stroke taught by George Pocock.

INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

1897 IRA WIN BEGINS A ROWING DYNASTY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
A. EARLY DAYS OF ROWING AT CORNELL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
C. ODELL’S ROWING EXPERIENCES AT CORNELL: 1893 - 1898. . . . . . . . . . 37

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
ESTABLISHING CORNELL AS A ROWING POWER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95
H. ACCLAIM FOR THE CREW OF 1897 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .101
I. COURTNEY AND CORNELL ROWING AFTER 1897 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .111


GOING TO THE KLONDIKE GOLD RUSH VIA SEATTLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .113
1897 - 1898 TERM BUT CATCHES GOLD FEVER. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .113
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
E. CHILKOOT PASS TO LAKE BENNETT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167
Page -a-

F. VOYAGE DOWN THE YUKON RIVER TO FORT SELKIRK. . . . . . . . . . . . .191
G. PROSPECTING NEAR FORT SELKIRK. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214
YUKON FOR SEATTLE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 232
CHAPTER IV: MARK ODELL MOVES TO SEATTLE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245
A. ODELL LEAVES THE GOLD RUSH FOR A NEW LIFE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .245
B. SEATTLE IS FOREVER CHANGED BY THE GOLD RUSH. . . . . . . . . . . . . 247
C. ODELL GOES TO WORK IN THE THRIVING CITY. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253
CONSTRUCTION WORK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 288
F. 1930s - ODELL CHILDREN ATTEND COLLEGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297
INFLUENCE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .336
A. THE EARLY DAYS - ODELL BECOMES COACH IN 1906. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 336
B. THE CONIBEAR - POCOCK ERA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 338
C. THE CONIBEAR STROKE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .357
REFERENCE MATERIALS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .385
Page -b-

Cornell made a major contribution to rowing at the University of Washington and the entire
west coast, a story not well known in Ithaca or in Seattle. Mark Odell, the authors’ grandfather,
rowed on Cornell’s national championship crew of 1897, coached the University of Washington
crew in Seattle in 1906, and assisted Washington’s famous coach Hiram Conibear after he was hired
as Washington’s crew coach in 1907, since Conibear did not know how to row. Odell taught
Conibear and Washington rowers the Courtney stroke he had learned at Cornell, which was later
known as the Conibear stroke as Conibear and Washington rowers influenced rowing around the
Mark Odell, who was born and raised near Baldwinsville, New York, rowed for Coach
Courtney on Cornell’s famous crew of 1897, which was finally able to row against Yale and Harvard
for the first time in two decades. To everyone’s surprise, and contrary to the predictions of the
rowing experts, the Big Red crew of 1897, won the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA)
Regatta on the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, New York, and became “champions of America.”
New York Journal
, June 25, 1897. Cornell beat heavily favored Yale and Harvard, establishing the
school as a rowing power and Charles E. Courtney as the leading rowing coach in the country.
Cornell crews, under the guidance of Coach Courtney, dominated college rowing for two decades
In March of 1898, Odell dropped out of Cornell Law School and with his best friend from
school, Ellis Aldrich, went to the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898, where he spent nearly a year
prospecting for gold under harsh conditions. The following is Odell’s itinerary in the Klondike.
March 2, 1898 – Aldrich suggests going to Klondike gold rush
Page -1-

March 16 – Odell and Aldrich leave New York for Seattle
March 21 to April 3 – travel from Seattle to Skagway, Alaska
April 8 to 14 – move supplies from Dyea to Chilkoot Pass Summit (CP)
April 15 to May 14 – move supplies from CP Summit to Lake Bennett
May 20 to June 22 – make boat for Yukon River travel
June 23 to July 26 – travel on Yukon River from Lake Bennett to Ft. Selkirk
August 2 to August 13 – prospect at Wolverine Creek (WC)
August 20 to August 30 – re-supply for winter at WC
August 30 to February 1899 – prospect at WC
February 15 to March 8, 1899 – travel from Ft. Selkirk to Skagway
March to December 1899 – work in Skagway
December 1899 – move to Seattle
Odell moved to Seattle in 1899, where he raised a family and became a contractor and
helped to build that growing city’s infrastructure. The Odells were one of Seattle’s prominent
families, often in the news.
Peter Mallory, who wrote the seminal book,
The Sport of Rowing, Two
In 1960, in a letter written to a relative, Odell described his time in the Yukon in his
typical modest way:
“March, 1898, left with my college chum Ellis L. Aldrich for the Klondike via Chilkoot
Pass, Miles Canyon, Windy Arm, White Horse Rapids, Five Fingers Rapids, Squaw
Rapids, and the like, building our boat with raw lumber from green trees on Lake Bennett
near the source of the Yukon River, loading it with a year’s supplies bought in Seattle,
brought over the pass in many, many pack loads and then sled loads to our camp on Lake
Bennett. All we would need to eat, wear, and use for a year, a requirement of the
Canadian Police stationed at the Alaska-Canada border line. In our case about a ton and
a half. A year of wonderful adventure and experiences. But remember - there were
thousands upon thousands of people who did this in 1897 and 1898. In Seattle, above
tale is commonplace.”
Page -2-

nturies of Competition
, has carefully analyzed the Conibear Stroke, and has determined its genesis
and Cornell’s influence on it.
Many have described George Pocock as the sole author of the Conibear Stroke, but history
demonstrates that this is less than the full story. Conibear
s descriptions of the ideal stroke
differed substantially from George Pocock
s written descriptions of the Thames Waterman
Stroke. It would be more accurate to recognize that the Conibear Stroke was the result of
crucial early consultation with
Charles Courtney
reinforced by having former Cornell rower
Mark Odell
as a volunteer assistant in Washington program. Add in the influence of George
Pocock, and Conibear had everything he needed to supplement his own innate intelligence.”
(Emphasis added)
Washington, in turn, after getting its start as a rowing power with Cornell’s help, sent
coaches schooled in its rowing techniques all over the country to develop crew programs at many
different universities, including a Washington rower who went to Cornell. Rollin Harrison “Stork”
Sanford (U.W. ‘26) was hired as Cornell’s coach in 1937, and coached there for 34 seasons, winning
six IRA championships.
An article in the Cornell Sun of April 23, 1926,
College Rowing Influenced by West’s
described the influence of Washington trained coaches at Eastern schools.
College rowing not only hold forth prospects of unusually keen competition in the East this
spring, but will be featured simultaneously by introduction of the so-called “Washington
system” on a scale as wide-spread as it is interesting.
No less than four major Eastern institutions will have products of the University of
Washington school as head coaches of their oarsmen this season. The most conspicuous, Ed
Leader, of Yale, begins his fourth year at the helm of the Eli rowing with an unbroken record
of varsity victory. Pennsylvania, Princeton, and the Naval Academy have turned their rowing
destinies over to graduates of this new Far Western cradle of oarsmanship for the first time.
It was three years ago that Leader’s initial success forced the East to sit up and notice this
owing dynasty, founded by Hiram Conibear less than twenty years ago at Washington, and

The Sport of Rowing, Two Centuries of Competition
, to be published in the fall of
page 423.
Page -3-

developed to its present fame within less than a decade. While Leader was turning out
Olympic champions at Yale, his alma mater’s success in developing victorious crews under
“Rusty” Callow attracted almost equal attention.
These two factors combined, apparently, to convince Eastern rowing authorities that the
“Washington system” is sycomorus with triumph on the water. At the same time the spread
of this system has been due not only to the fact that Washington had been turning out crews
which have finished first twice and second twice at Poughkeepsie in the last four years, but
to the production of oarsmen capable of imparting their knowledge of this picturesque sport.
It is a coincidence that the Naval Academy, whose varsity crews have been the only ones to
defeat Washington at Poughkeepsie in the last four years, selected Bob Butler, a Washington
graduate, as its head coach for 1926 after differences which resulted in the departure of the
famous Glendons, “Young Dick” and “Old Dick” from Annapolis to Columbia. Chuck
Logg, at Princeton, and Fred Spuhn, at Pennsylvania, are the other new head coaches of the
Washington school...
In the face of this new influx of coaching blood and system, Jim Ten Eyck, Syracuse’s
“Grand Old Man” remains the only survivor of the famous school which also included “Pop”
Courtney, of Cornell, Jim Rice, of Columbia, and Joe Wright of Pennsylvania.
Page -4-

Our grandfather, Mark Odell, was born on January 13, 1869, on his family’s farm outside of
Baldwinsville, in upstate New York, 12 miles up the Seneca River above Syracuse, to Benjamin
Bradford Odell, Jr., and Mary Augusta Betts Odell.
Odell Family in England
The Odells are an old English family from the county of Bedsfordshire, dating to the time
of William the Conqueror, and were early settlers in what later became the United States,
immigrating originally in the 1600s. There is lot of information about the history of the Odell
family available on line, although some of the accounts are in conflict with each other. The
following is taken from those sources.
Odell is an Anglo-Saxton name of great antiquity in England. The name Odell was
established when the original families resided in a village called Wadelle or Woodhill (later known
as Odell), in Bedsfordshire, located in the east of England, north of London, bordered on the north
by Northhampshire and to the west by Buckinghampshire.
The name Odell comes from the old English words “wad” or “woad” (a plant collected for
the blue dye produced by its leaves), and “hyll,” (hill). Julius Caesar reported that the Ancient
Britons stained themselves with woad. Woadhull, meaning the hill where woad grows, eventually


12 Families - An American Experience,
by William L. O’Dell;
The Odell Genealogy,;
Family History, Swyrich Corporation, certificate #87862005198,

Page -5-

became Odell in the sixteenth century. The name has been spelled in many ways, including Odell,
O’Dell, Odle, Odehull, Wahul, Wodehull, Wahell, Wodhull, and others, over the centuries, as church
officials and scribes recorded names as they were told them, rather than following any spelling rules
or conventions.
The village of Odell is north of Bedford, in Bedsfordshire. It began as a farm before the
Roman conquest, although it was abandoned in the 4
century because of Viking raids. It was
unoccupied until the 6
or 7
century, and by the 11
century, there was a village there originally
known as Wadelle or Wadehelle, meaning “the hill where woad grows.” Before the Norman
Conquest, the land was owned by Levenot, a Thane of King Edward the Confessor. By 1575, the
village was referred to as Odell.
In 1066, William the Conqueror defeated the Anglo-Saxons in the Battle of Hastings and
took control of England. William granted to Walter Flandrensis, the Count of Flanders, who fought
alongside William at Hastings, “a great Barony” in Bucks, of which Wahull or Woodhull was the
chief county seat, as a reward for distinguished military services in the conquest of England. Walter
became the first Baron of Wahul/Woodhull or Odell. One account says that William was married
to Walter’s sister. Walter claimed that he could trace his family back to Priam, the King of Troy,
to about 1,200 B.C. After the Battle of Hastings, Walter built castles, roads, and walls for William.
Walter was first mentioned in 1068, and is often referred to as Walter de Wahul or Wodhull
(variants of Waldenhelle). This began a period of centuries where families bearing an Odell-type
name ruled over those lands.

One source claims that the Odell stock was originally Phoenician, and the women reported to the
tribe of Benjamin or Levi. This source says the family originated about 625 B.C., at what later was
called the city of Odellum, meaning a dell or small valley with a stream flowing through it.
Page -6-

Around 1068, Walter built a “motte and bailey” castle with a stone keep on the hill in Wahul,
with raised earthworks surrounded by a protective fence. Motte-and-bailey castles were introduced
by the Normans after the conquest, and around 1,000 were built in England. A motte is a mount,
generally artificial, topped with a wooden or stone structure known as a keep. A bailey is an
enclosed courtyard surrounded by a wooden fence or palisade, which was used as a living area for
servants of the castle and contained craftsmen shops. Some of these castles had drawbridges.
Walter’s castle became the seat of the Barons of Odell or Wahell, and his family lived there for 500
years. There are no remaining illustrations of Odell castle.
The Odells became a notable English family in Bedfordshire, seated as Lords of the manor
and estates in that shire as descendants of the Baron Walter of Wodhull. The family appeared in the
Domesday Book, a census compiled in 1086 A.D. by William, Duke of Normandy. The name also
appeared in the Ragman Rolls (1291 - 1296) collected by King Edward 1
, the Curia Regis Rolls,
the Pipe Rolls, the Heath Rolls, parish registers, baptismals, tax records and other documents. The
entire Odell family descended from Walter. Walter was related to at least four kings of England;
William the Conqueror, Alfred the Great, Edward the Second, and Henry VIII.
The Wodhull or Wahul family played a part in English history. Simon de Wahul was
described as an “invader” of Ramsay Abby, and he sided with Prince Henry in 1172, when the prince
rebelled against his father, King Henry IV. Simon’s son died on a crusade when he fell off a boat
at Acre. The family was part of the group of barons that required King John to sign the Magna
Carta at Runnymede in 1215, limiting the power of the king. The family was instrumental in making
the foundation for the Church of England and built many small chapels in England. There is a

Page -7-

legend that the ghost of Sir Roland Alston still haunts the Odell castle. There is an Odell family
crest with a motto “Pro Patria Invictus,” meaning “For my Unconquered Country.”
Odell Village, Castle and All Saints Church
In 1633, the last Baron of Odell died without a male heir, and the castle and surrounding
property were sold to William Alston, a lawyer who was the Keeper of the Kings Bench, a post of
considerable importance. The title died out, and after 500 years, the village of Odell was no longer
ruled by a descendant of the family bearing the Odell name.
When Alston obtained the property, “[e]xcept for its earthworks, rising above the north ban
of the Ouse, their once impregnable castle had lapsed into strange ruins.” Alston built a Manor on
the castle site, incorporating the remains of the castle keep and oval moat held up by the retaining
wall. When William Alston died in 1638, the land passed to his brother Thomas, who became a
Page -8-

Baronet in 1642. His son inherited the land, but since he was born out of wedlock, he did not inherit
the title and it died out. The Manor was substantially altered and modernized in the 18
century by
Lady Wolstenholme. The interior of the Manor was redone, and the north-east and south-east fronts
of the house were rebuilt. Other alterations were done in 1864 - 65. Water for the Manor continued
to come from “King John’s Well” which was sunk to a great depth, over 60 feet to water level. An
extensive description of the remodeling work, and the Manor itself, was done under the Rating and
Valuation Act of 1925. The original Manor burned down in 1931, as described by the Bedfordshire
One of the most historic mansions of Bedfordshire, Odell Castle, was almost completely
destroyed on Tuesday. The Castle, which dates back several centuries, is situated in one of
the most delightful parts of the county, and stands on high ground overlooking the
picturesque River Ouse, from which a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside is
obtained. It has a wealth of historic associations, and in the reign of King John was used by
that monarch as a hunting box when the chase of wild deer took place in the extensive park.
The ruins of the Odell Manor and estate sold in 1934 to Lord Luke, and a new Manor house
was built in 1962, using stones from the old building. The site is still called Odell Castle.

Odell Manor built in 1633, picture by
Thomas Fisher from 1811
Odell Manor, 1863

Page -9-

Odell Castle plan
Odell Manor, 1920
Odell Manor after 1931 fire
Page -10-

Odell Manor
Odell Manor built in 1962
Odell Manor and Church
Page -11-

Odell Estate from High Street
Odell Estate Building
Page -12-

Today Odell is a beautiful village of small houses built with locally quarried limestone,
several with traditional thatched roofs. Odell is “one of the most lovely villages in the wide and
winding Ouse Valley in this breezy rolling country of north Bedfordshire.” The Odell Great Wood
is nearby, “the noblest in the country.” The remains of Odell castle are there, along with a “striking”
century All Saints Church, probably the third church building to stand on the site, which
contains some ancient stained glass. The church,
an ancient, ivy-mantled structure, with a square towel containing a clock and five
bells...standing at a considerable elevation above the road, is a building of stone, in the
Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, clerestoried nave, aisles, embattled south porch,
with groined roof, and a lofty western embattled tower with pinnacles and containing a clock
and 5 bells.

The western door of the church has indentations which according to local legend, are the Devil’s
fingerprints. The Devil wanted to get his hands on the wicked Sir Rowland Alston. When Alston
took sanctuary in the church, the Devil gripped the tower and shoot it in a blinding rage, leaving the
marks of his fingers behind.
There is a direct connection between Odell village and America. In 1635, the Reverend of
All Saints Church, Peter Baulkley, rebelled against the established church, and led his Puritan
congregation (including William Odell) to America where they founded the town of Concord, Mass.

Page -13-

Odell Village and All Saints Church
All Saints Church, Odell
Inside of All Saints Church
Page -14-

Odell Village street scene
All Saints Church
Church and Odell Village
River Ouse from Odell Village
Page -15-

Odells Leave England
Religious and political upheaval in England in the 16
through 18
centuries led many
families to leave England, and Odells were early settlers in Ireland, Canada, the United States,
Australia and other British colonies.
Some Odells moved to Ireland as Protestant settlers and soldiers in Cromwell’s army during
the brutal reconquest of that country by forces of the English Parliament between 1649 - 1653. The
Irish Rebellion of 1641, freed most of Ireland from English rule. In 1649, the Irish signed an alliance
with the English Royalist party, which had been defeated in the English Civil War. Cromwell’s
campaign included many atrocities against the Irish, and estimates of the drop in the native
population range from 15 - 25% to half. Cromwell passed a series of Penal laws against the
Catholics and confiscated their land. Odells were granted lands that had been confiscated from the
native Catholic owners in Kilcleagh Park in Westmeath and Carriglea in Waterford, where the name
became spelled O’dell.
The first Odell or Odle in America was William (born in 1601), who came from the village
of Odell in Bedfordshire, England. According to one source, William was the younger son of an
English baronial family, who, along with his brother John, had to flee to America because he made
the mistake of siding with Lady Jane Grey against Mary, Queen of Scots. Another source says that
William and John were Puritans who immigrated to America in 1639, fleeing persecution from
religious intolerance. They were part of a wave of Puritan immigration between 1630 - 1640, due
to dissatisfaction with the Church of England. The Puritans wanted to establish their own church
and escape the harsh laws requiring them to be members of the Church of England. They were

Page -16-

called Puritans because they wanted to purify the services and teachings of the church. Many
belonged to well-to-do classes in England, and could set themselves up in the New World more
comfortably than the Pilgrims and early Virginians.
William Odell and his fellow settlers established the second permanent English colony on
Massachusetts Bay, Concord, which was the first settlement away from the coast. In 1644, 16
families from Concord moved to Connecticut, forming the village of Fairfield, including William
Odell (Odle). William died in Fairfield in 1676. The New England Historical and Genealogical
Register names William Odell as the founder of the Odell family in America. Some of William’s
sons stayed in Connecticut and founded the New England line of Odells. His oldest son, William
Odell, moved to New York and was one of 15 men who founded Rye, starting a New York line of
Odells. Issac Odell was listed as living in Westchester County, New York, in 1676.
Our Odell Line
The first Odell (or Odle) to whom we are related immigrated to this country around 1680,
according to the Odell family organization, was Austin Odell or Odle, who settled in Westerly,
Rhode Island. He was born in England around 1665. Records show that in the 1680s, Austin bought
30 acres of property in Westerly, R.I., a tiny settlement on the Pawcatuck River (the present
Connecticut border), 25 miles west of Newport. There is no record of his wife’s name, but it could
be Bradford.
Austin had at least one child, a son, Joseph Odell, born around 1690, in Westerly, RI. Joseph
married Elizabeth, whose maiden name also could be Bradford. They had at least four children: a)
Augustine or Austin Odell, born before 1711 in Westerly; b) Joseph Odell, born August 14, 1718
in Westerly; c) Levi Odell, born in R.I.; and d) Simeon Odell,(I) born in R.I., from whom our line
Page -17-

of Odells descended.
Simeon Odell married Mary Morey of Dover, R.I. They moved to north of New York City.
He died between 1810 and 1820, in Petersburgh, Rennselaer County, NY. Simeon appears in the
1810 census, but not the 1820 census. He also lived in Stephenson, which is now in Rennselaer
County, NY. Rennselaer County was created out of a part of Albany County in 1791. He also lived
in Stephentown, Albany County, NY. Again, that town is not now located in today's Albany
County. They also lived in Broadalbin, Montgomery County, NY. Simeon and Elizabeth had 12
children, including Simeon II (from whom we are descended), Mary, William, Lydia, Nathaniel,
James, Joseph, Betsy, Martha, Jonathan, Abigail, and Benjamin.
Simeon Odle or Odell (II) was born around 1757, and died circa 1820, in Greenwich Township,
now in Washington County, NY, a little northeast of Albany. This Simeon married a woman named
Elizabeth, who died in 1840, in Salmon, Hillsdale County, Michigan. They had eight children,
including Simeon (III), John Simeon, Nathaniel, Jonathan, Abigail, and Benjamin (from whom we
are descended). A family story was that the four sons weighed over 1,000 pounds.
Benjamin Odell (our grandfather’s grandfather) was born July 9, 1803, in Greenwich
Township, Washington County, NY. He died on Feb 9, 1890, in Van Buren Township, Onondaga
County, NY. Benjamin married Clarissa Knight, born Sept 18, 1806, in Onondaga County, NY, who
died Aug 7, 1859, Van Buren Township, Onondaga County, NY. They had five children, two who
died in infancy, and Harvey, Emeline, and Benjamin Bradford Odell Jr. (our grandfather’s father).
Benjamin Odell Sr. had a 180+ acre farm outside of Baldwinsville. He left 90 acres each to. Harvey
and Benjamin Bradford when he died..
Page -18-

Our grandfather’s father, Benjamin Bradford Odell, Jr., was born in Van Buren Township,
Onondaga County, NY on May 7, 1833. He died Feb 25, 1916, at the same location. Benjamin B.
Odell, Jr., married Mary Augusta Betts, a school teacher, who was born Jan 17, 1839, at Port
Gibson, Wayne County, NY, and died Jan 23, 1890, in Van Buren Township, Onondaga County NY.
They had four children: Ida, Clara, Mark (our grandfather), and Burr. They raised their children on
their farm outside of Baldwinsville, a village on the Seneca River and the 24
lock of the Erie Canal
near Lake Ontario.

Benjamin Odell, Sr., our grandfather’s

Baldwinsville was settled in 1808 by Dr. Baldwin who build a dam across the Seneca River to
generate energy, and a private canal. It was incorporated in 1848. It was a local center for a
prosperous farming area with a grain mill located on an island in the center of town between the
Page -19-

Benjamin B. Odell, Jr.
Benjamin Bradford Odell, 1890s
Mary A. Odell
McHarrie Locks on the Erie Canal and the Seneca River. It was served by the Erie Lackawanna
R a i l r o a d
c o n n e c t i n g
t h e
v i l l a g e
t o
S y r a c u s e
a n d
O s w e g o .
Page -20-

Mark and his brother Burr grew up together on the Odell farm. In a letter written to our
cousin Dick in 1962, Mark said that his sisters left Baldwinsville long before he did. His brother
Burr left New York after Mark did, lived in Florida, and had two sons. His sister Clara married
Gideon Simpkins and lived in Palmyra, Wayne County, NY. His sister Ida married Grant
Skellenger and also lived in Wayne County, but he died and she moved to Washington County and
married William Ham. Clara took a middle initial J., like Mark who took a middle initial M., and
Ida took a middle initial M. None of these initials were from the parents, but they added them later.
After high school, Mark graduated from the Baldwinsville Academy with a “classical
education,” studying Greek, Latin, Astronomy, etc. to become a school teacher. Mark received his
New York certification as a Third Grade Teacher on August 29, 1888. He taught at a local school,
eventually becoming its principal. Mark won a county essay contest and obtained a scholarship to
study at Cornell, which he attended from 1893 until his graduation in 1897. He rowed on its crew
of 1897, that won the national championship under its highly regarded coach Charles Courtney. He
attended Cornell law school starting in the Fall of 1897, but dropped out in March of 1898 to seek
his fortune in the gold fields of Yukon Territory, Canada.
Mark & Burr at farm
Page -21-

Odell farm house.
Odell farm house from back
Page -22-

Mark & Burr Odell
Burr Odell
Burr Odell
Mark Odell, 1890s
Page -23-

Burr’s wife Alice Stella Odell &
Benjamin Bradford Odell & Elizabeth
Burr & his two children, Benjamin
Bradford Odell, Pennsylvania
Burr, Alice Stella, Benjamin Bradford
Odell, unknown man, and Burr’s
children, New York
Page -24-

The early days of Cornell rowing are described in two books by C. P. V. Young,
Cornell Navy: 1871-1906,
published in 1907, and
Courtney and Cornell Rowing,
published in 1923.
The books are dedicated “To the ‘Old Man,” Charlie E. Courtney, whose coaching, and to the ‘Boys’
whose faithful training and earnest work, have combined to make Cornell pre-eminent in
Intercollegiate Rowing.”

The Rise of Cornell Rowing, 1871 - 1920,
by Eric R. Langstedt, published
in 2012, also describes the school’s rowing history. The school newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun,
dating back to 1880, has been scanned and is available on line, and provides an insight into
occurrences on campus during those times.
Rowing at Cornell formally began in 1871, after a visit in the fall of 1870 by Thomas Hughes
of England, who created student enthusiasm to form a boat club. In the spring of 1871, two
competing boat clubs were formed which united under the name Cornell Navy. Cornell students
built a boathouse and acquired boats, including a six-oared barge (the Striped Pig), an eight-oared
barge (the Cornell), a four-oared outrigger (the Buffalo), and a six-oared outrigger (the Green Barge).
Cornell’s first regatta was in the spring of 1872, where the varsity and freshman crews beat
the visiting Navy crews. A Union Springs crew, in which well known local rowers Charles E.
Courtney and his brother rowed, won the race of the four-oared boats. That year, Cornell joined the
Rowing Association of American Colleges.
In 1873, Cornell received a new cedar shell from President White. Harry Coulter, the former
Page -25-

single scull champion of the United States and a professional rower, was hired as a trainer for
Cornell rowers. Coulter’s training schedules consisted of
long daily rows morning and afternoon, supplemented by an hour’s jaunt of walking and
running in the mid-day sun, dressed in thick flannel shirts and sweaters. Upon returning to
their quarters they were put into bed for half hour under several winter coverlets, preparatory
to a thorough rubbing down. The idea seems to have been to reduce every man in weight to
the last possible extremity. Even the drinking of water was forbidden, and we are told that
purgatatives were at times resorted to in order to bring about the desired results.
Indoor training consisted of work in the gymnasium on two rowing machines that had sliding or
greased seats, with a rope running through pulleys in the floor and the ceiling, and a weight in the
Cornell’s hiring of Coulter upset the rowing community, because he had been a professional
athlete, resulting in an article about Cornell’s 1873 crew in a religious journal which put the issue
in moral terms: “[w]hen the pious lot was cast into the lap, the wicked crew [meaning Cornell] had
the worst position.” Later in 1873, the convention of the Rowing Association of Colleges decided
“not to allow in future the employment of professional trainers.”
In 1875, the local Union Springs crew which included the local rowing sensations, the
Courtney brothers, was invited to race against Cornell as a test of speed, with Cornell achieving “a
splendid victory.”
Cornell entered the big leagues when it rowed against Yale and Harvard in 1875 and 1876.
Cornell won both races, marking the school’s emergence into the rowing community and making
its oarsmen instant heros. The crews rowed in six-oared shells in 1875 and 1876. Cornell first


Cornell Navy,
pages 11

Wild & Crazy Professionals;
Cornell Navy,
page 8
Page -26-

rowed in an eight-oared shell in 1878.
At the Saratoga Regatta in 1875, Cornell won the three mile race “with a final burst of
speed,” followed by Columbia, Harvard, Dartmouth, Wesleyan, Yale, Amherst, Brown, Williams,
Bowdoin, Hamilton, Union and Princeton. After the 1875 victory,
[e]nthusiastic Cornellians rushed into the water lifting the oarsmen from the boat, marched
them upon their shoulders up and down in front of the grandstand. Upon their return to
Saratoga the wildest demonstration ensued, and the Cornell oarsmen were the heroes of the
hour....A palace car was provided for the trip home, and the journey was a like a triumphal
procession. At Ithaca, a great arch had been erected on campus and the town turned out en
masse to join in the welcome.

The Cornell yell originated at the 1875 race. When the Cornell crew was leading the race, spectators
yelled “Cornell-ell-ell-ell, Cornell,” which was converted into “Cornell, I yell, yell, yell, Cornell.”

After the humiliation of losing to Cornell, Yale withdrew from the Rowing Association of
American Colleges in 1875, declaring that the natural advantages of Cornell were such that other
colleges could not hope to beat them. Harvard rowed against Cornell for one more year in the 1876
Regatta. In the 1876 Regatta at Saratoga, the finishing order was Cornell, Harvard, Columbia,
Union, Wesleyan, and Princeton. The winning Big Red rowers were welcomed in Ithaca with
“Cornell’s annual parade.” “Ithaca simply went wild upon their arrival, forming a procession a mile
long and assembling a crowd of several thousand persons in the park to hear speeches and join in
the celebration.”
Harvard withdrew from the Association in 1876, after its second consecutive loss to Cornell.
New York Times
chided them for taking this action:
It cannot be denied that the remarkable and altogether shameless conduct of Cornell in
making a clean sweep of everything in the [1876] Centennial Regatta is an excellent proof
Cornell Navy,
pages 17, 18.
Page -27-

of the sagacity of certain colleges in leaving the association and thus avoiding inevitable
defeat. New York is sorry that her colleges will row so famously that the New Englanders
have no other alternative to escape defeat than to flee from the encounter...We apologize to
the New Englanders for the intemperate conduct of young Cornell, that would not be
satisfied with anything short of all the flags, and commend them for their prudence in retiring
from a conflict in which apparently they consider they have no chance.
A writer at the time who was active in the rowing organization criticized the New England schools
for refusing to row against Cornell.
The humiliation of being beaten again and again by the young up start, Cornell, was agony
to the proud spirits of the New England colleges, who took the only means of escaping from
fresh indignity by withdrawing from the association.
Thereafter, for several decades, Harvard and Yale rowed only against each other in a self-declared
championship, refusing to allow others to join this exclusive club.

No varsity races took place in 1877 and 1878. Cornell lost both of its races in 1879, but beat
Pennsylvania and Columbia in 1880. In 1881, Cornell traveled to Europe to test its rower’s skills
there. The Big Red raced at the Henley Regatta in England, but lost all three contests in which they
entered. However, they were not allowed to race against other college teams, but had to race against
the best boat clubs in England. Cornell also lost a race on the Danube River in Vienna, Austria.
Charles “Pop” Courtney was hired in 1883, to coach Cornell crews, and he led the school
to rowing success for nearly three decades.
Courtney, who was raised in Union Springs, N.Y. on the north end of Cayuga Lake, gained
Cornell Navy,
pages 19, 20; Cornell Sun, May 6, 1897.


Cornell Navy,
pages 21
Page -28-

fame rowing near Cornell, and influenced Cornell rowing from its earliest days. In 1872, when the
school was only three years old, Cornell students talked about the “young countryman down the lake
who could row like the wind.”
Although successful, Courtney was a controversial figure because of patrician attitudes that
dominated sports in that era. Before coaching at Cornell, Courtney had been a successful amateur
rower, but turned professional to race Canadian champion Ned Hanlan in 1878. Courtney won all
86 of his amateur races. He only lost seven of 46 professional races in a time when oarsmen rowed
for “stakes” from regatta committees, and betting winnings. No one but Hanlan rivaled Courtney
as the greatest living oarsman of his day. Courtney won $450 on his first “amateur” race in 1873,
and there was a $10,000 stake in his 1877 race against Hanlan.

Charles E. Courtney as a professional

Charles Courtney & Ned Hanlin

Cornell Navy;
Wild & Crazy Professionals.
Page -29-

Page -30-

Courtney, later known as the “Old Man” at Cornell, began assisting the Cornell Navy in
1883, by coaching part time, became its full time coach in 1889, and coached until his death in 1920.
He has been described as the “greatest training master of oarsmen in the world.” Courtney brought
with him the innovative “Courtney stroke” that influenced college rowing after 1897. In spite of
his success, Courtney was only hired year by year, at least initially, and all the funds to pay his salary
came from contributions made by supporters of rowing, and none came from the school. He was an
employed by the Athletic Association and had no official connection with the University. Other
colleges sought to hire Courtney away from Cornell by offering him larger salaries, so there was a
continual concern that he would leave the school. His loyalty to Cornell always prevailed.
Cornell’s hiring of Courtney drew significant criticism because he had been a professional
rower, even though Cornell had employed Harry Coulter, a professional rower, in 1873. The
York Times
If college boys cannot learn to row without association with persons like Courtney, perhaps
they would be quite as well off if they devoted a little more time to classics and mathematics
Charles Courtney in a single scull
Page -31-

and a little less to rowing.
This patrician attitude in sports was widespread in those times. Participation in the first
modern Olympics in Athens in 1896, was limited to gentlemen and the military; professionals and
the working class were excluded. Rowing first appeared in the Olympics in 1900, in Paris,
following this tradition.

Charles Courtney & 1883 Cornell crew

Courtney, Charles E., at


Crew: U.W.’s Most Successful, Stable Athletic Enterprise,
Seattle Post Intelligencer, 5/10/03.
Page -32-

In 1883, Courtney coached the Cornell crew for ten days, which “astonished the rowing
world” by beating Princeton and Pennsylvania by 32 seconds. The Cornell Sun of March 6, 1884,
reported that correspondence had been opened with Courtney “in order to make arrangements for
coaching.” Courtney coached the 1884 crew “for a period,” which he believed was faster than the
prior years crew, although Cornell lost two races to the University of Pennsylvania that year.
Courtney’s experience at Cornell during the 1886 season generated some conflict with the
school that was never fully explained. The Cornell Sun of February 15, 1887, said that “the crew
will undoubtedly have a professional coach in the spring and it won’t be the noted Mr. Courtney
either.” The Sun reported on March 3, 1887, that Cornell had hired “Teemer, the famous
professional oarsman” to coach the crew, who agreed to work for “a moderate consideration.”
Teemer would use the opportunity to train for double scull competitions. The article referred to the
coaching done the prior year.
We hope and believe that the navy’s sad experience with Mr. Courtney will not be repeated
with Mr. Teemer. The latter has a reputation for honesty and fair dealing that should inspire
confidence in him.
By 1888, whatever conflict there was between Courtney and Cornell was over and he again
coached its crew. Controversy continued, however. In September 1888, an article appeared in
Outdoor Magazine criticizing Courtney for conduct at one of that year’s races at Sunbury,
Pennsylvania in July.
The withdrawal of the Cornell four on the account of the alleged illness of one of the crew,
caused considerable comment. They won the Downing Cup at Philadelphia, July 4, and went
to Sudbury with the idea that they could repeat their Independence Day victory, but
withdrew, it is intimated by the advice of their trainer, Charles E. Courtney. It is unfortunate
that the Cornell crew should have the bad fortune to have this man as a trainer. His name
produces, whether justly or unjustly, an unpleasant feeling. He has scarcely ever been
engaged in a contest himself that had not ended more or less unsatisfactorily. This fact must
Page -33-

be well known to the oarsmen of Cornell, and if any amateur critices [sic] them for
withdrawing at the last moment, they must remember they are coached by a man who has
made an unenviable reputation in the annals of boat racing. The less amateur oarsmen have
to do with professionals the better. By the way, we thought there was an agreement arrived
at between college amateur some time ago discountenancing the employment of professional
coaches. How is this?
This letter was republished in the Cornell Sun of November 21, 1888, along with a defense of
Courtney. The article explained the illness of the rower that led to the crew’s withdrawal from the
race, arguing that Courtney had nothing to say about it.
The respect in which Cornell holds Courtney is well shown by the fact that he has been
engaged as coach and trainer for next year’s crew. Courtney’s reputation as an oarsman is
world renowned. He is a competent coach as was well shown by this year’s crew. His
magnificent offer to next year’s crew shows the interest which he takes in Cornell, and how
little personal interest entered into is work here.
The article ended by saying there was no agreement between Cornell and any other college not to
employ professional coaches, and professionals were employed at other prominent colleges.
Charles Courtney was hired as Cornell’s permanent residential coach in 1889, although the
school announced its decision to hire him before talking with Courtney. The Cornell Sun of March
1, 1889, reported that Courtney was
greatly surprised at the report that he was to coach this year’s crew, and said he had not been
spoken to, at all, in regard to the matter. He has had offers to coach other crews this season,
but has, as yet, accepted none of them. He would not attempt to underbid any other
candidate for position of trainer, but if he was wanted, he would endeavor to put a winning
crew on the water.
On March 8, 1889, the Sun announced that Courtney had been engaged to fill the position of
Cornell’s crew coach for another year. The Cornell Sun of January 7, 1890, announced that
Courtney was hired to coach for yet another year, even though he had received a more lucrative offer
to coach elsewhere.
Page -34-

The navy is fortunate in securing Courtney, under whose training a race has never been lost,
for he has received several big offers, one from the “Ariels,” of Baltimore, of $70 per week;
but although Courtney receives not half as much from Cornell, he comes here because he
likes “our boys” and because his reputation has been identified with “those fast crews from
Because of the success of Coach Courtney’s rowers, a new boathouse was built on Lake
Cayuga in 1890, to provide state of the art facilities for the crew. The class of 1890 donated $500
for the new boathouse, and the fund swelled from “generous friends of the University,” to build the
facility which would be “worthy of the champion college crews of America.” It was located on the
east shore of the inlet, within a few feet from the railroad, making it easy to load shells for
transportation to races elsewhere. The boat room was big enough to store a dozen eight-oared shells,
and opened onto a float for easy access the water.
In 1892, crew supporters provided Cornell’s coaches with a state of the art steam-launch for
their use. The Cornell Sun of November 15, 1892, reported that instead of constructing a steam
launch in Ithaca, a firm in New York had made “a splendid offer of a speedy launch.”

Cornell Navy,
page 32; Cornell Sun, October 21, 1890

Page -35-

Courtney became a famous and beloved figure at Cornell, coaching until 1916, and poems
were written in his honor.
In future when the windless lake is still,
and sounds of evening bells float from the hill,
when skimming shells in straining practice fly
up past the western shore, with coxswain’s cry,
and oarlock’s rhythmic throb and wash of oar,
‘The Old Man’ in his launch will come no more.
He dwelt among us without blame or fear,
and trained his oarsmen many a zealous year;
He taught them manhood also; how to meet
their fate, unspoiled by triumph or defeat.
‘Row hard! And may the best crew win,’ he said;
And victory hovered ever ’round his head.
Alas, the crews, the lake, the changing shore
shall see ‘The Old Man’ in his launch no more.
Charles E. “Pop” Courtney, Cornell’s famous rowing coach

The Cornell Navy: 1871-1906.

Page -36-

Mark Odell began his studies at Cornell in the fall of 1892, graduated in June 1897, then
entered Cornell law school where he stayed until March 1898, when he and his best friend, Ellis
Aldrich, dropped out of law school and left for the Klondike Gold Rush.
While at Cornell, Odell rowed under coach Charles “Pop” Courtney, dividing his time
between academics and athletics. Odell was 6 feet tall and 184 pounds, which was big for his era,
and rowed five seat on the starboard side for the Big Red crew of 1897. Odell’s coach, Charles
Courtney, has been described as the “greatest training master of oarsmen in the world.” Between
1884 and 1895, because of Courtney’s coaching, Cornell’s varsity crew was undefeated, a series of
victories “perhaps without parallel in the history of college rowing.”
Odell’s 1897 crew established Cornell’s national rowing reputation after the school had been
overshadowed by Yale and Harvard for decades. The Big Red crew of 1897, won a three way
Regatta at Poughkeepsie, New York, racing Harvard and Yale for the first time in 20 years. To
everyone’s surprise, Cornell handily won and became “champions of America.”
New York Journal
June 25, 1897. Cornell beat heavily favored Yale and Harvard in this four mile race, establishing
the school as a rowing power, earning it new respect, and establishing the Courtney stroke as the best
and most efficient method of moving a boat. Cornell dominated college rowing for over a
decadethereafter under Courtney’s coaching.

The Cornell Sun of February 6, 1891, described Courtney’s philosophy and approach to
coaching that made his crews so successful, which were radically different from other coaches.
Instead of putting the men into rigorous training from the start and keeping them in it until
after the race, he adapts the exercise to the man. He trains a man according to his mental,
moral, and physical capability...”I would not have a man in training who had not good moral
Page -37-

habits: and those who drop behind in their University work - I drop.” He believes that the
mental make up of a man is just as important as his muscle. He can tell by a man’s speech
as much as by looking at him what he is worth in a crew.
The Cornell Sun of June 16, 1894, described other reasons for Courtney’s success.
His knowledge of the art of rowing, the skill shown by him in selecting “good timber” for
a crew, his cleverness in rigging a boat and seating each man, and his unselfish devotion to
the oarsmen placed under his care, win for him their respect and complete obedience to each
and every requirement...He is a strict disciplinarian, and has ever believed that conscientious
training is a great factor in the success of his “babies.”
Young gave his evaluation of Courtney’s success in his book,
The Cornell Navy: 1871-1906
This may be said to have been largely due to the excellent coaching of Charles E. Courtney.
Although his position as permanent coach did not begin until the year 1889, yet he assisted
in the training for five or six years previous to that time, and his advice had been a
determining factor. His methods, it need hardly be said, were those suggested by common-
sense. He was constantly learning, and this knowledge backed up by skill in building and
rigging boats, and splendid judgment in the selection of crews from the available candidates,
soon combined to establish at Cornell a system which will probably continue as long as
intercollegiate rowing exists.

Cornell Struggles to Keep Courtney as its Coach and Seeks to Race Yale & Harvard
During Mark Odell’s time at Cornell, the possibility of a race against their old foes, Yale and
Harvard, was a continuing issue, with those two institutions continuing to refuse to row against the
Big Red. Further, there was a constant struggle to keep Charles Courtney as Cornell’s rowing coach,
since he was hired on a year to year basis, and his salary and expenses were paid by student
donations, always an unreliable source.
In January 1893, there was discussion of an international rowing regatta to be held in
Chicago, where Oxford and Cambridge would row against America’s best crews. However, Yale
refused to participate.

Cornell Navy,
pages 26 - 28

Page -38-

The spirit displayed by Yale men in regard to the proposed international collegiate regatta
next summer is most peculiar...It would appear that the athletic men of that institution are
carrying the idea of exclusiveness too far, and will bring themselves into a bad light by their
attitude. Everybody is anxious to see the college crews of England and America but Yale
men announce that they desire to have the race confined to Harvard, Yale, Oxford and
Cambridge, and they especially mention Cornell as the college which they do not want to row
It is a curious fact that it is only in aquatics that Yale fights shy of Cornell. In football or
baseball, in which Cornell acknowledges herself inferior, Yale has no objection to contesting
with the Ithaca boys: but when it comes to rowing, the wearers of blue decline to contest with
a crew which has not been beaten on the water for 10 years and which has a record fo 16
straight victories.
During the school year of 1892 - 1893, Odell’s first year at Cornell, there was continuing
concern that Coach Courtney would be lured away by some other school. The Cornell Sun of April
1893, reported a rumor that Courtney would accept a coaching position at Stanford University.
Courtney said he was planning a trip out west, and would “endeavor to be of some assistance to the
ambitious oarsmen of the West.” However, he said this would be just a vacation, and he “never had
the slightest idea of leaving the university most dear to him.” The Sun of April 25, 1893,
interviewed Courtney about his trip west. He said “if Leland Stanford Jr., University have a crew
he will go West to coach it and also the crew of the University of California later in the summer.”
The Sun hoped that Courtney would return to Cornell the following fall.
In 1893, Cornell’s experimented with rowing an aluminum eight-oared racing shell, designed
to carry an average weight of 175 pounds a man. The shell weighted 175 pounds, 25 to 50 pounds
lighter than conventional shells, and it was predicted to be “ten seconds faster than a paper shell.”
The experiment did not work - “the change did not commend itself as being advantageous.” That
year, Cornell beat Pennsylvania in a race held in Minneapolis, participating there despite being
Cornell Sun, January 5, 1893.
Page -39-

severely criticized for going to a local regatta “in the wild and wooly west.”

The Cornell Sun of October 6, 1893, described the yearly struggle to keep Coach Courtney
at the school, in an article called
Cornell Can Keep Courtney.
The Cornell Navy was in debt $1,400,
and had only raised $1,000 the prior year. Courtney was interviewed to learn under what conditions
he would remain coaching at Ithaca.
Much as Mr. Courtney loves Cornell, he very justly feels unable to remain here and coach
the crews unless his position is made secure. It is impossible for the navy to guarantee what
is required unless the students come forward and back it up with solid cash. The Athletic
Association has not the power to make this guarantee. Mr. Courtney agrees to remain at
Cornell for the year 1893-94 under the following condition, that his salary be $1200 to be
raised before October 11, on which date he must answer certain outside parties who desire
to employ him. He also agrees to remain at least four years after 1893-94 provided the
Athletic Association shall, by July 1894, be able to guarantee him $1500 a year. It is the
recommendation of the committee that every effort be made to raise $1200 in cash and $1400
in subscriptions before October 11.
The following plans for raising this sum is proposed by the navy and endorsed by the
committee: that a reliable person be stationed at the door of the Library to receive money and
subscriptions on and after Friday. And that the following committee have means for
collecting the business managers of the Era and the two college dailies, the presidents of the
three upper classes and the chairman pro tem of the freshman class.
On October 11, 1893, the Sun reported that $936 had been collected for the guarantee fund,
but $1,200 had to be raised before Courtney would agree to stay. However, the next day the Sun
reported that Coach Courtney would stay to coach, since over $1,200 had been contributed by
students, and other gifts from alumni and friends raised the total to $1,500. Courtney was pleased,
but had not waited for the funds to be raised and had declined the offers to go elsewhere. Courtney
also discussed the prospects of the Cornell football team, which he was helping to train.
The Cornell Sun of November 29, 1893, reported rumors that Courtney would coach
Cornell Sun, April 19, 1893; Young,
Cornell Navy,
page 33.
Page -40-

Harvard crews that year, saying he regarded the material at Harvard to be vastly superior to that at
Cornell. However, when interviewed, Coach Courtney denied making any arrangements with
Harvard, and said he would stay at Cornell until after the races next spring. “Cornell had the first
claim on me and here I would remain.”
The Cornell Sun of October 23, 1894, discussed the ongoing struggle to raise money for
Coach Courtney’s salary.
A dollar invested in Courtney’s salary will advertise the University more that a dollar
invested in any other way. Note it down as a nine o’clock for Wednesday - “Put my money
for Courtney’s salary in the contribution box.”...Do you know that Courtney don’t receive
any salary but what the Navy pays him; that his work with the other athletic teams is not paid
for except as you pay his salary of $1200.
In the fall of 1894, there was a discussion of holding an international regatta in the United
States in which all of this country’s best crews would compete against crews from the English
schools. However, once again, Yale presented an obstacle. The Cornell Sun of November 1894,
talked about “the annual grist of rumor about a race with Yale.”
For years, Yale has persisted in ignoring the Ithaca University crews, and would probably
continue in the same vein were it not for an obstacle that has suddenly arisen, and has placed
Yale in an odd situation.
Yale continued to try and organize a regatta where its crew and that from Harvard would row against
Oxford and Cambridge. However, Oxford refused to row against any crew except the “best in
America.” Oxford said it would only row against the winner of races between Yale, Harvard,
Cornell and Pennsylvania, throwing a wrench into Yale’s plans. That year, Cornell beat Penn in a
four mile race in what was “considered [a] remarkably good time.”
Intercollegiate Rowing Association is Formed

& Tournaments Begin in 1895
In 1891, Cornell, Columbia and Pennsylvania had adopted a constitution for a new collegiate
Page -41-

rowing association that became known as the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA). Harvard
and Yale had been focused on competition between each other for many years, so these three schools
decided to arrange their own rivalries in a similar way. However, it was not until spring of 1895, that
the schools organized the first annual intercollegiate championship regatta to take place on the
Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, New York.

Problems for Cornell’s crew program emerged in June of 1895, when a fire destroyed
Cornell’s new coaching launch which had cost the navy over $6,000 the previous year. “She was
the pride of Courtney, being the best and fastest coaching launch afloat.” Cornell Sun, June 19,
The first IRA Regatta in June of 1895, was held in rough water, and water filled all three
shells. The Pennsylvania boat swamped and dropped out of the race. The Cornell boat took “a great
deal of water” but continued to race. However, Columbia beat Cornell by sixth lengths with long
smooth strokes. The IRA Regattas were a four mile course until 1919, when the IRA race was
shortened to three miles.
In July 1895, the Cornell crew went to the Henley Regatta in England, to compete “with the
leading rowing colleges of Great Britain for the championship of the world.” $10,000 was
subscribed by Cornell boosters to pay for the trip. Ithaca sent the Cornell crew off to Henley with
a parade in which Odell participated. He is on the far right of the front row in the second picture.

The Rise of Cornell Rowing,
pages 116, 117.

The Rise of Cornell Rowing,
pages 121, 122; Young,
Courtney and Cornell
Page -42-

Parade for Cornell’s Henley crew, 1895
Parade for Cornell’s Henley crew, 1895
Page -43-

Although Cornell’s crew went to England believing they would “make a fine showing,” they
were beaten by crews from Trinity and Cambridge after a Cornell rower caught a crab, knocking the
oar out of his hand, “causing the crew to go to pieces,” losing the race in disgrace. This experience
was hard for Cornell to accept. The losses in 1895 at the IRA Regatta and at Henley, meant that
after ten years of winning, Cornell was at last was defeated in two races in a single year. The
almost unbelievable news was sent out and thousands of Cornell enthusiasts had the blues
for days after. It was so unexpected it did not seem that it could be true...It was always
believed that Cornell lost both her races in 1895 by a combination of unlucky circumstances
and there grew up a mighty resolve that the defeat should not be repeated.
In the winter of 1896, Cornell women, inspired by the success of the men’s crew, sought to
have a women’s rowing program started. The Cornell Sun of January 22, 1896, reported that a
lengthy petition was submitted by the women of Cornell to the Athletic Council asking that Coach
Courtney be permitted to instruct them in rowing. The plan was to secure a safe boat, erect a boat
house, and “foster rowing interests among the women.” Courtney was willing to instruct them as
long as it did not interfere with his regular crew work. This was the result of a two year effort that
had the support of President Shurman and other faculty. “The Wellesley crew will be taken as a
pattern since rowing at that institution is a decided success.” The Athletic Council was to consider
the petition.

The Cornell Navy,
pages 35 - 38.

A follow up article appeared in the Cornell Sun of April 23, 1898. Since 1896, the Sage
College Rowing Club had been started, and was seeking funds to build a boat house. Miss Hill, the
physical director at Wellesley College took an interest in the boating club and “tried to enthuse the
women.” The club began in January 1897, and was admitted to the Sports and Pastimes Association.
The club began with 15 members, with women who did know how to swim taking lessons. The
women took machine practice at Mr. Courtney’s house until weather permitted them to go out on
the inlet. “Mr. Courtney’s directions and generous interest have been the greatest source of
encouragement the club has found in its up hill work, and his services cannot be too highly
appreciated.” A barge was built for the women, paid for by subscriptions. Three to four workouts
Page -44-

Anti Times Star, May 14, 1897
The issue of whom Cornell would race was a continuing debate. In 1896, a disagreement
between Yale and Harvard led to an agreement being signed between Cornell and Harvard to race
against each other for two years. Columbia and Pennsylvania consented to having Harvard invited
to participate in the IRA Regatta of 1896, making it a four way race. On January 16, 1896, the
a week were held at six thirty in the morning. Before the end of the year, they rowed fairly well. In
the fall of 1898, there were enough of the old club to continue practices. Courtney strongly
supported women’s rowing. “His directions and generous interest continued to be the greatest source
of interest throughout all the years which followed.” Courtney’s interest in women’s rowing is not
surprising, since his first job as a trainer in 1875 was “with a class of young ladies from the Seminary
at Union Springs.” Coach Courtney also strongly encouraged intramural rowing, believing that
coaches should not just focus only on varsity training, but should encourage fitness generally and
supervise all students who choose to row. He did this in spite of the fact he was always employed
by the Athletic Association and had no official connection with the University. “Mr. Courtney has
always regarded himself as a teacher of rowing and promoter of physical health, as well as a trainer
of crews.” Young,
Courtney and Cornell Rowing ,
pages 27, 63, 64.
Page -45-

Cornell Sun reported that Cornell had an agreement to row a four-sided race at Poughkeepsie against
Harvard, Columbia and Pennsylvania. The race would be four miles.
During January and February of 1896, the Cornell Sun regularly reported on the school’s
crew, and listed the candidates who were turning out for crew, naming Odell (who weighed 156
pounds) as a former crewman who had trained before, having rowed freshman crew. Courtney
wanted “more heavy men” for the crew. Throughout the year, Odell ended up rowing five seat on
Coach Courtney’s second varsity boat.

Cornell once again was concerned about Coach Courtney leaving the school. The Ithaca
Journal of February 7, 1896, reported on the possibility that Courtney would coach at the University
Cornell crew of 1896. Odell is in the middle row on the right. Coach
Courtney is the man in the circle in the upper left.

Cornell Sun, January 10, 25, & February 16, 1896.
Page -46-

of Pennsylvania. However, the Cornell Sun of February 8, 1896, confirmed that the rumor was not
true since Penn announced the re-hiring of Ellis Ward as its rowing coach.
The Cornell Sun of April 8, 1896, reported that a new shell made by Rough, the English shell
maker, had arrived. It was made of cedar with silk decks, and weighted 10 to 15 pounds more than
a “paper shell.” The paper said on May 8, “the side arrangements of seats give it a very odd
appearance to the rowers. It will not in all probability be used in the coming season.”
Cornell was the local favorite at the 1896 IRA Regatta at Poughkeepsie. The Cornell Sun
of June 18, 1896, reported that the
people came out of their houses and cheered. Boys had brought fire crackers for the occasion
and as the crew came in sight the cracking began. Flags with the Cornell colors were seen
in many windows and from several flagpoles. The conduct of the crew last year must have
been the best to produce such a general good feeling from the town people.
Before the IRA race of 1896, Harvard was picked as the winner by Casper Whitney, the noted
sports correspondent for Harper’s Magazine, who called it “the fastest and smoothest crew on the
river.” However, Cornell won the race to redeem the school’s honor, by five lengths over Harvard,
with Pennsylvania coming in third and Columbia fourth by 20 lengths.
Every man who was able went to Poughkeepsie to see those two races of 1896, and the
students who could not go were parts of the great throngs that crowded every telegraph
office in the land, waiting for the bulletins which came in at intervals of a few seconds.
When the news flashes over the wires that Cornell had won and had in addition broken
Yale’s American record, a mighty shout went up in every city in the country.

IN 1897
Background of Cornell, Yale, Harvard Regatta of 1897
Cornell had last rowed against Yale and Harvard in 1875 and 1876. Even though Cornell’s
The Rise of Cornell Rowing,
pages 127 - 130.
Page -47-

rowing program had only begun in 1870, it won both races marking the school’s emergence into the
rowing community, and making its oarsmen instant heros. After this humiliation, Yale and Harvard
withdrew from the Rowing Association of American Colleges, and only rowed against each other.
Thereafter, Harvard and Yale rowed only against each other in a self-declared championship race,
refusing to allow others to join this exclusive club, a self-righteous attitude criticized by the sporting
press and disliked by Cornell.
Cornell yearned to race against Yale and Harvard to show that it was in their league. The
Cornell Sun of January 19, 1888, discussed the state of collegiate rowing and the school’s objective
to obtain a race against its old foes.
The day of four-oared rowing is over. Perhaps all are not aware that the old intercollegiate
association is finally and permanently broken up. To the recent call for a convention, not a
single college responded. Cornell’s record in the association has been a brilliant one and she
comes out of it in possession of the cup. But however deserving we have been of praise,
however plucky and successful our crews have been, we have certainly not received just
recognition of it since the palmy days when Yale and Harvard withdrew from the association
with the excuse that “they had no show where Cornell rowed, and they would rather row by
themselves.” And they have been rowing by themselves, and the attention and interest of the
world has gone with them and remained centered upon them, for Cornell has had no rivals
worthy of her mettle. But things were allowed to take their course until now the desired end
has arrived of itself...[W]e have crossed the line with twelve crews astern, we have rowed
the greatest of crews, Oxford; we have filled our library so full of trophies that some have
to be rolled up and tucked away for very lack of room...
Now as to whom we shall row. It will probably be out of the question to get a race with Yale
or Harvard next summer. We must first show our quality with some crews that they feel they
can down, and if we beat them - and we must - then will Yale and Harvard be bound to
answer a challenge from us.
Cornell went on to gain a reputation as a rowing power racing against other colleges, in spite
of not being able to compete against Harvard and Yale. By 1895, it had been a decade since
Cornell’s crew had lost to any other college, and the “success of the Cornell crews during this time
Page -48-

created an enthusiastic alumni community.”
Before the racing season of 1897, the Cornell Sun printed an article called
History of Cornell
, which summarized the success of the Cornell Navy over the years.
In the twenty-six years of the life of Cornell boating, there have been twenty-six Varsity
races, of which Cornell has won eighteen. But the most incredible list of all was the stretch
from 1885 to 1895 when Cornell scored twenty successive victories on the water. Her
freshman crews have never suffered defeat...Her victories were numerous, and, in the face
of the charge that she was not pushed, records were broken by Cornell with a frequency
which was appalling to her opponents.
The Cornell Navy held two world’s records: one for one mile and a half, with a time of, 6 minutes
40 seconds; and one for three miles, with a time of 14 minute 27 seconds. It also held one American
record for four miles, with a time of 19 minutes 29 seconds, several course records, and also records
for freshmen races. The races from 1885 to 1895, were typically against Pennsylvania, and
Columbia, although Brown and Bowdoin competed in a few races.
1896 - 1897 - Cornell Finally Arranges a Race Against Yale & Harvard
Odell’s senior year extended from fall of 1896 to spring of 1897, and he rowed in the varsity
boat in its five seat. Most of the oarsmen in the varsity boat rowed in the 1896 IRA Regatta. The
year was again filled with the dream of rowing against Yale and Harvard, and events at those schools
were followed carefully.
The Cornell Sun of October 14, 1896, reported that Harvard was negotiating with “the
famous English coach” R. C. Lehman, since their prior coach was no longer acceptable to the
program, and “ the time has come for a complete change in coaching methods.” Lehman would
teach the “English stroke” which had made his Oxford and Leander crews “all but invincible on
English waters.” He would not come as a paid coach, but as “an amateur anxious to advance the
Page -49-

interests of his favorite sport.” The Cornell Sun of November 16, 1896, reported that Lehman
arrived at Harvard to begin his coaching, and that the famous Bob Cook would remain at Yale.
“With Courtney, Lehmann, Cook and Peet as coaches at Poughkeepsie next year, there would be a
boat race which would eclipse in interest any previous event of the kind in America.”
The Cornell Sun reported on the first ever class regatta ever held at Cornell on November 11,
1896, which “was as exciting an event of the kind as has occurred on the lake in some time.” The
‘97 boat (in which Odell rowed) and the ‘99 boat finished in a tie, cheered on by the large crowd of
The Cornell Sun of January 19, 1897, said a “jollification” was held on January 25, 1897,
to celebrate the signing of a contract with Coach Courtney for a three year period. Two hundred
attended, and Mark Odell gave one of the speeches commemorating the event. “The meeting closed
with a rousing cheer for Courtney and the Cornell crew.” This was the first time that Courtney
received a multi-year contract to coach at Cornell, giving the school a much better assurance that he
would continue as its crew coach.
For the racing season of 1897, Yale and Harvard reconciled their differences and agreed to
resume racing each other. Since Harvard was in the second year of a two year agreement with
Cornell, it proposed that Yale join those two schools in a three-way regatta.
On February 16, 1897, the Cornell Sun announced that Harvard and Yale signed an
agreement agreeing that the two schools would hold annual contests in rowing, football, baseball and
track. The agreement also said “owing to Harvard’s present boating arrangement, Yale is willing
to make a third party in the Harvard-Cornell race at Poughkeepsie in 1897, if Harvard so arranges.”
The Sun said the agreement ended a long suspense, since Yale originally rejected Harvard’s plan for
Page -50-

the schools to row against Cornell. Walter Camp, one of the signers of the agreement for Yale, said
when he took charge of affairs, “the feeling at Yale not to row Cornell was practically unanimous,
but rather than put off meeting Harvard, we gave in.”
According to the Cornell Sun of February 17, 1897, Cornell received a letter from Harvard
proposing to admit Yale as a party to the Cornell - Harvard race that year. Cornell responded by
saying it would consider only four-cornered race with Yale, Harvard, Columbia and Pennsylvania.
The Cornell Sun of February 23, 1897, said a rowing conference decided that Columbia and
Pennsylvania would not be admitted to the Harvard - Yale - Cornell race. Cornell decided to
participate in a three-way regatta with Yale and Harvard, making 1897 the first time since 1875 the
three schools had raced against each other. Young reports that,
athletic relations were resumed between Harvard and Yale. At Harvard’s suggestion, Cornell
acquiesced in a three-cornered race to be held at Poughkeepsie, the request of the Cornell
Council that Pennsylvania and Columbia be also invited to participate, not being assented
Cornell immediately decided to hold a second race with Columbia and Pennsylvania at
Poughkeepsie after the Harvard - Yale - Cornell race, which would be the IRA Regatta of 1897.
However, the race against Harvard and Yale was the one on which sports writers and the public
focused since it would involve the country’s three strongest college crews, each using a different
stroke. The English stroke taught by Harvard’s new rowing coach from England, Rudolph Lehmann,
emphasized the rower’s body swing. Yale’s coach, Bob Cook, was a former sculler who had rowed
in England, and the stroke he taught had led Yale to a series of victories over Harvard. The 1897
regatta would be a test of which stroke was the most successful, and “give the rowing world a
The Cornell Navy,
page 40.
Page -51-

demonstration of the three prominent rowing techniques being taught in head-to-head competition.”
In March of 1897, Cornell alumni subscribed $2,300 for the rowing program, including
$1,000 for the purchase of two training shells, $500 for training expenses, and the rest for a general
fund. Cornell purchased two new shells that were needed that year, a cedar shell to be made by M.F.
Davis, and an “ordinary paper” shell to be made by Walters of Troy. This would allow six crews to
row at the same time.

News of the upcoming Poughkeepsie Regatta in June filled the Cornell campus newspaper
during the spring of 1897. Between March and June, 1897, the Cornell Sun ran articles about the
Cornell crew nearly every day, describing who was rowing in which boat, how the training was
going, and other items of interest. Its articles contained knowledgeable critiques of rowing
techniques showing how important the upcoming Poughkeepsie Regatta was on campus, and what
a critical event it was in the school’s athletic history.
In March and April, 1897, the Cornell Sun reported that Mr. Lehman was expected to arrive
in America to take charge of the Harvard crews. Twenty four Cornell varsity rowers stayed in Ithaca
over the vacation to practice, including Mark Odell, who was rowing with crew that was going to
compete at Annapolis later in the year. The Annapolis boat was “rowing well together and their boat
has already acquired a good rate of speed.” The practice of the Varsity was “the best of the season.”
The Annapolis boat “seemed to move along easily, with a slow stroke characterized by a hard catch
and a slow recovery. The boat did not check perceptibly between strokes and the men are rowing
well together.” Mark Odell was listed as one of the candidates for the Varsity boat that year. He was

The Rise of Cornell Rowing,
page 132.
Cornell Sun, March 1 & March 6, 1897.
Page -52-

rowing on the Annapolis crew “and bids well to hold his seat.” The Annapolis boat, which had been
rowing with narrow blade oars, went back to Davis oars with a seven inch blade, which worked
better as they were more balanced and more easily handled, giving a stronger purchase.

H.S. Van Duser was chosen to be the referee for the 1897 Regatta. A committee was
appointed to make practical arrangements for the Poughkeepsie race. Harvard received its new shell
made in England for the regatta, which was constructed from a single cedar log, and was fitted with
fixed oarlocks used in England instead of the swivel locks used in America.

Mr. Lannigan was organizing a bicycle party for students and faculty from Ithaca to
Poughkeepsie at the time of the races, a 200 mile trip. Tickets for the observation train at the
Poughkeepsie races went on sale for $2 each, with a limit of five tickets per person.

The Cornell Sun of May 1, 1897, described a race between the varsity and the second varsity
boats, on a day when Odell rowed with the second boat (the boat going to Annapolis for a race prior
to the Poughkeepsie tournaments):
The form displayed by the second crew was the best seen on the lake this year. The catch
was hard and all the backs went on at once, while the shoe work on the recovery was so even
as to prevent checking the boat. In the Varsity, the form was not nearly so good. The catch
was ragged and though the movement of the boat showed a good supply of power, it was
fairly evident that the men were not applying it to the best advantage. This race showed the
advantage of keeping a crew together as long as possible. Though it is evident that the
Varsity crew is superior to the second crew in power, the latter from constant practice
together have learned to use their strength to the best advantage and showed the effect of
their good form after the mile and a half point had been passed.
On May 22, 1897, the Cornell Sun reported that Caspar Whitney, the well known sports
Cornell Sun, March 10, April 7, April 9, April 13, April 16, & April 27, 1897.
Cornell Sun, April 14, April 15, & April 26.
Cornell Sun, April 19, & May 14, 1897.
Page -53-

writer for Harpers Magazine, believed the interest in rowing among American colleges was so
“remarkable” that an American Henley for next year was “an easy possibility.” Regarding the
upcoming race, based on the development of the crews at that time, Whitney rated the colleges as
follows: Cornell, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Pennsylvania, adding “Cornell’s prospects are very
On May 27, 1897, the Cornell Sun said that Mark Odell was still rowing with the Annapolis
boat, which was the second varsity boat, but the shaking-up process had not yet ended, with Coach
Courtney looking for the fastest combination for the upcoming races after the second varsity beat the
varsity boat again. Cornell’s crew beat Navy’s crew at Annapolis on May 30, 1897, in a two mile
race to begin its racing season. Odell rowed in the winning Cornell boat in his usual five seat.
Odell’s 1897 crew in front of Boathouse Row.
Page -54-

June 1897 - Cornell Crews Go to Poughkeepsie
The Cornell Sun reported on June 16, 1897, that a “large and enthusiastic” gathering
assembled at the Lehigh depot to give the crews “a good old send-off” to Poughkeepsie and let them
know they would not be forgotten at the following week’s Commencement which would take place
while the oarsmen were at the regattas. Twenty-six rowers were on the train.
The Cornell yell was given for each man, not forgetting “the old man,” Courtney...The last
to be seen of the men was Courtney on the platform with that quiet, determined look on his
face, which gives to every Cornellian a feeling of confidence that Cornell’s crew will make
a creditable showing.
The Cornell Sun of June 17, published a number of articles about the Regatta. The people
of Poughkeepsie were “almost to a man staunch supporters of the Ithacans,” a theme seconded in an
article written by Odell published in the Sun.
We found the townspeople here very friendly to Cornell, our colors being worn almost
exclusively. They are confident of victory for our crews and are making great preparations
of the big event. All the boys are well and from tomorrow until the day of the race, we will
work hard and conscientiously. If this will win for dear old Cornell, we will finish near the
The stakes in the upcoming race were high.
The crisis in the history of the Cornell navy has certainly been reached victory means pre-
eminence on the water for years. Defeat means a blight upon the young growth of Cornell
spirit and Cornell enthusiasm, and more than that, a position of no importance in rowing
circles for we dare not say for how long.
Interest in the upcoming race was so great that the observation train that would run parallel to the
race course along the river bank which contained fifty cars, each holding 80 persons, which would
not even hold the undergraduates of the colleges, much less the alumni and other interested
Page -55-

The Rise of Cornell Rowing,
page 136.
Leading up to the 1897 races, Courtney demonstrated his belief in strong discipline. One
observer said “Courtney ruled his men with a despotism none of them would have suffered for a
moment from a faculty member.” In June of 1897, shortly before perhaps the biggest race in
Cornell’s rowing history, Courtney terminated five members of the varsity crew for eating strawberry
shortcake in violation of his dietary rules. The five rowers who replaced them were known as “the
strawberry shortcake crew.” A cartoon about the incident appeared in a newspaper sports page.
The Press Coverage of the 1897 Regattas

is Extensive

The Rise of Cornell Rowing,
page 136. At the 40
reunion of the class of 1897,
several attendees identified themselves as members of the strawberry crew. “Probably ’97 got its
greatest reunion “kick” Saturday afternoon in seeing so many of the Varsity crew of its Senior year
boated and rowing beautifully with the same style and grace as when they won their two great
Poughkeepsie races over Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and Pennsylvania, in June, 1897. Members of
the Class who took part were: Freddie Colson, cox; Capt. Spillman, 6; Mark Odell, 5; Doc Cru, bow
(a member of the “Strawberry Crew”); and Tad Mordock, manager.”
Page -56-

The three-way regatta between Cornell, Yale, and Harvard received extensive press coverage.
College rowing widely followed in the late 1800s, and 1897 was the first time in over 20 years that
Cornell raced Yale and Harvard in one race, so the race had special significance and attracted a huge
amount of attention. The four-mile race took place at Poughkeepsie, New York, one week before
the IRA Regatta of 1897, which pitted Cornell against Pennsylvania and Columbia.
Press coverage of rowing in the 1890s resembled present day coverage of the Super Bowl,
the NBA championship, and the NCAA basketball championship combined. There was substantial
betting on rowing in that era, and press accounts influenced the odds. The bookmakers had a field
day with the 1897 race, to the dismay of Coach Courtney.
The excitement of the upcoming race was such that virtually ever major newspaper and
magazine sent its sports reporters to Poughkeepsie to cover the practice of the three crews. The
writers were well educated in the sport of rowing and provided knowledgeable analysis of the
training, rowing techniques, and races. The reporters also discussed how the crews spent their spare

The authors’ grandfather kept many of the newspaper articles discussing the 1897 IRA race.
Cornell Era
of October 2, 1897, included reprints of many of the press accounts from before and
after the race, and a four page article written by Mark Odell, “Story of the Race and Return to

Courtney said that “[t]he mania for betting on intercollegiate contests... is not inherent in or
peculiar to this form of competition but is largely fed up by the press.” Betting led to crew coaches
“lying and jockeying,” and dispensing false information about their teams practice times and the
rower’s medical conditions to influence the odds. Courtney criticized betting’s influence on sports.
“...the growing practice of betting on games and races is simply that every member of an athletic
team has a responsibility imposed on him which tends to distort his views as to what the object of
the contest really is. Theoretically it is for the glory of his alma mater, but practically it is for the
sake of the money which great numbers of alumni and undergraduates have put up on the contest.
If victory is secured, no doubt it is for the University that is so lustily cheered, and not the dollar
bills; but if defeat comes, it is not the dimmed luster of the institution that is bemoaned and for
which impatient criticism is flung about so freely, but it is the empty pocket-book.” Young,
Courtney and Cornell Rowing.
Page -57-

New York Journal, June 21, 1897.
New York Journal, June 21, 1897.
time before the race. Sketch artists experienced in drawing action scenes accompanied the writers,
and their sketches were published along with the rowing articles. The following sketches were
published by the New York Journal on June 21, 1897.
Page -58-

Most of the popular press criticized Yale and Harvard’s arrogant refusal to face Cornell in
the past.
The Rochester Democrat of
June 26, 1897, said:
The old system which limited the great race of the year to Yale and Harvard...was
unsportsmanlike. Time and time again it has left the brawny sons of Eli in the position of
claiming a championship which they refused to defend.... College sportsmanship should be
as broad on the waterways as it is on the football gridiron.
Since the Cornell varsity’s last race in 1876 against Yale and Harvard, Cornell sought a rematch but
was arrogantly refused. “The two eastern colleges had regarded it as a condescension to permit
Cornell to join the contest
said the
New York Journal
on June 25, 1897. The
New York Press
of June 26, 1987, sounded a similar theme:
For twenty years...[Cornell] has sought an opportunity to meet on one course the crews of
the two superior rowing universities. Through a puzzling policy of Yalensian
“exclusiveness” this opportunity had been until yesterday denied her.
Mark Odell described Cornell’s frustration in an article written for his hometown newspaper,
Baldwinsville Gazette and Farmers’ Journal,
on July 1, 1897:
Cornell defeated Harvard and Yale [in 1875 & 1876]... which latter institution has claimed
the championship in rowing for years, and which we have been waiting twenty-two long
years to get a whack at. We rowed them in 1875 on Lake Saratoga and beat them. The next
year they withdrew from the regatta and the only chance we have had since was in 1890,
when our freshmen defeated their freshmen, but since 1875 we have challenged them for a
‘Varsity race in vain’....
Pre-race Predictions by the Experts
By 1897, Yale and Harvard had been seen as the country’s rowing powerhouses for two
decades, and Cornell was not seen as being in their league. The “smart money” and all of the experts
agreed that the 1897 race was between Yale and Harvard, with Cornell having no chance. The
betting odds were heavily skewed in their favor.
Page -59-

The New York Journal of June 25, 1897, dedicated its entire front page to the upcoming race.
It had sketches of all three crews, articles written by Harvard’s coach Rudolph C. Lehmann, Yale’s
coach Robert J. Cook, and commentary provided by noted sports writers A.H.C. Mitchell and Julian
Hawthorne. All agreed - the winner would be either Harvard of Yale, and poor Cornell had no
chance. According to Cook:
In the old days of New London, or rather under former conditions, I would say that Yale was
a sure winner. But this year Harvard has the fastest crew she ever had. I think Harvard and
Yale are evenly matched for tomorrow’s race – at least for three miles. After that the crew
that holds its form and has the endurance should win. Mr. Lehmann and I agree that both
Harvard and Yale will defeat Cornell, and from what he said to me tonight I believe he thinks
his crew has a slight better chance of winning than my crew.
Mr. Lehmann has produced better form than Yale possesses, but I think my failure to get as
good a steady swing is due to the difficulty I experienced in changing Yale’s stroke this year.
For my part, I am in doubt whether it will be Harvard or Yale.

Lehmann said this about his Harvard crew: “Allowing for individual eccentricities that exist in every
crew, these men are not rowing what I consider to be the English stroke as I taught it myself and have
heard it taught by others. They have not the weight and power of some of our record crews that I
remember, but on the whole I think that striking an average, they compare very favorable with good
university crews, whether from Oxford or Cambridge.”
Sports writers A.H.C. Mitchell and Julian Hawthorne, easily picked the winner - Harvard
Mitchell said.
I had not intended to make any forecast, but I fancy Harvard, and might as well say so. It
seems to me the race between Harvard and Yale will be close, and as I have watched the
crews in practice, I have wavered more than once. But after all I cannot help believing
Harvard will win, with Yale a second and Cornell a third....
Julian Hawthorne was particularly critical about Cornell’s crew and its coach, Charles Courtney,
Page -60-

since he was “against professional coaching.”
Yale and Harvard are probably as fine crews as those universities have ever turned out, and
it would not be surprising if both of them broke the four mile record tomorrow. I hardly
expect Cornell to do this. I cannot see that they have a ghost of a chance with Harvard and
Their Varsity are greatly better than their freshman, but not so good as their competitors in
this great struggle. An all accounts, but one I should be glad to see Cornell win the race.
They are perhaps the most typically American of our great colleges. They are enterprising,
plucky and hard working. But besides that I do not like to see amateurs coached by a
professional. I believe the stroke that Courtney coaches is wrong in principle. And I care
more for good rowing than for the success of any college, be it Cornell, Yale or
Harvard...When the time comes the professional blight is outgrown, Cornell will have no
friend no more cordial than I.

The 1897 race against Yale and Harvard was a high stakes event for Cornell, a chance to
prove that its rowing program could compete against the Eastern powerhouses, with nothing less
than the honor of the school at stake.
[Coach Courtney said] ‘Boys, do you know what this means? It means that you’re Cornell
or you’re nothing.’ This was the spirit of the whole contest. Yale and Harvard were trying
to win a race. Cornell was struggling for recognition. The race was only an incident. It was
their honor and the honor of their college that was at stake. They pulled not against Hudson
water, but against the prejudices and pride of a hundred years.
For a century Yale and Harvard have scorned the idea of an equal. They have looked with
contempt upon other institutions of learning. Cornell has been ignored and despised. But
once, in 1875, has she been allowed in a great race. She was in this one only on sufferance.
Defeat for Cornell meant an end to her fight for recognition, a ban upon her standing as a
university. Victory meant equality, freedom, an assured position, glory for the victors and
prosperity for their college. It was this that nerved their arms. It was this that put strength
into their muscles, that steeled their hearts in the long, hard struggle against the heavier, more

To-Days’ Varsity Boat Race,
New York Journal, June 25, 1897 (page 1).
Page -61-

experienced crews of Yale and Harvard.
The Cornell - Yale - Harvard race would be a test of which stroke was superior, since
different strokes were used by the three schools. Harvard used the true English stroke taught by its
coach, Rudolph Lehmann. Lehmann was a well known English rowing coach “with a lifetime of the
best sort of practical experience in both rowing and teaching how to row,” who was brought to this
country by Harvard in 1897, to teach the English stroke that was used in his country so successfully.
Robert Cook, Yale’s coach, had “sold all his possessions a year ago, in order that he might spend
a year in England learning the methods of Oxford and Cambridge and bring them back.” Yale used
the Cook stroke taught by its coach, which was modified after Yale’s loss at Henley the prior year,
to incorporate elements of the English stroke.

The Courtney stroke used by Cornell was a true American stroke The English stroke used
by Harvard
was universally used by crews on the other side of the Atlantic, and the one which has
defeated at Henley within the last two years the Cook stroke as rowed by Yale, and the
Courtney stroke, as exemplified by Cornell. Whether it was the stroke or the change of
climate which has caused the defeat of American crews will be in a measure demonstrated
at Poughkeepsie this year.
The races this week are then a battle of strokes; the pure English stroke, as taught by the
famous English oarsman, Lehmann, and rowed by Harvard; the English stroke, as remodeled
and Americanized by Bob Cook, and by Yale; and the pure American stroke, as rowed by
Cornell. It is a contest of methods as well as a contest.


Glory of Cornell,
The New York World, June 26, 1897. Cornell’s crew was the lightest
in the race, averaging 160 1/4 pounds, compared to Harvard’s 167 5/8 pounds and Yale’s 171 1/4
pounds. The Sketch Magazine, July 21, 1897.

Glory of Cornell,
The New York World, June 26, 1897 (page 1);
Victory for the
American Stroke,
New York Journal, June 26, 1897 (page 1).
Caspar Whitney, published in the Cornell Sun June 30,1897
Page -62-

NY Journal, June 21, 1897.
The New York World, June 26, 1897.
The Syracuse Evening News of June 25, 1897, said
The Blue or Crimson, Veteran Oarsmen
Say the Race is Between Yale and Harvard, Betting in Favor of Yale.
The paper called it “the most
important eight-oared shell race ever held,” and
one of the greatest races in the history of aquatic events...that will determine whether the long
sweeping strong of Harvard, the English style, as taught by Coach Lehmann, is superior to
the purely American stroke, as instilled into the Ithacans by Courtney, or the medium of the
two styles as taught Yale by Bob Cook. The opinion here this morning among the veteran
oarsmen is that the race is between Yale and Harvard and that the chances are about even.”
Courtney was silent about the race, but Cook said he expected his crew to win. The Harvard crew
averaged 169 3/4 pounds and 5 feet 11 inches; Yale, 173 pounds and 5 feet 11 5/6 inches; and
Cornell 158 7/8 pounds and 5 feet 10 3/4 inches.

The Race Atmosphere
College rowing was the era’s most popular sport, and huge crowds attended the important

100,000 spectators watched the 1897 race at Poughkeepsie. The 1897 three-way regatta at
Page -63-

Poughkeepsie was an extended gala party, as Odell described in Cornell Era.
For two weeks Po’keepsie had been festive; parties from the more imposing regatta ball to
the unpretentious reception, excursions, moonlight sails, and concerts, had crowded one after
the other, making life happy and Po’keepsie gay.
The need for a long stay at Poughkeepsie, required for crews participating in the race so they
could train on the four mile course, was criticized as “becoming too much of a spectacle of the circus
variety, merely a money maker for the New York Central Railroad, rather than a purely athletic
Race day resembled a giant carnival according to the New York Journal
There is still the aesthetic side; one of the grandest of rivers deploying its fairest of reaches
under a glorious blue cloud-flecked sky; its lofty banks lovely with foliage, crowded with
stupendous masses of human beings fluttering with bright colors; and its bosom freighted
with a thousand of the prettiest and most graceful pleasure boats ever designed, all bejeweled
with tinted flags; and along its western shore a serpent half a mile in length, red, white and
blue, with a head of steam at each end of it, gliding swiftly up and down; and shoutings,
steam screamings, and cannon firings – certainly there was nothing lacking to the aesthetic
side of the great race, unless it was lemon juice in the lemonade.
The “serpent” was a 51 car observation train operated by the West Shore Railroad which ran
on the river bank along the length of the course, “permitting the running of an observation train from
which thousands of persons can witness the struggle at a distance of but a few hundred feet.” The
serpent was gayly decorated with school colors and filled with boisterous fans loudly shouting
encouragement to their favorite crew. The train allowed spectators to see the entire race, and each
car could hold 80 people, so the train could carry 4,000 spectators. Tickets cost $2, although they
were scalped for $15 due to the great demand and interest in the race. Private yachts lined the

Cornell and Cornell Rowing.

Comments from an Expert,
New York Journal, June 26, 1897.
Page -64-

course, some with cannons which were fired as the crews rowed by, adding to the mayhem. “It was
noted in the days before the regatta that there had never been so many people in Poughkeepsie, and
it was unlikely that there had ever been so much interest in a regatta.”
The picture below shows rowing enthusiasts loading on the serpent.
Poughkeepsie was beautiful on race day, with 100,000 spectators waiting to see the spectacle,
yachts lining the course, and the observation train filled with anxious fans.
Just below the lofty bridge, off the wharves of Poughkeepsie, lay a big fleet of pleasure craft
and excursion steamers, all of the dressed rainbow fashion or bearing the brilliant colors of
the crews. The western shore was dotted with human beings, way up on the sides of the hills.
The roofs of the buildings along both sides of the course showed interested observers. The
excursion steamers brought thousands to see the finish of the race, while the observation
train bore about five thousand persons in its fifty cars.
Cornell Sun, June 23, 1897; Langsted,
The Rise of Cornell Rowing,
page 138.

Cornell a Victor Again,
New York Tribune, June 26, 1897 (page one).
Page -65-

The rich and famous brought their yachts to Poughkeepsie to watch the race, many to cheer
on their alma maters. Paralleling the course, there was “a vast fleet of pleasure craft. Close to three
hundred yachts were anchored at noon in readiness for the race. The graceful vessels, crowded with
a brilliant company, formed a charmingly picturesque lane through which the racing shells sped.”
A number of showpiece yachts were on hand, owned by Frederick W. Vanderbuilt (the Conqueror,
with Yale colors all over her) , J.A. Rockefeller, J.H. Hallantine (the Juanita, sporting Cornell
colors), Commodore F.C. Adams (Sachem), Edward S. Hatch, Stewart Duncan and many others.
J. Pierpoint Morgan brought his “splendid yacht, the Corsair” to Poughkeepsie to watch the
races, and it appeared in many pictures of the event. Morgan was a strong supporter of Harvard, and
the Corsair was “all aflame with lurid loyalty. Her rigging simply reeked with Harvard bunting.”
Morgan also had a party of thirty people on the observation train, “and these were hid in a cloud of
crimson.” The Corsair can be seen in the background of the following picture of the Cornell crew
of 1897, training at Poughkeepsie.
The Corsair, commissioned by Morgan in 1890, was a 241 foot long steam yacht, and
“it played host to many of the era’s richest and most prominent figures, including U.S. presidents
Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft, tycoons J.D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, and
inventor of the light bulb Thomas Edison.” The Corsair was used by the U.S. Navy in both
World War I and II.
Personal Items Revealing J.P. Morgan’s Opulent Life at Sea to be Sold,;
Comments of an Expert,
New York Tribune, June 26, 1897 (page one);
And it Was
The New York World, June 26, 1897 (page one);
Society Sees the Race,
New York
Journal, June 26, 1897.
Page -66-

Coach Courtney inspired his group of underdogs, who had been counted out before the race
by all of the experts. “[I]t is hard to discourage a Cornell Varsity crew when Charlie Courtney tells
them that they are fast and that the other fellows haven’t wings: and it is still more difficult to
discourage them when he himself is satisfied with their speed.” Courtney’s last words to his rowers
before the race reflected the seriousness of the occasion: “Boys, do you know what this means? It
means that you’re Cornell or you’re nothing.”
The Freshmen Race - Cornell Comes in Third
The freshmen crews of the three schools raced the day before the varsity race, on a two mile
course, as contrasted with the four mile course on which the varsity crews would compete. Before
the race, sports writer Julian Hawthorne said the race was a “hard nut to crack,” as there “did not
Cornell’s crew training for the IRA regatta in front of J. P. Morgan’s yacht Corsair
that was decorated with Harvard crimson. Odell is in five seat on the starboard
side of the boat.

E.O. Spillman, Captain of the 1897 crew,
Cornell Era.
Page -67-

seem to be much difference in the crews during training.” He did think that the Cornell freshmen
were the best in form, but were the lightest. Hawthorne described in detail the last work out of all
three crews the day before the race, showing a critical eye and an intimate knowledge of rowing.
The freshman race itself was “nip and tuck all the way,” although Yale pulled away after the
first mile, and Cornell appeared to get rattled and their stroke was marked by poor judgment. Yale’s
freshmen won the race. Harvard finished second barely beating the Cornell freshmen, who were
sprinting at the end and may have passed them had the course been longer.
Descriptions of Cornell’s Easy Victory in The Varsity Race
The three varsity crew raced the day following the freshman race. Against all odds, Cornell
easily beat its arrogant rivals by nearly three lengths in a memorable race called “one of the greatest
race in all of American racing.”
Cornell crossed the line a winner by over two lengths amid a hurricane of whistles and the
boom of a cannon, from the steam yachts anchored near by. Harvard was at least three
lengths and a half behind Yale. The Cornell oarsmen were very far from being exhausted.
They shot away at racing speed for half a mile below the finish line, and were there taken
aboard their launch. The Yale oarsmen “let her run” without delay, and bent their heads
upon their oars. As for Harvard, her men had long since been dead to the race, and before
her shell crossed the line, Boardman, the stoke, collapsed in his seat, and the coxswain
occupied several seconds throwing water in his face...
Cornell proved a surprise again this year, and to even those who supposed she had a good
chance of winning, the fact that she won so handily was absolutely unexpected. Cornell
carried the direction of the race from the first half-mile and was not pushed dangerously at
any time. It is evident that the crew if badly pushed could have done better time than 20:34
for the four miles, for the crew rowed down the river a good mile after the finish to get out
of the way of the boats, every man seeming to be in first-class form and pulling a good, smart
stroke on their fifth mile. No crew, not even a winning one, could have done that if it had
Jules Hawthorne,
Freshmen Race To-Day; A Hard Nut to Crack
, New York Journal,
June 23, 1897 (page 5);
Varsity Crews Race Next,
The New York World, June 24, 1897.
Page -68-

put in its best licks through the preceding four miles.
Young, in his book
Cornell Navy,
included a description of the race that had been published
by “a metropolitan paper:”
Yale started behind Harvard, but after a dozen strokes they were as nearly level as possible.
Cornell was half a length in the rear and would of course disappear entirely, then for a minute
all were even. At the mile, it looked as if Cornell was leading: at the mile and a half Yale
was half a length ahead of Harvard, and from that point it was a continual struggle between
the two for second honors. Cornell was rowing with perfect smoothness and ease, but she
seemed constantly to gain. At the two mile and a half point she led Yale by two lengths,
which was gradually increased to four at the finish, with Harvard 3 - 1/3 lengths behind Yale.
Harvard’s stroke fainted as the line was reached, and several others were on the point of
collapse, but the other crews seemed little the worse for the four mile struggle.
Sports writer James Hawthorne described how the race was rowed and won by Cornell in
decisive fashion, “becoming champions of America.”
Harvard was the first to reach her stakeboat. Cornell pulled out next, in her colorless,
mechanical, uninteresting way, and nobody paid much attention to her. Finally proud Yale
deigned to get into her boat and took her position; and it was 3:44 o’clock, local time. The
referee’s steamer came down within sixty feet of them, and “Are you ready?’ “No.” Yale
was not. But when the question was repeated they all were ready, and “Go!” thundered
through the megaphone. They were off, amid a road miles long, followed by a hush, as we
bent forward to see who had the lead.
Yale started behind Harvard; but they were as nearly level as possible after rowing a dozen
strokes. Cornell was half a length to the rear, and would, of course, soon disappear entirely.
Then, for a moment all were even, or else the slant of the course deceived the eye. The race
was really very close here, and we were all so intent and anxious that we forgot to make our
usual noise.
At the mile it certainly looked as if Cornell were ahead a little, but it must be an ocular

Cornell A Victor Again,
Comments of an Expert,
New York Tribune, June 26, 1897
(page one).


Cornell Navy,
page 40
Page -69-

deception; the thing was absurd. At the mile and a half we were forced to the belief that our
eyes were truer than we thought; and now Yale was half a length before Harvard. Yale also
seemed to be gaining a bit on the weird and incomprehensible Cornell. But at the two miles
Yale had dropped back once more, and Harvard was nearer to her than before, though still
last. There changes meant desperate spurts that came and died away, but Cornell did not
spurt; she didn’t have to; she just rowed on the perfect ease and lightness, and at two and a
half miles was two lengths to the good. Three miles had been rowed; one remained.
And here both Yale and Harvard made a final and gallant effort to retrieve themselves.
Yale’s effort was the stronger, and it shortened the gap between her and her light-footed
enemy, but in vain. As they passed along the roaring and steam-whistling array of yachts,
Cornell seemed to start forward afresh; but it was only the others dying away. She crossed
the line two lengths and a half ahead of Yale, who led Harvard by a length and a half.
Harvard, it seemed to me, stopped just short of the finish; her stroke oar dropped senseless
in the bottom of the boat; all the men hung limp over their oars; the bow collapsed.
Meanwhile Yale sat still, blown but not knocked out. Cornell, scarcely stopping, rowed
lightly on and out of sight, champions of America. It was a proud and joyful hour for her.
And in this hour of her rejoicing I will make no remarks that would seem to cast a shadow
upon it. It was a great race, splendidly won.

In his article published in Cornell Era, Odell described the race from the standpoint of a
participant, whose view was limited to looking ahead in the boat, and whose senses were
overwhelmed by the noise from the spectators, The atmosphere for the race was loud, wild and
The race was a combination of mental and muscular application. I remember, of course,
leaving our launch, in which we were taken to the starting point, getting into our shell and
rowing out to the stake boat. For a minute we sat there. I took one glance at the other boats
over on our left, and a glance beyond at the observation train, winding along the base of the
bluff, a long array of beautiful colors and of cheering yells. There were then the words of the
referee: “Are you ready, Cornell?” and at that moment of suspense waiting for the pistol shot.
After that it was a vague memory of knowledge I have of anything that happened outside our
boat. I have only a memory of riveting my eyes on the stroke, which they scarcely left during

Comments of an Expert,
New York Tribune, June 26, 1897 (page one).
Page -70-

the twenty minutes, and the machine-like backward and forward swing, which comes to be
a part of oneself - a long twenty minutes, most of which I spent with mouth open and breath
coming in short gasps, with mouth and throat burning dry way down into my lungs.
The only sounds I realized for three miles were the words of our coxswain and the hoarse
cheer of exultation from the train when we began to lead. The other yells I did not hear or
did not notice, although the din I know was terrific and constant.
The last mile was along a flotilla of yachts, which kept up the most infernal pandemonium
you can imagine. Not a word could we hear of our coxswain’s orders. Cannons were going
off right above our heads, which made it feel as though the top of the skull was coming off
at each shot, whistles of the most infernal screeching power went off in our ears. Yet we
knew we were ahead, and could appreciate it. “Hell was let loose,” as they say in the classics.
Sportswriters Describe the Significance of the Race and Eat Crow
And it Was Cornell,
announced the New York World
Brooklyn edition, on its front page,
describing what it called “by far the most important boat race ever rowed in this country.”
The four-mile contest on the Hudson today was by far the most important boat race ever
rowed in this country. It was so much a struggle between English and American strokes as
it was a battle to determine whether or not Cornell was a mere fresh-water college or a great
university - whether she really had a chance to live in the highest class of athletes.

That is why a throng far outnumbering any that ever gathered to watch the fierce fought fight
between New England’s crews and their vigorous young rivals. That is why there was a
triple wall of giant excursion steamers, all decked out with spectators, stretching along the
railroad bridge to the finish line a mile below. That is why the train of fifty-three cars was
crammed to its utmost capacity and throngs of men and women were waiting on the high,
sloping western bank of the river, and other thousands along the railroad tracks.
Victory for the American Stroke! Cornell and Courtney Achieve a Complete Triumph Over
Harvard and Yale,
announced the New York Journal of June 26, 1897, in an article written by one
of the learned sports writers who had predicted that Cornell had no chance to win the race the day
before - Julian Hawthorne.

And it Was Cornell,
New York World
Brooklyn edition, June 26, 1897 (page one).
Page -71-

The great race turned out to be a many sided affair. First, there was the comic side,
especially obvious to Cornell. Here were Yale and Harvard, aristocratic and exclusive,
standing apart together and communing with courteous hostility as to which of the would
cross the finish line first, and in their self-sufficient haughtiness altogether ignoring poor
little Cornell, who, it was agreed, had not so much as a “look-in” in the matter.
And there were about all the renowned experts in this country and in England adopting the
same point of view and standing on their experience of twenty or thirty years. Among these
persons there was one who made up for his lack of practice in prophesying by the confidence
and insistence with which he obtruded his prophesies, and he was I.
And, after all, poor, slighted little Cornell, with her unconsidered crew, came bashfully to the
most remote and cold-shouldered of the three stakeboats, and didn’t do a thing but win the
race, with so little seeming effort that one could hardly believe she wasn’t rowing in a steam
launch, and by such a wide margin that it was difficult to see her and her haughty rivals, who
were staggering and fainting in her wake, in the same glance.
In an effort to improve the art of oarsmanship in this country, Harvard had imported an English
with a lifetime of the best sort of practical experience in both rowing and teaching how to
row...Nearly one hundred thousand persons leave their homes and business on one of the
hottest days of the years to travel to Poughkeepsie and stand or sit broiling in an equatorial
sun for hours and hours, and at last, in a little over twenty minutes, who shall appear at the
finish but Mr. Courtney’s collection of undersized oar jerkers and pull down our who
beautiful palace of air about our ears.

Courtney on His Champion Crew, Famous Coach Lauds the Cornell Eight and Announces
that They Will Stick to the American Stroke,
said The Evening Telegram of June 26, 1897
Courtney said he
never for one minute doubted that the Cornell crew would win the race. The Cornell men
are not boasters. For this reason, our performance to-day may have been somewhat of a
surprise. I have yet to see a crew that I think can beat the Cornell eight without using their
legs. I never saw a crew come out of a race so fresh as the Cornell men did when they
stepped out of their shell today. The beauty about our men is that they can always be
depended on. They do not have off days...At no time in to-day’s race did the stroke go above
Julian Hawthorne,
Victory for the American Stroke! Cornell and Courtney Achieve a
Complete Triumph Over Harvard and Yale,
New York Journal, June 26, 1897 (page 1).
Page -72-

thirty-three. The boys needed a little urging to keep them in the lead after they had once
gained the lead.
So far as the English stroke is concerned, I do not care to make any
comments, but our men will stick to their old stroke and go on training just as they
have in the past.
(Emphasis in original).
One newspaper chided Yale and Harvard for their arrogant attitude to the country school
from New York that was not in their league,
Aquatic Brahminism Done For.
Cornell’s victory must be acknowledged as the most signal one of rowing annals...How [the
chance to row against Yale and Harvard] was seized is one - and perhaps the most
remarkable - of the triumphant surprises of amateur sport. With a light and hastily, if not ill,
assorted crew, rowing a stroke at which the experts of aquatics first shook their heads and
then averted them, she has defeated with ease her great rivals on an occasion to which both
had been brought in the pink of perfection by the highest coaching authorities of the new and
old worlds. Cornell has not only beaten Yale and Harvard. She did that years ago. She has
beaten the Cook stroke and she has beaten the Lehmann stroke in their latest model and
highest stage of development. She has done so out of pure native pluck, vim and attention
to the business in hand.
We may after this hear more of the silly New Haven talk of “rowing in our own class,” and
the foolish New Haven practice of crossing the ocean for a race rather than enter a general
American competition. But the one will sound foolish and the other seem intensely
ridiculous even to those who have hitherto sought to Brahminize this sport and make it a
sacred New England function, to be practiced only on the consecrated bosoms of the Thames
and Connecticut. From yesterday the races rowed between colleges that “decline to row
Cornell” or decline to follow Cornell’s practice of rowing any bona fide college crew which
has rowed itself into Cornell’s class, will be of interest only to the graduates and
undergraduates of the declinatory colleges in question.
Courtney is the Man of the Hour
said the New York Herald of June 27, 1897
Cornell’s “Splendid victory,” Courtney took his crew out the next day for a row, which was his
normal practice. The paper tried to make sense of Cornell’s surprising victory, and reflected on the
implications of the race for the three schools involved.
There is but one conclusion among those who have followed Courney’s work with Cornell
on the Hudson this year. It is that he threw everyone off the scent. He had a fast eight and
he knew it. He had them developed before they left Ithaca. He never rowed them in practice
her for what they were worth. The result was that even the coaches of the other crews had
no idea of Cornell’s power or speed.
Page -73-

Courtney’s victory made him stronger than ever at Cornell, and the school’s boating policy will
remain unchanged. Harvard will likely give Lehmann, who is a “born fighter,” another chance to
create a winning crew. The race referee believed that Harvard’s hard body swing killed the crew’s
chances. Yale has had enough of English rowing. All are unanimous in concluding the Cook made
a mistake in changing his stroke this year. The hard body swing of the English stroke put too much
strain on the abdominal muscles for the Yale crew to stand. “Many believe that Yale would have
been better off had she never experimented with the English stroke,” and it was likely that the school
wold go back to the old Cook stroke.
After the race, A.H.C. Mitchell, the sports writer for the New York Journal, visited the
Cornell crew quarters to learn more about the make up of its victorious crew, and see if the rumor
is true that they were sons of farmers who entered college to take a course in agriculture or become
a member of the far-famed Cornell crew..
I talked with Odell, who rowed No. 5 in the winning crew of yesterday. Odell said he did
not believe any of the students had any idea of “making the crew” when they selected Cornell
as their fount of knowledge, and that as far as the agricultural course was concerned, he
thought that cut little ice with the farmer’s sons. He thought that, generally speaking, many
New York State men chose Cornell because of the State scholarships, whereby free tuition
is provided by the State of New York. That’s why he, for one, went there, he said. The men
from other States, he thought, were attracted by the excellence of the engineering courses.
Once a young men became a student at Cornell he found the sporting sentiment inclined to
rowing. Aquatic successes in the past had much to do with it. When the call for crew
candidates is issued, there is always a great turn out of would-be crew men.
Students answer the call - big men, little men, fat men, lean men, men with ingrowing chests
and men with aldermanic stomachs. A lot of a vast majority are weeded out because of
physical unfitness. These unsuccessful candidates spend the rest of the year in watching the
crew men at practice and in making sage remarks about the sport of rowing.
Four of the eight members of the Cornell were sons of farmers, but Cornell’s agricultural course “has
Page -74-

no charms for them.” “Odell’s father is a farmer, too, but Odell’s ambition turns to legal fame. His
home is in Baldwinsville, N.Y., and he went to Cornell because the university was better known to
him than the other great institutions of learning, and considers it more desirable than the others.”
None of the other members planned to be farmers, and many were studying engineering.
Courtney and the sportswriters were especially complementary to the Cornell stroke,
Frederick Briggs, who had only rowed with the winning Cornell boat for three weeks. Courtney said
while Briggs “is a mere midget in size, his muscular development is wonderful, and he has become
absolutely proficient in my method.” Briggs followed the coach’s race instructions perfectly, “not
only winning the race but bringing his men in at the finish as fresh as daisies.”

The New York World of June 26, 1897, published an article about Briggs,
A Remarkable
Oarsman, Cornell’s Stoke, Briggs, is One of the Most Wonderful Men in College Aquatic Sports.
Briggs was called “that marvelous little fellow of five foot six, just as tall as his own coxswain and
very little heavier.” Briggs was only five feet six inches tall and weighed 134 pounds, but he had
an ability to lead far larger oarsmen, and
certainly his equal has never been seen in America....When Briggs slides forward to catch
the water with his blade of his oar you think he is going to fly right over the coxswain’s head.
When he slides up for a stroke, he doubles up into such a small knot that you say he could
easily be put into a gunny sack...Everything about the little man indicates grit and staying
power in the highest degree.”

Briggs started the 1897 race weighing 132 pounds, and after the four-miles were completed, he
weighed 124 1/4 pounds. “To burn up seven and three quarters pounds of tissue in a race would be
A.H.C. Mitchell,
Personnel of Cornell Crew,
New York Journal, June 27, 1897 (page

Courtney Tells How He Did It, the Hero of the Hour Says Lean Men are Better than
Fat Ones, Must Be Uniform in Size.
The New York World, June 27, 1897 (page 1).
Page -75-

F.A. Briggs, Cornell’s Wonderful “Little Stroke” demonstrating
the Courtney stroke. The New York World, June 27, 1897, page 1.
Cornell stroke Frederick Briggs, 5
foot 7 inches and 134 pounds, a
remarkable oarsman, whose equal has
never been seen by Americans. New
York World, June 27, 1897.
F.A. Briggs, NY Journal,
6-26-97, page 1.
a wonderful thing in a big fellow of 175 pounds; in a little 132 pounder, it was no less than


A Remarkable Oarsman, Cornell’s Stoke, Briggs, is One of the Most Wonderful Men in
College Aquatic Sports,
New York World, June 26, 1897 (page 3 7).
Page -76-

Another member of the Cornell crew that received attention after the race was F. P. Colson,
the coxswain. The New York Tribune of July 4, 1897, published a story,
The Coxswain’s Hard
that included Colson’s picture. Coxswains are the Field Captains of the race, steering a
straight course, directing the actions of the crew, calling out the stroke rate, and establishing the
rhythm of the boat. Colson had coxed the Cornell boat that competed in England, the crew that won
the IRA Regatta in 1896, and led the school’s crews to its successes in 1897.
Page -77-

The newspapers that provided extensive coverage of the iconic 1897 race, published
numerous sketches made by their artists of the crews, the race, and the spectators who watched from
every available vantage point.
The Evening Telegram of June 27, 1897, published individual sketches of each of the
Cornell rowers, a sketch of Cornell’s boat, and one of Coach Courtney.
Page -78-

Coach Courtney
The New York World, Brooklyn Edition, of June 26, 1897, published sketches of Coach
Courtney, the Cornell crew rowing and individual ones of the rowers, and several others.

Page -79-

Cornell crew, NY Journal, June 26, 1897. Mark Odell is the fourth person from
the right.
The New York Journal of June 26, 1897, published a large number of sketches of the race
in their regular edition and a special race edition. In their sketch of the Cornell crew below, Mark
Odell is in seat No. 5, the fourth person from the right side of the picture.
Page -80-

Crowd watching the race from shore, NY Journal June 26, 1897.
Page -81-

Spectators watching the race from shore.
View toward bridge & finish line.
Page -82-

Yachting parties watching Cornell beat Yale & Harvard, 1897.
Cartoon spoofing the English stroke.

Page -83-

Celebration and Acclaim after the Race
The celebration of Cornell’s victory was loud and widespread, the Big Red being the favorite
of the people of Poughkeepsie, according to the Cornell Sun of June 26, 1897.
Not only did Cornell students rejoice in large measure, but the whole city joined in the
celebration. Man, woman and child displayed the enthusiasm of the most loyal Cornellian;
indeed Poughkeepsie seemed to be nothing less than an annex to Cornell last night. As soon
as the Cornell delegation could get across the river, hundreds of them formed in line behind
a brass band and with flying colors marched up Main Street proclaiming the victory of their
eight...The good old old slogan: “Cornell I yell, yell, yell, Cornell,” was repeated so many
times that this morning, in all corners of the town, the walls are resounding the echoes, and
we hear nothing but “Cornell, I yell, yell, yell, Cornell.”
The Evening Telegram of June 26, 1897, announced the results of the three-way regatta with
several stories on its front page,
Ithacans in a Delirium of Jubilation, Cornell Boys Celebrate Their
Victory by Overturning all the Quietude of the Peaceful Village of Poughkeepsie, Saloons Do Great
Police Arrest Many Crooks.
Not a Yale man showed his face near the procession of Cornell boomers...Not a Harvard man
was to be found throughout the length and breadth of Poughkeepsie. Not a color was to be
seen except the combination of red and white...Not a man was to be found who hadn’t been
sure for months that the race would result exactly as it did result. Not an expert was to be
seen who could not explain to you just why he had thought Cornell would win, and then tell
you of the unfortunate combination of circumstances which had induced him to take the
opinion of some one else and predict the overwhelming defeat of the Ithicans.
“Harvard and Yale men were not much in evidence last evening...The blow to Yale is severe, and
the town, or that portion of it which has an interest in university affairs, is crestfallen.”

Cornell’s surprising victory overwhelmed the school’s loyal supporters who had cheered the
crew to victory, as Odell described on Cornell Era.
Later when we got to the quarters old men with whiskers crowded around and hugged us.

Harvard and Yale Men Scarce, & Yale Amazed at the Result,
New York Tribune, June
26, 1897 (page 2).
Page -84-

One of our most staid professors embraced the coxswain and actually kissed him. Old
alumni came around with tears of joy in their eyes, and voices husky with the feeling as well
as cheering, and thanked us over and over again.
However, the winning Cornell crew did not partake in the wild celebrations. “There were
lively times here to-night. The Cornell crew did not participate. They took their refuge from their
admirers aboard J.H. Ballantine’s yacht, the Juanita, for they are to row Pennsylvania and Columbia
next week, and must not break training yet.”
The Cornell crew celebrated its victory in a modest
manner, according to Odell in Cornell Era.
Training was broken with no loud or resonant crack, but in quite an orderly manner. Long,
fat cigars and an old, much caressed pipe or two appeared mysteriously before collars or
shoes. The long forbidden plunge in the river was enjoyed and long, deep drinks were taken
from the barrel of Ithaca water.

Virtually every New York newspaper carried an article about the race. The New York World
of June 26, 1897, described Cornell’s victory in lyric terms:
The race resulted in a triumph of brain and soul and spirit over brute muscle. It raises the
question whether such athletic sport as this is not a fitting part of a college education –
whether it does not broaden the mind and ennoble the spirit as much as Greek and Latin do.
This description is echoed by Odell’s brief summary of the winning effort in Cornell Era: “[t]he race
was a combination of mental and muscular application.” Odell captured the tenor of the extensive
press coverage of the race
The news stand at the station had reaped a harvest that morning, and for some miles all was
quiet in the car while we read in those great metropolitan dailies that see all and know all,
just how we did it, and like a revelation it came to Cornell was the greatest and
most glorious institution in the country, and Charles E. Courtney the greatest coach that ever
yelled through a megaphone, which we had known all along.

Bedlam Let Loose Last Night,
New York Tribune, June 26, 1897.
Page -85-

Betting was a significant part of the rowing world in the 1890s, and this race was no
exception. Before the race started, The New York World of June 24, 1897, said that $25,000 had
been bet on the upcoming event. The largest bet was $500 that Cornell would win, “there were
numerous $100 bets, and $5 wagers were flying around like leaves in the fall...This does not
represent by any means the amount of money wagered on the race, as betting men were to-day
betting all over the country. It is safe to say that at least $25,000 changed hands.” An article in the
New York Times
written after the race referred to rowing’s betting connections.
Once more this week things have been chosen to confound the mighty and the wise have
been put to shame by the simple. All persons learned in rowing were agreed yesterday
morning that, though they could not with any confidence pick the winner, they could pick the
loser, and that the loser would be Cornell. No human person will wish to add a pang to the
remorse which these expert persons now feel – especially if their money sustained their
judgement – in remarking that Cornell was never headed from start to finish, that her lead
was never really challenged, and that she finished three lengths ahead of the second boat.
It is true that it was a close and hard race. But that fact brings no comfort at all to the
instructed and deluded prophets.
In spite its loss, Yale was highly complimentary to Cornell. Yale’s coach, Bob Cook, said
“it was, with the exception of Henley, the first real race Yale had rowed in for ten years, and that it
was a contest in which Yale might well feel proud to have come in second.”
His thoughts were
echoed in post-race comments made by several Yale rowers.
Yale rowed a magnificent race, and did better than she has ever done in practice...The men
were in perfect physical condition, and stood the strain splendidly...It was a good, fair race,
and Cornell merited her victory...It was a perfectly fair race, and the best crew won...I was
very much surprised to find so much endurance in Cornell’s crew, which is twelve pounds
to the man lighter than Yale. Cornell’s style of stroke proved the best.
Cook and his crew made a number of other comments when interviewed at the train station as they
left for home. “Cornell had the better crew...Lehman is in the soup. We thought we held Cornell

Cornell Navy,
page 40
Page -86-

safe. It was Harvard we feared...In my opinion the English stroke, of which so much has been said,
does not give the oarsman a fair chance to catch his breath between strokes.” Harvard’s coach
Lehmann, said his crew “went stale,” and “did not row my stroke after the first mile, but ran away
with things.”
The Cornell Sun of June 26, 1897, described the background and experience of each of the
winning Cornell rowers, including Odell.
Stroke, Frederick Briggs, ‘98, stroked the ‘95 Freshman crew, and the Varsity crew at
Poughkeepsie in ‘96.
No. 7, Edward Jones, ‘98, captain & bow of Freshman crew.
No. 6, Captain Edward Spillman, ‘97, rowed on his Freshman crew, No. 2 on Cornell’s
Henley crew, and No. 6 in the ‘96 Poughkeepsie crew.
No. 5, Mark M. Odell, ‘97, Baldwinsville, N.Y. Prepared for college at the Baldwinsville
Academy. ‘86 Memorial speaker; Woodford prize stage in oratory. Rowed No. 5 in winning
Annapolis crew.
No. 4, Asa Carlton, ‘98, rowed on his Freshman crew, and No. 4 on the ‘97 Annapolis crew.
No. 3, Samuel Wakeman, ‘99, captain of ‘96 Freshman crew, rowed No. 3 on ‘97 Annapolis
No. 3, Clarence Moore, ‘98, rowed on his Freshman crew, and ‘96 Poughkeepsie crew.
Bow, Wilton Bentley, ‘98, rowed in the Henley Varsity as a freshman, and in the ‘96
Poughkeepsie crew.
Cox, Fredrick Colson, ‘97, cox of his Freshman crew, the Henley crew, and ‘96
Poughkeepsie crew. “He is the best coxswain Cornell ever had.”
Cornell Sun of June 26, 1897;
And it Was Cornell,
New York World
edition, June 26, 1897 (page one);
Lehmann Says Harvard Went Stale,
New York Tribune, June
26, 1897 (page 2).
Page -87-

1897 IRA Regatta Against Columbia and Pennsylvania
The day after Cornell’s race against Yale and Harvard, nearly all the participants and thousands
of spectators had left Poughkeepsie, but Cornell’s crew had to stay to train for one more race, the
IRA Regatta against Pennsylvania and Columbia. “The Cornell crews, however, have but begun
their work, and last night’s celebration did not include the occupants of the Hick’s mansion. The
Pennsylvania - Columbia - Cornell races next week have been all but overlooked during the
excitement of the present week.”
No Let Up for Cornell,
said The World, as spectators and the
flotilla of yachts and steamers left Poughkeepsie, Pennsylvania “wore a worried look,” and Columbia
was “figuring up on their toes how many lengths behind she could manage to come in.” Coach
Courtney said his crew would do very little work the coming week after their hard work against Yale
and Harvard.
This regatta played second fiddle to the prior week’s three way race involving Cornell, Yale
and Harvard, the country’s three strongest crews. That regatta received most of the publicity, and
the IRA race got much less coverage from the popular press. The New York Tribune of June 27,
1897 (page 27) did publish pictures of the Columbia and Pennsylvania crews.
Cornell Sun, June 26, 1897;
No Let Up for Cornell,
New York World, June 27.
Page -88-

On July 30, 1897, two races took place in the IRA Regatta at Poughkeepsie. In the first race,
Cornell’s freshman crew beat the Penn freshman by 3/4 of a length, and Columbia by one length, “in
a terrific struggle” for a second Big Red victory. The New York Herald of July 1, 1897, said
VICTORY AGAIN FOR CORNELL, With Slow and Steady Stroke Her Freshmen Lead out Columbia
Page -89-

New York World, July 1, 1897, page 5.
by Almost a Length, No Spurt Was Noticeable, Closest Race of its Kind Ever Rowed in American
Waters Has an Exciting Finish.
“It was fast, plucky race, hotly contested from the start...Nothing
more exciting than the last half mile can be imagined.”
The end of the freshmen race was described in the Cornell Sun of July 1, 1897.
The Ithacans were rowing thirty-two strokes to the minute and their shell was leaping
forward in wonderful style at every stroke. They were increasing their lead inch by inch, and
as they shot across the finish line they were exactly one length in front of Columbia. The
latter, in a grueling dash to the end, beat out the Pennsylvanians by not more than three-
quarters of a length, and then there was the usual noise from whistles, guns and throats...It
may be said that Cornell won by science and superior watermanship.

Page -90-

The second race of the day pitted Cornell’s Varsity boat against those of Columbia and
Pennsylvania. Before the race, the Cornell Sun said:
This event will wind up the college shell game that has been going on all month. Courtney
said tonight “the Cornell crew will row in the same order they did in last week’s race. The
men are in splendid condition - if anything, better than they were when they defeated Yale
and Harvard. In last evening’s practice they rowed as well as I ever say any Cornell crew
row.” Courtney was very cheerful and the oarsmen were cheerful. It is easy to see that they
are confident of winning the race, although you could not get them to say so. Modest always
are Cornell’s oarsmen.
In the final event of the IRA Regatta of 1897, Cornell’s varsity eight beat Columbia and
Pennsylvania in a race made controversial because of the referees’ decision to run it in rough water
over objections from all the coaches. The New York Journal of July 3, 1937, said
Demonstrates Her Supremacy in Rowing at Poughkeepsie, Columbia Was Beaten by Ten Lengths
and Pennsylvania’s Crew Couldn’t Finish.
“Cornell won. Columbia second, about ten lengths to
the rear. Pennsylvania floundered just after passing the two-mile mark.”
The race was rowed in water so rough that Captain Spillman of the Cornell crew said “the
race was a mistake.” Sports writer A.H.C. Mitchell said the water “was entirely too rough for the
shells to negotiate,” and Coach Courtney said race was unsatisfactory, should not have been rowed,
and the referee blundered in ordering the race to be rowed in the rough water. The water was made
even worse by a steamship that went through the course before the race began, spreading rollers all
over. Cornell had an advantage because it had spray boards around its shell and a pump in the boat,
while Pennsylvania only had spray guards over their out-riggers, which were placed lower than those
on the other boats. The Pennsylvania boat swamped during race and had to stop rowing, but turned
down Cornell’s offer to run the race again.
Once again, the Courtney stroke proved to be more efficient than that used by its competitors,
Page -91-

The New York World, July 1, 1897.
leading to a decisive second victory for the crew of 1897.
Cornell has ended the rowing year by putting in the last stroke which secures to her the
supremacy of the water. And she did it to-day in the same decisive manner as on last Friday,
starting deliberately and keeping to the same, long smooth swing from start to finish, with
The smooth, wheel-like movement of Cornell was lacking in the New York boat, and the
different parts of the stroke were made with too much labor. The aim of the Cornell men is
to execute each part of the stroke with the least possible labor, reserving the great effort for
one part only, viz. The actual heave on the oar when the blade is in the water. This end is
held in view when the rigging is arranged as well as when the style of stroke is taught, and
it is plain to be seen that this economizes muscular force to a very great degree. This has
made Cornell show the greatest lasting power in both university races.

Cornell Demonstrates Her Supremacy in Rowing at Poughkeepsie, Columbia Was
Beaten by Ten Lengths and Pennsylvania’s Crew Couldn’t Finish
, New York Journal, July 3,
1937 (page 14).
Page -92-

New York Journal, July 3, 1897, page 14.
Both of the Poughkeepsie races in 1897, were four mile courses. The New York Journal
supported Coach Courtney’s suggestion that in the future, varsity races should be limited to three
miles. “Why should American college men row four-mile races merely because the distance from
Putney to Mortlake, on the Thames, is four miles and a furlong? It is another English idea that our
oarsmen can leave to professionals.” We should run races to “suit ourselves rather than to imitate
our English cousins.” The newspaper concluded that “[i]n her class of amateur rowing in this land,
[Cornell’s] position is unquestionable...Only a few weeks ago, men who misrepresent the rowing
interests of Harvard and Yale sneeringly said, ‘Cornell is not in our class!’ Ah! Indeed? What is the
Page -93-

class those scoffers represent to-day?” The paper also reported that preparation was being made in
Ithaca for a celebration to welcome the victorious Cornell crew back home.
Crew’s Ride Back to Ithaca After the Races
School pride ran deep. On the victory ride home on the train the day after the last race, Odell
described how the 1897 crew was welcomed by a member of Cornell’s crew of 1876, and how
Cornell’s victory inspired others, in
Cornell Era
Dr. Jarvis of the famous crew of ‘76, fluttered the faded old banner which had waved in
triumph when that crew returned to Ithaca from the triple victory at Saratoga. Sacred was
that old flag in our eyes and proud we were to grasp the hand of the valiant old oarsman who
had cherished it all these years...
Near Utica a baseball team boarded the train for a nearby town. Before leaving at their
destination, they begged that they might be given the Cornell yell as a final encouragement
before they met their enemy. This was finally given as they piled off, and they marched away
with renewed confidence in their victory.
The victorious crew anxiously looked forward to the train’s arrival at their beloved Ithaca,
which Odell described as “the most loyal college town on earth, where feuds between campus and
the city are unknown, and where town and gown lock arms and march up the street of brotherly love
blowing great blasts of joy through the same tin horn.” Id. When the train reached Ithaca, the crew
was greeted as conquering heros, like Roman legions returning to Rome after a battle, according to
Odell in Cornell Era.
The story of the return of the crews from Poughkeepsie to Ithaca is a tale of hope long
deferred....[W]e steamed on towards this ever loyal, wildly rejoicing, loudly yelling, horn
blowing, brilliantly lighted, ribbon-bedecked city of Ithaca, whose week of madness closed

Cornell Demonstrates Her Supremacy in Rowing at Poughkeepsie, Columbia Was
Beaten by Ten Lengths and Pennsylvania’s Crew Couldn’t Finish
, New York Journal, July 3,
1937 (page 14).
Page -94-

that Saturday night in a tumultuous frenzy....
As we rounded the bend of the lake shore, the lights of Renwick twinkled a welcome; the
rails for a half a mile through the city cracked their greeting with torpedo explosions; and as
we drew up at the foot of Seneca street and stepped out upon the float proudly conscious of
our new crew coats and dinky red caps, the whole city was shining with a brightness of its
own, and from the multitude assembled there, a roar went up that died away only to catch its
breath and roll out with increasing force on that long ride we took propelled by human
A double train of fire works had been lain along the whole route. Touched off as we started,
it blazed forth along our path with a dazzling brilliancy, with colors red, blue, green , white
and yellow, with sparks dangerous and Roman candles uncomfortably aimed....[We went]
up Seneca to Albany, Albany to State, State to Aurora, Aurora to Farm, Farm to Cayuga,
Cayuga to the Lyceum, where the banquet was given. The banquet! What recollections we
have of that pleasant ending to the reception. How tickled we were over some of the sallies
of our dignified president of the Athletic Council!
Cornell’s 1897 wins at Poughkeepsie not only established the school as a rowing power, but
it proved that the “American stroke” developed by Coach Courtney for the Cornell Navy was
superior to the “English stroke” used by both Yale and Harvard. The race established Coach
Courtney as a rowing genius. The same writers who had dismissed Cornell’s chances and criticized
its unusual rowing technique the day before, all of a sudden were instant experts on and cheerleaders
for Courtney’s miraculous and innovative stroke which represented the future of rowing.
New York World
reported on June 26, 1897, “ was the American stroke that won
against the Lehmann English and the Cook modified English stroke.” The
Rochester Democrat and
of June 26, 1897, concluded: “[t]he English stroke taught by Lehmann proved to be
exhausting and far less effective than the steady rhythmic motion taught by Courney.”
Page -95-

The New York Press
With a light and hastily, if not ill, assorted crew, rowing a stroke at which the experts of
aquatics first shook their heads and then averted them, she has defeated with ease her great
rivals on an occasion to which both had been brought in the pink or perfection by the highest
coaching authorities of the new and old worlds. Cornell had not only beaten Yale and
Harvard... She has beaten the Cook stroke and she has beaten the Lehmann stroke in their
latest model and highest stage of development. She has done so out of pure native pluck,
vim and attention to the business at hand.
New York Herald
chimed in saying:
There is no moral to be drawn from the result, so far as the race afforded a test of the relative
value of the doctrines of Mr. Cook or Mr. Lehman. The pupils of both were beaten by a set
of up-country youngsters who pulled in a style that has been condemned by all the great
rowing authorities of the world, but was singularly useful yesterday....; let’s throw moralizing
to the winds and in sportsmanlike spirit hail the victors and the Courtney stroke with
generous acclamation, assuring the winners that, whatever way we bet, we all ”Yell -
Cornell” and hurrah for the boys from Ithaca.

Victory for the American Stroke! Cornell and Courtney Achieve a Complete Triumph Over
Harvard and Yale,
announced the New York Journal of June 26, 1897, in an article written by one
of the learned sports writers who had predicted that Cornell had no chance to win the race the day
before - Julian Hawthorne.
Americans not bound by ties of sentiment to either of the contesting colleges in yesterday’s
regatta at Poughkeepsie will find a certain patriotic satisfaction in the outcome. Cornell was
clearly the most typical American crew. It had made, indeed, as all American crews have,
certain adaptations from the English stroke, but to a less degree than either of its rivals. In
the rigging of its boat and the seating of the crew Cornell adhered strictly to the American
system, and good judges ascribe its success in great part to this fact.
Casper Whitney had high praise for the Courtney stroke, in Harpers Magazine:
At no time was there sufficient reason for the supreme confidence which before the race
adjudged either Harvard or Yale the winner and entirely ignored Cornell. Prejudice for the
‘beef’ in the boat and for the rowing fad of the year (the extreme English swing) blinded old
Page -96-

The New York World, June 26, 1897, page 1.
college oarsmen to the subtle efficacy of that uninterrupted gliding between strokes of the
Cornell boat, caused by the modified back swing, a magnificent leg drive, and a wonderfully
smooth recovery. Many reasons have been advanced to explain Cornell’s present crew
defeating this year’s Oxford eight, or any average English Varsity eight. In my opinion the
‘97 Cornell crew could not be beaten except by eight stronger, better oarsmen pulling the
same stroke they employed this year.
Disclaiming honors for developing the winning method of rowing, the “Old Man”modestly
insisted there was no such a thing as a “Courtney stroke.”
The only stroke that wins is the ‘hard pull’ stroke, where every man pulls each stroke steady
and hard throughout, and continues to do so from the time the word ‘Go’ is given until the
course is covered.
Page -97-

However, Courtney recognized differences between the American and English strokes.
The essential difference between the American and English strokes dates back to the time
when sliding seats were invented. In the old days of the fixed seat the general formula for
fast rowing was the same on both sides of the water. When the advantage of the new
invention was recognized, the tendency in American was to make the sliding seat the basis
of a new stroke. The English added the new feature to the old swing of the fixed seat. In this
country, the mechanical possibilities of the slide are used to a greater extent, in my opinion.
Certainly, the American stroke, if it can be called that, requires a much shorter
apprenticeship, and with the rowing career condensed into the four years of an undergraduate
course, there probably would not be sufficient time to develop the greatest efficiency in the
English style.

Rowing analysts differed with Courtney’s humble statement, and recognized that he had
developed a unique and successful new stroke.
The stroke taught by Mr. Courtney was distinctively his own, and was never changed in any
essential respects throughout his career....The stroke was modified from time to time in
certain respects, but there was still the same straight back, the same leg drive, the same quick
recovery of the arms and sneaking back of the slide, and no one who has seen the
exaggerated swing of the English stroke, with its reliance on body and arms, would be
inclined to say that one was a copy of the other.
Courtney Describes his Approach to Coaching
The New York World of June 27, 1897, carried an interview of Courtney in which he
described his coaching approach, entitled
Courtney Tells How He Did It.

Charles Courtney, the man who coached Cornell’s crew to victory, is the hero of the hour.
He had defeated the combined skill and experience of the two foremost rowing coaches in
the world - Lehmann and Cook. The fact that he is a professional and does it for money has
been thrown in his face. Mr. Courtney does not deny that he is making an honest living.
Courtney was asked how he won the race, and he divided his answer into several parts. It starts with
proper selection of the rowers.

Courtney and Cornell Rowing

Courtney and Cornell Rowing
Page -98-

The first necessary quality to a winning crew is the right material, and just here is where I
seem to differ from the gentlemen who coached the other crews. I believe in middle-sized
men, well put together, who can grasp the meaning of my teachings and put into execution
accurately. The man who weighs 190 pounds has got to pull 190 pounds through the water
before he is helping the boat. I, therefore, favor less weight, but greater strength for the size.
When once you have chosen a certain number of men of the same physical standard, it is
impossible to put in a man above or below the standard, as it breaks the regularity of the
boat; in other words, the boat, the crew should be as nearly of the same size as possible...
Courtney’s approach to training differed from that of other coaches.
The training that the men are put through differs somewhat from the usual methods as
pursued in other colleges. I do not give the men long runs, but do practically all the work
with them in the boat. The amount of work done is, I think, less than that of any other eight-
oared crew. My record book for March, for instance, averages twenty minutes per day of
practice on the water...
The stroke used by Courtney crews was carefully thought out.
To state the difference of my stroke over that of my rivals would hardly be a courteous act,
but the main feature of my system is to combine the power of the back and the legs. I cannot
see why so much time and effort are spent upon the shoulders, in detriment to the power that
can be derived from the use of the legs. The strongest stroke with an oar is made when every
muscle in the body that can be used with benefit. The legs are the most powerful of the
physical make-up, for the reason that they are used the most, and in my teaching, I lay great
stress upon the kick.
Another important point is the bevel of the oar upon the catch. I figure that it is almost
impossible to put an oar in the water at the perpendicular when the boat is moving without
splashing or without a tendency of hitting the back, which means a hindrance to the speed.
I noticed yesterday that the Cornell boat moved between us through the water. By that I
mean that there was no drag between strokes. I say this in all modesty, for the facts have
been plainly observed by all who watched the race. I lay this to beveling of the oars and the
recovery. My men recover very quickly and shoot the oars out from their bodies like piston
Courtney said he had seen Harvard row and “did not consider her a factor in the race.” He
respected Lehmann, but considered “it a herculean task to teach men a new style successfully in a
year.” He was afraid of Yale, having watched her course, and considered her to be “on even terms”
with Cornell before the race, particularly after the Pennsylvania coach told him that he thought Yale
Page -99-

would win. However, Yale lacked the necessary stamina to keep up in the race. “Of course, I
realized what victory meant to Cornell. My remark to the men as they entered their shell seems to
me to tell the story. It was Cornell or nothing...This year was the crucial test...I cannot be too
thankful that we won the race.” Courtney was willing to go back to England to compete, and
believed that “a good crew from either Harvard or Cornell would meet with success over there.”
Courtney’s approach coaching shows clear thought about each part of the stroke. Courtney
taught that when taking the water,
the blade should not be dropped in at a perfect right angle, but should be inclined just a trifle,
so that it will enter the water easily and cleanly, scoop fashion...The important part is to get
the blade into the water cleanly, and keep it covered but not to sink it too deeply... When the
stroke is finished, the hands should be dropped sharply in the lap, the blades of the oars
coming clearly out of the water at right angles to it, and the arms shooting quickly forward
as quickly as possible for another stroke...
Summed up, then, the oarsman should have his oar in the water as long as possible, and the
least possible time in the air. He should never overreach, and should be equally careful to
avoid going back too far at the end of the stroke. He should catch the water firmly with the
blades slightly inclined (a difficult thing to teach a crew, however), and should pull the stroke
through from beginning to end, bringing the blades cleanly out of the water at right angles
and with a snap. Don’t hang when the stroke is finished, but let the hands drop and shoot
forward like lightning, the slide following at first quickly but gradually decreasing in speed.
Don’t lose any time in dropping the blades into the water when they are back in position for
the catch. Pull with straight arms until the shoulders are back to the furthest point it is
intended to carry them. Never buckle or slide up to meet the handles of the oars. Avoid
dropping the shoulders and kinking the back. Bend from the hips.
On the recovery, of course, keep the blades as close to the water as practicable without
striking the surface. But above all else, remember that if you desire to make your boat go
fast, you have got to pull like the devil, and never for a moment forget the fact that the
shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

Courtney and Cornell Rowing
Page -100-

Although successful, Courtney continued to be criticized because he had been a professional
rower before Cornell hired him as its crew coach. This patrician attitude was reflected in article that
appeared in the
New York Journal
on June 26, 1897, which lauded Harvard’s coach for his
gentlemanly approach to the sport, even though his crew lost badly to Cornell:
Mr. Lehmann, despite the seemingly disastrous failure of his crew, has done much to put
anew the mark of the gentleman upon college boat racing. His coaching and the practice of
his crew have been open and public. With him has been no ‘jockeying,’ no resort to ignoble
devices, either that opponents might be misled or that the betting odds might be favorably
affected.... But in any event he may carry away with him the certainty that his influence here
has been thoroughly for good and is widely appreciated.
Odell’s 1897 crew has been acclaimed as the team that put Cornell rowing on the map and
made Pop Courtney a legendary figure and a world class, innovative coach. The picture below of
the 1897 crew still hangs on the wall of Cornell’s crew house, a lasting tribute to the “[b]oys whose
faithful training and earnest work, have combined to make Cornell pre-eminent in Intercollegiate
Rowing.” The caption on the picture lists 20:34 as the time for 1897 race at Poughkeepsie. Odell’s
obituary said his Cornell crew held the Poughkeepsie Regatta record for more than 30 years.

Page -101-

Showing how international rowing was in the 1890s, the IRA Regatta of 1897 was carefully
followed in England, since Yale’s coach was English and Harvard’s coach learned his techniques
there. The following picture appeared in the Sketch, an English magazine, in summer of 1897, and
shows the Cornell, Yale and Harvard shells on the Poughkeepsie.
Page -102-

Each of the members of Cornell’s 1897 crew, including the coxswain, was awarded a silver
cup individually designed. Pictures of Odell’s cup appear below, which is still in the family. The
cup mentions the Poughkeepsie race, the participants (Cornell, Harvard and Yale), the winning time,
and says “No. 5, M.M. Odell.”
Page -103-

Celebrations Continued after the 1897 Race

- Odell Feted on Return to Baldwinsville
Mark Odell graduated from Cornell in June 1897, with a Bachelor of Letters degree, although
he had taken specialized training in surveying taught by the school of engineering one summer,
training which he used later in his career. In 1896, Cornell reorganized into separate colleges, with
Cornell becoming a university. The class of 1897 was the first to graduate under the new regime.
He and his best friend, Ellis Aldridch, entered Cornell’s law school in the fall of 1897.
Odell gained significant notoriety from the 1897 race. He wrote articles about the race for
his hometown newspaper in Baldwinsville, and a long description,
Story of the Race and Return to
, which was published in
Cornell Era
in the fall of 1897.
Page -104-

Baldwinsville Gazette, July 1, 1887
The Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal of July 1, 1897, published a letter written by Odell
describing the race, together with a sketch of him, saying Baldwinsville “had the honor to be
represented in the winning Cornell Varsity crew at Poughkeepsie last Friday, Mark M. Odell pulled
No. 5 oar. That the community is proud of its
representative is individually understood. The
Gazette’s congratulations are the heartiest.” The
paper published a letter written by Odell that
described the school’s relief at finally being able to
compete against Yale and Harvard, as 25 years had
passed since Cornell beat them on Lake Saratoga
in1875, after which they withdrew from the
competition, and Cornell had been waiting in vein
to get “a whack at them.” He provided a description
of the race that later appeared in his article in
Cornell Era.
The Syracuse Evening Herald of July 7, 1897, reported on Odell’s return home, in an article
Young Odell Honored, Baldwinsville Turned Out with a Band, And Escorted No. 5 of the
Victorious Cornell Crew to a Hotel Where He Was Greeted with Firework and Yell of the Red and
White by his Neighbors.
Odell received a welcome suitable for visiting royalty, showing how closely
the town had followed the crew race.

With typical reserve, Odell said “[c]ontrary to the enthusiastic
imaginings of many of my home Baldwinsville friends, I was not the only one in the crew. There
were seven other oarsmen and a coxswain in the crew which won the race.”
Page -105-

Evening Herald, Syracuse, July 7, 1897, page 6.
Mark M. Odell, who pulled at No. 5 on
the victorious Cornell varsity crew,
returned to his home in Baldwinsville
last evening and was given a grand
welcome home by his enthusiastic
townsmen. The young oarsman
reached Baldwinsville from Ithaca at
9:23 o’clock. He was met at the train
by a large crowd of his townsmen, a
brass band and a drum corps.
A carriage handsomely decorated in
Cornell colors was ready and Odell was
escorted to this and driven through
streets lined with shouting admirers to
the hotel. There was red fire and
fireworks in profusion and the Cornell
yell was given all along the line.
At the hotel, Odell was escorted to the
balcony and addressed the crowd. He
told them of his work and very
modestly related his experiences while
a member of the Cornell varsity crew.
Banquet for Championship Crew October 1897
On October 22, 1897, Cornell’s 1898 crew gave a banquet for “the Champion Crew of ‘97.”
Two hundred people attended, and the Cornell Sun of October 23, announced it was “an unqualified
success.” Five of the eight oarsmen from the 1897 crew attended - those not attending included E.
O. Spillman, E. J. Savage, and Harry L. Taylor. Professor Benjamin Wheeler was the toastmaster.
Professor Huffent spoke of “Cornell’s fair and square dealings in athletic matters and showed how
much it meant to us to be known by our manliness and sportsmanship in that line.” Mr. Colson,
coxswain and captain of the ‘97 crew, appealed for the support of the “crew men for self-denial and
Page -106-

training all through the year.” The banquet closed with “Alma Matter” sung by the crowd. The
following is Odell’s program from the banquet, signed by the attending crew members.
On October 2, 1897, the Cornell Era was published containing a full story of the 1897 IRA
Regatta, including many of the press comments about the race, and a four page article by Mark
The Story of the Race and Return.
The Cornell Sun of October 3, 1897, announced that the
Illustrated American would publish a special 48 page magazine containing over 200 of the best of
the Athletic pictures which appeared in the magazine over the past two years. This would include
pictures of the Cornell, Yale, Harvard, Columbia and Wisconsin crews; Coaches Courtney, Lehmann
and Cook; and Captain Colson of the Cornell Crew. The special edition would cost $ .25.
Page -107-

Yale and Harvard Race Cornell One More Year then Refuse to Race Again
Despite the excitement for the1897 race, hopes that a Cornell, Yale, Harvard race would be
an annual affair were again in doubt. Prior to the race, Yale said it was interested in rowing
exclusively against Harvard in the future. However, Cornell had no interest in rowing exclusively
against those two schools, and was committed to rowing in the annual IRA Regatta against
Columbia, Pennsylvania and possibly the Naval Academy and Wisconsin in 1898.
Sportswriter Caspar Whitney criticized Yale’s attitude in an article published in the Cornell
Cornell’s Championship Crew of 1897. Odell is in the back row, second from the
Page -108-

Sun on July 1, 1897.
The newspaper exploitation of Yale’s opposition to future boat racing with Cornell is not
only premature, but in exceedingly questionable taste. Cornell showed the most
commendable sportsmanship in admitting Yale to the Poughkeepsie race, and it ill becomes
Yale now to give voice to her prejudices so soon after her signal defeat...if dual racing can
be arranged between Yale and Cornell, or Harvard and Cornell, for a series covering several
years, all American sportsmen will be delighted...Meanwhile, we know which university has
developed the fastest crew.
In spite of the initial indecision, in June 1898, Cornell rowed against Harvard and Yale in
June 1898, in New London. Mark Odell, who had rowed in his usual five seat during the year while
he was in Cornell’s law school, did not row again against Yale and Harvard. In March 1898, he and
his best friend, Ellis Aldrich, dropped out of school and left for the Klondike Gold Rush. His
departure was lamented by rowing commentators.
The biggest surprise of the season in Cornell crew matters was the announcement at the
boathouse tonight that Mark M. Odell, No. 5 of the varsity boat has suddenly left the
university to go to the Klondike. Coach Courtney apparently did not like the news a bit.
Odell was one of the strongest men on last year’s victorious crew and Cornell’s coach had
counted upon him for the same position, but is doubtful if as good a man will be found
Cornell lost Mark M. Odell, who pulled No. 5 and it will be a hard matter for Courtney to
replace the young man. Odell did not look like an athlete in his street clothes. He is one of
those quiet, unassuming young fellows with a gait that is next to awkward and a swing to his
limbs tha tmight mark him as a pedestrian. A causal observer would not tht breadth of the
shoulders and comment on them. On unfamiliar with athletes would scarcely take notice of
the deep chest. But stripped, Odell is a different person. The long siege of training he has
undergone at Cornell had made his back a network of muscular tissue, while the muscles of
his arms are like steel cables. Fatigue is almost unknown th the man. He is energetic, quick
to learn, and obeyed instructions.
His loss will be felt. There are many candidates to take his place but Courtney knows that
he cannot duplicate the man he has lost. He may come pretty close to doing so, but the man
who rows No. 5 will not be Odell by any means, and Capt. Colson will know it before that
triangular race is finished at New London. Experience is necessary in a good oarsman. He
must know the rudiments of the art. Odell was the man for No. 5. Who can fill the
Page -109-

At the 1898 three way Regatta, In a repeat of the 1897 race, Cornell beat its two competitors
in a relatively easy manner.
Methodically rowing away from their competitors, Cornell covered the four miles in 23:48,
with Yale three lengths back in second and Harvard trailing by an additional length. The
ease with which Cornell crew appeared to row, and their unlabored two-mile row back to
their boathouse, led many to believe that the margin of victory could have been much greater.
Still desiring a yearly contest between the three schools, perhaps Cornell raced with their
competitor’s dignity in mind.
Showing how connected the world was even in 1898, Odell learned of Cornell’s victory when he was
in Miles Canyon on the Yukon River heading to the Yukon gold fields. Odell’s diary notes that on
July 1, 1898, he “[h]eard of Cornell’s victory over Yale and Harvard,” the 1898 crew following the
tradition begun by the class of 1897.
However, at the 1898 IRA Regatta at Poughkeepsie, Pennsylvania won the varsity race by
three and one half lengths, with Cornell coming in second, beating Columbia by a length, and
Wisconsin third by another length. Pennsylvania won the Varsity Challenge Cup that had been
donated by Dr. Louis Seaman, president of the Cornell Club of New York.

In 1899, Harvard and Yale, perhaps lamenting their two successive losses to Cornell, decided
to focus on rowing against each other and they declined an invitation to compete in the IRA Regatta.
Cornell struggled in the varsity race in 1899, where Pennsylvania won for a second year, Wisconsin
Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal, March 24, 1898.
The Rise of Cornell Rowing,
page 143 - 144.
The Rise of Cornell Rowing,
page 145 - 146.
Page -110-

finished second, Cornell third, and Columbia last.

In a repeat of their actions in 1875 and 1876, Yale and Harvard announced they would not
race against Cornell again, saying they were taking this action “so as not diminish the Harvard-Yale
Regatta.” These two schools continued to take this position until 2003, where after an absence of
over one hundred years, Harvard and Yale returned to the IRA Regatta.
In spite of their failure to win the IRA Regatta for three years after Odell’s crew won it in
1897, Cornell dominated college rowing the next decade, with Courtney’s American stroke
becoming widely copied. In 1912, the President of the National Association of Amateur Oarsmen
noted that the English system of rower development produced rowers who used the same techniques
and stroke, whether they rowed at Oxford, Cambridge or elsewhere, and English “rowers were quite
interchangeable, as their body mechanics were the same.” He proposed that the United States adopt
a similar system of coaching “with Coach Courtney as advisor to all other coaches,” since Cornell
had won 33 our of the 51 Intercollegiate Association titles since 1895. “Courtney would be
appointed general supervising, or advisory coach of college absolute control of the
coaching, [and] the adoption of his system would follow as a matter of act.”

This system was not adopted, although “with many of the most revered coaches of the next
fifty years emerging from the University of Washington, the technique that had produced many
The Rise of Cornell Rowing,
page 151 - 153.
The Rise of Cornell Rowing,
pages 139, 144 - 146. Intercollegiate Rowing
The Rise of Cornell Rowing,
pages 246, 247.
Page -111-

champion crews for Washington took hold” and influenced rowing program all over the country.
As discussed later, rowing analyst Peter Mallory, in his seminal book on rowing history,
The Sport
of Rowing, Two Centuries of Competition
, concluded that the Washington stroke (known as the
Conibear stroke after its famous coach Hiram Conibear) was based on the stroke that Courtney
taught at Cornell, which had been brought to Washington by ex-Cornell oarsman Mark Odell. Odell
was the UW rowing coach in 1906, and he continued to participate in the school’s rowing program
for the next two decades after Conibear was hired in 1907.

Courtney’s crews won 13 of 23 IRA championships, took second six times, and third four
times, establishing a record that has never been equaled by any other coach. His crews won 98 out
of 146 races, sweeping regattas seven times. Between 1909 and 1912, his crews won four national
championships in a row. Courtney’s record of four consecutive national championships was broken
by Michael Callahan, coach of the University of Washington crew, when his crew won its fifth
consecutive national championship in 2015. Courtney believed in the moral as well as the physical
value of rowing. “There are two elements to a contest with oars over a measured course - the mental
and physical.” He believed that rowing was not only one of the best body developers, but
from the moral point of view there was no branch of athletics which was such a character
builder as trying for a place in an eight-oared shell. The long period of training offers little
to the flabby type of man who must have the prospect of immediate reputation. The long,
steady grind, often under disagreeable and discouraging conditions, together with the good
comradeship, was to his mind, an invaluable preparation for life’s battles.”

The Rise of Cornell Rowing,
pages 246, 247; Lundin, John,
Mark Odell
and the Start of the UW Rowing Program,, Essay 10075,;

Courtney and Cornell Rowing; Cornell Heavyweight Rowing Year-By-Year
Cornell website.
Page -112-





After graduating from Cornell in the spring of 1897, Odell entered its law school in the fall
of 1897. A college graduate in those days could complete law school in one year. Even though he
was in law school, Odell was rowing for Cornell again as part of the class of 1898. Odell continued
to row in his normal five seat, with expectations to race again against Yale and Harvard at
Poughkeepsie for a second year in a row.
However, like many adventurous young men of his generation, Odell caught gold fever. In
March of 1898, Odell suddenly dropped out of Cornell, and he and his best friend from Cornell, Ellis
Aldrich, left for what was known as the Alaska gold rush. Even though the 1898 event is often
referred to as the Alaska Gold Rush, it took place in the Klondike area of Canada’s Yukon Territory,
although its entry point was Skagway, Alaska. Odell’s family has the diary he kept during the gold
rush, pictures he and his party took with one of the earliest Kodak cameras available to the public,
articles he wrote for his hometown newspaper, the Baldwinsville Gazette and Farmer’s Journal, and
letters he wrote to his family. Odell and Aldrich spent a full year in the Klondike prospecting for
gold. They left the gold fields in spring of 1899, bringing out the gold they found, and Odell settled
in Seattle at a time when the city was booming because of the gold rush.
Page -113-

Ellis Leeds Aldrich was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 12, 1874. His parents, Charles
H. Aldrich and Josephine M. Aldrich, lived in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn,
where his father worked as a carpenter. Ellis graduated from the Brooklyn Boys High School in
1893 as the class valedictorian at age eighteen. He was a noted high school baseball star. Both
Odell and Aldrich won competitive examinations for a New York State scholarship
to attend
Cornell University, which paid tuition for four years.
The two men met during their first day of
school at Cornell. They formed an immediate and strong friendship focusing on their studies,
oratory, debate and class politics in which they dominated.
Both Odell and Aldirch graduated with a Bachelor of Letters in June 1897, what Odell later
said “what now would be called, perhaps, Liberal Arts.” A graduate with a Bachelor of Letters
“Cornell University State Scholarships,”
Gazette & Farmers’ Journal
(Baldwinsville, NY), May
5, 1898, 1. A scholarship contest was announced for that year under laws enacted that year (New
York State Laws, Title 12, Chapter 556, Laws of 1894), a revision of the prior scholarship law
enacted the year after Odell had won the contest and been awarded a scholarship. The examination
was described as being a “competitive examination of candidates” who must be at least sixteen years
of age “and of six months’ standing in the common schools or academies of the State during the year
immediately preceding this examination, and actual residents of this State.” Examination subjects
were “English, history, plane geometry, algebra through quadratic equations, and either Latin,
French, or German, at the option of the candidate.” It is not clear how Odell qualified as having had
“six months” standing in the common schools or academies of the State during the prior six months,
unless teaching at a common school as well as attending such a school met this requirement.

Cornell University is unusual because it is both a privately endowed university and federal land-
grant university. The New York State Legislature enacted legislation in 1865 establishing Cornell
University and designating Cornell as the State’s land-grant college under the federal Morrill Act
of 1862, which provided federal funding for the teaching of agriculture and technical education in
general science, military science and engineering. Unlike other Ivy League schools, Cornell was
founded as a non-sectarian school. New York State’s public funding of Cornell expanded in 1887
with the creation of state-funded scholarships to students regardless of their major studies. A
scholarship was provided to one student from each of the then 128 state Assembly districts, awarded
on the basis of a competitive examination. Testing was conducted in June of each year. (New York
State Laws, Chapter 291, Laws of 1887.)
Page -114-

McAllister Boarding House, Ithaca, NY.
degree required only one year to complete Law School at Cornell. The last two years of the
undergraduate studies included all of the classes of the first year of a two-year course of studies in
law, and a graduate with a Bachelor of Letters degree required only one year to complete Law School
at Cornell.
Odell and Aldrich roomed together in law school at the McAllister boarding house near the
Cornell campus.
Page -115-

Quill & Dagger staff

Odell from Cornell annual
Odell from Quill & Dagger book
Page -116-

Odell did not spend much time pondering the decision to hunt for gold. His diary shows that
he first considered leaving on March 2, 1898, and he and Aldrich left for the Yukon on March 16,
two weeks later. The Klondike Gold Rush had a special role in our country’s economic history.

Although Odell was attending law school, he planned on rowing with the 1898 crew. Coach
Courtney and the rowing press were deeply disappointed that Odell would not row again.
The Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, was a seminal event in U.S. history, since the money it
generated lifted the country out of the International Silver Depression, which is said to be worse than
the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Aldrich from Cornell annual
Page -117-

The United States had been in the throes of a major depression which began in 1888, and
lasted throughout the 1890s, caused by a drop in the silver market which began in 1888.
In 1888, there was a national decline in silver prices, which precipitated a major depression.
Silver prices began another downward trend in 1891, followed by a disastrous price crash in silver
in 1892. The year 1893, was the formal end of the silver market’s dominance. Britain ended the
production of silver coins in India which caused panic selling on world metal markets, with the value
of silver declining 23% in a few hours, finally ending with silver having “no market in New York
at any price.” Other weaknesses in the national economy, including the failure of railroads and
manufacturing companies, touched off a widening national depression. By 1893, over 15,000
commercial houses, 600 banks, and more than 50,000 railroads went into bankruptcy.

The depression of the 1890s is said to be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.
When the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad went bankrupt on March 4, 1893, the Secretary of the
Treasury said the nation’s gold reserves had dipped below their traditionally acceptable level of $100
million. On May 5, there was a Wall Street panic called “Industrial Black Friday.” The price of
silver caved and the value of the silver dollar was
a paltry 58 cents. The Panic of 1893 and the depression it spawned marked a painful, bitter
end to the prosperous Gilded Age. By the close of 1893, more than 15,000 assorted business
ventures and 642 banks, had gone belly up nationwide. Twenty percent of American workers
(between two and three million persons) had lost their employment.
The Union Pacific Railroad website describes the depression of the 1890s, and
its impact on the country’s businesses.


, For Wood River or Bust,
pages 210, 213, 214.

Pierce, J. Kingston,
Panic of 1893: Seattle’s First Great Depression,
Page -118-

In 1893, the Union Pacific and every other railroad paid the price for over expanding,
overproducing, and over-speculating. They fell heavily in debt. The Panic of 1893 was also
the result of inflation, overcapitalization, drought, and severe competition. All sectors of the
economy were affected as banks and brokerage houses folded, and even the New York Stock
Exchange closed for an unprecedented 10 days. As the eastern business world collapsed,
western railroads failed. Loans were called, capital was impossible to obtain, and
government and company securities fell. Construction came to a halt and many lines went
into receivership.

Gold was discovered in the Yukon River region of Canada near Dawson on August 16, 1896,
by Yukon area Indians Skookum Jim Mason and Tagish Charlie, and a Seattleite George Carmack.
Locals began staking claims and gold was literally found all over the place. Many of the early
stakeholders became wealthy and become known as the “Klondike Kings.” However, since the
Klondike region was so remote, word of the gold strike spread slowly. The Klondike Gold Rush
began nearly a year after the initial discovery when the steamer Portland arrived in Seattle on July
17, 1897, reportedly carrying “more than a ton of gold”(although it was actually carrying two tons
of gold) from the Klondike region of Yukon Territory in Canada. “In a matter of hours, Seattle was
swept with a case of gold fever. The great Klondike Gold Rush in Yukon Territory was on, as
people dropped everything to head for the gold fields.” Within 24 hours of the arrival of the
Portland, 2,000 New Yorkers attempted to buy passage to the Klondike, but could not get them since
locals had already bought them. In six months, over 100,000 gold-seekers set off for the Yukon.



The Klondike Gold Rush
Gold Fever! Seattle Outfits the
Klondike Gold Rush,
U. S. Park Service,;;
Klondike Gold Rush,
Essay 687,
Page -119-

An extra was published by the Seattle Post Intelligencer the day the Portland arrived. About
5,000 people met the ship crying, “show us the gold! Lucky miners raised their gold-filled bags to
the cheers of the crowd and the scene was chaotic.” “Seattle is all ‘agog’ with this gold fever and
the streets are crowded with knows of men so worked up over the news that they can scarcely avoid
being run over by the cars and carriages.”
Like the Great Depression of the 1930s, which was ended only by the stimulus provided by
World War II, the depression of the 1890s was ended quickly by a single event, the Klondike gold
rush in the Yukon Territory of Canada. “The Gold Rush erased the deprivations of the panic of
1893, when a precipitous drop in United States gold reserves had triggered a national depression.”
The silver depression
ended dramatically, almost overnight, by a single event. Just as the outbreak of World War
II ended the Great Depression, the Klondike gold rush ended the depression of the 1890s.


Seattle Outfits the Klondike Gold Rush,
U. S. Park Service,;;
Page -120-

The Klondike gold rush began on Saturday, July 17, 1897, and before a week passed,
newspapers were announcing the depression was over and money was circulating again.
Seattle Becomes the Gateway to the Klondike & Local Merchants Thrive
Soon, prospectors from all over the country and world came to Seattle to purchase supplies
and obtain transportation to the northern gold-fields. Seattle newspapers promoted the city’s role
in the gold rush. On September 13, 1897, the Seattle P.I. ran a special edition,
Seattle Opens the
Gate to the Klondike Gold Fields.
The Seattle Chamber of Commerce operated a Bureau of
Information for those traveling through town on their way to the gold fields.

Stein & Becker,
Alaska - Yukon - Pacific Exposition,
page 13; Satterfield, Archie,
Pass, The Big Strike.
Page -121-

The Seattle Post Intelligencer promoted Seattle as the route to the Klondike. It said Seattle
was headquarters for nine out of ten steamboat companies going to Alaska or the Klondike. It had
been the center of Alaska trade for years; and Seattle merchants were honest and carry the greatest
variety of Klondike goods found anywhere. Seattle was the “natural gateway” to the Klondike, over
8,000 Klondike miners and prospectors left this city for the Northwest gold fields in Seattle
steamboats in 1897, nearly all of whom bought their outfits here, and expended thereby $2,500,000.”
The paper said 10,000 to 20,000 persons planning to go to the goldfields in the spring would spend
the winter in Seattle. It urged prospectors not to buy their outfits until they reached Seattle, and gave
other advice to those planning their trip, focusing on what Seattle had to offer them.
Seattle was in competition with Tacoma, Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Canada for the
Yukon trade. Seattle’s Chamber of Commerce hired a publicist, Erastus Brainerd, to promote Seattle
as the gateway to the Yukon. Within months, he reported the following results: he placed 6,244


Seattle Outfits the Klondike Gold Rush,
U. S. Park Service.
Page -122-

small ads in weekly newspapers; five-inch ads in Denver, Chicago, St. Paul, and San Francisco
papers; 2/3 page ad in the New York Journal; 1/4 page ad in national magazines such as
Cosmopolitan, Harper’s, Century, Scribners; distributed 200,000 copies of an eight page Seattle P.I.
supplement; sent ads to every postmaster in the U.S. (70,000), every public library (6,000), 4,000
mayors, the Great Northern Railway (10,000), the Northern Pacific Railroad (5,000) , 20,000 to other
publications, and 3,000 to Klondike committees of Correspondence. In addition, three circulars were
sent to every daily newspaper; one to ever governor, mayor and foreign ambassador, and one to every
member of Congress.

The national railroads competed with each other for the business of travel to Seattle. By
1897, Seattle could be reached by four railroads: the Northern Pacific and Great Northern both
starting in Minnesota; the Union Pacific’s subsidiary the Oregon Short Line starting in Omaha,
Nebraska, going through Portland; and the Canadian Pacific reached by the Seattle & International
Railroad. Each railroad aggressively sought the business of those heading for the Klondike, as seen
by this run by the Northern Pacific Railroad whose tracks ran from Puget Sound to Minnesota, and
had direct connections from Chicago and points east.


Seattle Outfits the Klondike Gold Rush,
U. S. Park Service.
Page -123-

The Oregon Short Line Railroad (OSL) was the Union Pacific’s connection to the Pacific
Northwest from its main cross-country line. The OSL tracks left U. P.’s main line at Granger,
Wyoming, went through Idaho along the Snake River, and then along the Columbia River to
Portland, Oregon, with a connection to Seattle. The 1898 Oregon Short Line Schedule shows the
importance of the Klondike gold rush, and how companies promoted the gold rush. The schedule
announced “Gold!, Gold!, Gold!, Gold!
Bright and yellow, hard and cold.
Molten, graven, hammered and rolled.
Heavy to get and light to hold.
Hoarded, bartered, bought and sold.
Stolen, borrowed, squandered, doled.
Spurned by the young, but hugged by the old.
To the very verge of the churchyard mold.
Price of money a crime untold.
Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!
Good or bad a thousand told.
Page -124-

How widely the agencies vary -
To save - to ruin - to curse - to bless -
As even its minted coins express.
Now stamped with the image of good Queen Bess.
And now of a Bloody Mary.
The schedule said the Oregon Short Line was
[t]he shortest line by more than 500 miles between Salt Lake City, Ogden, Portland, and the
Puget Sound points. The direct route to Alaska and the Klondike... the only line by which
miners from the east and southeast, bound for the Klondike, can pass through the great
mining regions of Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Eastern Oregon without delay or extra charge.
It is the shortest, cheapest, and every best line from all eastern and southern points to Alaska.
A map showed steamship routes to the Klondike through Skagway, and to the Yukon River located
at St. Michael on the Bering Sea, where steamboats went to Dawson.
Page -125-

The OSL advertised connections between its trains to Portland, Tacoma and Seattle, and
steamships going to the Klondike from Puget Sound. The OSL “connected directly with all the first-
class steamship lines running toward the new El Dorado.” There were connections with Alaska
sailings from Seattle and Tacoma to Juneau, Skagway, Dyea, etc., by the Pacific Coast Steamship
Co., the Alaska Steamship Co., the Washington & Alaska Steamship Co., and the West Coast Steam
Navigation Co. The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad had just been completed to the summit
Page -126-

of White Pass, 18 miles from Skagway, and was handling freight and passengers to that point,
although it was expected to be open to Bennett City by spring of 1899. OSL ticket agents could
book steamship travel along with rail trips. Rates from Portland, Tacoma or Seattle to Wrangel were
$15 for first class or $10 for second class; to Juneau were $20 or $12; to Skagway and Dyea were
$25 and $15; and to Sitka were $25 and $15.
Passengers got a folder entitled “The Klondike, the Yukon, and Alaska” by Col. P. Donan,
a well known writer and traveler, extolling the virtues of the Klondike and the potential profits that
waited virtually everyone who would venture there.
“The Klondike” is on the tongues and pens, the telegraph wires, and typesetting machines
of all creation. In every land and every language of earth, men chatter to-day of gold dug out,
and washed out, by hundred-weights and tons by the prospectors of yesterday. They babble,
half crazed, of oil cans, old boot legs, shot sacks and cracker boxes overflowing with gold
dust. They repeat Aladdin’s lamp stories of $100, $500 and $800 in gold, washed from a
single pan of sand and gravel; of bags of gold corded up like stove wood, on wild creek and
river banks, and of ships coming back to Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco, laden with
heaps on heaps of uncoined yellow metal. Tens of thousands of adventurous spirits, all over
this country and Europe, are preparing to follow the golden quest. The Klondike craze is in
full and gorgeous bloom.
William Ogilvie, Official Surveyor of the British Northwest Territory, in his report to the
government on June 10, 1896, said: “From all indications, I believe we are on the eve of
some magnificent gold discoveries....Every report is more encouraging that the last. From
$1 up to $12 the pan is reported, and no bedrock found yet.” This means from $1,000 to
$12,000 a day for every man sluicing....”We have one of the richest mining areas ever found,
with a fair prospect that we have not yet begun to discover its limits.”....Every returning
steamer has brought back men, whose plain, rugged history makes all the fairy tales seem
tame and commonplace. They went last fall, or last winter, or last spring, paupers - dead
broke. They came back with thousands, and many of them with tens of thousands of dollars
in gold dust and nuggets, and owning claims, from which they expect to take hundreds of
thousands, if not millions more, hereafter.
Thousands were induced to come from all over the world to get their share of the promised
Page -127-

riches in the Klondike, including Mark Odell and his best friend Ellis Aldrich, who dropped out of
Cornell’s Law School in March 1898, and traveled to the gold rush seeking their fortunes.

Klondike was filled with notorious people, including Calamity Jane

(Martha Jane Cannary), who
made her reputation in Deadwood, Dakota Territory as the companion of Wild Bill Hickock. The
Klondike Nugget of June 23, 1898, said the following about her:
Calamity Jane, of Deadwood and Leadville fame, and one of Wells-Fargo’s most trusted
detectives, is in Dawson. The life of this woman has been filled with wild adventures, and
on more than one occasion she has been forced to take human life in defense of her own; yet
a kinder, truer character would be hard to find. In upholding the law and defending what is
right, she is braver than most men, she is gentle and refined as any of her Eastern sisters.
There is a suggestion in the steel-blue eyes, however, that wold warn the unwary, and a glance
at the half-sad face indicates that her life has not been all sunshine.
Seattle Booms Because of Gold Rush
Seattle’s business community flourished during and after the gold rush. Store owners stocked
up with goods to sell to the prospectors. An outfit for two people cost $250 to $500 for items such
as heavy clothing and boots; nonperishable foods such as smoked bacon, beans, rice, and dried fruit;
personal items like soap; and mining tools. By September 1897, 9,000 stampeders and 3,600 tons
of freight left Seattle for the Klondike, and $2,500,000 had been spent in Seattle.
More than 100,000 people from many nations attempted to reach the Klondike, many of whom
traveled through Seattle. Only about 30,000 or 40,000 made it over Chilkoot Pass and into the
interior to Dawson depending on which source one reads, and of that number, only around 4,000
discovered any gold. Yet, $22 million in gold was brought out of the Yukon in 1900 alone.
However, the ones who prospered in the long run were the merchants in Seattle who sold the
prospectors their supplies, and local shipbuilders who built new steamships as quickly as possible
Page -128-

to meet the huge demand for service to the Klondike. Seattle businessmen such as Joshua Green
made significant money by transporting prospectors to and from Alaska on his steamers. By May
1898, the Moran shipyards in Seattle were building 12 new steamships for the Klondike Gold Rush.
Outfitters made huge profits selling goods to the prospectors. Outfitters like Edward Nordoff of the
Bon Marche capitalized on their gold rush successes to transform their small storefronts to major
department stores. Outfitters like Cooper & Levy, McDougal & Southwick, Thedinga Hardware, and
many others, prospered from the gold rush trade. John Nordstrom invested $13,000 of Klondike gold
into s shoe store owned by a cobbler he had met in the gold fields, later turning into the Nordstrom

Seattle merchants published brochures for the prospectors advising them what to buy, gave
out lists of recommended goods and supplies, and published ads to attract the attention of the hordes
coming through the city.


Seattle Outfits the Klondike Gold Rush,
U. S. Park Service,;;
Page -129-

Well dressed Klondiker
Page -130-

Lists of suggested supplies for the stampeders heading for the Klondike, for clothing and food,
were published in 1898, by a Seattle supplier, McDougal and Secord.

Page -131-

Pictures of Seattle merchants show gold rush goods stacked up outside their stores ready for
sale to the multitudes of gold-hungry men and women. Of interest, one out of every ten people going
to the Klondike were women.
Cooper & Levy Outfitters, UW Collections
McDougle & Southwick Outfitters, UW Collections


Seattle Outfits the Klondike Gold Rush,
U. S. Park Service,;
Page -132-

Ithaca to the Yukon Via Seattle
Odell and Aldrich joined an Ithaca company organized to mine gold in the Yukon, financed
by Mr. Smith, a wealthy local businessman, likely L.C. Smith, the owner of Smith Corona
Typewriters and Smith and Wesson Firearm. Smith agreed to fund Odell’s and Aldrich’s expedition,
paying their expenses and assuring them “of liberal compensation” for the venture whether or not they
met with success. Odell was to look after its interests in and around Dawson.

An article appeared in the Buffalo New York Courier on March 16, 1898, describing Odell’s
and Aldrich’s departure for the gold fields.

Mark M. Odell, one of Cornell’s best ‘varsity oarsmen, with E. L. Aldrich, an old ‘varsity
second baseman, started this morning for the Klondike. Odell started rowing in ’93, and was
in the victorious Annapolis crew and in the Poughkeepsie crew last summer. He rowed No.
5, and was one of the steadiest men in the boat. The two young men will go via Seattle and
the Chilkoot Pass. Their expenses are paid by a syndicate, part of which, it is reported, is
Thedinga Hardware Co., UW Collections

Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal, March 24, 1898.
Page -133-

composed of Ithacans. Each carries about $750 in a belt. Dalzell, last year’s substitute, has
been rowing in Odell’s seat.
It was said to cost one person about $1000 in expenses to go to the Yukon and mine for a year. As
a result, prospectors were financed by wealthy individuals or newly formed corporations or
syndicates. The men’s combined $1,500 would be short of what would be needed for two men going
together. It is likely that hey also carried some sort of promissory note from the Mr. Smith with
whom they continually checked for permission to change their plans along the way. This note would
be used to purchase their outfits, and other major expenses, they encountered along the way.
Odell and Aldrich left New York on March 16, 1898, taking a train to Chicago and St. Paul,
then taking the Northern Pacific Railroad to Seattle, the starting point for most of the miners going
to the gold rush. Of 100,000 people who went the Yukon, 70,000 went through Seattle. On the train
to Seattle, Odell’s diary says he lost his berth ticket but he bought another, and also spotted “two
suspicious girls in our lower birth.”
Odell and Aldrich met four other men on their way to the Klondike, who showed them the “by
laws” for their organization. Odell told them of their arrangement with Mr. Smith, and they decided
to join forces on their adventure into the Yukon. The four new members of the expanded party
included J.A. Thompson and George Trowbridge from Poughkeepsie, NY, and Frank Reed and D.B.
Cole from Sharon Conn. In an article Odell wrote for his hometown newspaper, he said “with them
we expect to stay for prospecting and mining.”
In Seattle, Odell and Aldrich stayed at a boarding house at 316 Marion Street in the city’s
downtown. They purchased one year’s supply of food and equipment (one ton per man) which was
required by Canada’s Northwest Mounted Police to enter the Klondike, which they would need to
Page -134-

survive a year in the harsh Klondike climate.

Seattle merchants such as Schwabacher Bros. & Company, and Cooper & Levy, made
fortunes outfitting the tens of thousands of hopeful prospectors who left for the Klondike through
Seattle. In the first month of the gold rush alone, Seattle merchants supplied miners with more than
$325,000 of goods. Typical food purchases included 400 pounds of flour, 150 pounds of bacon, 125
pounds of beans, 25 pounds of dried potatoes, 25 pounds of sugar, 15 pounds of salt, and 10 pounds
of coffee for each person. Recommended gear included tents, ropes, axes, shovels, picks, knives and
whipsaws. Most miners bought three suits of heavy underwear, a wool mackinaw coat, a rubber coat,
two pairs of work pants, two overalls, a dozen pair of wool socks, six pairs of mittens, two pair of
work boots, two pairs of shoes, blankets, and mosquito netting.

Odell described his difficulty finding clothing that fit him in an article he wrote for his
hometown newspaper.
One of the greatest difficulties I encountered was in getting clothing of the proper size. If I
were to outfit again, I should select suits ver y large and a very loose fit, then pass those by
and choose suits about three sizes larger and no fit at all. My coats are already too small; I
wonder what I shall do in six months. I selected suits very large and a very loose fit.

Stein & Becker,
Alaska - Yukon - Pacific Exposition,
pages 11 - 13.

Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal, May 5, 1898.
Page -135-

On March 25, Odell and
Aldrich “completed outfitting,” and
changed their second class tickets on
the steamship for Alaska (cost $15)
for first class passage (cost $25).
Odell and Aldrich sailed on the
steamer Al-Ki from Seattle on
March 26,1898, with 22 to
Wrangell, Alaska, and 62
passengers going to Dyea and
Skagway, 22 to Juneau.
There were three possible
routes to the Klondike gold fields.
For the wealthy, the easiest was the
all-water route by steamship from
Seattle to Alaska, past the Aleutian
Islands to the mouth of the Yukon
River, then up the Yukon to
Dawson. The commonly used route was by steamship to Skagway, Alaska, then to Dyea and by foot
over the extremely difficult and dangerous Chilkoot Pass, down the other side to Lake Lindermann
and Lake Bennett, then down the Yukon River to the gold fields. The third was an all-land route
through Canada beginning at Edmonton, Alberta, then into Northwest Territories into Yukon
Page -136-

Pacific Coast Steamship Co. ad for
sailing of the steamship Al-Ki to
Territory and Dawson City.
Odell and Aldrich decided to go on the commonly used route to the Klondike, known as the
“poor man’s route” starting on Puget Sound. They traveled on the steamship Al-ki inside of
Vancouver Island, then north along the inland passage to Skagway, Alaska, before going over the
dangerous and difficult Chilkoot Pass and floating down the Yukon River to the Klondike gold fields.
Page -137-

Al-Ki, George & Edna Rapuzzi Collection, #00435.
Steamship Al-Ki at Skagway Harbor
Page -138-

After boarding the Al-ki in Seattle’ harbor, Odell and Aldrich watched the travelers’ baggage
being loaded on the ship by the use of a derrick. The crew mishandled some of the luggage and two
bags dropped into the water. Odell and Aldrich were shocked to learn the bags were theirs. One bag
was retrieved, but the crew said the second one was lost. Odell tried to get the crew to search further,
noting that the tide was setting and carrying the bag under the wharves, but “everybody was very
busy and everything was confusion and bustle.”
The situation was getting desperate. There is only one man in our party good at swearing and
I couldn’t see or find him anywhere around me, and in two or three minutes time I developed
quite a respectable vocabulary. I cursed the wharf hands and damned the mate. I went into
the steamship office, berated everyone in sight. I repeated this with variation
ad libitum
, until
the further loading was practically suspended and all hands were under and around the wharf
searching in the gathering darkness for the bag which I pictured sunk long before. Finally,
after three-quarters of an hour, the bag was hauled up from where it had stuck between two
posts. It was soaked through.
Odell grabbed the bag from a crew member who was trying to stow it below, using “fragments
of my vocabulary.” The bag contained Aldrich’s whole outfit of clothing, every article soaking wet.
They worked until one o’clock in the morning, wringing out the clothes and hanging them up to dry.
Thus, they avoided what could have been a major disaster, and Odell got a chance to try out new
words he had not used before.
On March 27, Odell noted in his diary that “finished drying A’s goods at eleven,” and Aldrich
was missing a pair of German socks.

Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal, May 5, 1898.
Page -139-

Loading provisions for the Klondike, Odell
Loading provisions for the Klondike. Odell
Revenue Cutter Perry, Seattle Harbor
Steamer leaving for gold rush. UW
Page -140-

Their boat stopped at Port Townsend to load more passengers for Wrangell, including “three
ladies...whereupon we promptly took a shave, although we promised ourselves that after leaving
Seattle shears would be the only barber’s tools we would endure ourselves with.”
Their boat stopped at Vancouver, British Columbia, where the men got their “miner’s licenses” at
the Customs office. The boat then went to Queen Charlotte Sound where Odell said the water was
rough and “nearly everyone sick. Then into beautiful scenery rest of day & night. Saw whales,
porpoises, and phosphorous. Indian Village (Belle Bella) with totem poles.” Odell said they “played
and sang in the evening.”
Odell was struck by the beauty of the voyage north from Seattle to Alaska, and described it
in detail in an article for his hometown newspaper.
The route is a winding one where a vessel threads its way up through the long group of
mountainous islands which line the coast from Puget Sound north. It reminds one at times
Bella Bella, from Steamship Al-Ki. Odell picture.

Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal, May 5, 1898.
Page -141-

of the Hudson River, at another of the St. Lawrence at the islands. At times it seems as
though the ship were passing through a succession of island lakes...As Seattle is left farther
and farther behind, the scenery grows grander and more wildly beautiful. The mountainous
islands and the coast of the mainland rises sheer from the water and many hundred feet in
height, with snow capped peaks always in sight. Glaciers large and small came into view
every day...I have read much of the beauty and grandeur of these and had imagined them
beautiful, very grand but chill and forbidding. At nothing else have I been so delightfully
surprised as I was over these wonders of the sea...Occasionally we would pass a little Indian
village with its curious and grotesquely carved Totem poles.
The boat stopped at Wrangell, Alaska, which was a boom town because of the gold rush, and
the men went ashore where they saw totem poles and gambling houses.
Wrangell! My first experience in a boom mushroom town. A man who has been there three
months is an old resident. A man who attempts to go through it without wearing hip rubber
boots is an idiot. I wore leather shoes, myself. This town they hope to make the metropolis
of Alaska, the gates of the Yukon Valley when the Bitkeen route is fully opened. Here in this
combination of Indian huts, Klondikers’ tents, high front saloons, hotels, mud, fish, tin cans
and Siwash dogs. I met a man from Leland Stanford, two graduates of the University of
Illinois, and a C.E. from the University of Virginia, who took post graduate work at Cornell.
Here were the gambling houses running full blast, some of them run by sharks, others by
respected citizens who operated them “on the square.”...
On the street one jostles against respectable men from the states, notorious gamblers, Siwash
Indians, miners, “butchers, bakers and candle stick makers,” children, women of refinement
and culture, and women lacking both these and other qualities; he steps into the mud and pulls
himself by clinging to a Totem pole, or by hanging onto a barber’s sign; he runs against a
vicious looking, sneaking little Siwash dog; treads on an empty tomato can, and steps over
a dead halibut with a form like a good Christian fish but both eyes on one side so he can swim
on the other. Before he has been in the place two hours he catches this boom town spirit and
wants to buy a few square feet of mud and speculate in it for a building lot.

Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal, May 5, 1898.

Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal, May 5, 1898.
Page -142-

Wrangell YMCA, Odell picture.
Wrangell, dock and stores. Odell picture.
Wrangell, Odell picture.
Page -143-

Odell said the trip from Wrangell north was filled with “wondrous beauties” and “was grand.”
Thousands, yes thousands of wild ducks floated about on the water scarce disturbed by the
appearance of our ship. Occasionally whales would spout, off near the shore, then roll up
their big brown backs to view, and disappear only to spout and roll again farther on. A school
of purposes at times came along the ship and gamboled about, disporting themselves for our
entertainment. Should I return from the Yukon Valley without an ounce of dust which has
quite the balance of probabilities, I cannot regret the time spent after passing over this part of
the route.

Odell’s ship passed Juneau where they saw the stamp mill for the Treadwell Mine on Douglas
Island, and they got a greeting, a hoarse cry,
“gold, gold, gold,’ which echoed up and down the valley, while the mountains re-echoed back
a fainter cry, “gold, gold,” to lure the daring prospector up those dangerous slopes and ravines.
Juneau is like the picture of a Swiss village, built on the shore of a niche between two high
mountains,...seeming ready to topple over upon the village at any moment.
From Juneau, the ship went onto Skagway, the starting point for the Chikloot Trail and men’s
destination. Odell and his partners arrived on April 3, and unloaded their goods at Skagway’s busy

Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal, May 5, 1898.

Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal, May 5, 1898.
Page -144-

Skagway River
Boat between Wrangell & Skagway. Odell
Skagway, view from steamer. Odell picture.
Skagway Harbor, UW Collections
Page -145-


The first phase of the trip into the Yukon gold fields started at Skagway, then to Dyea, over
the notorious Chilkoot Pass, down past Crater Lake to Lake Linderman, and then to Bennett Lake
where the men would build a boat to ride down the Yukon River. The trip from Skagway to the
interior would present Odell and Aldrich with many challenges. They were entering an area that gold
rush poet Robert Service said was “the cussedest land that I know.” It would take Odell and Aldrich
from April 5 to April 14 to move their supplies on the first leg of that trip from Dyea to Chilkoot Pass
Odell’s diary noted a major tragedy the day they arrived in Skagway: “snow slide on Chilkoot
this night. Killed many. Rainy and muddy here. Strong wind. Dubious tales of Dyea route.” They
men arrived just after the “Palm Sunday avalanche”occurred on April 3, 1898, between Sheep Camp
and the scales on the Chilkoot Trail. This was the deadliest event of the gold rush and one of its most
widely reported events. Numerous snow slides occurred that day, five involving stampeders and three
involving loss of life. Overall, 65 lives were lost on the route Odell and Aldrich were going to take.
Odell wrote to his hometown newspaper that 52 bodies were taken out and there were more still
buried under many feet of snow. “I have witnessed many a sad sight here, the result of that terrible
On April 4, Odell and Aldrich shipped their goods from Skagway by lighter (a flat bottomed
barge) to Dyea, a nearby village located at the convergence of the Little Dyea River and Dyea Inlet.
Dyea was the jumping off point for the Chilkoot Trail leading into the gold fields of the
interior, over the difficult and treacherous Chilkoot Pass. There was a dangerous tidal bore by Dyea,
so ship captains dropped anchor in the open water, requiring the Klondikers to carry their goods
Page -146-

ashore in any way they could. Goods were often thrown overside to float ashore with the tide.
Animals had to swim ashore.
In time, the beach took on the appearance of a toppling wall: a confused mix of bags, sacks,
and stacks of abused property. Some of it was water-soaked and much of it burst open; angry
owners had to identify it in any way possible. Tent space was at a premium, and men camped
anywhere they could. Some, forgetting about the tide, awoke to find the whole mess back in
the water again!
Dyea was little more than “a sea of tents, rough board saloons, shacks ans stores.” Odell described
Dyea as “another mushroom town, built on old beach sand, river mud and gravel.”
Dyea waterfront, spring 1898, UW collection.

Trail to the Klondike
, page 16.
Page -147-

The Chilkoot Trail was a traditional trade route of the Tinglit Indians into the interior, and the
tribe defended it from use by others. In 1879, the U.S. Navy negotiated an agreement enabling
prospectors to use the trail into the interior without interference, although the Tinglits required that
they be hired to haul goods over the pass.
From Dyea, after crossing the Dyea River, the prospectors had to haul their ton of goods
apiece over tough terrain to the approach of Chilkoot Pass. “It was a super-human effort to transport
those thousands of pounds up that narrow, slippery, rocky trail of the Pass, through boulder-strewn
canyons, across swampy bottom lands.” They then had to climb the 26 mile Chilkoot Pass on the
“Golden Staircase,” a steep and hazardous section of 1,500 steps cut in the snow and ice, rising 1,000
feet in the last half mile, using a guide rope for support. They had to struggle through blizzards,
snow, frigid temperatures, and avalanches. Most of the stampeders gave up at Chilkoot Pass: 100,000
began the journey, and only 30,000 succeeded. Many trips up the golden staircase were required to
haul the 2,000 pounds of supplies up the trail. The RCMP had scales and would weigh each man’s
supplies to make sure he had the required ton before he would be allowed to enter Canada. “To move
one outfit over the pass, stampeders packed and cached their goods up to forty times and hiked up to
1,000 miles. The terrain on the last four miles of the trail was too rough for pack animals. Discarded
supplies littered the trail as stampeders cast unnecessary items aside. Many took three months to
move their goods from Dyea to the summit.”

Chilkoot Pass was called “the meanest 32 miles in the world,”going from sea level to 1,067
meters (3,501 feet). Men walked 80 miles for each one mile they moved theirgoods. A single trip


Seattle Outfits the Klondike Gold Rush,
U. S. Park Service,;
Page -148-

up the Golden Staircase took as long as six hours.

Page -149-

Dyea was a busy transit site when Odell arrived. Thousands of men were there getting their
goods ready for their trip to the Klondike gold fields over Chilkoot Pass. Tons of supplies were
stored on the waterfront waiting transport to the interior. The White Pass and Yukon Railway was
being built from Skagway and Dyea to the interior. The railroad was built over 26 months by British
capital at a cost of $10 million, and was called “the railroad built of gold.” It climbed 3,000 feet in
20 miles from the coast, with grades of 3.9% and turns of 16 degrees.

Skagway, laying track for railroad. Odell
Dyea, Chilkoot Railway & Transit
warehouse. Odell picture.
Dyea, streetcar. Odell picture.
Dyea, street scene, Vogee photo.

Seattle Outfits the Klondike Gold Rush,
U. S. Park Service,
Page -150-

Dyea, dog team ready to leave. Odell
At Dyea, the men contracted with the Yukon Navigation Company to carry their five tons
of cargo to Sheep Camp, which was the beginning of the rugged trip to the interior. They paid 1 3/4
cents per pound according to Odell’s diary.

Dyea, dog teams on river. Odell picture.
Dyea, loading donkeys with supplies. Odell picture.
Page -151-

On April 5, Odell and Aldrich went to Canyon City with four wagon load of their goods, a
stopover for the massive relay of supplies on the 13 mile trail from Dyea to Sheep Camp at the foot
of Chilkoot Pass. The men slept on the company’s tent on hay. The trail was tough going. “That
night we slept in the freight company’s tent, rolling up in our blankets on some bales of hay which
were piled up with a great lack of care, precision or evenness.” A stampeder said “after five miles
of road, all hell begins,.” as the trail went through a wooded tangle of hemlock, spruce and
cottonwood. For the first 10 miles, it followed the Taiya River, crossing it about every 200 yards.
Odell said it was “the worst trail I ever saw a wagon take.”
From Dyea the trail leads up the river valley between high mountains, some nine miles, to
Canon city, consisting of several tents, a few log huts and a slab house or two. Here the valley
closes up to a narrow, deep canon, about four miles long, above which the valley widens out
again. A mile above the head of the canon is Sheep Camp, a city of tents, and a few log and
board houses.

Dyea, looking toward Chilkoot Pass. Odell picture.
Page -152-

Fording the Dyea River, LaRoche
picture, UW collections
Dyea, looking back from trail. Odell
Dyea trail to Sheep Camp.
Vogee photo, Yukon Collections
Dyea trail.
Page -153-

On April 6, Odell and Aldrich hiked to Sheep Camp, the last place offering bed and board the
Chilkoot Pass, which was controlled by Soapy Smith, a notorious gambler and outlaw.. In 1898, it
was a small city of 8,000 stampeders complete with telegraph lines connecting to Dyea. In an article
Odell wrote for his hometown newspaper, he described
Thursday we pitched our big tent at the lower end of Sheep Camp, under some big hemlocks. The
snow here is about six feet deep. We leveled this off with shovels, cut some tent poles, and erected
the tent...We roll up in blankets, put on a toque for a sleeping cap, wrap robes around us, and sleep
the sleep of the just - or the tired.
Odell made the mistake of telling his mates that he had done some cooking, so he was quickly
appointed camp cook, using their Yukon sheet iron stove which was about 26 inches long, 14 inches
wide, 12 inches high, and was “a marvel.” He used a cook book written for miners he bought in
Seattle written by Suzy Tracy, but had to improvise as her instructions left him guessing.
I tackled her recipe for baking powder bread. She talks glibly about quarts, pints, gills, and
ounces of this, and teaspoons, tablespoons, cups and pinches of that; but by the use of a two-
quart and a big iron spoon and some guessing; I followed her until she directed the miner to
mix his dough to about the consistency of pound cake batter, where I was in some doubt.
Below is one of Odell’s handwritten recipes he used during the gold rush.

Trail to the Klondike
, pages 32, 24; Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal,
May 5, 1898.

Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal, May 5, 1898. A gill is a unit of liquid measure,
equal to a quarter of a pint. ORIGIN, Middle English : from Old French
gille ‘‘measure or container
for wine,’’
from late Latin
gillo ‘‘water pot.’’

Page -154-

Odell party at Sheep Creek. Odell picture.
Page -155-

At Sheep Camp, Odell and his companions saw three dead bodies brought from the snow slide
at Chilkoot Pass in the “Palm Sunday avalanche”on April 3, 1898, between Sheep Camp and the
scales on the Chilkoot Trail which killed 65 stampeders. The weather was very warm, so when Odell
went up to Chilkoot Pass on April 10, he walked in his shirt sleeves carrying his coat on his arm.
From Sheep Camp, the trail led up to Stone House where it became even tougher, going through
and over rocks and large boulders. This part of the trip was no walk in the park.

Miners at Sheep Creek. LaRoche Photo, UW Collections
Page -156-

Prospectors at Stone House, Frank
LaRoche photo, UW collection
LaRoche photo, UW Collections
Stone House to Chilkoot Pass, Vogee
photo, Yukon Collection
Page -157-

From Sheep Creek, it was four miles uphill to Chilkoot Pass. Goods were hauled by small
sleds from Sheep Camp to the RCMP scales below the pass, where they were weighed, then packed
up to the summit by men or taken up on one of the two steam trams. For stampeders, Chilkoot Pass
“became a symbol of their weakness and frustration, a malevolent thing guarded by giant boulders
and sheer glaciers - the most massive reaching down from a 2,000 foot ledge. Like the others, it hung
there above the rocky defile.” Duty had to be paid to the Canadian government, with 30% assessed
on ammunition, 35% on edged tools, and 20% on flour. From Chilkoot Pass Summit, the supplies
were hauled down the other side past Crater Lake, Long Lake and Deep Lake to Lake Linderman, 32
miles from Sheep Camp, then to Lake Bennett.
Odell described the difficult journey for the Baldwinsville Gazette. “After leaving Sheep
Camp the climbing begins. The first objective point is the Stone House...The incline from Sheep
Camp to Stone House is just to break a man in. These points are about a mile apart.” From Stone
House, located at the foot of two steep hills leading to the RCMP scales (which were at the foot of
the summit),
all sorts of beasts of burden are used to haul the sleds. Horses, large and small; oxen, mules,
goats, asses, cows, dogs, burros, bulls, men, women and boys, all lugging at sleds over the
rail, now in fearful condition. Oh, yes: there are women up here, though we haven’t shaved
since we left the good ship Al-Ki. There are women in corduroy suits, tailor made; women
in woolen dresses; women in blue denim dresses; women in frouzly hair dispensing drinks
from behind the bar at 25 cents per; women in waists of all kinds, tight corduroy trousers, and
no suspenders.

Trail to the Klondike
, pages 46, 32.
Page -158-

Chilkoot Pass, goat pulling a sled. Odell picture.
RCMP scales, gear waiting to be weighted. Vogee photo,
Yukon Collections
Page -159-

View from scales to Chilkoot Pass. Vogee photo, Yukon
Tram to Chilkoot Pass. Vogee photo, Yukon Collections
Page -160-

The hardest part of the trip involved climbing the grueling three-quarter mile “Golden
Stairway” from the scales up to the summit of the Pass, carrying up to 100 pounds of gear on their
backs every trip. Scores of trips were required to transport their supplies. Photographs show an
unending parade of hopefuls carrying their gear up Chilkoot Pass. Canadian Mounties were posted
at scales below the summit to weigh each prospector’s provisions to ensure each man had the required
one ton of supplies.
Legions of Stampeders climbing Chilkoot Pass. “Meanest 32 miles in the world.” LaRoche
photo, UW Collections
Page -161-

Odell contracted to have some of their goods taken to the summit for three cents a pound,
although when they were ready to leave on April 9, the contractor failed to show up. On April 10,
Odell hauled 50 pounds to the scales and 100 pounds to the summit. Contractors at the scale offered
to take the men’s goods to the summit for three and a half cents per pound. Odell described the
climb up the steep Chilkoot Pass:
Above the stone house the traveler climbs a very steep hill, and thinks he has got somewhere
until he looks up and sees another which he must climb up to the scales. This is another name
given to the place, because there goods are weighed out to the packers to carry up to the
summit proper...All the weighing affairs you will see will be little steelyards on a stick or a
small set of grocer’s scales. Our five tons of freight and baggage is all being weighed out at
our tent here on a little set of counter scales...
There is a stream of men passing up the Summit all the time, stepping in the tracks of another,
Climbing the Golden Staircase, LaRoche photo, UW Collections
Page -162-

very much like men going up stairs - the incline seems about the same. Every fifteen or
twenty feet are resting places where the weary packer steps out of the line to rest his shoulders
and catch his breath. From a distance away it looks like a string of toiling ants creeping up
a small mound. Such scenes I never saw or imagined, nor can I attempt to describe them. At
some of the steeper places on the pass below the Summit men have rigged up pulleys. Several
men haul an empty sled down the hill, which sled is attached to a rope running through a
pulley at the top of the hill. At the other end of the rope is a loaded sled, which is hauled up
as the empty sled is hauled down.
Odell’s memories from his Cornell rowing days helped him in the climb.
Now let me take you to the top if you have rested sufficiently after climbing the mile and half
from the Stone House to the Scales. You have only about three-quarters of a mile of slippery
stairs. This is the summit proper, very proper indeed. It is divided in two parts, a long hill,
and a shorter hill, with a narrow ledge between. Up these hills are stretched ropes. The
climber seized the rope in his right hand, a climbing pike in his left, and moves on with the
slowly moving line. I packed up two sacks of flour, fifty pounds each, my first trip up.
up the last hill the one thing in my mind was that last mile at Poughkeepsie last year
when I was straining my ears to hear the coxswain shout 'give her twenty-five boys'.

When I finally reached the top I was quite ready to fall against a snow bank and rest. There
on the summit is the customs officer's tent, and piles of freight on top of the snow, and buried
deep under the snow. (emphasis added).
The trips down the mountain to pick up the next load were a lot less work.
The funniest sight is the return trip of the packers down the Summit. It is too steep to walk.
They sit down and slide in long grooves in the snow worn by many slides down in many days.
I tried it yesterday and came down like a whirlwind. It gives one a very exhilarating sensation
coming down, and quite like a moist sensation after he gets down. The regular packers
reinforce their garments with a piece of canvas or sealskin.

Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal, May 5, 1898
Page -163-

Climbing up and sliding down
Getting ready to slide down
Chilkoot Pass, between the scales and the summit, where men slid down
Page -164-

Odell, Aldrich and the others spent much of April hauling their supplies up the mountain,
over the summit, and down to Lake Linderman on the other side. Odell’s diary described the weather
in which they had to work between April 6 and 14, when they reached Chilkoot Pass summit:
Stormy rain & snow all day. Very stormy on summit...Rained nasty all day...Looks like long
storm & possible snow slides...Stormy all day - snow slides at Scales last night, killed no
one...Ellis & I pd 4 bits to sleep on snow in tent...Severe snow storm coming over...Mercury
at zero this morning...All suffer from nasty colds since leaving sheep camp - wet snow all day
half rain.
The trip over Chilkoot Pass was as dangerous as it was difficult.
Odell’s diary notes several slides on the Pass while they were in the area, one of which “killed
many.” One of his pictures shows the place on the Pass where 54 men were killed in one slide. On
April 13, there was another slide at the scales, but no one was killed. They reached the summit on
April 14, and found that 16 packages of their supplies were missing.

Scales to Pass. Frank LaRoche photo,
UW collections
View from scales to Chilkoot Pass.
Page -165-

Eating dinner at Chilkoot summit,
“biscuit & piece of bacon.” Odell picture.
Men’s tent at Chilkoot Pass summit. Odell
Summit of Chilkoot Pass
Page -166-



- APRIL 15 TO MAY 14
The Difficult Journey

to Lake Bennett
From the summit of Chilkoot Pass, it took Odell and his partners from April 15 to May 6,
to haul their goods downhill over difficult terrain, past Crater Lake, Long Lake, Deep Lake to Lake
Linderman. It then took them from May 6 to May 14, to haul their goods to Lake Bennett, where
the men built the boats that would take them down Yukon River, as they waited for the ice on the
river to break up.
The stampeders were jammed together waiting for the breakup in the winter of 1898: there
was a tent community of 10,000 at both Lake Linderman and Lake Bennett, with another 20,000
on their way from Skagway and Dyea. At Linderman or Bennett, they made boats out of locally
available wood to float their supplies down the Yukon River to the gold fields around White Horse,
Fort Selkirk, or Dawson City. “To build boats, stampeders had to locate usable logs and whipsaw
them into planks. Finding wood was hard because the lakes were near timberline. Whipsawing
logs was backbreaking and frustrating labor.”

Most of the stampeders left when the ice broke up on May 29, 1898,but Odell and Aldrich
did not leave Bennett Lake until June 23, giving most of the parties a significant head start on the
race to the gold fields.


Seattle Outfits the Klondike Gold Rush,
U. S. Park Service,;
Page -167-

Chilkoot Summit, getting ready to leave. Odell
Odell leaving summit. Odell picture.
Chilkoot Pass to Crater Lake
Page -168-

On the trail to Crater Lake
Crater Lake. Odell picture.
Moving goods on Crater Lake
Page -169-

Crater Lake, Frank LaRoche photo, UW collections
Long Lake, Vogee photo, Yukon Collections
Page -170-

On April 15, the Odell and his partners
hauled one sleigh load of supplies from Chilkoot Summit to Lake Linderman. They saw the body
of a man who died of pneumonia that was being taken back to the summit by sled, not an
uncommon experience in this tough environment.
The experience of the pass had toughened them to accident, and death and wretchedness had
made them insensitive to each other. Men died of disease in tent after tent and no one but
a partner would take the time to bury them. When one partner died, the other usually gave
up and turned back. It didn’t look like a country a man could tackle alone.
Odell and Aldruch stayed at the Hotel Linderman, spending $ .20 for a bunk and use of blankets,
and $1.00 for meals.
First view of Lake Linderman. Odell
View down Lake Linderman. Odell picture.

Trail to the Klondike,
page 76.
Page -171-

Hotel Linderman was typical of the rough accommodations in the Yukon that had been
quickly built to serve the tens of thousands of stampeders making their way to the gold fields in the
interior. The hotel was described by another traveler, a woman, who also stayed there during the
gold rush.
We were staying at the Hotel Linderman. It is funny to call it a hotel, the only thing right
up is the price, $7.00 per person per day. It is a log house very poorly built. The first room
one enters is the office, bar and dining room all in one with a big air-tight stove in the
middle and a shelf with towel, soap and water in one corner. Here, we are all supposed to
make our toilets, men and women. We have seen the last of white dishes on the table.
Everything is granite and tin. Upstairs in the “swell” hotel are the sleeping apartments.
Bunks, put up around the room with canvas instead of mattresses, two pair of blankets and
a pillow of cotton tatting. Two of the bunks are screened from inquisitive eyes for the
ladies. This is my retreat when I don’t sit in the barroom with the fellows. The entire
furniture for this room consists of two bunks, a soap box with a bottle on it and a candle
stuck in the bottle. There’s also a bucket for what use I’ve no idea unless it’s for toilet
Hotel Linderman
Page -172-


On April 16, the men made camp at Lake Linderman using balsam fir boughs brought down
from the mountain. The 16 packages of missing supplies were located at the summit, but two of
their party hauling supplies down from the summit got caught in a storm that was so bad they left
the supplies and hiked down to the camp.
Walt Hogler by camp at Lake Linderman. Odell picture.


Trail to the Klondike,
page 70.
Page -173-

Boat building at Lake Linderman. LaRoche photo, UW Collection
Stampeder Tents at Lake Lindeman
Page -174-

By April 18, the weather cleared and they brought three loads down from Chilkoot summit
t Lake Linderman, with Odell noting “Good weather. Hard work.” On April 20, the men finished
putting their camp into “ship shape...Mercury at zero this morning. Fine sunny weather.” On April
21, the men got up at 2:00 am, hiked to the summit, and at 3:35 am, began hauling the remainder
of their supplies down to Crater Lake, located between Chilkoot Pass summit and Lake Linderman.
Odell’s diary said “about hardest day's work I ever did. Mercury 6 above.”
On April 22, the men rested at camp, and Odell repaired his “creepers” (crampons) and “gee
poles”(poles lashed to the side of the sled used for steering and support). On April 23, all the men
went to Crater Lake and hauled four loads to their camp. On April 24, the men “respected the
Sabbath by resting...Frank feeling quite ill, afraid threatened by pneumonia. All suffer from nasty
colds since leaving Sheep Camp. Wet snow storm all day, half rain.” On April 25, the men hauled
1,500 pounds from Crater Lake to Lake Linderman. Odell bought a Seattle paper for $ .25, which
said Congress declared Cuba to be free and gave Spain two days to get out.
On April 26, four men started out to haul the rest of their goods to Linderman, but were
stopped by bad weather, and they left their sleds and returned to camp. Odell bought two pairs of
German socks at $1.50 per pair, and had a very bad cold. On April 27, it was stormy. “Ford pretty
sick, in bed all day. I feel bum. Frank about the same.” The men rested for several days, and on
April 29, Odell and Aldrich went to the head of the canyon between Lindermann and Bennett to
survey it, but “too stormy to go further.” Odell bought a pair of hip boots, Ottawas, and a pair of
pants for $13. He noted “sick from bloody flux...I feel bum. Cold seems to be on chest at night.”
On April 30, Odell noted “I have very lame back and feel worse. Aldrich feels symptoms of fever
at night.”
Page -175-

In early May, the men began to move their goods from Lake Linderman to Lake Bennett as
the next step in their voyage into the interior. On May 1, Odell hired freighters to haul some of their
goods to the canyon between Lake Linderman and Lake Bennett, paying one and one half cents per
pound. On May 6, two of the men hauled 3,200 pounds of supplies from Linderman to Bennett,
and on May 9, they took a ton of goods to Bennett Lake. Between Linderman and Bennett was
Linderman Rapids - a brief taste of what was in store when they started down the Yukon.
Moving goods between Linderman and Bennett. Vogee photo, Yukon Collections.

Trail to the Klondike,
page 80.
Page -176-

Odell wrote another article for his hometown newspaper on May 6, from Lake Linderman,
describing their last month. Odell reported that the 14 mile trek from the summit to the lake,
hauling five tons of supplies, was “very hard work.” The work was made harder because the men
had “been half or three-quarters sick with a very particular kind of cold, which makes a man as
weak as a rag in a day.” The men were moving their goods on the ice down to the foot of Lake
Linderman, then packing them on their backs about a mile to Bennett Lake, then sledding them on
the ice down that lake to a place along the shore where timber was available to build their boats.
They planned to camp there until the ice broke up on the lakes and rivers.
Linderman Rapids. LaRoche photo, UW collections

Page -177-

Odell also wrote his father on May 6, saying they had been camped on Lake Linderman
since April 16, the ice was between two and three feet thick, and there was still two feet of snow
on the ground. Odell expected the letter to reach his father in three weeks, going by private
enterprise to the post office at Dyea, and then to the U.S. by mail. Odell expected the ice to be
melted out of the lakes by about June 1, when they planned to move to Bennett Lake where they
would build their boats. They would then go down the lakes and rivers, stopping at Lake Tagish
to get mail. He described how hard life had been for the men.
It was an awful job to get our goods from the summit here. You see we had to walk
fourteen miles back there, then load up our sleds and haul them back the fourteen miles,
which were mighty long and hard ones before we got here. Some days when it would be
pleasant here at the Lake, we would find a nasty, bad storm after we had traveled five miles
and gotten up on the plateau among the clouds, storms that no one had any business to be
out in. Other days the sun shone so hot that we had to work in our shirt sleeves and nearly
swelter. On one of these days, these hot days, the thermometer was only six degrees above
zero when we started at four o’clock in the morning...
We have all been having a run of the meanest, nastiest, darndest, most disagreeable, most
weakening colds that ever was struck. It attacks a man in every vulnerable spot. I weighed
in at 184 pounds when I was over in Sheep Camp. Last Sunday I weighed 170 and would
tire out after a nine mile walk, with no sled. We are all getting around now so we can work

On May 7, Odell bought a paper and read of the big naval victory at Manila in the Philippines,
part of the war with Spain that led to U.S. acquisition of Cuba and the Philippines. On May 9, Odell
noted “All but Mr. T[hompson] took about a ton of goods down to Bennett. Planned to break camp
in morning. Outlook dubious however for it rained considerably in aft. Saw 4 men carrying body
across the divide to burial.”
On May 10, 1898, the men broke their camp on Lake Linderman and

Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal, May 26 & June 2, 1898
Page -178-

began the move to Bennett Lake, but poor ice made the trip difficult. They worked for several days
to haul their goods from one lake to the other, and one of the men broke through the ice. “Put up tent
at foot of Linderman.”
On May 13, they hired dog teams to bring the remainder of their goods to Lake Bennett, and
Odell heard robins singing for the first time that year. On May 14, the men made their new camp on
Bennett Lake. Odell saw the bodies of several prospectors who died during this phase of the trip. On
May 15, Odell “went down to Stanley’s Mill. Helped bury there one Harry Bluth of Victoria who was
found dead on his sled out on Lake where he was returning from Bennett.”
Lake Linderman, ice breaking up. Odell picture.
Page -179-

On May 16, Odell and Aldrich decided to leave the four other men in the Thompson party
with whom they had first associated on the train to Seattle. They spent several days dividing up the
goods the party had brought to Bennett Lake.
Odell camp and boat at Bennett Lake.
Odell picture.
View down Bennett Lake from camp.
Odell picture.
Bennett Lake, looking north, Vogee photo
Page -180-

At Bennett Lake, the men built the boat that would take them down the Yukon River. Lake
Bennett had “the largest tent city and greatest boat-building center in the world.” Building their boat
took Odell and Aldrich from May 20 to June 22, when they finally broke camp and began their
voyage down the Yukon River.
On May 20, Odell bought the tools needed to build their boat; saw, $2.50; hammer, $1.25;
chisel, $.25; brace, $1.25;, bits, $1.00 - 1.25. Odell and Aldrich made an arrangement to work at
Stanley’s Lumber Mill to pay for some of the lumber they would need. They worked at the mill for
a week getting some of the lumber they used to build their boat. The cut down trees on the nearby
hillsides and cut the logs themselves into lumber in a saw pit for the rest of the lumber. Showing
how small a world it was, Odell noted that on May 25, “Tom Geir and Christen, chums at Cornell of
96-97 came to see us.” On May 27, White, Princeton ‘95, visited their camp.
On May 31, Odell and Aldrich began work on their boat. Odell got plans for the boat from
Mr. McAllister, and built a work bench and foundation. Odell sawed ribs, sorted lumber and began
to hew out the prow.
Planks were made in what was known as an “arm-strong” mill, where the men dug a saw-pit,
and leaned skids against a platform to roll logs into place on the skids. They removed the bark and
sapwood from the logs they had cut and hauled from the surrounding hillsides to their worksite, and
marked out the slabs with a chalkline. They then “whipsawed” the logs using a two handled saw, one
person working in a pit below the logs and the other working above. This was awful work:
They made their cuts with a whipsaw, a long, coarse-toothed instrument which the stampeders
declared had been conceived in hell and wished on them by the devil. It didn’t make any
difference which end of the saw you found yourself on, it was a poor choice either way. The
man on top bore the weight of the saw, while the man below labored in a shower of sawdust.
It took approximately 800 feet to build a boat capable of carrying a ton of supples, and the
Page -181-

Klondikers won every foot the hard way.
Klondikers claimed that the long hours in the sawpits ruined more good friendships than any
institution since marriage. Tempers, already worn thin by the rigors and hardships of the trail,
frequently snapped under the strain and erupted in a flurry of fist fights and hard feelings.
Some partners even went so far as to cut the completed boat in half in order to satisfy
disgruntled demands for an “even split.” Many had never hammered a nail or sawed a board
or handled a caulking iron, yet slowly but surely, an armada took shape and form.

Odell & Aldrich cutting logs in their Saw Pit.
“Considerable work and some profanity.” Odell picture.

Trail to the Klondike
, pages 87, 88.
Page -182-

Lake View Hotel at Lake Bennett, Odell picture.
Whipsaw pit at Bennett Lake. LaRoche photo, UW collections.
Page -183-

Bennett Lake, building boats. Curtis photo, UW Collections.
Boat works at Bennett Lake. Odell picture.
Page -184-

Working on boat at Bennett Lake.
Odell picture.
Boats on Bennett Lake. Odell
Everything needed for the boat was done by hand; ribs were individually sawed and beveled,
and the prow was manually hewed out. After the boat was assembled, pitch and oakum were used
to caulk between planks. Oars, a mast, and a pump were built by hand. Sails were handsewn.
Odell described the work done on the boat over the next few weeks. “Beveled ribs and planed
off half of stem.” “Continued framing ribs.” “Finished framing ribs, leveled boat bed and began
setting up ribs.” “Took down frame and rebraced it, gave more slant, made new stern frame, put first
bottom boards on.” “Put on more side boards.” “Finished putting on bottom boards. Ellie began
rolling oakum. Ellie caulked until midnight.” “Ellie rolled oakum.” “Ellie caulked, ran out of oakum,
borrowed some of Andy Crawford. I worked on oars.” “Finished caulking. Began pitching boat,
finished in evening.” Launched boat & loaded in evening. Leaked some. Then cut trees for oars and
push poles.” “Worked on oars. Took boat out & repitched,” Put in one set of oar licks & guard strips
on bottom of sides.” “Ellie put in false bottom & side strips. I worked on oars.” “Worked on oars
& mast. Ellie sewed sail.” “Made steering oar & began on pump.”
Page -185-

On May 25, Odell “helped on Stanley’s boat.” On May 27, Odell said that friends came by
in the evening to discuss their plans and “stayed pretty late.”
Bennett Lake was a busy place in the spring of 1898, with thousands of prospectors working
on the boats that would take them and their supplies into the interior. In February 1898,
Superintendent Sam Steele of the Northwest Mounted Police reported that 7,000 men were camped
at Bennett Lake, awaiting the spring break-up of the river ice. Pictures of Lake Bennett show
thousands of tents pitched side by side, each with a boat-building operation alongside. One can
imagine the sanitary conditions, or lack thereof. There were social activities going on as the men
helped each other and socialized at night. There was even a Salvation Army tent with music played
nightly to provide entertainment and warn the stampeders of the evils of drink. Given Odell’s view
on drinking, he likely felt right at home.
Salvation Army tent, Bennett Lake. Odell picture.
Page -186-

Lake Bennett
Hotel Portland, Bennett Lake
Hotels on shore, Bennett Lake
Page -187-

Odell and Aldrich were late finishing their boat. When the ice broke up on May 29, most of
the 7,000 men camping at Bennett Lake left , beating the two men on the race to the gold fields.
There was a “mad rush” of boats” and rafts leaving Bennett Lake, “a vast and ragtag fleet” of
stampeders who had been waiting for the ice to break.
After a long winter's wait, the Yukon River ice broke on May 29, 1898. Thousands of those
who had camped and waited by Lake Lindeman and Lake Bennett were ready to head down
what was universally accepted as the easiest portion of the journey to the Klondike. Eight
hundred boats set out down the Yukon River that day. They were the leading edge of a
massive flotilla that would grow to over 7,000 boats holding 30,000 restless and hopeful
The forests surrounding Lake Lindeman and Lake Bennett had been stripped bare in the
frenzy of boat building. The boats made by the stampeders reflected the abilities of their
builders, from well-crafted and designed craft to rickety scows that capsized and sank only
a few short miles after being launched.
Odell noted, “boats going down by the hundreds.” Odell and Aldrich could only continue to work
on their boat and hope that all the promising prospecting sites would not be claimed down river.

Page -188-

Bennett Lake, Goetzman photo, UW Collections
Bennett Lake, boats waiting to leave. Odell picture.
Page -189-

Lake Bennett, getting boat ready for the voyage down the Yukon River.
Odell picture.
On June 11, Odell helped other stampeders who had not yet left to “set out seine.” On June
21, Odell’s boat was finally finished, and Odell and Aldrich could begin the next stage of their trip,
the push into the Klondike gold fields. Odell noted, “Finished pump. “Finished packing of ground
tools, loaded boat, sail didn’t fit.”
Odell and Aldrich finally began their journey down the Yukon River in late June, several
weeks after the other prospectors had left. They proudly hung a small red and white Cornell pennant
from the mast of their boat showing their loyalty to their alma mater. The Big Red was finally off on
their Argonaut adventure down the Yukon River.
Page -190-

Leaving Bennett Lake
Their next challenge was to travel down various rivers and lakes, through dangerous rapids,
into the interior by sailing, rowing, and floating.
When the ice melted on the Yukon River on May 29th, there were 7,124 hand-made vessels
of all types that began the 550 mile journey down the Yukon River to Dawson. In spite of a warning
from the RCMP to “build them strong and not start out in a floating coffin,” the flotilla leaving Lake
Bennett included “a fantastic flotilla of skiffs, scows, canoes, barges, and rafts; anything that would
float and much that wouldn’t.” At least 30 million pounds of supplies floated down the river in the
first months of summer, and at least 150 boats sunk or smashed in the first few weeks following the
river’s breakup. “This journey took about three weeks, but it was not an easy ride. Wild rapids tested
stampeders. The worst were Miles Canyon, White Horse, Five Fingers, and the Rink. Stampeders
lost boats and outfits, and some drowned, but most arrived safely in Dawson by the summer of 1898.”
Those who went all of the way to Dawson found that local miners had already claimed all of the
gold-bearing creeks the prior year, and there were no prospects for rapid riches left.
There are many men in Dawson at the present time who feel keenly disappointed. They have
come thousands of miles on a perilous trip, risked life, health and property, spent months of
the most arduous labor a man can perform, and at length with expectations raised to the
highest pitch have reached the coveted goal only to discover the fact that there is nothing here
for them.
In 1960, in a letter to an acquaintance in New York, Odell described their trip into the Yukon
Territory as follows:

Trail to the Klonidke,
pages 80, 88, 92;
Seattle Outfits the Klondike Gold Rush,
U. S.
Park Service,;
Page -191-

March, 1898, left with my college chum Ellis L. Aldrich for the Klondike via Chilkoot Pass,
Miles Canyon, Windy Arm, White Horse Rapids, Five Fingers Rapids, Squaw Rapids, and
the like, building our boat with raw lumber built from green trees on Lake Bennett near the
source of the Yukon River, loading it with a year’s supplies bought in Seattle, brought over
the pass in many, many pack loads and then sled loads to our camp on Lake Bennett. All we
would need to eat, wear, and use for a year, a requirement of the Canadian Police stationed
at the Alaska-Canada border line. In our case about a ton and a half.
It is interesting that Odell emphasized the rapids they had to transit on the Yukon River, rather than
the difficulty of hauling their supplies over Chilkoot Pass and down to Lake Bennett. The challenges
of the rapids were the experiences he remembered the most, a view shared by many others because
of the dangers they presented.
On June 22, the Odell party left Bennett Lake to sail, float and row down the Yukon River
through a number of lakes and rapids, until they reached Fort Selkirk on July 26, where they stopped
their journey inland did their prospecting.
On June 22, Odell noted “broke camp, started trip at two P.M., sailed nearly to foot of lake.
Becalmed, tied up to shore and slept in boat.” On June 24, the men went through Lake Nares and into
Lake Tagish, where they saw several men they had met on the steamer Al-ki, and had last seen at
Sheep Camp, Thomas Wood and Walt Hoglen from Dayton, Ohio. The two parties decided to travel
together, joining forces to assist the parties through the difficult rapids that lay ahead. Odell and
Aldrich would continue their association with Wood and Aldrich when they reached the gold fields.
Odell and Aldrich went to an RCMP post at Lake Tagish to register their boat, and got boat license
number 14,039, showing how many boats had left before them in this massive gold rush that attracted
men and women from all over the world.
Page -192-

View across Tagish Lake. Odell picture.
Getting Around Miles Canyon and the White Horse Rapids
Walt Hoglen, Tagish Lake. Odell picture.
RCMP station at Tagish Lake. Odell picture.
Page -193-

“the worst place on the Yukon

Odell wrote his father on June 28, from the foot of Lake Tagish. Odell and Aldrich separated
from the other men and were by themselves, “happy and independent as you please and eating enough
for four men.” Their boat, which carried a ton and a half of goods, was in good shape. The men were
still considering their future plans. Odell described the trip beyond Lake Tagish, which involved
going through the Yukon River’s two most dangerous rapids, Miles Canyon and White Horse rapids
immediately beyond, next to the gold rush town of White Horse.
We do not know just to what point we are going, perhaps to Dawson, perhaps clear on down
to American Territory in far Alaska. We shall stop along at the different places along the
Yukon river, see what we can see, hear what we can hear, and get what we can get. We may
try to go up the Stewart river, as we planned when with the other party. We have a good wind
to sail by. We will eat a cold lunch of bread, biscuit, flap-jacks and coffee and start on down
Marsh Lake, perhaps reaching Miles Canon [canyon] and White Horse Rapids. There have
been many accidents this spring, but here are a lot of crazy reckless idiots going down the trip.
We shall probably pack our goods around and rope our boat down to run no risks.
The rapids in Miles Canyon, and White Horse rapids, were called “the worst place on the
Yukon” for good reason.
Treacherous Miles Canyon preceded White Horse Rapids, the most hazardous portion of the
Klondikers' river journey. In the center of Miles Canyon, invisible until the boats were almost
in it, was a twirling, wild whirlpool. As the argonauts congratulated themselves on bypassing
the whirlpool, they may have noticed the canyon narrowing to almost a third of its original
size, squeezing the water flow into a briskly moving funnel...
Took the opportunity during the dinner hour to walk down to the head of the White Horse
Rapids, two miles below [Miles] canyon. The river makes an abrupt turn right at the head of
the rapids, making it difficult to strike the crest. Anyone who is ambitious to shoot the rapids,
except as steersman, is advised to forego inspection of them in advance, as the sight in most

Odell’s letter to his father was published in the Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal
on August 18, 1898.
Page -194-

cases results in a decision to make the portage instead. The rapids are about half a mile long,
and the immense volume of water, with swirling and high-breaking waves, sweeps down the
incline at a speed of 15 miles an hour.
The river, which is 300 feet wide at the head of the rapids, contracts to 40 at the foot, where
the confined waters rush through the narrow gateway with foam-crowned turbulence and then
sweep on with a seven-mile current for a few hundred yards, finally resuming their placid
The dangers of those two sets of rapids was the reason that the RCMP required registration
of boats going down the Yukon River.
The North West Mounted Police assigned a number to each boat, carefully recording the
names of the passengers--in order to facilitate notification of next of kin. Such precautions
were the result of authorities having no way to ensure proper identification of bodies retrieved
after their boats had capsized. In the first days of the rush down the Yukon River, over 100
boats were torn to pieces in the White Horse Rapids, dragging at least ten to their deaths.
Those who had survived with their lives lost most of their supplies and were trapped between
the horrors of the Coast Mountain passes and the unknown world of the gold fields.
Miles Canyon and the White Horse Rapids were the most hazardous obstacles on the upper
reaches of the Yukon River. Hundreds of boats were lost here during the Klondike Gold Rush.
The number of people who actually died shooting the rapids during the Gold Rush is
debatable. One source states that "fully 200 were drowned", while a more conservative
estimate places the number at five. Even First Nation travelers, whose light dugout and bark
canoes could navigate the treacherous waters, had maintained portage trails around the worst
of the rapids. The fast water was finally tamed in 1959 with the construction of the
hydroelectric dam near White Horse rapids and the formation of Schwatka Lake.
The RCMP had men stationed along the route of the Gold Rush in 1898, and imposed rules
for those going through Miles Canyon and White Horse rapids to try and prevent the carnage that



Page -195-

could result from inexperienced stampeders taking home-made and unseaworthy boats through the
dangerous waters.
Superintendent Samuel B. Steele, the most well known member of the Northwest Mounted
Police in the Klondike Gold Rush, was famous for making up the laws as he went along. The
laws he made governing Miles Canyon had a profound effect on Canyon City.
Steele was on hand in May of 1898 when the ice went out at Lake Bennett, unleashing the vast
and ragtag fleet of stampeders’ boats and rafts that had accumulated over the winter months.
Following in the wake of that first mad rush, he traveled to Canyon City and witnessed first
hand the hazards and treachery of Miles Canyon and White Horse rapids. Steele immediately
imposed a series of restrictions to control passage through canyon and rapids. He ruled that
only qualified steersmen could steer the boats through the rapids, that no women or children
were permitted in the boats and that all boats must have the necessary freeboard to ride the
waves safely. He placed Corporal Edward Dixon in charge of day-to-day operations at the
canyon. The restrictions put in place by Superintendent Steele forced most of the stampeders
to unload their scows at Canyon City and secure the services of a professional river pilot.
These measures undoubtedly saved many lives and essentially guaranteed the success of
Macauley's tramline.
Samuel B.Steele

Page -196-

The two sets of rapids were so challenging that an entrepreneur named Norman Macaulay
established a tram railway around them to carry the supplies of the prospectors, while their boats were
taken empty through the rapids by professional pilots. The tramway had log rails, and horses towed
cars loaded with supplies.
Sometime in the fall of 1897 Norman Macaulay, a 28 year old merchant from Victoria, moved
to the Yukon from Dyea and established a roadhouse/saloon at the beginning of the portage
trail around Miles Canyon and White Horse Rapids. Macaulay anticipated the human flood
that was soon to break on the upper Yukon, and during that winter of 1897-98 he began
construction of a wooden tramway on the east bank of the river. The tramway was a crude
track made of unmilled local logs but the scale of the project was monumental by the
standards of the day. For five miles through the thick brush a line was cleared, a roadbed
constructed and track laid. The feat was made even more remarkable because it was
accomplished by a crew of eighteen men with horses in only three weeks. Short, rough tram
cars with heavy cast-iron wheels were pulled along this simple track, usually by a single
horse; but horses could be hooked in tandem for the steep hills or especially heavy loads.
Macaulay's tramway and roadhouse formed the nucleus for the small isolated community of
Canyon City.
Then, in the spring of 1898, the human tidal wave hit. Throughout the winter, thousands of
stampeders from around the world had journeyed to Skagway and made the torturous trek
from Dyea up the Chilkoot Pass to Bennett Lake. When Superintendent Sam Steele of the
Northwest Mounted Police arrived at Bennett Lake in February 1898 he reported that 7,000
men were camped at the site, awaiting the spring break-up of the river ice.
This was only the beginning. In that first frantic year of the Klondike Gold Rush more than
28,000 men and women came over the Chilkoot Pass and down the Yukon River. The major
navigational obstacle along the way was Miles Canyon and the White Horse Rapids.
Hundreds of handmade and scows were lost in these waters in the first few weeks of the rush.
Macaulay's tramline offered an alternative to the mayhem - and almost overnight Canyon City
was born.
The Canyon and White Horse Rapids Tramway Company transported freight and smaller
boats around the canyon and rapids for the princely sum of three cents a pound and $25 a boat.
At the peak of its operation, Macaulay's "freight hustlers" and 23 horses were working around
Page -197-

the clock, moving between 70 and 90 tons of freight a day.
Macaulay’s Tramway in Canyon City
Norman Macaulay in front of tram office, Canyon City

Page -198-

On June 28, Odell and his partners sailed down Tagish Lake with a good wind, and reached
the head of Miles Canyon on June 29, camping with their friends Tom Wood and Walt Hoglen. At
the head of Miles Canyon, Odell and Aldrich lightened their boat, had their goods transported around
the Canyon on a wood-track tramway. News from home reached the party even there. Odell’s diary
notes that on July 1, 1898, when they were in Miles Canyon, they “[h]eard of Cornell’s victory over
Yale and Harvard,” the 1898 crew following the tradition begun by the class of 1897.
Odell’s matter of fact descriptions in his diary do not capture the danger or adventure of going
through Miles Canyon and White Horse Rapids.
6/30/98 –
Reached head of Miles Canon [Canyon] about five. Worked down to foot of
rapids and back then made camp.
7/1/98 –
Hired one Smith to pilot our boat to foot of rapids other boat following to head
of rapids, he returning to pilot theirs thru rapids. They stuck on Squaw rapids
finally off no damage. Lightened both boats at head of rapids. Camped at foot
of rapids. Tom [Woods] & I went up to head of Canon [Canyon] for their
sleeping bags. Heard of Cornell’s victory over Yale & Harvard.
7/2/98 –
Rained. Ported goods left around White Horse. Met Frazer old U.S. scout.
7/3/98 –
Tom [Wood], Walt [Hoglen] & I went up to head of Canon [canyon] for their
sleds. Got them taken down on scow and rode down on it. Alameda came in
while we were there. Flora smashed wheel on bank, nearly went down Canon
[canyon]. We loaded up & started down river & our boat stuck on bar mile
down. Worked in water over 3 hours to get off. Landed just below and
7/4/98 –
Unloaded boats to dry goods but rained all day.
Canyon City was a small town located at the bend in the river above the White Horse rapids.
By the summer of 1898, it contained a hotel, saloon, restaurant, store, stables, machine shop,
Northwest Mounted Police Post, cabins and numerous tents. The stampeders did not stay long since
they were headed to the Klondike goldfields, but Canyon City was one of the busiest spots in the
Yukon. Hundreds of stampeders a day made the journey around the canyon and rapids while
Page -199-

hundreds more waited their turns at the Canyon City saloon, playing cards and discussing their hopes
of fortunes to come. Boats lined up as their owners waited for a pilot to take them through the rapids,
or for better conditions or the courage to run the rapids themselves. Macaulay charged stampeders
$25 to load their boats and outfits onto his wooden rail tramway that ran along the river to the foot
of the rapids, so they could take the easy way around the treacherous rapids. Professional pilots
would then take the home-made boats of the stampeders through the dangerous waters. Macaulay
also operated a hotel, saloon, bunk house and other amenities, offering travelers food, lodging liquor
and safe transit. His operation was so successful that he
talked about building a narrow gauge railway around the
two set of rapids. However, in August 1899, Macauley
sold his entire operation to the White Pass and Yukon
Corporation for $185,000, and moved to White Horse
where he build a large hotel and saloon.
Canyon City. Vogee photo, Yukon

Sternwheelers were able to operate on the Yukon Riverfrom Bennett Lake to the head of
Miles Canyon. Another fleet of sternwheelers ran from White Horse and Dawson, and beyond to
Page -200-

Odell and Aldrich had their supplies hauled around White Horse rapids on tram operated by
Canyon City. Meed photo, UW Collections.
Loading goods on Tram for transport around White Horse Rapids
Canyon City Hotel & Saloon
St. Michaels on the Bering Sea. The trip from Bennett Lake to Dawson City took five days by
sternwheelers and cost $75.
Page -201-

Macaulay’s Canyon, White Horse Tramway Railway Company, and they hired a professional pilot
to take their boat through the rapids.
The White Horse rapids were so dangerous that the North West Mounted Police refused to
allow any more boats down them unless there was an experienced pilot aboard. Boats lined
up above the rapids waiting to hire an available pilot. One of those who was to make a living
as a Yukon River pilot was a young adventurer, Jack London, whose tales of the far north and
the gold rush are still popular today.
A view of the rapids must first be had [before setting out]. After turning to the left the river
swings again to the right through a gorge of basalt similar to [Miles] Canyon but only twenty
to thirty feet high and several times its width. For a quarter of a mile it lashes itself into a
perfect fury, and then, with a jumping and tossing, it bursts through a gorge a span wide with
banks level with the wide, generous river.
The Mounties also asked women and children to get out of the boats before they were
launched down the rapids and walk along the banks of the Yukon to below the rapids where
they could board their boats and continue down the river. Not all women walked around the
rapids. Emma Kelly a reporter for the Kansas City Star, was one of three female
correspondents who had been sent to cover the gold rush. She insisted on riding the rapids not
once, but twice. Unlike those who feared for their goods and future, Kelly saw the trip as an
adventure and the rapids a wonderful thrill. In a piece written in 1901 for Lippincott's Monthly
Magazine, she said,
"I do not know when I ever enjoyed anything so much in my life. . . Wild waves rocked and
rolled our boat and occasionally broke over us. The spray rose so thick and high we could not
see the shore, the very air seeming a sea of misty spray. It was simply glorious. All too soon
we rowed into comparatively smooth yet rapid water. A few more strokes of the oars sent us
to the shore and the ride was over, leaving a sensation never to be forgotten."

Page -202-


Loading goods on tram, Canyon
Tram around Miles Canyon
Boat on Tram around White Horse Rapids
Page -203-

Boat running Miles Canyon. Vogee photo, Yukon Collections

Miles Canyon. Vogee photo, Yukon Collections.
Page -204-

Miles Canyon. Vogee photo, Yukon Collections.
Odell’s boat going through Miles Canyon
Page -205-

White Horse Rapids
White Horse Rapids. Vogee photo, Yukon Collections.
Page -206-

Odell’s boat got stuck on a bar a mile below White Horse Rapids. It took Odell and Aldrich
three hours to get free, and their goods got soaked in the process. They had to unload the boat the
next to dry their goods, which took several days.
Swamped raft towed ashore below White Horse rapids. LaRoche photo,
UW Collections
Drying supplies below White Horse Rapids, Hegg photo, UW
Page -207-

Odell wrote his father again on July 2 at the foot of White Horse Rapids, describing their trip
through the two rapids the prior day, along with their future plans.
We shot the Canon - Miles Canon - [canyon] and White Horse Rapids all safely yesterday
afternoon and feel mightily relieved for they are nasty places, with the water going like hades
at high water mark, so to speak.
The mosquitoes are something terrible here at times. So bad that a person will stand in a
choking, blinding smoke trying to eat his meals and cussing between mouthfuls and
alternately rubbing the tears and cinders out of his eyes and scratching his back. But think,
my boy, of five lake trout weighing over sixty pounds, and one of them over twenty and
longer than your leg, with meat a delacate brownish pink, which melts in your mouth, and free
from bones. Along here people are catching grayling trout on flies, but we have not tried it
yet. Our traveling companions, a couple of fellows about our own age from Dayton, Ohio,
whom we ran across the day I mailed you the letter to you at Tagish...caught these trout
trolling. I presume we four will keep along together now. One of them is a Yale ‘96 man...
Near us is a camp of men who are feasting on moose and bear meat. We may take day off and
go back from the river a few miles and try it ourselves in a day or so.

White Horse to Fort Selkirk
Odell and Aldrich had gotten through the most difficult part of the trip down the Yukon River.
Further down the Yukon the boaters had a smooth ride up to a portion just below Lake Laberge
known as Thirtymile. Here, the clear, blue water hid a swiftly moving current that pulled
dozens of boats into rocks in the channel. After that, only Five Finger Rapids remained. It was
an easier way than White Horse Rapids and most who survived the most brutal portion of the
river were no longer intimidated by the smaller rapids. As long as the stampeders could keep
steering their boat along the Yukon and avoid the many side channels that led away from the
gold fields, the rest of the ride down the Yukon was pleasant and enjoyable.

Baldwinsville Gazette & Farmer’s Journal, July 28, 1898.

Page -208-

On July 7, Odell’s party got underway again down river, passed the town of Tahkeenah, and
several days later they rowed across a bay against a hard headwind and entered Lake Lebarge, where
they camped at a temporarily deserted Indian village.
Lake LeBarge was later made famous by the poet, Robert Service, who wrote The Cremation
of Sam McGee, one of his many gold rush poems that described the same experiences that Odell and
Aldrich faced.
There are strange things done, in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails, have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights, have seen some queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Indian village on Lake Lebarge where Odell camped. Odell picture.
Page -209-

Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee
The men sailed down Lake Lebarge for several days, sometimes smoothly with a good wind
behind them, sometimes bucking headwinds. On July 11, the boat leaked, soaking their goods,
requiring another stop to dry them out. On July 13, they left the lake and proceeded down the Yukon
River, managing to catch grayling to eat.
On July 14, Odell’s party reached Cassiar Bar where they stopped to watch mining operations
and do some prosecuting themselves. There were a number of claims staked at Cassiar Bar, and
mining operations worked with water wheels and sluice boxes. This was the men’s first sight of gold.
The men stopped long enough to do some prospecting of their own, and on July 15, Odell noted
Boats leaving Lake LeBarge. Hegg photo, UW Collections.
Page -210-

“[s]pent 2 or 3 hours with Fraser washing gold. Washed a pan & saved gold. Hung around all day
working, taking, 7 looking on.” They watched sluice work being done the next day before starting
down the river again.
Sluice mining at Cassiar Bar. Odell picture.
Panning for gold. Frank LaRoche photo, UW collection
Page -211-

These mining operations inspired the men, and they looked for possible sites to prospect as they
went further down the Yukon, while also dealing with a leaking boat. They were looking for old dried
out creek beds where gold had accumulated. On July 16, the men stopped at a dry creek and did more
prospecting, finding “colors.” On July 17, they had to stop to unload and caulk their boat to try and
stop new leaks. Odell “went up gulch in AM. No color. Ellie & I walked back into little lake, found
dry creek.” On July 21, the men had to unload their boat and dry their goods again. Odell walked up
Little Salmon Valley on an Indian trail and found Indian graves. They saw a “Yukon Post Office” at
the Little Salmon River, a signpost to which prospectors would pin notes for their friends who they
hoped would pass by later and pick up their communications.
Yukon Post Office, Little Salmon River. Odell picture.
Page -212-

Rapids on the Yukon River
Odell and Aldrich got underway again on July 23, and the following day reached Cormack’s
Trading Post. They then had to get through other sets of rapids as they went further north, including
Thirtymile, Five Finger Rapids, and others. Odell and Aldrich shot Five Fingers Rapids in the
afternoon of July 23, and spent the night at the mouth of a stream “in considerable camp of tents of
prospectors.” There was a police post and mill at the site. On July 25, they passed through Rink
Rapids and stopped at Maris Creek which was all staked out, and had many prospector’s tents and “2
pretty women,” and a deep prospect hole.
Five Finger Rapids, Vogee photo
Five Finger Rapids, Vogee photo
Odell going through rapids
Page -213-

Moose swimming across Yukon river, Fort Selkirk. Odell picture.
On July 26, Odell and Aldrich stopped to prospect a creek before arriving at Fort Selkirk later
that day, after 33 days of travel from Lake Bennett. They saw a moose swimming the Yukon just
before they arrived at Fort Selkirk.
Fort Selkirk was a trading post at the junction of the Yukon and Pelly Rivers , about two-thirds
of the way from Lake Bennett to Dawson, and was a boom town because of the gold rush. Fort Selkirk
had been inhabited by First Americans for 8,000 years. Hudson’s Bay located a trading post there in
1848. An RCMP station was located at Fort Selkirk during the 1898 gold rush, along with several
rudimentary hotels, saloons, and places where provisions could be purchased.
Page -214-

Fort Selkirk, Frank LaRoche photo, UW Collections
Fort Selkirk cabins
Page -215-

Odell and Aldrich decided to prospect for gold in the Fort Selkirk area rather than travel further
to Dawson where most of the good prospecting sites had already been claimed. Odell was not
impressed with Fort Selkirk, noting “bad bars.” However, they stopped for several days to decide on
the next phase of their trip. They stayed at a hotel operated by Norman Cloud and his wife, one of
several hotels or boarding houses in Fort Selkirk. Odell later stayed at other places including the
Hotel Selkirk operated by Wade Blaker, and at Harper’s Post. The following letter is written on Hotel
Selkirk stationary, the “Leading Hotel on the Trail,” with meals for $2.00 and rooms for $1.00.
Wood pile near Fort Selkirk. Curtis photo, UW Collections.
Page -216-

Harper’s Post, Fort Selkirk, where Odell stayed.
Savoy Hotel, Fort Selkirk.
Page -217-

Odell and his partners talked with prospectors who had been in the country and knew about the
prospects for finding gold and got discouraging news. “Every body here disgusted with Pelly &
McMillan rivers, whole country, queen, Dominion, everything & everybody in general.” Odell was
warned about the Emmons party, and he noted “kept eyes on C.D. Emmons...Watch Emmons, who
seems in no hurry.
Page -218-

Walt Hoglen and dog at Fort Selkirk
Prospecting on Wolverine Creek with a Larger Group
Odell and Aldrich joined forces with several other Americans at Fort Selkirk, and prospected
on Wolverine Creek, which Odell said was about 35 miles from Fort Selkirk.
On August 1, Odell’s diary notes that he and Aldrich decided to go with Al Yeaton and his
partners into the mountains to prospect. The party left on August 2, with Odell noting “trail mighty
bad wet & swampy.” They camped at a “fine grove on big creek” where Odell caught 18 grayling and
lost Tom’s revolver. They reached their destination on Wolverine Creek on August 3, the men chose
their spot and began mining. Odell noted “dig out 2 feet, much to front & build fire.” Since there
Page -219-

was permafrost about a foot below the surface this far north, a prospector had to dig until he reached
the ice, then build a fire to melt the ice, then dig again. Cribs or wooden supports had to be built to
support the walls to keep them from caving in. This was known as “dig and burn” mining which was
both difficult and dangerous. The party prospected, fished and hunted for a few days. On August 4,
Odell noted “thaw about 8 inches. No colors.” On August 5, “hole caves in badly from side,” and the
next day, “sides cave in again.”
On August 8, Odell and one other man left for Fort Selkirk to buy more provisions, while the
others stayed at the site and did more prospecting. Odell’s moccasins and socks were worn through
so he wrapped his feet in flour sacks. They reached Fort Selkirk that night. On August 10, the men
returned to the Wolverine Creek camp, carrying their provisions on a mule. The men who stayed at
the camp had finished the crib in the hole they dug. However, on August 11, there was another cave
in and the men has to “start over.” On August 12, Odell prospected on another channel of the creek,
noting “cold, wet & hard work & no results.” The discouraged party decided to give up prospecting
at Wolverine Creek and return to Fort Selkirk.
On August 13, the men broke up their camp and left for Fort Selkirk. On the way, they met
the Emmons party who were heading for White River. They reached the Fort on August 14, and the
men tried to decide where to prospect next. Some wanted to go to the White River following the
Emmons party, and all options were discussed for several days. Tom Woods decided to leave for
home on the Dalton Trail which went from Fort Selkirk to Haines, Alaska.
Prospecting at Wolverine Creek
On August 20, Odell, Aldrich, Walt Hoglen and Harry Granger decided to return to Wolverine
Creek for the winter. Their claim was on the Dalton Trail, an old trading route from Pyramid Harbor,
Page -220-

west of Haines Junction, Alaska, 246 miles to Fort Selkirk. On August 24, they bought a buckskin
horse “Buck” for $60, which they used to haul provisions to their camp. Odell’s made a list of
supplies they needed to buy at Fort Selkirk before they returned to their camp on Wolverine Creek
where they would spend the winter prospecting for gold.
Page -221-

Odell bought: 25 lbs. peaches, 40 lbs. corn meal, 350 lbs. flour, __ lbs. baking soda, __ pkgs
magic yeast, 2 lbs. soda, 50 lbs. pea meal, 50 lbs. potatoes, 175 lbs. beans, 25 lbs. raisins & plums, 20
lbs. rice, 150 lbs. bacon, 5 lbs. pilot bread, 85 lbs. sugar, 25 lbs. apples, 15 lbs. tea, 9 lbs. coffee, 4
Grampa’s Wonder,
7 pkgs. Ivory soap, 2 jars extract of beef, 1 lb. Eggs, 2 ½ lbs. citric acid,
½ lb. Ginger, ½ lb. mustard, 1 lb. pepper, 2 bottles vinegar, 16 cans condensed milk, 2 boxes candles,
4 panes glass. (emphasis added). “Grampa’s Wonder” is pine tar soap, produced since 1876,
supposedly good for skin ailments such as psoriasis. It still can be bought, see
The four panes of glass were used in the cabin at Wolverine Creek they built. Below is Odell’s actual
shopping list. The following are pictures of the route taken by Odell’s party from Fort Selkirk to
Wolverine Creek, through “muskeg,” swamp like conditions found in the northern regions when the
ground is not frozen.
On their way to Wolverine Creek with Buck their horse. Mark Odell is on
the right and Ellis Aldrich on the left. Odell picture.

Page -222-

The men left Fort Selkirk for Wolverine Creek on August 30, with Odell noting “trail bad.”
They reached their old camp on September 1, and found a note that Tom Woods left as he walked by
the site on the Dalton Trail on his way home.
The month of September was spent prospecting several sites on Wolverine Creek, finding some
“color.” Fall arrived and they spotted flocks of sand hill cranes flying overhead, going south. On
September 11, they had their first heavy frost.
The men were planning on staying the winter, so they built a cabin out of logs found nearby,
after digging another “whipsaw pit” to cut the logs, and hand built all of their furniture. They used
moss and dirt for the roof, and moss was used to caulk or weatherproof the spaces between the logs.
When the cabin was finished, Odell and Aldrich proudly hung their Cornell pennant on the cabin’s
Trail from Ft. Selkirk to Camp. Odell
Trail from Ft. Selkirk to Camp. Odell
Page -223-

wall, which they had displayed on their boat on the Yukon River.
The party selected a site for their cabin on September 12, and immediately began work. One
layer of logs was up by September 13, with Odell noting “very hard work rolling up logs.” The
weather kept getting colder, and on September 16, Odell noted “very cold last night. Hard frost &
froze.” The men cut a road from their cabin site to their camp to haul the logs. They got their first
snow on September 19, as winter comes early that far north.
On September 20, Odell noted “finished gamble logs, ridge poles, pechines, cut guard logs &
placed them.” On September 21, they cut and peeled logs, and cut the door for the cabin. On
September 23, Odell said they “finished putting on the roof poles, dug moss & mossed dug dirt, &
dirted the roof. Hard days work.” On September 24, they dug out the floor and sealed it. “Put up
stove. Started bunks and caulking.”
On September 25, Odell and Harry Granger went to Selkirk where they bought more provisions
for the winter, noting “worked like the devil.” The men at the camp “chinked” their cabin the next few
days, (put moss between the logs to seal the walls), and slept in it for the first time on September 29.
On September 29, the men gathered hay for bunks, built bunks, a table and chairs, and set up the
stove. They made a porch for the cabin on October 3. They sawed boards in a saw pit for several days,
and made and hung doors and windows on October 6.

Page -224-

Odell cabin at Wolverine Creek. Odell picture.
On October 8, Odell and Harry Granger built a shack on the trail back to Fort Selkirk for
provisions or emergency stays The men made furniture for the cabin, using the boards they cut in the
saw pit. The later part of October was spent cutting wood to heat the cabin and to use for cooking
during the coming winter. It was snowing regularly by this time and a significant snow pack had
accumulated. Others in the party were mining at the same time Odell was working on the cabin.
Once the cabin and shack were built, and the fire wood for the winter put up, the men could spend all
Page -225-

Eating dinner inside of Wolverine Creek Cabin. Odell picture.
their time looking for gold.
The party engaged in “placer mining,” which involves digging down from the surface to reach
bedrock where gold would be found. This method of mining is different from hard rock mining, which
involves underground tunneling. Both kinds of mining were regulated in the United States by the
General Mining Act of 1872, which clarified mining rules on federal land in the West. Canada likely
had a similar law. Placer mining involves first finding traces of gold or “colors” in an existing or old
Page -226-

stream bed; following the bed until a bend or elbow is reached where the gold flushed down the stream
would be concentrated; and then removing the topsoil until bedrock is reached. This involves digging
down to bedrock; washing away the soil over the bedrock using hydraulic hoses; or using a dredge to
remove the soil down to the bedrock in highly financed operations. Under the U.S. Mining Law of
1872, miners could file a claim up to 20 acres for a placer mining operation. Canada likely had a
similar law.

Odell’s party dug shafts in the nearby old creek bed. Their idea was to dig a vertical hole down
to the bedrock, and then fan out in horizontal tunnels just above the bed rock where gold nuggets
would hopefully be found. Permafrost started two feet from the surface, so they built fires to melt the
frozen dirt, and then dug out the mud, dirt, and rocks. Odell’s diary notes “I chose spot, dig out 2 feet
much to frost & build fire.” Odell’s diary has many daily entries saying “D & B,” (dug and burned).
The party had to build cribs, or supports, to keep the walls from caving in as they burned and dug their
way down. A winch was built on top of the shaft around which a rope was wound, and a bucket
attached that was lowered into the shaft to haul out the dirt and rock. It was also used to lower the
miners into the pit each day, and bring them back to the surface. Odell’s diary indicates the shaft caved
in several times, and flooding was a problem. “Cave in under crib & boys start to crib anew...Bailed
out hole 10 ft. of water, dug out some loose dirt.” They dug three shafts, one reaching thirty feet,
before they reached bedrock, working in very difficult conditions.

Costigan, George,
Handbook on American Mining Law,
pages 135, 245; Humphries, Marc, and
Vincent, Carol,
Mining on Federal Lands,
CRS Issue Brief for Congress
Page -227-

Mark Odell and partner placer mining at Wolverine Creek in temperatures well
below zero. Odell picture.
On November 4, Odell began work on “Aleck’s [Harbinson] hole, built windlass, took out dirt
& snow to ice which was 15 feet from surface.” On November 7, “dug out down to frozen ground
& built fire.” On November 8, “dug out and fired, down to rock, loose mica - rock...Some slide
debris.” On November 9, “dug and fired again, about on bed rock, find loose rock again...River froze
last night.” On December 5, the men began digging another one hole “across creek opposite cabin,”
and found “gravel, many cobbles and small boulders” that had to be dug out and hauled out of the hole
Page -228-

Woodpile outside of Wolverine Creek cabin. Odell picture.
using the winch.
Odell’s diary contains notes about their mining activity virtually every day throughout the fall
and winter, although he also mentions the weather, the men’s health, letters they received, and other
daily activities in which they engaged. December 18, “I washed and mended a little. Made curtains.”
December 23, “hunted rabbits, made curtains for window.” December 25, “had great old Christmas
dinner. Plum pudding, pies, cake, game stew. This my first Christmas away from home.”
The Fall of 1898 and Winter of 1899, were very cold and dreary. Odell’s diary recorded
temperatures of 45, 46, 51, and 68 below zero, and noted that the prospectors were frequently sick.
“Holy smut, find it was 51 degrees below last night!!!!!!!!!”
Page -229-

The men took turns making regular treks by snowshoe from their cabin to Fort Selkirk to get
supplies, and to get away from the cabin to break up the tedium of winter. Odell’s diary says the trip
was 35 miles one way, and the men hiked it in one long day of 14 or 15 hours, although the distance
may have been shorter. They did have a shelter on the long route they could use in case of an
emergency. Snowshoes were used to get around in the deep snow. The rigors of the hike were noted
in Odell’s diary. It was too cold to wear boots so they wore two pairs of heavy German wool socks
and moccasins. On one trip his diary notes: “moccasins and socks wore through, wrapped feet in flour
sack.” Odell’s family still has a pair of his moccasins.
Outside Wolverine Creek cabin. Odell
Page -230-

On the trail to Fort Selkirk
Odell on trail to Fort Selkirk
Lunch break on the trail to Fort Selkirk. Odell picture.
Page -231-

Odell records the men’s trips back to Fort Selkirk in temperatures well below zero. December
27, “reached Selkirk 4:35 [pm], having left at 5:50 [am]. Cloudy and threatening to snow all day. 25
degrees below today, 26 degrees below yesterday.” On January 2, 1899, Odell noted “start back at
4:10 [am],moonlit all way to shack, 7:45[am]. Reached cabin little before four. 39 degrees below
when left Selkirk.” These conditions remind one of Robert Service’s description of life in the
On a Christmas day, we were mushing our way, over the Dawson trail
Talk of your cold! Through the parka’s fold, it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eye’s we’d close, then the lashes froze, till sometimes we couldn’t see;
It wasn’t much fun, but the only one, to whimper was Sam McGee.
After returning from this long hike from Fort Selkirk, the men went right back to their difficult
and dangerous mining activities in the bitter cold. January 3, “cold all day and evening, probably 40
or more last night. Dug and burned again, now down probably 8 ft. in clay. Rope on sack broke &
let 2 heavy logs fall on Walt’s shoulder. Very fortunately only bruising him.”
On January 23, Odell described a visit to the cabin by local Indians during a storm, which did
not interfere with their work for long. “Whole crowd Indians here from morning until one o’clock,
9 bucks, about 15 boys & papooses, 6 or 8 squaws. We traded for moccasins, bead work, jewelry.
They finally went on up Valley. Had storm all day, wind and snow, most tedious one this winter.
Wind from North. Clear in eve. Dug & Fired hole.”

As was true for most lured to the Yukon by the dream of striking it rich, the men’s claim at
Wolverine Creek failed to yield any significant amounts of gold. Several small nuggets were found,
not much to show for their efforts. After a harsh fall and early winter of difficult work prospecting in
Page -232-

sub-zero temperatures, reality set in, and the men decided to leave and get on with the next phase of
their lives. Odell’s diary says “not very cheerful.” A partner at their Wolverine Creek operation, Harry
Granger, decided to stay in the Yukon Territory and Alaska to do more prospecting.
January 24, 1899, contains Odell’s last mention of mining work at the cabin. “Dug & fired
hole. I snowshoed down trail to 2
creek on rt., about 8 - 10 miles in all. Legs tired. Ellie & I decide
to go to Selkirk tomorrow. Clear and much colder, especially at night. Beautiful moonlight.”
The work of leaving turned out to even harder than coming in, and required a series of nearly
consecutive trips from the cabin to Fort Selkirk hauling out their goods.
Odell hiked to Fort Selkirk on January 25, in very cold weather. “Start for Selkirk 7:40 [am].
Trail drifted badly, difficult to follow. About 23 below. Selkirk about 5. Very tired. I snowshoed
from where I left off last night.” Odell returned to the cabin on January 30, leaving at 7:40 am, in
“new snow, hard walking,” reaching the cabin at 5:00 pm, “mighty tired.”
Odell didn’t rest very much in spite of his exertion. On January 31, Odell and Walt Hoglen
walked back to Selkirk, leaving the cabin at 11:00 am, arriving at the shack at 4:00, “sleep all night
comfortably.” However, the men experienced difficulty the next day. February 1, “Walt gives out
almost after half way to Selkirk, so take 5 hours to come last 2 hours distance. Get here at dark. Walk
gives out completely after reach flats, 10 minutes from here. Stop, build fire and rest.” Odell lost his
watch on the return trip on February 4.
On February 5, Odell, Aldrich and Granger went back to Fort Selkirk, with Odell and Aldrich
returning to the cabin on February 7, “mighty tired.” On February 8, the men divided up the rest of
their provisions, and Odell and Aldrich prepared to return to Fort Selkirk with their goods.
Page -233-

On February 9, 1899, Odell and Aldrich started for Fort Selkirk, hauling a big sled fully loaded
with their provisions. They could not reach the shack with the heavy load, so they had to leave the
sled and hike to the shack without it. Odell noted, “very heavy work. Leave big sled between Willow
& big creek & get to shack very late. 45 degrees below.” On February 10, they went back, got the sled
they had left behind, and returned to the shack for the night. The next day, they hauled the fully loaded
sled to Fort Selkirk. Odell noted, “regular horse work.”
This last photo taken at the prospecting site on February 9, 1899, shows Odell, Aldrich and
Granger pulling a sled with a horse collar, with a caption saying “lean into the collar, the unspoken
slogan of ‘97, and ‘97 comes back.” Odell described the effort to haul their supplies to Ft. Selkirk as
Hauling goods from Wolverine Creek cabin to Fort Selkirk. Odell is the man in the
middle pulling the sled, doing “regular horse work.” Ellis Aldrich is on the left and Harry
Granger is on the right. Odell picture.
Page -234-

“regular horse work.” Apart from a few nuggets and many memories, these attempts at humor were
all that Odell and Aldrich brought home from the Yukon.
On February 12, Aldrich sold the men’s goods to “Swinehart,” and Odell sold “some stuff
around town.” On February 13, Granger went back to the cabin, and on February14, Odell noted that
he and Aldrich “dispose[d] of most of goods. Trade a little with Indians. Get sled & stuff, ready to
start up [Yukon] river in morning.”
The trek from Ft. Selkirk to Skagway was long, tedious and difficult, taking the men from
February 15 to March 8. Each day they hiked between 12 and 30 miles, experiencing temperatures
at times less than 40 below zero, and slept in dirty, cramped bunkhouses, at least one of which Odell
said was a “bum place.” These entries from Odell’s diary indicate how the weather was bad and the
going rough:
feet blistered on bottom, can hardly walk last 12 ms...44 below this morning...very cold
today...feet very sore & legs lame...feet very sore...bad wind and storm at our back all
day...very bad storm.
The men’s long walk from Fort Selkirk to Skagway in temperatures well below zero, which caused
them much discomfort, were a real life example of the harsh conditions described by Robert Service.
On a Christmas day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail
Talk of your cold! Through the parka’s fold, it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eye’s we’d close, then the lashes froze, till sometimes we couldn’t see.
Odell and Aldrich left Fort Selkirk on February 15, 1899, heading for home on the 400 mile
trek back to Skagway. They hiked 18 miles their first day on the trail, spending the night at the Lewis
Bunk House, where Mr. Gnole was the manager. “Trail hard, but bad in many places for dog sleds.”
On February 16,they got up at 3:45 am to leave. “Wind blew hard, drifting trail full and hard. We
start at 5 breaking trail nearly all way to Arctic-Ex, 12 or 14 miles up.” On February 17, they stayed
Page -235-

in Gorings shack with six other travelers. Odell noted “wind blew down river, sharp, chilled my
thumb putting on sweater. Cold as or colder than yesterday,” and said it was 30 below at Selkirk.
On February 18, they stayed at B.L. & K. Company’s bunk house at Five Fingers kept by Mr.
Passage of Union College, ‘98, from Schenectady; “good weather & trail but in eve strong wind began
blowing filling trail so decided to wait over.” They stayed at Five Fingers until February 22, because
of bad weather, waiting for the trail to open.. On February 19, “blew & snowed all day, worst storm
of the year. On February 20, “storm subsided & cold. Lay over again for trail to open. Terrible trail.”
They left Five Fingers at 7:30 a.m. on February 21, paying $2 for their stay. “Trail well broken
but sled drags mighty hard. Stop a while in cabins 7 miles above to get warm. Prospectors there
temporarily. Intended to go to B.L. & K. house, but stop at Burn’s [bunk house] kept by Furguson.
Mighty tired. 5 footmen, 2 dog teams, 1 sled man ahead of us. Very cold 40 or more [below zero].
5 Fingers all frozen over. Dogs sore footed, sleds drag mighty hard. Odell noted “mighty tired....Very
cold, 40 or more [below zero]. 5 fingers all frozen.” Odell noted “met police with mail,” an RCMP
dog sled carrying mail for settlements further down the Yukon River.
Page -236-

“Met police with mail.”
Dog team on trail, Yukon Territory
Page -237-

On February 22, the men stayed at another B.L. & K. bunkhouse run by McCarthy, (charge $2),
where the met friends who asked them to take one of their dogs to Skagway. “Very cold day.” On
February 3, the men started early and made it to Little Salmon River; “dog helps considerably.” They
paid another $2 fee to stay in a bunk house at Eagles Nest.
Roadhouse on the Yukon River, UW Collections
Roadhouse on Yukon River
Page -238-

On February 24, Odell and Aldrich traveled 14 miles to Brincis cabin at the Big Salmon River,
staying with five others and paying $2, plus $ .40 for dog food. On February 25, they made it to
Cassiar Bar where they had watched mining operations on their way in, staying in the Cassiar Bar
bunk house for $2. They bought provisions at Big Salmon: “5 lbs beans .50, 2 lbs sugar @ 75 cents,
+ .50 worth of dog feed, total $5.50.” On February 26, they traveled to Hotalinqua, arriving at 6:00
pm, and stayed at Hadock’s. They bought 9 pounds of dog meat for $2.25, 5 pounds of buns for $1,
1 pound of potatoes for $ .75, and paid $2 to stay in the bunk house. Odell noted “My feet very sore
and I very tired.” On February 27, Odell’s discomfort continued as they hiked 17 miles to 30 Mile
River, where they stayed in the bunk house there; “feet very sore & legs lame.”
On February 28, the men made it to Lake Lebarge, “snows, acts like bad weather.” They stayed
in the bunk house there, and bought more provisions, “7 lbs flour @ 50 cents, 3.50; can b[aking]
powder .50, dog moccasins, .50, bunks, 2.00.” “Looks stormy in evening.” On February 28, they
hiked to the Indian village at the head of the lake where they had camped on their way into the Yukon.
They stayed in a bunk house, paying $2. “Saw quiver with arrows want very much. Fine day. Feet
very sore.” They reached Miles canyon on March 1, after a 30 mile hike and bought more provisions,
“milk .50, 2 lbs sugar 1.00.” They stayed at a bunk house paying $2. “Feet blistered on bottom, can
hardly walk last 12 [miles].”
The men left Miles Canyon on March 3, hiking 24 miles to Lake Marsh. “Make foot Lake
Marsh about 5 o’clock, good 24 miles by cut off. Stay in bum bunk house owned by Macaulay. buy
1 lb potatoes .50, 5 lbs flour 1.50, b.h. [bunk house] 2, total 4.00. 44 below this morning.”
Page -239-

On March 4, they made it to Tagish Lake, where they registered their boat on the way into the
Yukon. At Tagish Lake, they paid $2 to stay in a bunk house. On March 5, Odell and Aldrich
reached Cariboo Crossing , hiking in bad weather. They likely stayed at the roadhouse operated by
Wilson. “Snows all day and hard head wind from Windy Arm up. Very bad storm. Buy supper &
breakfast at Hotel Maine. 6.00, bunks 2, total 8.00.” Wilson also operated the Hotel Maine.
On March 6, the two men hiked to Bennett Lake where they had made their boat the prior
spring, and stayed at the Klondike Hotel, paying $7 for bunks and meals. On March 7, Odell and
Aldruch stayed at the Old Log Cabin Hotel on Lake Bennett, where the prior June they had built the
boat that took them down the Yukon River. They paid $7.75 for bunks, and freight. “Bad storm and
wind all day.”
Macaulay’s Bunk House, a “bum place.”
Page -240-

Klondike Hotel, Bennett Lake. Vogee photo, Yukon Collections
Old Log Cabin Hotel, Bennett Lake. Vogee photo, Yukon
Page -241-

On March 8, Odell and Aldrich hiked over Chilkoot Pass, and back into the United States after
passing through the Customs checkpoint manned by the RCMP, and onto Skagway. Before leaving
Canada, the men had get an exit permit from the RCMP.
Odell’s exit permit from Cananda
RCMP Station at Canada/US
US Canadian Border
Page -242-

On March 8, 1899, after three weeks of hard traveling, Odell and Aldrich finally reached
Skagway, after another hard day, “bad storm & wind all day,” no longer cheechakos but hardened and
weary sourdoughs. A real hotel room at the Dewey Hotel, Skagway’s finest hotel, steam baths,
medicine, and new clothes were the first order of business.
Took baths, shaved, bought new clothes and cleaned up generally. Drugs .50, baths 1.50, pants
13.00, shoes 7.00, shirts 3.00, socks .85, suspenders .75, hat & tie 3.00, meals 1.60, bunks .50
A stay at the Dewey Hotel was a real luxury for Odell and Aldrich, after their nearly 400 mile
walk out of the Klondike, and the rugged conditions and sleeping arrangements they experienced on
the route.
The Dewey Hotel, located at 7
and State Street, was advertised as the only hotel in Skagway
with steam heat. It was a three story building, “recently constructed and well furnished throughout,
and all its rooms being commodious and richly furnished.” Meals were available in the rooms, or
could be obtained at nearby restaurants, and it had the only Turkish baths in the city. Carriages met
all the boats coming into the harbor, and were available for the guests of the hotel.

Page -243-

Page -244-

After spending a year in the Yukon Territory of Canada prospecting for gold, Odell and Aldrich
decided to get on with the next phase of their lives.
Odell and Aldrich left Skagway, traveling by the steamship Laurada from Skagway to Seattle,
arriving around March 17, 1899. The Seattle Times of March 23, 1899, had an article about the arrival
of the steamship that carried Klondike gold.
The Steamship Laurada, which arrived nearly a week ago from the North, was the first
Klondike treasure ship to arrive this year although the fact that a large quantity of gold on
board was kept so quiet that the fact did not leak our until the arrival of the City of Seattle
yesterday. Men who came out with the rich miners gave their secret away.
They place the amount of gold on the Laurada at $150,000. The gold was in possession of
Purser Donnelly but he had his instruction to keep quiet about it. The exact amounts that the
rich miners had are not known, but their names are. A woman was one of the lucky gold
holders. It is said in Alaska that she brought out a sack of gold as long as her stocking. She
is Toney Page, a very clever Dawson woman who has made good money through her
friendship with Dawson miners and who knows how to keep her money.
H. Sullivan of Gold Run Creek also had considerable dust. D. Clark, W.H. Parsons and H.
Raymond brought some Circle City gold out with them. M.M. Odell and E. L. Aldrich are two
New Yorkers who brought out considerable dust.
The Laurada was not able to get water at Skagway and on the trip to Juneau, the passengers
drank champagne or beer in its place. It is said that the richest of the Klondikers washed his
face in the sparkling liquid.
The Cornell’s student newspaper, The Sun, reported the same story on April 6, 1899. M.M.
Odell and E.L. Aldrich, both of the class of ’98, College of Law, arrived not long ago on the steamer
Laurada, which brought $150,000 in Klondike gold, the first shipment of the year. Nine miners
brought the gold, including Odell and Aldrich, who it is estimated returned with gold amounting to
Page -245-

Cornell Sun, April 4, 1899
between $15,000 and $20,000 each. $20,000 in 1899 dollars would be worth $589,000 in 2016 using
currency conversion tables.
In spite of this news, Odell later wrote his sister in New York saying he was surprised to hear
there were wire reports that he had hit it rich, since he was eating his meals at inexpensive Japanese
From Seattle, Aldrich returned by train to Ithaca, where he finished his law degree in the
Autumn of 1899. Aldrich practiced law in Maine for many years thereafter.
It appears that Odell returned to Skagway, as he later reported he worked as an agent for the
newly constructed White Pass and Yukon Railway and the Alaska Steamship Company in that gold
rush town in 1899, then beginning in December 1899, he was an agent for the Alaskan Steamship
Company in Seattle.
Page -246-

Seattle was dramatically changed by the Yukon Gold Rush, changing from a remote town in
the far west to a major economic force on the Pacific Coast. In 1890, Seattle had a population of
42,837. By 1900, Seattle’s population had grown to 80,671 after many of the gold seekers like Odell
settled there after leaving the Klondike, and it reached 237,194 by 1910.
The intense bustle and commotion of the Klondike Gold Rush dramatically changed the face
of Seattle...Seattle’s links with the West Coast and the rest of the country continued to
improve its economy. Manufactured goods, timber products, and other natural resources could
be shipped by sea to San Francisco, Alaska, and the countries along the Pacific Rim. Goods
also could be shipped by rail, with direct connections to Canada, California, the Midwest and
the Northeast. By the dawn of a new century, Seattle had established itself as the premier city
of the Northwest.

The gold rush caused Seattle to grow substantially in both population and wealth. Seattle was
the jumping off point for the gold rush, and its merchants made fortunes by outfitting prospectors
heading north. By the spring of 1898, more than $25 million had been spent on the Yukon trade in
Seattle. In addition, much of the gold found in the Yukon, and most of the wealth generated in the
gold fields, ended up in Seattle. By the end of the century, assayers in Seattle had exchanged more
than $18 million in gold, worth over $400 million in today’s dollars. Money brought to Seattle by the
gold rush was the foundation of many of the city’s major businesses, including John Nordstrom’s shoe
store, George Bartell’s drug store, and Joshua Green’s enterprises. Green made his money transporting
miners to Alaska, which financed a ship-building empire and later a bank.


Seattle Outfits the Klondike Gold Rush,
U. S. Park Service.

Stein & Becker,
Alaska - Yukon - Pacific Exposition,
pages 11 - 14.
Page -247-

The Seattle City Directory of 1900 described the city’s business and economic base. "Seattle
is the principal manufacturing center of the Pacific Northwest. The census shows that instead of
ranking with Portland, Tacoma and Everett, this city, including her suburbs, far outstrips them all in
general manufacturing industries." In 1900, $50 million in manufactured goods were produced in
Seattle, and its companies employed around 13,000 persons providing a the payroll of $9 million.
Goods sold in Seattle in 1900 included: groceries, $6.25 million; clothing and dry goods, $6 million;
flour, hay, grain and feed, $5.5 million; packing house products, $4.5 million; hardware, $3 million;
heavy machinery, $3 million; and fresh meats, $1.9 million. Lumber and wood products (shingles,
sashes, doors, and furniture) were the leading exports, and there were more than 340 lumber and
shingle mills in Western Washington, which produced 405 million board feet of lumber and more than
three billion shingles. Of Seattle's 31 shingle mills, 14 were in Ballard. Coal was a major export and
the primary fuel for industry and homes. There were more than 900 Seattle businesses, many small
specialty shops involved in manufacturing. Larger companies included packers of pork and beef,
including Armour, Carstens, Cudahy, and Swift. There were 133 mining companies with Seattle
offices, many of them operating in Alaska. Puget Sound iron foundries produced engines and mill
machinery worth $2.5 million per year, selling to the 16 ship and boat yards on Elliott Bay. The
fishing industry had $25 million in capital. Seattle's trade with Asia, nonexistent five years before, was
worth more than $15 million a year by 1900. Great Northern Railroad was building a huge terminal
at Smith Cove, and commissioned two of the world¹s largest freighters to haul goods and passengers
between Seattle and "the Orient."
James R. Warren, Business and Industry in Seattle in 1900, Essay
Page -248-

Large amounts of outside capital were invested into the region. On January 3,1900, James J.
Hill, who controlled the Great Northern and Northern Pacific Railroads, sold 900,000 acres (1,406
square miles) of Washington state timberlands to Frederick Weyerhaeuser for $5,400,000, or $6 per
acre, in “one of the largest single land transfers in American annals.” The timberlands were part of
Northern Pacific’s original grant of land from Congress in 1864, to encourage the construction of a
transcontinental railroad. As part of the agreement, Hill gave Weyerhaeuser eastbound shipping rates
on his railroads for timber “so low that they were unheard of …” Weyerhaeuser Timber Company was
formed on January 18, 1900, the largest timber firm in the state. Weyerhaeuser continued to purchase
timberland in Washington, and by 1903, the company’s holdings had increased by 67 percent to
1,500,000 acres. Intensive exploitation of timber began.
Benefitting from the riches that flowed into the area, Seattle invested heavily in its
infrastructure to remake the town into a modern city.
Seattle regraded 25 miles of hills and streets, displacing16 million cubic yards
of dirt, much of which was poured into the tideflats south of the city, creating a whole new industrial
section. The Denny regrade flattened the largest hill in the city north of downtown. Phase 1 was
finished in 1899, phase 2 began in 1903, and was completed in 1911, establishing a uniform grade not
to exceed 5 percent. It took eight years to sluice more than 5,000,000 cubic yards of dirt, most of which
was removed by conveyor belt to barges along the waterfront and dropped into Elliott Bay. The three
Denny regrade projects were not finished until 1930 . Beacon Hill was also regraded and the
Duwamish River was straightened.. In 1909, Harbor Island was created using dredge spoils from the
Page -249-

Duwamish River and soil from the Jackson Hill and Dearborn Street regrades, which was at the time,
the largest artificial island in the world at approximately 350 acres.
The Cedar River watershed was purchased for a city water system, 30 miles
southeast of Seattle, after the Seattle fire in 1889, and miles of pipeline were installed between 1899
– 1901. In 1902, voters approved $500,00 in bonds to build the Cedar Falls dam and hydroelectric
plant, which went into operation on October 4, 1904. On January 10, 1905, electric current illuminated
streetlights and by September 9, City Light began serving private customers. In 1910, the Department
of Lighting formed with J.D. Ross as its head.

The Port of Seattle was formed in 1911. Land was acquired for the
Port, the Duwamish River was straightened, and the Lake Washington Ship Canal was built between
1914 – 1917, connecting Lake Washington with Puget Sound.
The Klondike and Alaska Gold Rushes continued to have a major influence on Seattle’s
political and social life. The Alaska Club was incorporated to promote Alaska and its resources in
1903. The Arctic Club was a formed as a social organization of people connected to Alaska and the
Arctic through business. In 1908, the Alaska and Arctic Clubs merged, forming a new club known
as the Arctic Club, combining the social and business aspects of the two organizations, with its
Greg Lange, Denny Regrade second phase is completed on October 31, 1911, Essay 710; Greg Lange, Seattle's Denny Regrade is completed after 32 years on
December 10, 1930, Essay 711; David Wilma, Harbor Island, at the time the
world's largest artificial island, is completed in 1909, Essay 3631.
Allen J. Stein & Cassandra Tate,
Seattle voters authorize Cedar River water supply
system and re-elect Mayor Robert Moran on July 8, 1889
, Essay 2123; Walt
Seattle voters approve electric utility bonds on March 4, 1902, leading to creation of
Seattle City Light
., Essay 2317; Greg Lange,
Cedar Falls hydroelectric plant
begins lighting Seattle streets on January 10, 1905
, Essay 2284 .
Page -250-

membership restricted to those who had spent time in the north. The new Arctic Club opened in a
building at 3
and Jefferson Street. In 1909, the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition was held in Seattle
to celebrate the area’s connection with the north, and it drew 3 million visitors. In 1914, the Arctic
Building opened at 3
and Cherry, and the Arctic Club moved into the new building, which featured
its famous Dome Room.

Railroads continued to expand into the northwest to take advantage of its growing economic
power. In 1898, E. H. Harriman bought Union Pacific out of bankruptcy for $110 million, and spent
$160 million on improvements. Between 1899 and 1909, Union Pacific’s locomotive fleet increased
11%, mileage operated rose by 36% and tonnage carried more than tripled. In1900, the Great Northern
Railroad built a two mile tunnel through the Cascades near Stevens Pass at a cost of $2 million. In
1901, James J. Hill purchased the Northern Pacific Railroad, integrating its operations with the Great
Northern. Hill built the King Street Station in downtown Seattle between 1904 and 1906, for use by
both the Great Northern and Northern Pacific Railroads. In 1906, the Great Northern tunnel was built
from Virginia to Washington streets, undergrounding its tracks and opening up Seattle’s waterfront.
E. H. Harriman, who controlled the Union Pacific, and James J. Hill, who controlled the Great
Northern, competed to build railroads into unserved areas in the northwest during first two decades
of 1900s. New lines were built into timber stands throughout Washington and Oregon. The
Milwaukee Road, the last of the transcontinental railroads, was built from Chicago to Seattle, opening
for service in May 1909, just in time to take passengers to the Yukon Alaska Exposition. It went over
Jennifer Ott,
Alaska Club incorporates to promote Alaska on December 7, 1903
, Essay 8707; Dotty DeCoster,
Arctic Building (Seattle)
, Essay
9462 .
Page -251-

Snoqualmie Pass, and between 1912 – 1914, the Milwaukee Road built a tunnel built under
Snoqualmie Pass.
The Panama Canal was built after Panama split from Colombia in 1903, becoming a separate
country. The canal opened in 1914, connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and increasing trade
with the orient. The canal was built as a cost of $375 million, using 75,000 workers
Private capital was invested in Seattle, further changing its character and appearance. On May
8, 1910, the Seattle Times said
Builders Busy All Over City
. The major building projects included.
Joshua Green’s $1 million, 12 story concrete office building at 4th & Pike; the 12-story White Henry
& Cobb building; the Northern Bank building; and C.D. Stimson’s $750,000 building at 4
& Union.
The Seattle Times of November 17, 1911, announced that Seattle’s skyline will be “greatly changed”
by its new buildings. The building projects then underway included the $1.5 million 42 story Smith
Tower (which was completed in 1914); the 18 story $500,000 Hoge Building; the $200,000 Amos
Brown Hotel at 3
& Cherry; the Sterling Land Company brick building at 4
& Cherry; the $150,000
Phinney Estate building on 1st near Marion Street; the Plymouth Congregational Church at 6
University; and the $50,000 Catholic Parochial School near the Cathedral.
Odell’s financial benefactor in the gold rush, L.C. Smith, was attracted by the economic
opportunities available in Seattle, and he built the Smith Tower that opened in 1914, which was the
tallest building west of the Mississippi until the 1960s.

Smith, a New York tycoon, had plans for a smaller 14-story office building, but his son,
Burns Lyman Smith, convinced him to build a skyscraper. Make the L.C. Smith Building the
world’s highest outside of New York, he said, and the firm would have a cachet that would help
elevate sales of Smith’s new product, the typewriter. L.C. Smith, like another upstate New York
manufacturing firm, E. Remington & Sons, had made his name and fortune in the manufacture of
small arms. Earlier, Remington had successfully channeled those skills into production of the first
workable typewriter, Smith followed. Plans were shelved for the 14-story building, a figure Smith
Page -252-

Mark Odell initially worked in an area related to his year in the Klondike. Later in 1899, he
returned to Skagway to work an agent for the White Pass & Yukon Route, a railroad being constructed
from Skagway to White Horse to access the Klondike gold fields.
Planning for a railroad into the interior of Canada began soon after the first vessel arrived in
Seattle in July 1897, bringing a “ton of gold” from the Klondike. Construction materials for the
railroad arrived in Skagway in May 1898, and the first tracks were laid on June 15, 1899. Construction
was difficult due to the extreme terrain through which the route ran. Tracks were completed to White
Pass summit on February 20, 1899, and freight could be hauled to that point. Tracks were completed
to Lake Bennett on July 21, 1899. On July 28, 1900, the tracks reached the terminus at White Horse,
where steamships carried men and supplies down the Yukon River to Dawson and on to Nome. By
had arrived at after talks in Seattle with John Hoge, also fresh from the East Coast and planning his
Second Avenue and Cherry Street office building. The Syracuse, N.Y. architectural firm of Gaggin
& Gaggin, rising above the fact it had never designed a structure higher than a few floors, created
plans for one of the world’s earliest skyscrapers. It was to have a 21-story tower rising from a main
21-story structure, topped by a pyramid shaped Gothic cap, a design influenced by the circa-1909
Metropolitan Life Building. The L.C. Smith Building with its 540 offices, including 60 in its Gothic
Tower, was built without injury or incident, even setting a record during final stages when E.E.
Davis & Co., steel contractors, erected eight tower floors during a single week. Around the steel
framework was wrapped a cladding of white ornamented terra cotta, a material dating back into
antiquity and so resistant to the assaults of city grime that the Smith Tower got its first face washing
(with detergent) in 1976. Little wood was used in construction of the Smith Tower. Window frames
and sashes were fashioned of bronze. Doors were steel, hand finished to resemble highly grained
mahogany. Mosaic tiles, Alaska marble and Mexican Onyx provided a mirrored setting for the highly
polished brass used as a trim on the elevators and the telegraph and mail chutes. The crown jewel
of the Smith Tower is the legendary 35th floor Chinese Room. The room’s name derives from the
extensive carved wood and porcelain ceiling and the elaborately carved blackwood furniture that
were gifts to Mr. Smith from the Empress of China. The result was construction of the Smith Tower,
one of the world’s first skyscrapers, hailed in Seattle and elsewhere as the tallest office building in
the world outside New York City. H. C. Smith had died by the time the building opened in 1914, but
his son was there to celebrate the event.
Page -253-

1899, gold had been discovered around Nome, on the Bering Sea, beginning a new rush of prospectors
and miners there The 110.4 mile route from Skagway to White Horse took 35,000 men over two years
and $10 million to finish, at a cost of $90,579.71 per mile. The White Pass and Klondike Route was
described as one of the engineering wonders of the world.
In December 1899, Odell moved to Seattle, where he initially worked as an agent for the White
Pass & Yukon Route, and later as the ticket agent for the Alaska Steamship Company.
This was a
time of phenomenal growth for Seattle fueled by Klondike gold. By 1899, gold had been discovered


A Wild Discouraging Mess, A History of the White Pass Unit of the Klondike
Gold Rush National Historic Pass,
pages 131 - 139.

On August 3, 1894, six men under the leadership of Charles Peabody formed the Alaska
Steamship Company, raising $30,000 by selling 300 shares of stock at $100 each. On Jan. 21, 1895,
the Alaska Steamship Company was finalized. Its first vessel was a140-foot steamship, the
WILLAPA. At the end of 1897, Peabody reorganized the Alaska Steamship Company, and its fleet
expanded rapidly as the Klondike gold stampede created a huge demand for transportation north. In
1898 the stockholders formed the Puget Sound Navigation Company as a subsidiary used to recycle
some of the company’s smaller vessels. In 1902, the Puget Sound Navigation Co. began a route from
Port Townsend and Port Angeles to Victoria, getting a jump on its competitors. On May 2, 1903, the
Alaska Steamship Company purchased control of the La Conner Trading & Transportation
Company, which was renamed the Puget Sound Navigation Company and became the biggest inland
shipping company on Puget Sound.
In 1909, an Alaska Syndicate, using funds from J.P. Morgan and the Guggenheim Company,
bought the Alaska Steamship Company for use in its copper mine in the Wrangell Mountains. They
merged the company with the Northwestern Steamship Co.mpany Limited, keeping the Alaska
Steamship Company name. The merger gave the new company a near monopoly in the Alaska
shipping industry. They increased the fleet to18 ships and expanded service in Alaska from
Ketchikan to Kotzebue. In 1912 Charles Peabody retired from Alaska Steamship Company and was
replaced by S.W. Eccles of the Guggenheim Company. In 1915, Kennecott Copper Company was
formed and began acquiring stock of the Alaska Steamship Company. In the 1930s, Alaska
Steamship Company purchased is long time rival, the Pacific Steamship Company. Michael L.
History of the Alaska Steamship Company, Seattle, 1895-1971
Page -254-

on the beaches around Nome, Alaska, on the Bering Sea, beginning a new gold rush there which
further benefitted Seattle.
Odell wasted no time in getting acquainted with Cornell men living in Seattle. In December
1899, Odell formed the Seattle Cornell Club with several other alumni. F.J. Bernard, ‘74, was the first
president, Mark Odell, ‘97, was Secretary, and George Hittinger, ‘85, was treasurer. The new club,
consisting of a dozen graduates, held an informal supper at the Hotel Butler for C.E. Rogers, ‘95, who
was passing through Seattle on his way to Australia. Rogers, a mining engineer, spent two years in
London, and memories of college days, and “interesting anecdotes of personal experiences since
graduation” were exchanged. In attendance, in addition to the new officers, were George Kittinger,
C.H. Baker, G. Meade Emory, Prof. Frank Barnard, Prof. Almon Fuller, S.G. Dewsnap, W.G. Howells,
and E.H. Richardson. The Cornell club held its first banquet at the Rainier Grand Hotel in February
1900, attended by Odell.

In January 1900, the Seattle Times announced that the city office of the White Pass & Yukon
Route moved from the Northern Pacific Express Company’s rooms to the Northwestern, where it


The Nome Gold Rush lasted from 1899 to 1909, after gold was discovered in the beach
sand near the town of Nome at the outlet of the Snake River on the Seward Peninsula at Norton
Sound on the Bering Sea. By 1899, Nome had a population of 10,000, many of whom had arrived
from the Klondike Gold Rush area, and the population later swelled to 20,000. At the height of the
gold rush, hundreds of tents extended for 15 miles along the beach west of town. During the summer
of 1899, $2 million of gold was recovered from the beaches using shovels, rockers, wheelbarrows
and buckets. Nome was much easier to reach than the interior gold fields of the Klondike Gold
Rush, and some misleading ads made it sound as if nuggets could be picked off the beach. Absentee
investors ultimately took over the mining operations using hydraulic mining techniques and dredges.
Total production from the Nome district was around 3.6 million ounces of gold.
Northwest and
Arctic Gold 1897 - 1927,
Alaska History and Cultural Studies;
Nome Gold Rush,

Reunion of Cornell Men,
Seattle Post Intelligencer, December 19, 1899,
Alumni Banquet,
Seattle Post Intelligencer, February 16, 1900.
Page -255-

Seattle Times, July 27, 1900
would share rooms. “The office force is composed of F.P. Meyer, A. Becker, and M.M. Odell.” The
same newspaper carried an article headlined,
THIS IS A MECCA, Railway Travel Increased to an
Enormous Extent
, saying that railway traffic to Seattle “was heavier by far than it has ever been in the
history of the Pacific Northwest,” and that the Great Northern “has just closed the most successful year
in its history.”

The Northern Pacific Railroad published a pamphlet about the Nome gold rush
containing “just such information as people looking toward Nome would most desire.” It was
“artistically printed,” and contained a number of handsome illustrations and a map of the new

Beginning in the spring of 1900 and
continuing through July 1901, the Seattle
Times carried ads for Alaska Steamship
Company announcing the sailing of the its
steamers Dirigo, Farallon and Rosalie, with
Mark Odell operating as the ticket agent. Its
steamers left the Schwabacher dock in
Seattle for Skagway, with intermediate stops
in Vancouver, Ketchikan, Wrangel, Juneau,
and Haines. The steamships connected at
Skagway with the with the White Pass and
Yukon Route for Dawson. “For further


Seattle Times, January 3, 1900 (page 5).
Page -256-

Seattle Times, July 27, 1900
Seattle Times, May 26, 1901
information apply to Mark M. Odell, Ticket Agent,” 601 First Avenue, Tel. Main 257.
The White Horse and Yukon Route ran ads announcing that beginning August 1, 1900, it
would offer transportation from “Skaguay” to White Horse, where its trains connected directly with
ten fine river steamers of the Canadian Development Company which provided daily service to
Dawson and other Yukon River points. “A Scenic and Pleasure Trip to Nome.”
Page -257-

These ads appeared among full pages of ads for a number of transportation companies, many
of which announced steamer service north to the gold fields. Many promoted passage to Nome and
St. Michael, Alaska, since a new gold rush near those coastal cities was underway by 1899.
On July 31, 1900, Odell was quoted in the Seattle Times saying that the Dolphin, a new
steamer recently purchased by the Alaska Steamship Company, would be put on the run to Skagway.
It was a speedy craft that had previously operated on Long Island Sound, and was being changed as
rapidly as possible from an excursion boat into a comfortable passenger boat. The staterooms were
being enlarged by four feet allowing space for a grand promenade hall in the center. The same article
gave an idea of how much activity was going on around Seattle’s busy waterfront. “Almost every day
sees some change in the water front.” A second new big dock above Madison street was nearly
completed, where a city slip would operate. Many other docks were preparing to change their slips
to conform to the general aspect of the new docks. All of the companies located between Columbia
and Washington Streets were preparing to move. Coal traffic between Seattle and Honolulu was
picking up, and there were no ships available since all “loose vessels’ were secured by wheat shippers.
A big fleet had been chartered to ship coal, and several vessels had been chartered to load lumber for
South Africa.

These companies included the British-American Line sailing to Nome; the Empire Line
sailing to St. Michael; the Pacific Coast Steamship Co Pioneer Line which offered the steamship Al-
Ki (on which Odell and Aldrich had traveled in 1898) sailing for Skagway; the Hamilton & Co.
offering the “elegant steamship” San Blas; the Pioneer Line sailing; the N.A.T.& T. Co. sailing for
Nome and St. Michael; the S.Y.T. Co. sailing to Cape Nome & Dawson; the Washington & Alaska
Steamship Co.; the Empire Line; the Northwestern Commercial Co,; Seattle Steamship Co.; and
others. The same page advertised steamship travel throughout the Northwest, to Vancouver, the San
Juan Islands, Port Townsend, Victoria, Anacortes & Bellingham, Bremerton, Everett, Tacoma,
Olympia, and other local cities.

Page -258-

The vessels plying in the Northern trade have almost more freight offered now than they can
handle. The merchants are hurrying to fill their orders and get the goods north in good season.
According to latest reports all the freight had been moved down the river and quick deliveries
are expected to be made to Yukon River points at least until the season closes.
Mark Odell rapidly became a part of Seattle’s social set, whose activities were followed in the
Society Pages of the local newspapers. In June 1900, he was an usher at the wedding of Charles W.
Saunders and Maude L. Phillips, “both well-known and highly esteemed young people of this city.”

Odell joined the “Assembly” in 1900, an organization whose events were the high points of
the city’s social season. The Seattle Times of December 22, 1900 reported:
The coming Assembly ball has long been looked forward to by the society people of the city.
There are to be three assemblies this season, two before and one after Easter. The first of the
three which promises to be the most successful of these functions thus far held will occur on
the evening of Friday, December 28th. The following is a lost of those who have been invited
to become members....M.M. Odell.
The society season of 1901, opened with the Assembly Ball held on Thanksgiving Eve, on which
the attention of Seattle society was riveted...So much time and thought was give to preparation
for this ball, with which the social season really opened, that no other large entertainments
were held during the week...The second Assembly ball will be given soon after the holidays
and the third, which will close the social season, will be held just before Lent.
The ball held at the Denny Hotel was a “most brilliant success,” attended by more than 200 guests.
“All of the prominent members of Seattle’s society were there, and, in addition, there were guests from
Tacoma, Everett, Olympia and Spokane and from the Puget Sound Navy yard....Among those whose
presence was noted were...Mr. Mark Odell.” A second Assembly ball was held on New Years Eve,


The Water Front, Marine Traffic Exceptionally Brisk at this Point,
Seattle Times, July 31,
1900 (page 8).


Seattle Times, June 30, 1900 (page 15).


Seattle Society,
Seattle Times, December 22, 1900 (page 36).
Page -259-

1901, which “will be remembered as one of the bright successes of the social season. Never was an
Assembly ball more thoroughly enjoyed....The Denny Hotel was beautifully and appropriately
decorated...Among those present were...Mr. Mark M. Odell.”
In November 1902, Mark Odell was one of several people who were entertained at a dinner
hosted by Mrs. Arnold Becker. In March 1903, Mr. M.M. Odell was a groomsman at the wedding of
Olcott Payne and Mae Elizabeth Stephens.
In the latter part of 1901, Mark Odell began working as a contractor, an occupation he pursued
for several decades. Odell became a contractor and builder working for others, and later formed several
construction companies over the years which specialized in concrete work. Initially he was an
employee of Whitmore Concrete Company, but became a partner in the company, which became
known as Whitmore and Odell Concrete Company. According to family stories and newspaper
articles, Odell’s companies paved the city’s sidewalks in its downtown area; rebuilt the Port Blakely
saw mill on Bainbridge Island after it burned down in 1907; paved the Lake Washington ship canal
built in 1914, which linked Puget Sound with Lake Washington; built the Canadian Pacific steamship
wharfs and railroad station in Vancouver between 1913 - 1916; paved the streets of the Highlands
when it was being developed; and paved a portion of Snoqualmie Pass through the Cascade
Mountains, the present day route for the I-90 Interstate freeway going from Seattle to Boston; and
worked on may building projects in downtown Seattle. Odell’s construction company experienced


Seattle Society,
Seattle Times, November 30, 1901 (page 29);
Seattle Society,
Times, January 4, 1902 (page 29)


Seattle Times, November 23, 1902 (page 29); Seattle Times, March 29, 1903
(page 34).
Page -260-

financial difficulties in the mid-1920s, as a result of its paving contract for Snoqualmie Pass, and Odell
went to work in the insurance industry, as did his wife.
Odell’s construction companies took advantage of Seattle’s growth, and he was involved in
a number of infrastructure projects, many of which were mentioned in the business section of the city’s
papers. He also participated in civic and business organizations associated with the construction
industry, and joined a number of social clubs. Odell was a proud and enthusiastic member of Seattle’s
Cornell Club, and served in various official capacities with the Club over the years. The Seattle City
Directories show the addresses for personal residences and business locations for most years, although
the directories were not published in some years, for example, in 1906 and 1907.
Mark Odell, early 1900s
Page -261-

From 1901 to 1907, Odell worked for the Whitmore Concrete Company, initially with offices
at 54 Dexter Horton Building. In 1901, Odell lived on 16
Avenue and Pike Street. From 1902
through 1905, the company had offices at 322 Bailey Building.

From 1902 through 1905, Odell was listed as living in the Terrier Club on the First Hill at
1118 Summit Avenue, above downtown Seattle, with a group of other college graduates in a time
when not many people attended college. They had a pet dog, Tippy, a terrier, as a mascot. Several of
the four to six men who lived in the Terrier Club were Cornell graduates - at least two of the Terrier
Club members were in a Cornell dinner photo, besides Mark Odell. Odell lived at this address in the
1902 & 1903 City Directories, and starting in 1904, his residence was shown as the Terrier Club at the
same address. The president of the club was James Gillison, Jr., and the secretary was James L.
Bridges. Bridges later appears in the 1910 directory as an employee of the Whitmore and Odell
Concrete Company. Odell is shown as residing at the Terrier Club in 1905, but not in 1908 or
thereafter. The Terrier Club was listed at the same address in 1908, but there was no listing for the
club in 1909, or thereafter.
Mark Odell and Tippy
Terrier Club. Odell is on the right.
Page -262-

Terrier Club, members and Tippy.
Terrier Club. Odell is in the second row on
the right.
Page -263-

India Belle Poulson, Odell’s future wife, is shown as living in Seattle in 1905, and is listed as
a teacher at the Central School between 6
and 7
Avenue and Madison Street. She lived at the Otis
Apartments, at 804 Summit Avenue. In 1908, she taught at the Central School and lived at 1415 Boren
Avenue. In 1909 and 1910, India taught at Lincoln High School, and lived at 1415 Boren Avenue the
first year and at 1503 Boren Avenue the second.
In 1905, Odell operated the Odell Construction Company, which in August 1905, received a
$3,000 contract from the Seattle Electric Company to build a one-story brick addition to its Fremont
Sub-station. From 1906 to 1910, Odell was an owner of the firm of Whitmore and Odell Company.
In May 1906, architects Sommerville & Cole let a $5,000 contract for a steel and cement roof for the
Diamond Ice Plant, owned by the Seattle Tacoma Power Company, to Whitmore - Odell. Walt Hoglen,
Cornell Club. Odell is in the back row, fourth from the left.
Page -264-

one of Odell’s partners from the Klondike, worked at Odell’s firm. By 1910, he was living in San
Francisco. Odell lived at 1211 Summit Avenue during this time.
An article about a recital given at Christensen’s Hall on Broadway in May 1906, featuring
Harry Girard, a baritone, said that “many of the prominent people of the city are to be patrons and
patrtonesses, and the ushers are to be Joshua Green, Joseph Blethen, H. W. Treat, William Best,
Frederick Struve, George Munn, Archibald Downey, and Mark Odell.”

In 1906, Odell was invited by the University of Washington Athletic Director Loren Grinsted
to coach the school’s crew. Odell was its coach in 1906, and assisted Hiram Conibear with the crew
after Conibear was hired as the crew coach in 1907, despite the fact that he did not know how to row.
This story is so important that it is treated separately in the last section of this paper.
Whitmore & Odell Company. Walt Hogen is on the right.


Building Permits,
Seattle Times, August 11, 1905 (page 9);
With the Architects ,
Times, May 13, 1906 (page 49).


Seattle Times, May 13, 1906 (page 3).
Page -265-

In 1908, the firm of Whitmore & Odell received a contract from the Seattle Board of Public
Works to build the city’s first comfort station on Pike Place near the entrance to the public market.

In 1908 and 1909, Odell was one of several contractors who built the Sorrento Hotel on first
hill, located at Madison Street and Terry Avenue, a major east-west thoroughfare between the
expanding downtown Seattle commercial district and burgeoning neighborhoods to the east and Lake
Washington.. Odell’s role was described in the hotel’s application to Seattle’s Historic Preservation
The building was built by real estate investor Samuel Rosenberg and designed by architect
Harlan Thomas, who had designed the old National Park Inn at Longmire on Mount Rainier. On
February 2, 1907, the
Pacific Builder and Engineer
reported that Rosenberg was planning to erect a
“family hotel” on the site. The hotel would be six stories, cost $265,000 and include 180 rooms, a roof
garden and a full basement. By April 1908, a new architect had taken over the project and the initial
hotel design and development plans – as well as the construction budget had been revised. The Seattle
Post Intelligencer announced
Seven Story Hotel under Construction on Madison Street,
showing an
architectural rendering executed by the designer of the hotel, Seattle architect Harlan Thomas. The
building was a seven story “modern family and tourist hotel” designed to include two wings placed
at right angles facing the west and north sides of a 70’ x 70’ courtyard. The courtyard was designed
with the “very latest effects of landscape gardening.” The interior rooms were described in detail,
including the octagonal shaped “main office lobby” on the first floor along with a ladies parlor and
reception rooms, elevator and stairwell lobbies and “billiard and grill rooms.” The top or seventh floor


Board Awards Two Contracts,
Seattle Times, March 23, 1908 (page 33)

Page -266-

arrangement of dining rooms and kitchen facilities was a “novel feature.” The formal main dining
room would contain 3,000 square feet of space; octagonal in shape and distinguished by a decorative
trussed ceiling, crystal chandeliers and several ornate leaded glass lunette windows. The top floor
would be “given over entirely to entertainment and social side of hotel” and include a sun room, tea
rooms, a Florentine loggia and a roof garden. Guest rooms were arranged in three-room, two-room and
single suites with private baths, and the ladies reception room would be furnished in the Louis XVI
style. The guest rooms were arranged to provide a view of either Puget Sound, Lake Washington, the
Olympic or Cascade mountain ranges.
By April 1908, building construction was underway, construction costs had been revised
downward to an anticipated $150,000 and the building was scheduled to be completed by
September 1, 1908. A promotional sign that was mounted on the south elevation during
construction stated “Hotel Sorrento…a select family & tourist hotel.”
An individual named
Mark Odell was one of several contractors involved in the construction
. (Emphasis
Hotel Sorrento, Madison & Terry, Seattle Wa.
Page -267-

In April of 1907, the historic Port Blakely Mill on Bainbridge Island was destroyed by the
second fire in its history.
Odell’s firm was hired to rebuild the mill by the owners, Skinner and
Eddie. Market forces had changed from the original days of the mill, built in 1864 and once the largest
softwood mill in the world, requiring a smaller operation and facility. Although Odell’s firm
modernized the new mill with fireproof features, the sprawling facility dropped from the list of top
lumber producers in the world. The economic viability of the new mill soon ended, hastened by the
ever-widening reach of railroad lines and the vast tracts of timber those railroad lines made accessible.
In 1923, the mill closed and Port Blakely slipped into obscurity.

In 1864, Captain William Renton build a lumber mill at Port Blakely on the southeast
side of Bainbridge where Captain Vancouver first anchored in 1792. This mill grew into acclaim to
eventually be called the largest softwood sawmill in the world. Wood was milled and shipped all
over the world. Some of San Francisco's homes feature Bainbridge Island lumber. The logs were
floated and contained in a millpond until run through steam run giant saws. Schooner type ships
anchored at the pier ready to take on the lumber as cargo for extensive journeys to nether parts of the
world. The city supporting the mill surpassed the size of Port Madison and was not dry! A
monolithic large hotel served up all sorts of libations to the mostly male workers and was located
midway in a hedgerow of small millhouses lining Bay St. A boardwalk pier ran in front along the
waters edge with a railroad track embedded for the transport of lumber from the mill to the Halls
Brothers Shipyard that set up on the northeast portion of the harbor.
The mill was destroyed twice by fires. On February 4, 1888, a devastating fire burned the Port
Blakely mill to the ground. Because the winds were blowing onshore, rescuers were able to save
shipping in the harbor by hauling the vessels out into the Sound. Captain Renton built a new mill in
the same spot as the old using less-combustible materials such as heavy timbers and corrugated iron
roofing. In addition, he installed a system of water pipes and 850 sprinkler heads.
In 1902, two young men from Bay City, Michigan, came out west looking for sawmill
opportunities. In 1903, Ned Skinner and John W. Eddy purchased all the assets of the Port Blakely
Mill Company. They worked as a team on many ventures in the Northwest both before and during
World War I, including the Skinner & Eddy Shipbuilding Company.;

The second mill fire in 1907, saw a much smaller mill rebuilt and the decline of the mill
operations. A new mill building was built in 1908, although its economic viability soon ended,
hastened by the ever-widening reach of railroad lines and the vast tracts of timber those railroad lines
made accessible. The Hall Brothers had already moved their shipbuilding operations to neighboring
Eagle Harbor in 1903. The mill finally closed in 1922, and was mostly dismantled by 1926. Skinner
Page -268-

In summer of 1909, Seattle hosted the Alaska -Yukon-Pacific Exposition (A-Y-P Expo) as a
world’s fair. It was originally scheduled for 1907, to celebrate the 10
anniversary of the Yukon Gold
Rush, but it was postponed because of another fail held in Virginia. The Exposition took place on the
University of Washington campus, and the Olmsted brothers, who were already planning Seattle’s
parks and parkways, did the landscape design. The Olmsted plan formed the basic design of the
campus that still exists today, with Rainier Vista looking southeast toward Mt. Rainier. The Expo
lasted from June 1 to October 16, 1911, and was Washington’s first World’s Fair. It celebrated 12
years of prosperity since the 1897 Alaska Gold Rush, through the display of products, resources and
advantages of the region. More than three million people visited the fair, most traveling by train to
reach Seattle. The Chicago, Milwaukee & Puget Sound Railroad (known as the Milwaukee Road),
the last cross-country train to be built, completed its new line from Chicago to Seattle in May 1909,
just in time to bring visitors to Seattle using the newly built Union Station to visit the A- Y - P Expo.
President William Taft visited the A-Y-P Exposition on September 30 and October 1, 1911.
and Eddy dissolved their partnership and divided their assets. Ned Skinner took the Skinner & Eddy
Company, while brothers John, James, and Robert Eddy and family took the Port Blakely Mill
Company and the surrounding forest land. The Eddy family leased the mill for several years before
closing it to concentrate on timber investments. Many of the homes not razed by the fire were torn
down. The hotel burned down on August 12, 1928. Other of the millhouses were sold off in about
the 1930s, just about the time that other nearby neighborhoods were being built. Port Blakely
entered a new phase of its life cycle, blending its varied cultures into the emerging agricultural
community of Bainbridge Island.;
77; Alaska-
Yukon-Pacific Exposition,, Essay 8630.
Page -269-

Bird’s Eye view of A-Y-P Exposition, UW
View down Rainier Vista toward Mt. Rainier, UW Libraries.

Page -270-

In July 1909, Mark Odell was one of the officials at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition
Regatta for fast speed-boats held between July 3 - 10, 1909. He served as the timer for the race. This
was the first race for speed boats on Lake Washington, and was the ten-meter world championship
contest where “some of the fastest motor boats in the country will enter.” It was a ten mile course
starting on Union Bay from the exposition pier, then going to Madison Park, Leschi Park, across the
lake to Medina, then back to the start. Boats did three laps on the course for a total of 30 miles. The
Wolff II, a speedboat from Portland owned by Capt. Wolff, was the favorite to win the event.

The Terrier Club held a dinner on New Years Day, 1909, at 1211 Summit Avenue, continuing
a four year old tradition. Attending were Mark Odell, Morton Ramsdell, Ernest Wagner, and James
Gillson. Their guests were Mr. & Mrs. E. W. Price, Miss Lella Price, Miss Theodosia Price, Miss
Denise Mahan, and Lt. George Petttengill.

Odell was a member of the Seattle Hunt Club of Sullivan’s Riding Academy. which held its
first indoor meet in January of 1910. Sixteen couples executed a number of difficult evolutions in
front of a gallery of club members, including Odell. A cross-country ride was planned for the
following weekend. Indoor drills were to be held every Thursday evening consisting of military drills,
gymkana races, push ball, and other interesting games.
In May 1908, the Seattle Times, announced
Builders Busy All Over City
, and described the
many new buildings that were being built in downtown Seattle. The projects that were changing the


Portland Motor Boat is Sure-Enough Flyer,
Seattle Times, July 7, 1909 (page13).


Dinner at the Terrier Club,
Seattle Times of January 3, 1909 (page 24).


Hunt Club Enjoys First Indoor Meet,
Seattle Times, January 14, 1910 (page 4).
Page -271-

face of downtown Seattle included a $1 million 12 story concrete office building at 4
and Pike to be
built by Joshua Green; the newly built 12-story White Henry & Cobb buildings, the Northern Bank
building, and a new $750,000 building planned by C.D. Stimson at Fourth and Union.

The paper said
Whitmore & Odell
contractors, at 1011 Henry Building, were general contractors for a new
building to be erected at 3043 Railroad Avenue for the Occidental Fish Company. They were expected
to start construction on the wharf the first of the following week. The wharf and building would be 46
x 100 feet and cost $6,000.

Building on Railroad Avenue built by Odell’s company.


Builders Busy All Over City,
Seattle Times, May 8, 1910 (page 39).
Page -272-

In 1911, Odell was listed as working for the Mark Odell, Concrete Construction Company at
1026 Henry Building, after apparently leaving his prior firm. At the beginning of the year, he lived
at 1903 Boylston Avenue.

During the second decade of the 1900s, Seattle was being transformed by
a booming economy resulting from the Klondike Gold Rush, and Odell’s company, which specialized
in concrete construction work, was right in the center of the activity.
In January 1911, Mark Odell was one of many attendees at the third concert of the Seattle
Symphony Orchestra at the Moore Theater
Construction on Railroad Avenue by Odell’s company.


Seattle Times, January 6, 1911 (page 15).
Page -273-

Mark Odell in his Seattle office, ca 1911.
Mark Odell became engaged to India Belle Paulson in early February of 1911, a teacher from
Des Moines, Iowa, who was a school teacher. They married soon after their engagement was
announced, at St. Marks Church. They left on a short wedding trip, and lived at The Salerno
Apartments on the corner of Boylston Avenue and Marion Street upon their return. They eventually
had three children, Mark Jr., Burr, and Margaret, born in 1912, 1914, and 1916. The Odells were
prominent members of Seattle society, and their activities were frequently in the news.


Seattle Times, February 1, 1911 (page 13);
Seattle Times, February 5,
1911 (page 38) .
Page -274-

Lincoln High School Annual,1909, showing the school’s teachers,
including India B. Poulson.
Page -275-

Central School on Madison St. between 6
& 7
Ave. where India Belle taught. Photo from digital
collections, University of Washington library.

India Belle Paulson Odell
India Belle Paulson Odell
Page -276-

The Odells soon became involved in a number of social activities and events. In March 1911,
Mrs. Mark Odell was one of the five women who “condescended” to act as judges in a contest to show
that beautiful and practical dresses could e made at home, in a contest where $250 in prizes would be
awarded. In April 1911, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Odell were noted as members of the newly formed Junior
Chaperone Club that was planning a series of dances for the upcoming summer. The same month,
Mrs. Charles P Curtis hosted a bridge-luncheon at the Arctic Club “in complement of Mrs. Mark
Odell.” In May, the Odells attended the Junior Chaperone Club’s spring dance held at Christensen’s,
which was “successful in every way.” The club was organized for ”young married people of a
congenial nature,” and was going to fill “a long-felt need.” In May, Mrs. Mark Odell, “a recent bride,”
was honored along with Mrs. Charles Curtis, who was leaving on a trip to the east, at a bridge-
luncheon at the Arctic Club, attended by 28 friends.
In early June 1911, Mark Odell, “a former Cornell oarsman,” presided at a Cornell Club dinner
to celebrate the college’s recent crew, track and baseball victories. Cornell won the IRA Regatta every
year between 1908 and 1912, at Poughkeepsie, New York, keeping up the traditions of Odell’s crew
of 1897. Odell was on the Board of Governors of the Cornell Club. The same newspaper announced
that the new eight-hour law for working women would go into effect in June, and copies were


Made Dresses Open Tomorrow,
Seattle Times, March 19, 1911 (page 9);
Society, Junior
Chaperone Club to Dance,
Seattle Times, April 2, 1911 (page 44);
Society, Mrs. Odell to be
Seattle Times, April 4, 1911 (page 44);
Society, Junior Chaperone club Dance,
Times, May 4, 1911 (page 42);
Society, Mrs. Odell and Mrs. Morris Honored,
Seattle Times, May
14, 1911 (page 47)..
Page -277-

distributed to employers by the state. In July, Mark Odell was a guest at a party given by Howard D.
Thomas to Miss Olga Hamlin of Detroit.
In July 1911, Mark Odell attended a function welcoming the President of Cornell, Dr. Jacob
Gould Sherman, at the Rainier Club. In late July 1911, the Odells were one of 300 couples that
attended an old fashioned barn dance given by Mr. and Mrs. Fred Stimson to celebrate Mr. Stimson’s
birthday, “one of the largest and most enjoyable dances of the season.” The party was held at the
Stimson country home, Hollywood Farm at Hollywood, Washington. A special train took the guests
to the farm, where they danced “with vim and vigor the old fashioned dances, the quadrille, Virginia
Reel, and the famous barn dances.” Women wore aprons and sunbonnets, and the men wore blue
overalls and canvas coats.
In May 1908, the Seattle Times, announced
Builders Busy All Over City
, and described the
many new buildings that were being built in downtown Seattle. The projects that were changing the
face of downtown Seattle included a $1 million 12 story concrete office building at 4
and Pike to be
built by Joshua Green; the newly built 12-story White Henry & Cobb buildings, the Northern Bank
building, and a new $750,000 building planned by C.D. Stimson at Fourth and Union.

The paper said
Whitmore & Odell
contractors, at 1011 Henry Building, were general contractors for a new
building to be erected at 3043 Railroad Avenue for the Occidental Fish Company. They were expected


Cornell Men Will Hold Celebration,
Seattle Times, May 31, 1911 (page 14);
Celebrates Recent Victories,
Seattle Times, June 4, 1911 (page 9);
July 14, 1911 (page 16).


President of Cornell Welcomed to Seattle,
Seattle Times, July 25, 1911 (page 13);
Barn Dance,
Seattle Times, July 30, 1911 (page 49).
Page -278-

to start construction on the wharf the first of the following week. The wharf and building would be 46
x 100 feet and cost $6,000.

In May 1908, the Seattle Times, announced
Builders Busy All Over City
, and described the
many new buildings that were being built in downtown Seattle. The projects that were changing the
face of downtown Seattle included a $1 million 12 story concrete office building at 4
and Pike to be
built by Joshua Green; the newly built 12-story White Henry & Cobb buildings, the Northern Bank
building, and a new $750,000 building planned by C.D. Stimson at Fourth and Union.

The paper said
Whitmore & Odell
contractors, at 1011 Henry Building, were general contractors for a new
building to be erected at 3043 Railroad Avenue for the Occidental Fish Company. They were expected
to start construction on the wharf the first of the following week. The wharf and building would be 46
x 100 feet and cost $6,000.

In January and February of 1912, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Odell occupied the home of their friends,
Mr. and Mrs. H. C. Henry, on Harvard Avenue on Capitol Hill, located just south of St. Marks
Cathedral. The Henry house was built in 1901, and was the first of many Victorian, Neo-classical,


Builders Busy All Over City,
Seattle Times, May 8, 1910 (page 39).


Builders Busy All Over City,
Seattle Times, May 8, 1910 (page 39).
Page -279-

Colonial Revival, and Tudor Revival houses built in the early part of the century. The house was
noteworthy for having a five-car garage at a time when automobiles were a novelty in Seattle.

H.C. Henry house, Capitol Hill on Broadway St. just south of St.
Marks Cathedral, where the Odells stayed in 1912, when the
Henrys were on an extended vacation.
H.C. Henry was a partner in Henry & Balch, railroad contractors in the Midwest. He
moved to Seattle in 1890 to work on the Northern Pacific Railroad's belt line around Lake
Washington, and later the Great Northern Railway's route from Stevens Pass in the Cascade
Mountains to Everett on Puget Sound. In 1906, he won a $20 million contract to build 450 miles
of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul line from the Montana-Idaho border across Snoqualmie
Pass to Seattle, which was completed in 1909. Henry was president of the Metropolitan Bank
and National Bank of Commerce in Seattle, and formed Pacific Creosoting Company on
Bainbridge Island in 1906. In 1926, Henry donated his art collection, which he formerly kept at
his home and opened to the public for display, to the University of Washington and donated the
funds to build a new gallery to house the collection, which became the Henry Art Gallery. Henry
died on June 28, 1928. In 1934, his sons donated land (including his original house) to the city
for construction of a library. This was to become the Susan J. Henry branch of the Seattle Public
Library, named for his wife. The branch was rebuilt and renamed in 2003 to the Capitol Hill
Page -280-

On February 3, 1912, the Odells hosted a dinner at the Henry house to celebrate their wedding
anniversary. “Red carnations, supplemented by red shaded candles, adorned the board.” Guests of the
Odells included Mr. & Mrs. Earl Porter Jamieson, Mr. & Mrs. S. Barnes, Miss Laura Runsey, Mr. &
Mrs. Langton Henry, Mr. James Bridge, Dr. Ivan A. Parry. Later that month, the Odells attended a
Hard Times Bridge Party hosted by Mr. & Mrs. Cecil Bacon in celebration of their tenth wedding
anniversary “Fine rainment was strictly tabood, the guests coming in simple costumes in accordance
with the nature of the party.” Among those winning bridge prizes was Mark Odell. In late February,
Mrs. Mark Odell was one of four women who “presided over the urns” at a tea given by Mrs. Samual
E. Barnes at her apartment in the Eulaie Apartments attended by forty women
After the Henrys returned from their extended vacation and moved back into their house, the
Odells moved into their own apartment. In 1912 and 1913, the Seattle Directory listed the Odells as
living in the Salerno Apartments in 1912, in Apartment 903. Mark Odell was listed as being employed
in concrete construction and general construction. The first Odell child, Mark Jr., was born in 1912.


Seattle Times, February 11, 1912 (page 45),
Hard Times Bridge Party,
Times, February 11, 1912 (page 45);
Seattle Times
February 18, 1912 (page 13) .
Page -281-

India Belle & Mark.
India Belle & Mark.
India Belle & Mark.
India Belle Odell was the victim of a sensational jewelry robbery at the Henry house in the
spring of 1912, that made the news for weeks. While she was attending a party at the house of Mrs.
H. C. Henry, a robber entered the residence at 1117 Harvard Avenue and stole $1,000 of jewelry from
Mrs. Odell. $1,000 is worth $25,200 in 2016 dollars using currency conversion tables. The Seattle
Times of April 1, 1912, reported that Henry Leroux was arrested for another robbery at Mrs. B. T.
Carr’s house at 1617 Pike Street. After her house was robbed, Mrs. Carr received a letter telling her
to walk down Sixteenth Avenue with a newspaper in her hand and she could have her jewelry back
for $500 in gold. A policewoman walked in her place, but the robber never showed up. When Leroux
was arrested, he had another copy of the letter in his pocket that was intended for either Mrs. Henry
or Mrs. Odell, whose jewelry had been previously stolen.
Page -282-

Another man, Fred Martin, was later arrested for robbing five houses on Capitol Hill, including
the Whittlesey house at 1220 Federal Avenue North; the H. C. Henry house at 1117 Harvard Avenue
North; the C. J. Smith house at 1147 Harvard Avenue North; the J. S. Balargeon house at 431 Harvard
Avenue North; and the Phillips Morrison house at 520 Belmont Avenue North. All of the robberies
occurred when the families were absent from their homes, and a ladder was used to enter the houses
through second floor windows. However, at the Henry house, the burglar was surprised when the
family returned with a number of house guests during the robbery, including “Mrs. Mark Odell, who
was the principal loser.” Martin escaped by jumping from the second floor of the Henry house.
Martin sold the jewelry to pawnshops, and then sold the pawn tickets to acquaintances for a few dollars
on their value. Police were able to locate all but a few trinkets taken in the robberies. Some of the
jewelry was found in Victoria, Canada.

In June 1912, Mrs. Horace Henry opened “her beautiful home” on Harvard Avenue North to
300 friends to honor Mrs. Edwin J. Bartells, a recent bride. Among those assisting in entertaining the
guests was Mrs. Mark Odell. In August 1912, Mrs. Mark Odell attended a gala opening at the Kirness
Theater. “The Kirness was society’s own and society made the most of the brilliant opening night.
Never were boxes in demand...The entire society blue book list would be necessary in order to present
the names of all those present.”


Suspected Burglar Has Much Jewelry,
Seattle Times, April 1, 1912 (page 5);
Seattle Times, February 5, 1911 (page 38);
Burglar’s Identity Discovered by Clew Discovered in
Seattle Times, May 12, 1912 (page 3) .


Society, Mrs. Bartells Honored,
Seattle Times, June 30, 1912 (page 77);
Society, Brilliant
Box Parties Opening night Feature,
Seattle Times, August 1, 1912 (page 8).
Page -283-

The Odells continued to look for a place to live. In August 1912, the Odells ran an ad in the
Seattle Times seeking a small modern to rent for a family of two on Capitol Hill, North Broadway or
Denny-Fuhrman, giving their contact address as 1026 Henry Building, phone Main 490, or East 2792.
In October, the Odells took up residence at 2211 Eleventh Avenue North.
Odell was a member of Delta Chi, a law fraternity established at Cornell in 1890, even though
he had not graduated from law school, having dropped out of Cornell Law School in March of 1898,
to go to the Yukon Gold Rush. In 1912, Odell participated in the fraternity’s program to celebrate its
founding held at the Arctic Club.
Odell also participated in civic ventures. In April 1913, two “civil engineers,” Mark Odell and
James R. Morrison (the former county engineer) accompanied the taxation committee of the Chamber
of Commerce to investigate conditions surrounding the railroad that was being built to the site of
Seattle’s new power dam on the Cedar River, projected to cost $1.4 million. There were concerns that
the north bank of the reservoir would not support the 1,590 foot dam. The committee expressed doubt
about the policy of having the city’s engineering department handle the work, and would likely
recommend the employment of an expert consulting engineer for the dam. In May 1913, Odell
participated in a public service venture to fix up the yard of a house in Columbia City. The picks and
spades were loaned by “Mark Odell, the contractor.”


Want Ads, Seattle Times, August 18, 1912 (page 38);
Society, Seattle Times,
13, 1912 (page 19).


Members of Delta Chi Banquet Tonight
, Seattle Times, October 14, 1912 (page 3).


Waste Alleged ,in Cedar River Work, Chamber of Commerce Committee Investigates
Conditions at Camp 2 and Between There and Cedar Lake,
Seattle Times of April 18, 1913 (page
Yes, We Dug the Cellar; Also, We Ate a Lot of Fine Cake,
Seattle Star, May 19, 1913.
Page -284-

In October 1913, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Barnes entertained at dinner on Saturday in the
University Club Annex in compliment to Mr. And Mrs. Odell, “who are soon to take up a temporary
residence in Vancouver, B.C. Covers were laid for fourteen.”

Between 1913 and 1916, Mark Odell and his family lived Vancouver, Canada, while his
company helped to build the Canadian Pacific Railroad steamship wharfs and waterfront station there.
Their son Burr was born in Vancouver in 1914. The Canadian Pacific Waterfront Railroad Station,
completed in 1914, was designed by Barott, Blackader and Webster, architects from Montreal in
neoclassical style. The company’s second wharf, Pier D, was also completed in 1914, doubling the
capacity of Canadian Pacific’s waterfront operation. It was 500 feet long and 150 feet wide, and was
large enough to accommodate the largest trans-Pacific and coastal steamships. Its upper floor
contained ticket offices, waiting rooms, and other passenger accommodations. Piers B & C were
concrete structures built between piers A and D, for CPR’s Pacific Empress and ships of the Union
Steamship Company of New Zealand. These two piers, with 7,600 feet of berthing, a five ton gantry
crane, and four elevators, were not finished until 1927.


Seattle Times, October 26, 1913 (page 57).


The Canadian Pacific Railroad was completed in 1885, running from Toronto and Montreal
to Vancouver - the first cross-country train came to Vancouver on May 23, 1887. In 1891, the
Canadian Pacific Railroad formed a Pacific steamship fleet with wharfs in Vancouver to connect
with its cross-country railroad.;
Page -285-

Odell’s firm did other work in British Columbia, but unfortunately we have no records of it.
We do have the following pictures of some major construction project from his files, which are dated
1915, a time when he was living in Canada. One of the pictures has a name something like Abria Falls
on it, which comes up in a Google search as being in British Columbia.
Canadian Pacific Railroad Station & Wharfs, Vancouver, Canada
Canadian Pacific Railroad Station & Wharfs, Vancouver, Canada
Page -286-

Abria Falls, 1915
Page -287-

The Odells moved back to Seattle in spring of 1916, to a house they purchased on Capitol Hill,
and resumed their busy lives in this city. In March 1916, the Seattle Times said that Mr. and Mrs.
Mark Odell “have removed from Vancouver, B.C. to this city and will be at home to their friends at
915 Twenty-second Avenue North.”

While Mark Odell operated his construction company and was engaged in civic ventures, India
Belle Odell (always referred to as Mrs. Mark Odell in the custom of the times) became heavily
involved in social clubs and service organizations. The Odells’ names often appeared in the Seattle
newspapers, and their activities were covered in the society pages of the local newspapers.
The articles described women holding teas, receptions, luncheons, bridge parties, and other
events, a part of a different age where women did not work and entertainment was a high. Papers had
Society Pages where activities of the city’s socially prominent families was discussed in great detail.
On March 3, 1916, the Seattle Times reported that bids were submitted to the Board of Public
Works to construct a steel bascule lift bridge across the Lake Washington Canal at Tenth Ave. NE, for
$370,000. The Seattle bidders included Booker, Kiehl & Whipple, Stilwell Bros. Inc, J. M. Clapp,
Mark Odell Washington Paving Company,
and others. That year, the Securities Building advertised
its “first class office building” that appealed to the “very best tenants,” by listing the businesses located
there. Mark Odell was one of the tenants. Seattle Times December 24, 1916.


Seattle Times, March 17, 1916 (page 13).
Page -288-

Margaret & Burr
Burr & Margaret in snow.
The Odells completed their family in 1916, when their daughter Margaret was born in their
house on Capitol Hill. Mark Jr. was born in 1912, and Burr was born in 1914.

Mark Jr. & Margaret, 1916
India Belle, Mark Jr., Burr & Margaret,
Page -289-

Mark Jr. & Margaret

Burr, Margaret & Mark Jr.
Margaret Odell

Page -290-

Margaret & Bess on front porch.

In 1917, the Seattle Directory listed Odell’s office at 707 Securities Building, and his residence
as 915 22
Odell continued his participation in civic organizations. The Seattle Times of June 17, 1917,
announced that the Chamber of Commerce created Members Councils representing all lines of
businesses and professions. Mark Odell was the vice chairman of the Civil Engineers, Road and
General Contractors group. In December 1917, Odell was chairman of the Industrial Bureau
Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, and addressed the group about the establishment of loft or
incubator buildings to house infant industries, as had been done in certain Eastern cities. Odell was
also a member of the Seattle Real Estate Association, and he spoke to the group about Seattle’s recent
Margaret Odell
Page -291-

Seattle P.I., May 27, 1919
growth in May of 1918. In May 1918, Odell spoke about Seattle’s Industrial growth to the Seattle Real
Estate Association.

A near disaster for the Odell
family was reported on in the Seattle
P.I. of May 27, 1919, in an article
Runaway Auto Halts at Edge
of Precipice - Tot Catapulted Through
While Mrs. Mark Odell
was attending a tea on Queen Anne
Hill, she left her children Burr and
Margaret in her car, which was parked
on a steep hill. “To amuse
themselves,” the children released the
parking brake and the car began to roll
down the steep hill. The car went on
three blocks while remaining on the
street, but at Olympic Place, it went off the street, through a fence, demolishing a flower bed two
blocks further on, careening over a five foot embankment, and headed toward a greater drop a short
distance beyond. Two trees growing together just a foot from the drop-off, abruptly stopped the car
from going over a 60 foot precipice, and the children escaped a fatal plunge. However, the girl in the


To Plan Building for Infant Industries,
Seattle Times, December 5, 1917 (page 9);
Men to Meet,
Seattle Times, May 30, 1918 (page 5); Seattle Star, May 31, 1918..
Page -292-

back seat was thrown out of the car through the windshield and over the cliff. “She arose from her fall
complaining of nothing more than a few scratches and a bad scare. The boy in the front was not
dislodged.” A neighbor tried to jump on the car’s running board but was thwarted by its high rate of
speed. He escaped serious injury when he ran by the car trying to rescue the girl, and would have
plunged down the cliff himself had he not grabbed the steering wheel. A near disaster for the family
was avoided by sheer luck.
In July 1919, “Mr. and Mrs. Mark Odell motored over to Wenatchee last week with several
friends for the week end.” A happier time for the family was illustrated in December 1919, when
pictures of India Belle and her children Mark, Burr and Margaret, on the lawn of their house, along
side of another picture of Margaret, which appeared in a section called
Week’s Happenings in the
World of Society.
. That year, the Seattle Directory listed Odell as a general contractor with offices at
1146 Henry Building.

In January 1920, Mark Odell was on an special election committee for the Seattle Chamber of
Commerce, to select members for executive committee of the Industrial Bureau. In March, 1920, a
$120,000 contract for the construction of a two-story addition to south half of the Arcade Building
fronting on First Avenue was awarded to
Mark Odell
of the Henry Building. The construction would
be of reinforced concrete with brick finish to match the old building, and add 20,000 square feet of
office space. Two new elevators were to be installed with a speed of 300 feet a minute. In May 1920,
Odell was one of 120 Seattle businessmen who traveled by a special train made up of five Pullman
cars, to visit Oroville in Eastern Washington to inspect the irrigation improvements of the area, as

Seattle Star, July 26, 1919;
Week’s Happenings in the World of Society,
Seattle Times,
December 21, 1919 (page 51).
Page -293-

guests of the Chamber of Commerce and Commercial Club. In June 1920, Mark Odell had been
seriously ill and was convalescing at the Seattle General Hospital. He was expected to be able to go
home in a few days.
In January 1921, Odell was part of a group organized to help 1,300 needy families that were
in need of help. The fund campaign involved the solicitation of donations by teams from various
business and professional organizations. Mark Odell was head of the Building Trades and Materials
Division. In April 1921, Mrs. Mark Odell was on a committee to organize a card party and dance at
the Yacht club for the Capitol Hill guild of the Orthopedic hospital.
Between 1921 and 1924, the Seattle Directory listed Odell as a general contractor with offices
at 926 Henry Building in 1921, 326 Henry Building in 1922, 928 Henry Building in 1923, and 929
Henry Building in 1924. Mark Odell was listed as a member of the Seattle Branch of the Associated
General Contractors, which had an aim of promoting better relations between private owners and
public bodies, engineers and contractors. The full page ad contained a listing for Mark Odell & Co.,
General Contractors Builders, 364 Stuart Building.
The Odells were members of the Seattle Tennis Club, the Sunset Club (where India Belle was
a charter member), the University Club, the Cornell Club, the Women’s University Club, the


30 Candidates for Executive Board,
Seattle Star,
January 12, 1920; Arcade Contract
Let, Addition of Two Stories to Building Will Cost $120,000.
Seattle Times, March 7, 1920 (page
Seattle Visitors,
Oroville Weekly Gazette, October 22, 1920;
Personal Mention,
Seattle Times,
June 17, 1920 (page 20).


1,300 Families Needy, Social Welfare League Issues Call for Aid: Campaign to Raise
$100,000 in Seattle, Will be Pressed by Prominent Men,
Seattle Times January 30, 1921 (page 6);
Capitol Hill Guild’s Card Party and Dance,
Seattle Star, April 5, 1921 (page 8).


Seattle Times, July 16, 1922 (page 78).
Page -294-

Children’s Hospital Foundation (where India was on the annual fund raising committee), the Capitol
Hill Guild, and other civic groups, and their names often appeared in the Society pages of the Seattle
newspapers showing their participation in the events sponsored by those organizations. For example,
Mrs. Mark Odell gave a tea at her home for the Capitol Hill Guild. Seattle Times, April 24, 1921. The
Odells were attendees at a holiday party at the Seattle Tennis Club. Seattle Times, January 1, 1922.
Mrs. Mark Odell assisted at the wedding reception of Dorothy Paulson to DeWitt Griffin. Seattle
Times, October 12, 1924. Mark Jr. and Margaret played piano at a recital held by their teacher in
1926. Mrs. Mark Odell was the hostess at the Orthopedic Shop on Saturdays. Seattle Times, April
17, 1927. Margaret Odell assisted at a Garden Tea for Mrs. John Perkins at her parents house. Mrs.
Perkins was a national authority on gardens and shrubs. Seattle Times, August 5, 1928.
In the mid-1920s, Odell’s firm won a contract to pave a portion of the highway over
Snoqualmie Pass, as part of a effort to improve this major corridor over the Cascades. A two-lane road
over Snoqualmie Pass had been built in 1915, called the Sunset Highway, which created a permanent
transportation route connecting eastern and western Washington. Beginning in 1923, major
improvements were made to the highway with federal dollars made available under the Federal
Highway Act of 1921. These improvements, Federal Aid Project #142, included hard-surface paving
and new road alignments. In 1926, the state highway department began paving the road, removing
blind curves, and building new bridges. The upper switchbacks created in 1914-15 were bypassed,
and portions of the road were relocated - the highway was rebuilt on the abandoned Milwaukee
Railroad right-of-way after the railroad built a tunnel through the Pass to avoid snow slides.


In the late 1920s, oil was added to the road to help keep dust down. In 1927, speed limits
ranged from 30 to 40 miles an hour, though it was difficult to ever achieve that. State patrol officers
Page -295-

Unfortunately, Odell’s firm made significant errors in submitting the bids for the work, and the
project ended up destroying the business. Odell left the construction field and went to work in the
insurance industry in which he participated for the rest of his life. India Belle Odell also went to work,
becoming a successful businesswoman for the Banker’s Life Insurance Company at a time when few
women of her background worked.

The Odells continued to be part of Seattle’s society however, and
articles describing their activities continued to appear in Seattle’s newspapers.
India Belle Odell’s Business Career
India Belle Odell went to work selling life insurance for the Bankers Life Company in the late
1920s, and became a successful and well recognized businesswoman. Noting a change in social
conventions, she was referred to in her business affairs as Mrs. I. B. Odell, and not Mrs. Mark Odell
as before.
In 1937, Mrs. I. B. Odell and Sam Burnstein of H.H Sauers Agency of the Bankers Life
Compan, won membership in the President’s Premier Club. The company sent them to the Premier
Club school at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, and to insurance school in Washington D. C..
This honor was only given to the leading writers of new business during the preceding 12 months.
used stop watches to measure speed traveled by motorists. The road remained open for the first time
throughout the winter of 1931. By 1934, all sections of highway paving were complete from Seattle
to the Pass. During this time frame, the Sunset Highway received official designations as State Road
No. 2, Primary State Route No. 2, and U.S. Highway 10. the old Sunset Highway.pfd;
Pass Becomes a Highway: From Indian Trail, to Wagon Road, to Interstate |
Page -296-

This was the fourth time that Mrs. Odell qualified for the honor. She was given the same recognition
the following several years.

The Seattle Times of March 11, 1938, reported that S. Bornstein and I. B. Odell, of the H. H.
Sauers division of the Bankers Life Co. of Iowa, were 4
and 5
out of 1,200 sales representatives in
writing life insurance policies that year. Both had been “long recognized” as top rank producers, and
both qualified for membership in the company’s highest honor group, the President’s Premier Club.
In August of 1938, India Belle Odell went to New York with Mr. and Mrs. Henry H. Sauers, the owner
of her firm, where they stayed at the Waldorf Astoria hotel as part of Mrs. Odell’s reward for being
a member of the Presidents Club.

In 1939, Mrs. I. B. Odell was recognized twice for her work for Banker’s Life. “Adding to her
many honors in the insurance world, I. B. Odell is now accorded the distinction of being eighth among
more than 1,000 business producers” in the company. Seattle Times, June 8, 1939. She was
recognized again in the fall for being 5
our of more than 1,000 in sales for the company. Seattle
Times, November 8, 1939. In 1941, she was called “one of Seattle’s best known business women.”

Mark Odell, Jr., attended the University of Washington in the late 1920s and early 1930s,
where he rowed on the light-weight crew, continuing his father’s tradition. The Seattle Times of July


Business News and Views, Two Make Premier Club,
Seattle Times, December 31, 1937
(page 16).


Business News and Views, Insurance Writers Score,
Seattle Times, March 11, 1938 (page
17); .Seattle Times,
Entre Nous,
August 18, 1938 (pages 16, 17).


With Virginia Boren, Interesting Trio,
Seattle Times, July 22, 1941 (page 8).
Page -297-

1, 1934, had a picture of Mark Jr., as a delegate to a student conference in Japan. He graduated
Summa Cum Laude and was admitted to Phi Beta Kappa.
Burr and Margaret Odell also attended Washington in the 1930s. Burr was in the Phi Gamma
Delta fraternity, and Margaret was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, where she was president
her senior year. Many of the young women with whom Margaret grew up on Capitol Hill, all of whom
lived within two blocks of Holy Names Academy at 22
and Aloha Streets, were also TriDelts, and
they remained friends their entire lives. The local newspapers publicized many of the social affairs
occurring on campus in those days, and Margaret was often in the news as one of Seattle’s prominent
young women.
Margaret Odell’s College Days
In August of 1933, Margaret Odell and her brother Burr and several friends attended the
Potlach Days at Longacres Race Track, as part of a crowd of 14,000 to see the races. In December of
1933, Margaret and her friends Josephine Whaley, Peggy Andrews and Alice Truax, were some of the
“coterie” of UW coeds to attend a dancing party at Club Victor given by Charlotte Von Herberg.


Seattle Times, August 28, 1933;
Miss Charlotte Von Herbert to Entertain,
Times, December 7, 1933 (page 14).
Page -298-

Margaret, mid-1930s
Margaret, 1934.

In 1935, Margaret was one of the UW coeds who ushered at a concert given for the Orthopedic
Hospital, one of the charities supported by her mother. She was chairwoman of the TriDelt Founder’s
Day celebration at Edmund Meany Hotel. Margaret was one of the “young things” who attended a
big holiday party given by Mr. and Mrs. Dore for their daughter and her friends, who were home for
the holidays from schools all over the country. Margaret wore a black dress with rhinestone buttons.
In January 1936, Margaret and Peggy Andrews gave a bridge tea and china shower for their
friend Gloria Coldcock, one of the popular brides-to-be and a TriDelt sorority sister. In February,
Margaret assisted at a tea given by Jane Buchanan for three friends, Gloria Coldcock who was getting
married, and Peggy Andrews and Chatherine Goering who were leaving on trips. Ms. Andrews was
sailing for Hawaii with her mother for one month, and Ms. Goering was going on a six month world
cruise with her mother. She also was chairman of the annual TriDelt Founders Day dinner at the


Seattle Times, November 4 & 26, 1935;
With Virginia Boren,
Seattle Times, December
30, 1935 (page 12).
Page -299-

Rainier Golf and Country Club. Margaret was the executive secretary of the UW Junior Class
Presidents party, given to honor junior class presidents of six colleges and universities in the area.

In July 1937, Mark Odell traveled to Ithaca for his 40
college reunion, which was reported
in the Cornell Alumni Newsletter of August 1937.
The forty-year reunion of the Class of ’97 was so enjoyable that plans were adopted for an
early beginning of a campaign to get a larger number back for a forty-fifth in 1942. Most of
the sixty who returned lived at Prudence Risley Hall except a little group who think they prefer
a park bench any time to a women’s dormitory.
Our Friday evening stag dinner, at the Alhambra, downtown, was a very jolly get-to-gether.
Chief features were the special ovation given Mark Odell, who had come all the way from
Seattle, particularly to occupy his seat next afternoon in Tad Mordock’s reboating of the ’97
Varsity crew, and the brief reporting by every one present of what he had been doing during
the forty years, where he had now landed, and particularly what younger Cornellians he had
Probably ’97 got its greatest reunion “kick” Saturday afternoon in seeing so many of the
Varsity crew of its Senior year boated and rowing beautifully with the same style and grace as
when they won their two great Poughkeepsie races over Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and
Pennsylvania, in June, 1897. Members of the Class who took part were: Freddie Colson, cox;
Capt. Spillman, 6; Mark Odell, 5; Doc Cru, bow (a member of the “Strawberry Crew”); and
Tad Mordock, manager.
Saturday evening men and women and guests of the Class banqueted in one of the charming
dining rooms of Balch Halls. The affair was honored by the presence of President Farrand,
about to leave Cornell, spoke most interestingly and feelingly of his Alma Mater and was taken
leave of with deep regret. On Sunday morning a committee placed flowers on the grave of
Louis Fuertes, now, as forty years ago, the most beloved member of the Class. – Jervis


Seattle Times, January 31, February 18, & 27, 1936.
Juniors Invite Class Leaders of Six
Seattle Times, February 28, 1936. (page 34).
Page -300-

In August 1936, Margaret Odell assisted at a party given by Mrs. Waldo, the Tri Delt alumni
president, for sorority officers. Margaret had been a delegate to the National Convention in Colorado
Springs that summer. In November 1936, Margaret Odell assisted at a dinner given by the Inter-
fraternity Conference of Mother’s Clubs honoring mothers of UW students. Margaret, as President
of the Tri Delt sorority, headed the receiving line at a dinner honoring new pledges and their mothers.
She and a friend gave a bridge and china shower for a friend, Jeanne Champeux who was getting
married in December.

In April 1937, Margaret, as the outgoing chapter president of the Tri Delt sorority, presided
over a tea given for their house mother. The party involved a Chinese motif, with appropriate
decorations and young women dressed in Chinese costumes. Mrs. Holmes talked about her recent trip
the Orient. In May, Margaret was one of 100 UW coeds who received bids into the annual Matrix
Table banquet, in recognition of their scholarship and activity records. The invitations were delivered,
according to campus tradition, by horse and buggy. In June, Audrey Colkeck gave a party honoring
Margaret Odell who was graduating from the University of Washington. In July 1937, Margaret
attended a farewell party at the Olympic Hotel for Jean Elmore who was leaving for two months in
Montreal and New York. In August 1937, Margaret Odell attended a gala party at the College Club.


Officers of Tri Delt Alliance Hold Luncheon,
Seattle Times , August 16, 1936 (page
Tri Delts to Honor Pledges on Wednesday,
Seattle Times, October 18, 1936 (page 35);
Mothers Will be Honored at Inter-Frat Tea,
Seattle Times, November 8, 1936 (page 59);
Jeanne Champreux to Wed Dec. 7,
Seattle Times, November 19, 1936 (page 24).


Mother’s Club of Tri Delts to Fete Three at Tea Party
Seattle Times, April 18, 1937
(page 32);
100 Co-Eds Receive Bids to Matrix Table Affair,
Seattle Times, May 14, 1937 (page 22);
Seattle Times, June 22, 1937 (page);
Au Revoirs Said,
Seattle Times, July 13, 1937 (page 13);
Bachelors of College Win Glory at Annual Dance,
Seattle Times, August 16, 1937 (page 8)..
Page -301-

In January 1938, Margaret and Peggy Andrews gave a bridge party for 24 at the home of Mr.
and Mrs. C. B. Andrews.

As a delayed graduation present, in the summer of 1938, Margaret’s parents gave her a trip
around the country. Margaret planned on attending the wedding of a good friend from Seattle in Ann
Arbor, Michigan later in the summer of 1938. Margaret and Helen English, who also would be in the
wedding party, were leaving soon for a trip to the East. In late July, Margaret was leaving the next day
for an “interesting and extended trip,” going from San Francisco to Los Angeles, then to New York
via New Orleans where she would meet a friend who was disembarking from a cruise. The Seattle
Times reported on August 13, 1938, that Margaret had been traveling about the country since the end
of July, had spent a week at the Barbizon Plaza in New York City, and was then a houseguest of the
noted writer, Mrs. Dwight Farnham (Mateel Howe Farnham) in Westport, Conn. She would travel
next to Washington D.C., then on to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she would be in a wedding party
of Seattle friend.
In March 1939, Margaret gave a luncheon at the Sunset Club for brides to be Virginia
Westlund and Lucille Engahl. In December 1939, Mrs. Mark Odell gave a function with her children
Margaret and Mark Jr., who was visiting from Washington D.C., attended by Burr Odell, Janet Olson,
Mary Cole and John Ederer.


Entre Nous,
Seattle Times, January 5, 1938 (page 13).


Miss Mary Cole to be Married in Ann Arbor, Mich.,
Seattle Times, July 6, 1938 (page
Marriage Announced,,
Seattle Times, July 18, 1938 (page 8);
Entre Vous,
August 13, 1938 (page


Entry Vous,
Seattle Times, March 15, 1939 (page 14);
Sunset Club Sets its Tables For
Family Folk,
Seattle Times, December 29, 1939 (page 11).
Page -302-

Helen Turner, Margaret Odell & Mary Cole.

Margaret Odell is Part of the Growing Northwest Ski Scene

Milwaukee Ski Bowl Opens in 1938, Transforming Local Skiing
Margaret Odell was an active skier in the 1930s, traveling to Snoqualmie Pass and Mount
Rainier with friends to ski on the weekends. There were no ski lifts in those days, so the skiers used
skins on their skis to climb the hill before heading down. Going up was hard time consuming work,
so the skiers would only get in a few downhill runs during a full day of skiing. The Snoqualmie Ski
Bowl, operated by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, known throughout its history
as the “Milwaukee Road,” was opened in 1938, offering access by train from downtown Seattle in two
hours, the first ski lift in the are, and lighted slopes for night skiing. It dramatically changed the ski
scene and rapidly became the major destination for local skiers.


The last of the major transcontinental railroads in the Northwest was the Chicago,
Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, known throughout its history as the “Milwaukee Road.” It
was also known as the “Rockefeller” road because that family financed its expansion. Its construction
west to connect to Puget Sound was begun in 1906, and completed in just three years, in 1909. It
paralleled the Northern Pacific line for much of its distance, and chose Snoqualmie Pass to go over the
Cascades. At first the line was constructed directly over the summit of the Pass, with a stop at the
Page -303-

Margaret Odell at Queen Anne High School.
Margaret worked at Queen Anne
High School after graduating from the
University of Washington in 1937,
where she monitored the study hall and
was the advisor for the school’s ski club
and chaperoned its ski trips to the
Milwaukee Ski Bowl. She was
mentioned in many of the newspaper
articles about the Ski Bowl.
Skiing on Snoqualmie Pass dates back to the first few decades of the 1900s, and was centered
around ski lodges built by private clubs. In 1914, the Mountaineers Club built a lodge just west of
the summit above Rockdale, the stop on the Milwaukee Railroad at the western end of its tunnel under
the Pass. The club sponsored ski touring for years throughout the Snoqualmie Pass area.
In 1924, the Cle Elum Ski Club held its first annual ski tournament. The Northern Pacific
Railroad, whose line was completed from Minnesota to Tacoma, Washington in 1887, went through
Eastern Washington, over Stampede Pass, to Tacoma, and offered train access to Cle Elum from west
of the Cascades, in the days before the Snoqualmie Pass road was kept open in the winters. Initially, the
tournament could be reached by taking the regular Northern Pacific trains over the Pass. However, in
summit known as Laconia. There was passenger service over the top of the Pass as early as June 10,
1909, and the first freight train to run over the Pass from Chicago to Seattle was on June 25, 1909.
Horace C. Henry of Seattle won the $20 Million contract to build the Milwaukee Road segment over
Snoqualmie Pass.

The Railroads,
Sahalie Historical Note No. 12, by Dave Galvin.
Page -304-

1931, the Northern Pacific offered a “special” train to Cle Elum just for tournament spectators. This
special train ran for three years on the day of the event, until the last Cle Elum tournament on February
19, 1933.
In the 1920s, interest in skiing increased
significantly at Snoqualmie Pass through the efforts of
a hardy group of ski jumpers. The Seattle Ski Club,
founded by Norwegian immigrants, built a lodge in
1929, at the summit of the Pass and a ski jump at
Bever Lake Hill, now a part of the Snoqualmie Pass
Ski Area. The jumpers hiked up the hill to go off the
jump. The club held annual jumping competitions
organized by Olav Ulland, beginning in 1930, and
hosted the U.S. Olympic jumping trials in 1947, and
the U.S. championships in 1948. The Sahalie Ski
Club (originally called the Commonwealth Ski Club)
built a lodge on what is now the Alpental road in
1931, and the Washington Alpine Club built a lodge
nearby in 1932.

Starting in the 1931 -32 season, the road to Snoqualmie pass was plowed during the winter and
kept open as much as possible year around. In 1934, paving of the road over the pass was completed,
offering better access from Seattle. The trip was still treacherous, however, in the winter for drivers.

The Snoqualmie Pass Ski Lodges,
Sahalie Historical Note # 7, by Dave Galvin;
Page -305-

Interest in skiing continued to increase, and in 1933, the Seattle Parks Department applied for
a permit from the Forest Service to establish a ski hill at Snoqualmie Pass. In 1934, the Seattle Park
Board opened a municipal ski area at the summit of Snoqualmie Pass, called Municipal Park, at the
western end of the 2.3 mile Milwaukee Railroad tunnel called Laconia. The area initially offered
skiing without tows, but a rope tow was installed in 1937. In 1940, the Park Department got out of
the ski business, after Seattle residents concluded the Pass was too far away for a city park. The
operation was turned over to a private company, the Ski Lifts, Inc., and the area was renamed
Snoqualmie Pass Summit Ski Area.

The Milwaukee Railroad was the last of the transcontinental railroads completed to the
Northwest in 1911, running from Chicago to Seattle, going over Snoqualmie Pass, and eventually
constructing a 2.3 mile tunnel through the Pass to avoid snow slides.

Ski Lifts, Inc. was owned by Jim Parker and Chauncey Griggs, who had operated the
concessions at the area since 1937. Ski Lifts, Inc. was sold in 1942, to Webb Moffett and Rance
Morris for $3,500. Lights were installed after WW II for night skiing, and the Thunderbird chair
lift was installed in 1954. The company operated the area until 1998, when it sold its operations
to Booth Creek Ski Holdings, Inc., a company that operates ski resorts nationwide.;;
Page -306-

On January 8, 1938, the Milwaukee Railroad opened a ski area on the east end of its tunnel
under the Pass, at what later became the Hyak Ski Area. The ski area was initially called the
Snoqualmie Ski Bowl, although after 1940 its name was changed to Milwaukee Ski Bowl to
differentiate it from the Snoqualmie Summit ski area. Ski trains operated by Milwaukee Railroad from
Union Station on weekends were an immediate success in the winter of 1938, and the Milwaukee Ski
Bowl immediately became the primary destination of Northwest skiers. The railroad cashed in on the
region's budding interest in outdoor sports, and the initial lack of adequate highways, to support winter
day trips to the Cascades. Its catch phrase, "Let the Engineer do the Driving," highlighted the package's
ease and convenience. High school ski clubs were formed to take advantage of the easy access to the
Page -307-

area. In 1938 and 1939, the Seattle Times offered free ski lessons to students to promote the sport.
In 1940, Seattle Schools offered ski lessons.
The Seattle Times published an eight-page section devoted to the Ski Bowl at its launch in 1938,
and the Seattle Times of January 5, 1938, contained a number of articles about the new ski area and the
train accessing it.
Milwaukee Railroad trains left downtown Seattle on the weekends for the ski area, and the
demand was so great that the railroad had to continuously increase service to accommodate the large
number of excited skiers. A Friday night train was added the second week of operations, since the there
were lights at the Ski Bowl making night skiing possible. The first “night ski train” left Seattle on
January 14,1938, at 5:45 pm, returning from the ski area at 10:30 pm , and arriving in Seattle at 12:30
am. The night ski train was known as the”Wilson Modern Business College ski train” after its sponsor.
It was determined, after “profound research,” that this was the first night ski train in America.
They’ve been running overnight ski trains in the East...but they haven’t run any...where you’d
leave the city late in the afternoon, be on the snow in a couple of hours, get in your skiing and
be home and in bed not long after midnight.

Legions of skiers came to use the Milwaukee Road trains as their primary access to
skiing at the Pass, and many were trained by Ken Syverson at the Snoqualmie Ski Bowl
(Milwaukee Bowl). High school ski clubs were formed, and special trains were set up to carry
students to the Pass to learn to ski, to race, and to dance on the trip back to Seattle. Olav Ulland
and other Norwegian immigrants from the Seattle Ski Club helped build the largest ski jump in
North America at the Ski Bowl, which hosted the U.S. Olympic jumping trials in 1947, and the
U.S. championships in 1948. After its lodge burned at the beginning of the 1949/1950 winter
season, the Milwaukee Railroad decided to get out of the ski area business. Its last passenger
train passed through the Snoqualmie Tunnel in 1961, and it filed for bankruptcy in 1977. The last
freight train used the Snoqualmie Pass line in 1980. Subsequently, the Milwaukee Road right-of-
way, including the Snoqualmie Tunnel, was acquired by the State of Washington for a trail, and
is now open to foot traffic, bicycles and horses as the “John Wayne Pioneer Trail,” part of Iron
Horse State Park.
The Railroads,
Sahalie Historical Note No. 12, by Dave Galvin;
Page -308-

Each train had two recreation cars and one baggage car for checking and waxing skis en route. There
was a covered platform at the Ski Bowl offering protection to the passengers departing from the train,
and the baggage car was accessible so they could easily obtain their equipment. Tickets for the two hour
round trip cost $1.70.
The Milwaukee Bowl offered the region’s first ski lift, described as “a Sun Valley type lift,” later
known as a Poma lift,
with two towers, one at the top of the Milwaukee grade crossing and one at the bottom.
Horizontally placed on each tower is a 9 ½ foot cast iron wheel with a groove around it. On
those two wheels revolves an endless 5/8 inch cable. Suspended from the cable are other cables,
ending ina trapeze-like wooden handle to which the skier clings. He stays on his skis, keeps in
a track, and is pulled up the course at about four miles an hour - a moderate pace, but it takes no
time to get to the top. Then when he leaves the grade crossing, he has his choice of five downhill
runs, each named after a crack Milwaukee train...Olympian, Hiawatha, Pioneer, Arrow and
Chippewa. Between the Olympian and Hiawatha downhill trials is the Racine uphill trail.
One could ski from the upper floor of the Ski Bowl lodge to the ski lift, then to be elevated 1,400 feet
up they mountain. Don Fraser, “the Northwest Olympic and International skier of fame,” described the
excellent skiing at the area.
There are unlimited possibilities there for all types of skiing. When snow conditions improve,
I believe that there will be available at the Bowl one of the finest downhill or giant slalom
courses in the Northwest. From the top of the mountain directly behind the Bowl proper, there
is an excellent run that should prove interesting to the most expert.
The opening of the Ski Bowl undercut opposition to the sport from parents and school officials,
who had been worried about lack of control over the youth on the way to skiing, and the dangers of
making the trip to the Pass by car on snowy roads.
Today, however, with ski trains carrying these youthful ski aspirants, the opposition is melting
to a great degree...It is expected that the Ski Bowl and ski trains will do much in the future to
erase the official objection for high school students. The availability of supervised ski
instruction will also do considerable for the youthful skiers. Under the capable guidance of Ken
Page -309-

Styveson Ski School, the student may learn the rudiments of controlled skiing, thereby assuring
himself of greater pleasure and safety.
High school ski clubs grew rapidly after the opening of the Ski Bowl. The Queen Anne Ski Club had
a membership of 116, including “Margaret O. Dell.”
Best’s Apparel, a Seattle Department Store, took advantage of the excitement created by the
opening of the Ski Bowl, and advertised ski apparel for sale. Melton ski pants cost $5.95; gabardine
pants and knickers, $9.95 to $12,95; hooded parkas, $7.95 to $12,95; Arlberg ski shoes, $15.00; gaiters,
$2.50; wool sox, $1.50; Resthaus jackets, $3.50 and up; and Ski-train slippers, $2.00.
Skis could be purchased from Cunningham’s, located at 2314 Lynn Street in Seattle. H. B.
Cunningham was the Garfield Ski Club advisor, a veteran skier, and the former chief guide at Mount
Rainier. He made and sold skis in the basement of his house in Montlake. In the 1950s, he operated
Cunningham’s Ski Store at the corner of Lynn and 24
Ave in Montlake. In 1938, he offered ridge top
hickory skis, poles, and Almonte adjustable bindings for $13.95. Maple ridge top skis, poles, and
Almonte adjustable bindings were $10.95. Complete children’s outfits cost $7.95. Flat top skis,
bindings, and poles were $8.95. Cunningham also had rental ski gear available, including skis, clothing,
boots and more, and he offered “special discounts to parties of ten or more.”
Excitement over the opening of the Milwaukee Bowl was so great that a Railroad executive
suggested starting a petition to change the national anthem to “Oh say can you ski.” Seattle Times,
January 5, 1938.
Page -310-

Seattle Times, January 23, 1938
Page -311-

The Seattle Times published a series of articles on successive days about skiing in January 1939.
The first paper included pictures from the Milwaukee Ski Bowl, headlined
School for Skiers High in
Snowclad Cascades.
The Seattle Times sponsored a ski school that was attended by 300 to 400 students
that year. The classes were free of charge, and were held each Saturday for 10 weeks at the Milwaukee
Seattle Times, January 5, 1938
Page -312-

Ski Bowl, concluding March 25, taught by instructors for the Ken Styveson Ski School.
A picture of a smiling Margaret Odell next to a meter recording the snow depth appeared, saying
“four feet of snow and more falling fast, when Miss Margaret Odell, ski advisor at Queen Anne High
School, made a check on a recent Saturday.” Another picture showed a number of students on the hill,
with a caption saying “Times ski school students gather for group instruction on a hill commanding a
magnificent view of Snoqualmie Ski Bowl. Here, skiing’s fundamentals, the snow-plow and stem-
christie are taught, graded by Max Sarchett of the Milwaukee Railroad staff.”

Seattle Times, February 2, 1939 (page 2).
Page -313-

The Seattle Times of January 25, 1939, discussed the upcoming Queen Anne - Garfield Ski day
at the Ski Bowl, which would make a “very busy” ski day for Ken Syverson and his instructors. Students
at the two high schools were
bustling about, getting ready for their day at the Bowl. And a combined Garfield-Queen Anne
day is something because, Queen Anne interest in the Times Ski School is as intense as
The “weekends of free instruction” offered by the Times turned out to be very popular. More than
225 registration cards had been distributed to Seattle high schools for the classes.
Miss Margaret Odell, ski adviser at Queen Anne, told the Times yesterday, “all the cards you sent
us last week were snapped up by the skiers. They’re thoroughly sold on your school idea.”
Skiers took the Milwaukee ski special leaving Union Station at 8:30 o’clock Saturday morning, arriving
at the bowl at 10:30 o’clock - two hours later. The train left the Bowl at 6 o’clock that evening, arriving
in Seattle at 8:00 o’clock.
The Seattle Times of January 29, 1939, said that 365 students had taken ski lessons offered by the
paper, improving their techniques on the snow in just two weeks.
It is in the fundamentals of skiing. NOT pell-mell, center of the road wing-dinging, but in how
to turn, how to control, how to catch the joy of skiing, because you have the feeling of skiing...
You saw rhythm take the place of jerk. You saw body swing replace a spill. You saw class after
class of juvenile skiers catch on. They began to understand what controlled skiing, one of these
days, will do for them.
Not more than 20 students per class were allowed, so each could obtain the maximum of personal
instruction. The classes were from one and one-half to two hours in length, depending on conditions.
There was a picture of Max Sarchett, Times Ski School class supervisor, demonstrating kick turns to his
Page -314-

Seattle Times, March 21, 1939.
Two school advisors - Miss Margaret Odell of Queen Anne and H. B. Cunningham of Garfield,
went on yesterday’s special train, and after watching all of the classes in action, expressed themselves as
delighted with the Time’s plan of fundamental instruction.
“We’re glad to see skiing taught to them so sanely and effectively,” said Miss Odell. “Another
thing, the presence of the Milwaukee’s special agents on the train as supervisors is an excellent
idea. That is a remarkably well-controlled ski special.
In the Seattle Times of March 21, 1939, there was a picture of Margaret Odell and six trophy cups
to be given out to the winners of the ski races that would celebrate the end of the ski season the upcoming
weekend. Max Sarchette would lay out three slalom coursed for the competition. The caption read:
Miss Margaret Odell, girl’s ski advisor at Queen Anne High School, is shown with some of the
cups that will be awarded to winners in slalom races that will conclude the Times Free Ski School
next Saturday at Snoqualmie Ski Bowl. Cups will go to boys and girls winning the six races,
while gold and silver ski-shaped pins will be awarded to second and third-place winners.
The paper also discussed
the upcoming Spring Ski
Carnival of the Junior
Chamber of Commerce
at Paradise Valley.
Page -315-

Margaret Odell at Milwaukee Ski Bowl, ca 1938. She is wearing a
UW crew letterman’s sweater, from a boyfriend who rowed on the
1936 crew.
Page -316-

Excitement about skiing was not limited to the sports pages. The Seattle Times of April 4, 1939,
in its society pages, described a luncheon put on for Peggy Andrews who was leaving for Europe. The
women at Dorothy Leede’s table included Margaret Odell, Josephine Whaley, tan from weekends of
skiing (she was named the queen of the ski carnival at Mount Rainier the preceding weekend), and
Catherine Goering, another enthusiastic skier just back from Sun Valley. On October 31, 1940, there was
a picture on the society pages of the Times captioned “Time Out From Skiing - To Dancing,” showing
four members of the Penguin Ski Club at a dance at the Seattle Golf and Country Club.
The Seattle Times of January 21, 1940, had several articles about skiing at the Milwaukee Ski
Bowl where “Kuay day” was celebrated. One article was headlined,
Kuays Swing to New Record at
Times Ski Class.
Nearly 576 students signed up for the weekly ski trips offered by the Seattle School
system, and each week, a different high school took charge of organizing the activities. That week, 200
Queen Anne students were in charge “under the guidance of Miss. Margaret Odell, Kuay Ski Club
advisor...The Hilltoppers organized their group, marshaled the students from other high schools, junior
high schools, and the University of Washington, and put their day over with a bang.”
An electronic phonograph provided music on the train trip up and back from the Pass, creating
“infectious swing-time dancing and singing aboard the train that set thel tempo for the day.” A Queen
Anne senior who was in charge of the electronic phonograph, described the social scene on the train.
I can’t keep up with ‘em, he declared. Too many requests, not enough “hot” records. They love
to ski and they love to dance in their ski clothes. I’ll bet I’ve played “Oh, Johnny, Oh Johnny”
fifty times. That’s the best thing about this trip to the Bowl; you not only have the fun learning
to ski, but you have fun on the train too.
The paper also discussed other upcoming ski events. It had a picture showing the jumping hill
take-off at the Ski Bowl, where the jumping portion of the National Four-Way Championships would be
Page -317-

held on March 31. The paper announced the opening of the Penguin Slalom Race season on Rocky Butte
in the Snoqualmie Ski Bowl, a sanctioned giant slalom competition the following weekend. Skiers from
clubs all over the northwest, including Canada, would attend. There was an announcement that the
annual race from Camp Muir to Paradise Lodge would be held on April 14, sponsored by the Huntoon
Sliding and Social Club. The Club would also sponsor an event at Mount Baker on April 21 from the
Huntoon Cabin at which 100 couples were expected.
Another article in the same paper explained the meaning of common ski terms that everyone had
to know, including schuss, gelandesprung, schusspuss, christie, telemark, klister, and lobby skier. A third
article described a college ski meet at Sun Valley, Idaho, where the California team led the other teams
in the competition for the Jeffers Cup. The winner of the Cup would be decided the next day by the
jumping event. Gretchen Fraser of Idaho had a perfect day, winning both women’s events.
Odell Children Get Married
The years 1940 and 1941, saw weddings for many of Margaret Odell’s best friends, Margaret
herself in June 1941, followed by her two brothers Mark Jr. and Burr Odell. Engagements, engagement
parties, weddings, and what the women were wearing at the events, were major topics for the Society
pages of the local newspapers. This was truly a different world from ours.
The Seattle P.I. of February 4, 1940, in a section called “Smart Set Magazine,” had a picture of
Margaret Odell, giving a party for her friend Laura Spencer who was getting married. The picture showed
Margaret at a table with Laura Spencer and Miss Speidell and Miss Ann Ferguson, with couples dancing
in the background. The caption says, “One of the last parties before their marriage was that at which Miss
Margaret Odell honored Miss Laura Spencer and John Harvey.” Margaret was a bridesmaid in Laura
Spencer’s wedding, wearing “dusty pink,” and carrying pink tulips. Seattle Times, February 4, 1940.
Page -318-

Margaret was an usher for the City Panhellenic tea at the Women’s University Club, featuring a
fashion show of campus styles, and lectures on sorority live on campus, for mothers and their daughters
who registered to attend the University of Washington that fall. Seattle Times, August 18, 1940.
The Seattle Times of October 31, 1940, had an article about the wedding of Margaret’s friend,
Audrey Colcock, in which Margaret was a bridesmaid with one of her best friends Peggy Andrews.
Mark Odell, Jr., came home from Washington D.C., to spend the holidays with his parents, and
will remain through New Year’s. Seattle Times, December 25, 1940.
Margaret announced her engagement to John W. Lundin, son of the Lundins of Nelscott, Oregon,
in December of 1940, at a party honoring two other recent brides. A tiered wedding cake was used to
announce the engagement, which said “Bill and Margaret.” She was a member of Delta Delta Delta
Sorority, the Seattle Tennis Club, and the Junior Club. Lundin was a graduate the University of Oregon,
a member of Phi Kappi Psi fraternity, the Junior club, and was engaged in business in Seattle where they
would make their home. “For her announcement, Miss Odell wore lipstick red gold accessories, and
orchids. Her mother was in Como blue.” Seattle Times, December 29, 1940.
Spring brought a flurry of parties for the bride to be, all receiving coverage in the society pages.
The Odell - Lundin wedding would be on June 19, 1941, at the Pilgrim Congregational Church. Mrs.
John Harvey would be the matron of honor, and the bridesmaids would be Peggy Andrews, Mary Cole,
Mary Hunt, and Alice Truax. Seattle Times, April 1, 1941.
Mrs. Love gave a luncheon for Miss Odell at the Sunset Club. Seattle Times, April 9, 1941. Mrs.
Clarence Winberg gave a “high tea and crystal shower” for Miss Margaret Odell. The Seattle Times of
April 26, 1941. Mrs. Alfred Lundin gave a luncheon for Miss Odell at the Women’s University Club who
Page -319-

was to marry Mrs. Lundin’s nephew, Mr. John W. Lundin, Jr. Alfred Lundin was the brother of Lundin’s
father, and was a prominent Seattle lawyer.
One of Margaret’s best friends, Peggy Andrews, announced her engagement in May 1941, at a
party for Margaret.
The romantic news was told [to] intimate friends of the young couple yesterday at a cocktail party
Miss Andrews gave at her home for Miss Margaret Odell and her fiancé, Mr. John Willard
Lundin, who will be married June 18...The attractive hostess wore a white French pique frock
with full skirt, plunging neckline and short sleeves and purple orchids. Miss Odell received in
a glamorous-blue frock. Her flowers were white roses and freesias.
Seattle Times, May 19, 1941.
The Seattle Times of June 20, 1941, had extensive coverage of the Odell - Lundin wedding,
indicating how important those events were in those days, saying:
outstanding in a season of elaborate and pretty weddings was that in Pilgrim Congregational
Church last night when Miss Margaret Odell, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Mark Odell, became
the bride of John Willard Lundin, Jr.

The long story fully described everything that happened at the wedding, and everyone who
attended. The dresses worn by the bridesmaids were fully described, as was the bride’s dress.
The lovely bride was gowned in a Lanvin model of heavy ivory satin, designed with a high
neckline. It was buttoned down the front with satin buttons from the tiny turned-down collar to
the hemline. Bands of fluted satin outlined the bodice and long-torso waistline. The three-
quarter-length sleeves also were trimmed with the same detail. The skirt hung in soft folds and
extended into a voluminous court train. Her veil, extending beyond the train, was of ivory
illusion, attached to a heart-shaped halo, made of heirloom rose point lace. Her only ornament
was a string of pearls, a gift from the bridegroom. She carried a crescent-shaped bouquet of white
orchids, lilies of the valley and Stephanotis.
Page -320-

Margaret Odell Lundin, June 1941
Margaret Odell and her bridesmaids
Page -321-

Odell and Lundin parents at wedding
Lundin - Odell wedding party, June 1941.
Page -322-

Seattle P.I., June 22, 1941
The Seattle Times article contained a complete list the of the guests attending the large wedding.
The groom’s brother was the best man, and the ushers were Burr Odell, Beuford Anderson, Eugene Bates,
Dan Lundin, Robert Hawes and Paul Seufer. The groom’s grandmother, Helen Brakke Lundin, attended
the wedding from Lead, S.D.
The P.I.’s story on June 22, 1941, about the wedding was even more extensive, covering the entire
front page of the Society Section, and containing several pictures of the event. One picture showed
Margaret with three friends at luncheon before the wedding, all wearing large hats, with a caption saying:
Busy days are these for brides and brides-to-be, and Miss Margaret Odell’s life was one gay round
of parties before her marriage Thursday evening to John Willard Lundin, Jr. Here we see her as
one of the guests of honor in the Georgian Room, the Olympic, on Monday. At the left is Miss
Eloise Ferguson, whose marriage to Francis Holman is July 5. On Miss Odell’s left is
Mrs.Waldemar Campbell, hostess for the party, and Miss Peggy Andrews, who in mid-July will
be the bride of John Macdonald.
Page -323-

Seattle P.I., June 22, 1941
Another picture shows the bride in her full
length wedding dress with a caption saying: “Here is
the lovely brunette bride as her friends saw here in
Pilgrim Congregational Church and later at the
reception at the Sunset Club. Miss Odell, one of the
season’s most popular brides, is the daughter of Mr.
And Mrs. Mark Odell, and Mr. Lundin the son of Mr.
And Mrs. John Willard Lundin of Nelscott, Oregon.
Their wedding united two prominent families.”
A third picture in the Seattle P.I. shows Margaret and John helping Helen Brakke Lundin, the 83
year old grandmother of the groom, off an airplane at Boeing Field. She attended the wedding, traveling
from Lead, South Dakota to Seattle by airplane, her first flight. She remarked that finally she had traveled
on all modes of transportation: by steamship from Norway to the United States; by train, wagon, ox team
Page -324-

and stagecoach to Lead, South Dakota; by
horse and later automobile in South
Dakota; and then by airplane.

picture’s caption read:
“Greeting out-of-town guests is always an
event before the wedding. So Miss Odell
hurried from luncheon for a fitting of her
wedding gown and then met her fiancé,
John Willard Lundin, Jr., before going to
the airport. There they met his
grandmother, Mrs. A.H. Lundin of Lead,
S.D. She is eighty-three and boosts she
has traveled in every way - from ox team
to Mainliners.”
The Seattle Times of July 18, 1941, announced the engagement of Mark Odell, Jr., to Eunice
Marie Pettner, of White, South Dakota. The wedding would take place in Washington D.C. in
September. Ms. Pettner graduated from the University of Minnesota. Mr. Odell graduated cum laude
from the University of Washington where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He took graduate work at
George Washington University. He was on the personnel staff of the Federal Security Agency in
Washington D.C. An article in the Seattle Times of August 17, 1941, contained a picture of Mr. and
Mrs. Mark Odell, Jr., on their honeymoon in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
John Lundin, Helen Brakke, Margaret Lundin. Seattle P.I.,
June 22, 1941
Page -325-

Seattle Times, August 17, 1941
Page -326-

Burr Odell’s Navy career made the Seattle Times on December 27, 1941, in an article entitled
Crew Beaches Minesweeper.
Ensign Burr Odell, commander of the minesweeper U.S.S. Nightingale,
ordered the vessel to be beached after striking a floating non-military object at the mouth of the Columbia
River, to prevent it from sinking. The accident “threatened to endanger the ship.” All 13 men aboard the
85 foot converted fishing boat escaped without injury. It was not clear if the crew got to shore in their
own lifeboats or whether they were rescued by Coast Guard or Navy vessels.
The Seattle Times of January 22, 1942, announced that Mrs. J.W. Lundin, Jr., had a luncheon for
her mother, Mrs. Rodney Hearne, Mrs. Jack Comyn and Miss Josephine Whaley.
An article in the Seattle Times of June 5, 1942, said that a telegram came to Mr. and Mrs. Mark
Odell of Seattle from Richard Burr Odell, son of Mr. and Mrs. Mark Odell, Jr., announcing that he had
been born that morning in the nation’s capital, and that both he and his mother were doing splendidly.
In October 1942, Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Klopenstein, Jr., had a party attended by Lt. Burr Odell, who
was home from training at Lakehurst, N. J., to spend a week with his parents, and Mr. and Mrs. Mark
Odell, Mr. and Mrs. Lundin, and Miss Mary Cole. Seattle Times, October 12, 1942. Mrs. Mark Odell,
Jr., visited her parents-in-law with their grandson, 4 month old Richard Burr Odell, while her husband,
Mark Jr., remained in Washington D.C. Seattle Times, October 15, 1942.

Page -327-

Lt. Burr Odell, WW II
Lt. Burr Odell, WW II
Lt. Burr Odell, WW II
News that Lt. Burr Odell and Miss Mary Apphis Cole were married in San Mateo, California,
came as “a the surprise to their friends.” They were married in the home of the bride’s brother, Raymond
Davis Cole. “Miss Cole wore a Milgrim model of oyster-white wool jersey with a small purple hat and
a corsage of orchids.” They will reside in Palo Alto as Lt. Odell was stationed at the Naval Air Station,
Moffett Field, California. Seattle Times, November 11, 1942.
Page -328-

A number of articles appeared during W.W. II about meetings of an organization called the War
Dads, for which Mark Odell served as the Sergeant of Arms.
Post WW II
The Seattle Times of October 31, 1946, announced the death of Mark Odell, Jr., of Washington
D.C., of polio. Mark Jr. was 33 years old, and had lived in the nation’s capital since 1938, where he
worked as a civil service employee.
Burr & Mary Odell, 1942
Page -329-

Mark Odell returned to Cornell in 1947, for the 50
reunion of the class of 1897. All his fellow
crew members were alive and well and attended the reunion, except their coxswain. They took out an
eight and rowed it for old times sake, likely not equaling their IRA championship time that made Cornell
“champions of America” in 1897, but still rowing with enthusiasm and love of the sport.
The Odells continued their participation in social activities. Mark Odell was elected a Trustee of
Cornell club on February 15, 1950, according to the Seattle Times. That paper announced on May 14,
1950, that a charter members luncheon of the Sunset Club was held honoring the small group of women
who founded the club 37 years earlier. Mrs. Mark Odell was one of the charter members who were
India Belle Odell’s death was announced in the Seattle Times on June 10, 1952.
Notice of the death of John W. Lundin, Jr., appeared in the Seattle Times of October 13, 1958. He
had been the sales manager for Aptex, Inc, a wholesale-dry-goods firm, where he had worked for seven
years, and he died after a long illness. Lundin was born in Shoshone, Idaho, graduated from the
University of Oregon in 1937 in business administration, and lived in Seattle since 1939. He served in
the Coast Guard for four years during WW II. He was a member of the Coast Guard Reserve, Phi Kapa
Psi Fraternity, the Prospect Congregational Church, and had been active in Boy Scouting.
Mark Odell died in Seattle in 1963, at age 94. Throughout his life, Odell was a role model for and
influence on his entire family, including his seven grandchildren. Vigorous to the end, he lived in his own
house on Capitol Hill in Seattle, and continued to go to work and do his own gardening until the summer
of his death
Odell’s death was announced in the Seattle Times of June 26, 1963, in an article which described
his life and accomplishments. He graduated from Cornell University in 1897, and moved to Seattle after
Page -330-

taking part in the Yukon Gold Rush. He was a civil engineer and contractor until 1927, when he entered
the insurance field, continuing his work until shortly before his death.
Mr. Odell was a member of the Cornell crew which held the Poughkeepsie Regatta record for more
than 30 years. After coming here he organized a rowing club which was instrumental in
establishing rowing at the University of Washington.
He was a member of the Cornell Club, Delta Chi Fraternity, and the Prospect Congregational Church.

Odell kept the Cornell pennant that he and Aldrich had taken to the Klondike gold rush, which had
been given to him by a fraternity brother when he left Ithaca for the Yukon, was proudly displayed for
years in Seattle as a constant reminder of his Alma Mater and his Yukon adventures.
Brought it out over the ice with us on our four hundred mile walk [out of the Yukon]. Now faded
and grimy it adorns my rooms [in Seattle], a remembrance of happy days in college, of wild free
life in the Yukon wilderness, and now above all love for Alma Mater and brotherly affection
between boys of a fraternity.
Odell’s Cornell pennant remains in the family.

As children, the authors remember seeing a vial full of dust with some flakes in it at their
grandfather’s house, which was all of the gold that Odell found during his difficult year in the Yukon. In
1960, Odell described his time in the Yukon in his typical modest way:
A year of wonderful adventure and experiences. But remember - there were thousands upon
thousands of people who did this in 1897 and 1898. In Seattle, above tale is commonplace.
Odell’s experiences in the Klondike are reminiscent of Wallace Stegner’s description residents of
the town of Leadville, in his novel
Angle of Repose
, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize, a camp which
spoke “as urgently to the well-trained as to the untrained.”

Odell’s modesty was seen in his professional as well as in his personal life. It was traditional
for contractors who paved Seattle’s sidewalks to put the name of their firm on their work. Odell
refused to do so, saying that he did not want people walking on his good name.
Page -331-

In Leadville, Harvard men mucked in prospect holes, graduates of MIT and Yale Sheffield
Scientific School worked as paymasters and clerks and gunguards, every mine office was
approached daily by some junior engineer with a diploma and a new mustache...Leadville roared
toward civilization like a runaway train.

Mark Odell
Mark Odell, 1930s
Mark Odell & son Mark
Page -332-

Mark Odell, John Lundin, III, Margaret Odell Lundin, India
Odell, 1943, in front of Odell house on Capitol Hill.
India Odell, John Lundin, Sr., John Lundin, III, Mack Lundin, Alberta Lundin,
Margaret Lundin, Mark Odell & John Lundin, Jr., 1943.
Page -333-

Mark Odell as older man.
Mark Odell & Margaret Odell Lundin,
Mark Odell and insurance industry business associates, 1947. Odell
is the man seated on the far left.
Page -334-

Page -335-


Cornell influenced rowing at the University of Washington from the beginning.
E.F. Blaine, a lawyer and land developer, lived in Ithaca before moving to Seattle in the late 1890s.
Blaine knew of Cornell’s successful rowing program, and wanted to start a similar program at Washington
to take advantage of Seattle’s mild weather, accessible water, and tall young men of Scandinavian descent
whose families had moved to the area for its logging and fishing. In 1899, Blaine donated $200 to start
a rowing program at Washington, and later Blaine and other Seattle businessmen spent $650 to build two
training gigs and a boathouse for the U.W. crew.

Washington hired its first crew coach in 1903, James Knight, the school’s football and track coach
who had rowed at Princeton. Washington’s first inter-collegiate race was in 1903, against Cal Berkeley,
in fours-oared gigs without coxswain. Washington won the race by over three lengths beginning its
winning tradition.

Cornell’s influence on Washington rowing continued in 1904, when the school purchased a four-
oared shell from Ithaca for $400. In 1906, Mark Odell brought his Cornell experience to Washington
rowing when Washington did not have funds to hire a rowing coach, and the school turned to local rowers
to fill the void.
In January 1906, the Seattle Times announced that Dan Pullen, a “well-know oarsman and football
player,” who had been a member of every crew that had represented Washington,” would be the rowing

Rowing Begins at the University of Washington on December 15, 1899

Husky Crew 100 Year History
, University of Washington crew website.
Page -336-

coach that year. Pullen would be assisted by Mark Odell, “a former Cornell man who now lives in
Seattle...Odell is an experienced rower and learned rowing in Cornell, whose supremecy on the water is
unquestioned in this country. He is in business and will not be able to devote all of his time to the crew,
but he will get out as often as possible, and between the two of them, Washington should have a good crew
this season.”
It is not clear what happened to Pullen, but he ended up not coaching Washington in 1906,
and Odell coached the UW crew with another experienced rower, George Strange. Ironically, notice that
Odell would coach the UW crew appeared in the Colfax Gazette of February 2, 1906, under University
Notes, although it got his personal details wrong. “Mark Odell, member of the Cornell crew in ‘98, who
rowed in the Henly races in England, will coach the rowing crew this spring.”
Mark Odell, Cornell 1897, who learned his rowing under Coach Courtney, and George Strange,
two businessmen and ex-college rowers living in Seattle, were recruited by the University’s athletic
manager Loren Grinsted to coach Washington’s crew in 1906.
Stepping up were George Strange and Mark O’‘Dell [sic] who with the help of General Manager
Loren Grinstead, oversaw the program and selected a crew. [Strange was] a member of that
Argonaut Crew which had such a reputation at the St. Louis Exposition crew races.

The Argonauts were a famous rowing club in Toronto Canada. Grinstead wrote that
[r]owing was carried for the 1906 season through the gratuitous assistance of Capt. Balliet, Mark
Odell and George Strange, the later being from Toronto....Both Odell and Balliet did

Dan Pullen Will Coach Crew, Well-Known Oarsman and Football Player Will Give Up
Training for a Season After a Long Season; He Will be Assisted by Odell, Formerly of Cornell,
and the Two Should Turn out a Winning Four,
Seattle Times, January 24, 1906 (page 4).

Rowing at Washington.


Husky Crew 100 Year History.
Page -337-

The 1908 University of Washington
yee said:

Rowing prospects for the spring of 1906 did not look bright at the outset, as the A.S.U.W. felt
unable to pay for the services of a coach. But through the efforts of General Manager Grinstead
and the coaching of George Strange and Mark O'Dell [sic], the Varsity Four promised to be a
An article on Washington rowing later reported that Washington’s crew program “started” under Mark
Odell, and Odell’s obituary said that he “organized a rowing club which was instrumental in establishing
rowing at the University of Washington.”
Odell and Strange donated their time to coaching Washington rowers because of their love of the
sport. Early morning turnouts were held so the coaches could go to work afterwards. Beginning in 1906,
Odell taught Washington rowers the Cornell rowing techniques and the Courtney stroke developed by
coach Courtney which had dominated east coast rowing since 1897. Odell brought to the shores of Lake
Washington, his experiences learned rowing on Cuyuga Lake under the “Old Man,” and the winning ways
of his 1897 IRA Big Red championship crew.
During 1906, Washington’s crew program took another step forward by acquiring two used eight-
oared shells (from Cornell, of course), financed by Seattle businessmen, likely including Odell.
Again, through the generosity of Seattle business men, Washington was enabled to purchase two
eight-oared shells from Cornell, one of which is the 1902 Henley shell that established the record
on the Poughkeepsie course....The Washington Navy now consists of two eight-oared boats, two
four-oared shells, one eight-oared barge and two four-oared barges. With this equipment, our
natural advantages, and hearty support of both students and citizens of Seattle, there is no reason
why the University should not turn out winning crews.

Evans, Walter,
“Hiram Conibear: Revolutionizer of Crew Racing
”, Bicentennial
Seattle Post Intelligencer
, spring 1976;
“Mark Odell, Insuranceman, Succumbs
Seattle Times
, June 26, 1963.
Rowing at Washington
Page -338-

Cornell had dominated college rowing since Odell’s 1897 crew won the IRA championship, with Courtney
coached crews winning the National Championships at the IRA five times, placing second twice, and third
twice. The Washington Annual of 1908, established a lofty goal for the school: “
It is now up to
Washington to prove herself the Cornell of the Pacific Coast
The acquisition of eight-oared shells allowed Washington to engage in serious racing for the first
time. The University of California at Berkeley purchased three eights from Cornell at the same time.
Eight-oared competition began on the west coast in 1907, with the annual Triangle Regatta, where crews
from Washington, California and Stanford competed against each other.
In 1907, the University of Washington made a decision that turned out to be significant to its
rowing program, although that was not apparent at the time. In 1907, Hiram Conibear (later known as the
father of Washington rowing) was hired by the UW to assist its football and track programs. Conibear was
lured to Washington in 1906, from Chicago by Dr. Bill Speidel, a former U.W. quarterback studying
dentistry there (and a relative of the authors through marriage). Conibear had been a professional bicycle
racer, the trainer for the Chicago White Sox, and the trainer for the football teams at the Universities of
Illinois and Chicago (under coach Alonzo Stagg). Loren Grinsted, the University of Washington Athletic
Director, hired Conibear as the athletic trainer for Washington’s football and track programs, and as
assistant football coach. Conibear had no experience with rowing, but he decided that crew was the
perfect off-season sport for conditioning of his football players.


Husky Crew 100 Year History.

Daves and Porter,
The Glory of Washington:
Rowing at Washington

Page -339-

Hiram Conibear, UW Digital
Conibear got himself named the Washington’s crew coach in 1907, but there was one major
problem - he knew very little about rowing. Conibear had very limited rowing experience, but what he
knew shows another debt to Cornell. Conibear said that Dr. A.L. Sharpe, “now coaching at Cornell,” gave
him his first lesson in “the art of pulling an oar.” Conibear attended a summer session at Chatauqua Lake
in New York in 1905, “to improve his natural abilities for a real future in handling college athletes.” He
rowed in a four-oared barge coached by Dr. Albert A. Sharpe, who had learned to row at Yale under Coach
Jim Rodgers who taught the “modified Bob Cook Stroke.”
When asked about being the crew coach,
Hiram Conibear - Washington coach

Conibear, Hiram,
Coaching A Varsity Crew
. Conibear attended the Chautauqua School of
Physical Education in 1905. Shape remembered Conibear as “very reliable and as an extremely
good organizer and hard worker.” Dr. Albert H. Sharpe, M.D. was later Cornell’s athletic
director. In 1923, Sharpe was the Director of the Ithaca School of Physical Education. Beck, V.
Page -340-

he replied “I’d make a good one...[but] to tell you the truth, I don’t know one end of the boat from the
other.” Conibear described his initial coaching technique as follows: “I have to yell and cuss a little in
order to bluff my way along until I have a chance to grasp what I’m trying to coach.”

Given Conibear’s limitations as a crew coach and his lack of rowing skills, it is fortunate that the
UW had experienced rowers available to assist the program. Mark Odell continued his work with
Washington’s rowing program until the 1920s, passing on Pop Courtney techniques that he had learned
at Cornell. A Bicentennial Biography of Hiram Conibear, published in the Seattle P. I. in the Spring of
1976, said Conbear was hired “in 1907 and the UW had started crew under student-coach Mark Odell.
Conibear, who knew nothing about rowing, was asked to take over coaching the sport.”
Conibear admitted that he learned the art of rowing from others, along with his own novel
What I know about rowing has been learned largely as a result of observation and study. I began
with no theories except the commonsense belief that a man who knew the best methods of training
and the fundamental facts of condition could teach other men the principles of any sport in which
conditioning enters as an important factor.
In addition to learning rowing techniques from Mark Odell, Conibear did his own experiments to
understand the physiology of the stroke. Conibear took a skeleton home from the biology department,
placed it in a shell, and used it to study the anatomical movement of the stroke and the physiology of
rowing. Conibear placed a broom handle into the skeleton's hands to serve as an oar. He moved the
skeleton through the motion of a stroke noting the position of the bones at each stage. He then turned a
pages 5- 6.
Daves and Porter,
The Glory of Washington
; Evans,
“Hiram Conibear: Revolutionizer of
Crew Racing.


Coaching a Varsity Crew,
reprinted in Beck,
Rowing at Washington,
Page -341-

bicycle upside down and turned the wheel with his hand, the wheel serving as the water and his palm the
oar blade. He realized that unless the oar blade struck the water at a speed equal to or greater than the
water's speed, there would be a moment of unwanted drag.

Odell Continues His Work With the US Crew
Mark Odell continued to work with Washington’s rowing program and local rowing well into the
1920s, as described in a number of newspaper articles.
In July 1908, Odell was an official, the starter, at the junior races of the North Pacific Association
of Amateur Oarsman. The regatta started off Madrona park and finished off Madison Park.
Odell was the official timer at the UW/Stanford regatta in 1909. Seattle Times, May 27, 1909.
Odell was the starter in the 1910 UW/Stanford race, where a second race had to be run after Washington’s
shell was “destroyed beyond repair” in the first race. Washington won the second race in spite of having
to row in an older and slower shell. “Shortly after 10 o’clock, Starter Mark Odell signaled with his pistol
and the shells shot out from the start side by side.” Seattle Times, May 26, 1910. Odell was the Head
Judge of the Finish at the UW/Cal regatta in 1911. Seattle Times, May 27, 1911.
Mark Odell “of Cornell” was the head timer for the 1913 UW/Cal regatta, with Washington
winning but swamping before its shell could return to shore, requiring a rescue of the “almost nude
athletes” from their sinking shell by Dean Condon whose powerful red launch shot the men ashore. Seattle
Times, May 21 & 23, 1913.
Newspaper clippings show Odell as the race referee at meet between Washington and Cal in 1922.
The first page of the Seattle Times of April 22, 1922, had a series of pictures of the crew race, and the

Daves and Porter,
The Glory of Washington.

Races on Water,
Seattle Star, July 4, 1908.
Page -342-

headline read “
Washington Oarsmen Defeating California by More than Ten Boat Lengths.”
Mark Odell
was identified as “a former Cornell crew man,” and is shown in the front page picture with the starter, R.C.
Hart, President of the Portland Rowing Club.
Mark Odell was the Judge for the UW/Cal regatta in 1926, with the Seattle Times saying the
Crew Title at Stake Friday.
The regatta was a “milestone” in Western rowing competition, since the
winner would be the “standard bearer of the Far West in the National Intercollegiate Rowing championship
to be held on the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie in June.” It was the first time that all three rowing events
were held in one regatta, the varsity, junior varsity ad freshman races. Both Ky Albright, coach of the
Bears, and Rusty Callow, the Husky coach, learned to row at Washington under Conibear, so it was a
competition of two crews using the Washington or Conibear stroke. Seattle Times, April 8, 1926.
Conibear Makes UW Crew Program into a Powerhouse
Conibear was Washington’s crew coach from 1907, until his untimely death in 1917. During that
time, he expanded the program, raised money to purchase new equipment, and put Washington rowing
on the national map. His crews dominated west coast rowing during that period, and made their first
Odell as Race Referee, UW/Cal Regatta, 1922
Page -343-

entrance on the national rowing scene. His goal was always to compete at the IRA regatta in the four mile
race against east coast crews. In 1907, he sponsored a four mile race against Stanford, the only time a four
mile race had been run in the west. In later years, he tried to convince other west coast teams to use the
four mile format used at the IRA, but they refused, insisting on keeping two or three miles races.

Conibear brought enthusiasm and success to the Washington rowing program. “Never in the history
of the University of Washington has the crew had a more successful season than that of 1908,” reported
the UW
of 1910. In 1908, 54 men turned out for crew along with 50 women.
again the school’s debt to its mentor in Ithaca, the UW annual stated:
Washington has made a mighty stride toward the goal of her ambition, to become the
‘Cornell of the Pacific
.’ Her rowing traditions have a broad foundation upon which to become
fixed.... Washington bids fair to become the premier rowing institution in the United States.
(Emphasis added).
Showing the program’s growth, 165 men turned out for crew in 1910.
Cornell’s contribution to Washington rowing continued under Conibear. In 1908, Conibear sought
to have Washington invited to the IRA regatta at Poughkeepsie. They “were bitterly cast down when a
terse statement comes back that it is too late to get in.” Conibear went to the IRA anyway “to talk to
coaches and see how things were done on the water generally.” This was his first opportunity to interact
with the eastern crew coaches whose crews dominated rowing, and Conibear made the most of the
opportunity. Before the race, Coach Conibear met with Coach Courtney at Cornell, where the newcomer
learned valuable lessons from the rowing master, as described by Broussais C. Beck who accompanied
Conibear on the trip.

Rowing at Washington,
IV., pages 1-6.

Rowing at Washington
Page -344-

I sat for hours listening to ups and downs of discussions between Courtney, of Cornell, and
Conibear. I remember going along very humbly on the hot afternoon into the dusky interior of the
long shell house where the Cornell boats were kept, when Courtney gave us a full exposition of
his ideas on rigging shells for the various types of men and stroke. All the while Conibear had his
two-foot carpenter’s rule unfolded and was busy measuring and noting important distances.
Courtney readily shared his philosophy of rowing with Conibear, which was brought back to Washington’s
program. “Courney set out most frankly and generously his ideas on....the stroke they were rowing at
Other Eastern coaches also helped Conibear.
The reception he was given by the coaches of the participating crews was a revelation. Without
exception every coach was more than kind and courteous, and even many of the various crewmen
came to recognize him and made us feel welcome about their floats...None of these coaches knew
Conibear in the slightest before he introduced himself. Yet at Poughkeepsie every single one was
not only exceedingly agreeable but also much interested in Conibear’s tale of the far western
struggle to establish Rowing. They were uniformly glad to spend energy and time helping this
western visitor to an understanding of the sport.
Conibear saw the Yale-Harvard race where he received a “quiet welcome by Yale Coach Kennedy,” who
took him out in a coaching launch. Conibear said after the race that “his crew ought to have been in it.”
In spite of his success at Washington, Conibear was in a constant battle with the school for money
and manpower. His efforts to create a winning crew program were fought by coaches in better established
sports such as football, who were concerned that Conibear might take resources away their programs. In
1908, Beck reported that “[r]owing competes for man power and money with longer established sports.
It therefore is always on the defensive for the next fifteen years.” Conibear said that in 1908, he was
“ordered off the football field on several occasions,” and in 1909, he “was told to stay off the campus until


Rowing at Washington,
IV., pages 4-5, and V., pages 10-11.

Short History of American Rowing
, IV., page 8.

Rowing at Washington,
IV., pages 4-5, and V., pages 10-11.
Page -345-

rowing started in December.” He continued to have problems dealing with the school administration and
rival coaches in later years.

Conibear took Washington its first IRA regatta in 1913. Cornell was the heavy favorite, but
Syracuse won the race with Cornell finishing second and Washington a surprising third.
complexion of American rowing was irreversibly altered, and east coast schools were put on notice that
Washington rowing was for real. This race put Washington rowing on the national map. Conibear’s salary
was raised to $2,400 afterward in spite of his problems with the school, although he complained that this
required him to be both crew coach and Supervisor of Aquatics, each job paying $1,200, while he had


In 1910, there was a proposal to change rowing to a department under the physical director.
“This was regarded by all those friendly to and informed on rowing as a veiled attempt to remove
Conibear. It did not succeed. Proposal was made that Conibear be given two-thirds of his salary,
but only work half the year. Conibear finally engaged at previous salary, but required by contract
to keep away from campus except during six months of rowing turnouts. This was frankly admitted
to be for the purpose of keeping him off the campus during football season, as it was greatly feared
that he might change possible football players into crewmen.”
In 1911, the school paper reported the football coach “takes a fall out of crew plans; says
Crew Quarters unsanitary and that training tables sometimes a detriment to health. After wordy
battle, quiet resumed.”
In 1912, Conibear wanted his oarsmen to play rugby to get into condition. Beck said “[t]his
is horrible to the supporters of football and they march en masse on Rowing. The Board of Control,
on strong representations of ensuing disaster to Football, votes to lock up all rowing equipment till
after Football season. Pressure forces a partial relief. Rowing is allowed for recreation only....with
the specific reservation that Conibear is to have nothing to do with Rowing until the end of Football
season.” According to Conibear, in 1912, the President of the ASUW said he would have to “stand
for a reduction in my salary that rowing was costing too much. I told him that I would not stand for
any reduction in salary.” In 1915, Beck said that“....agitation develops, aimed toward reducing
Conibear’s salary one-fourth, or to have him take a six months’ vacation without pay - neither of
which plans were successful.” Beck,
Rowing at Washington
, IV., pages 4, 7, 9, 10, 14;
Memorandum written by Hiram Conibear, undated but likely written in 1917, located in the
University of Washington archives, Broussais C. Beck papers.

Ed Leader and Rusty Callow, both future coaches at Washington and elsewhere, rowed 2 seat
in the eight and 3 seat in the four, respectively. Beck,
Rowing at Washington
, IV., page 11.
Page -346-

previously been paid $1,800 just for being crew coach. He was also promised a house on campus, a
promise that was never kept.
Conibear and the Washington crew returned to the IRA regatta in 1914. This trip was not as
successful however, with Washington finishing fifth out of five crews, a result that Beck blamed on a
change in Washington’s rowing technique.
This Washington crew does not please the Eastern critics. It has power but is ragged. This was
at the height of Conibear’s experimenting with the ideas of best known Eastern coaches. This crew
was probably farther from the real Conibear stroke than any other Washington crew ever had
As a result, the “[f]aculty voted no more Eastern Rowing for three years at least.” Conibear said
“...internal trouble which every crew man knows of hindered us terrible [sic] we did not make
a good showing in the east.”
Conibear’s crews raced only against west coast competition the next few years. Washington lost to
Stanford in 1915. In 1916, Conibear returned to the stroke he initially taught in 1910, with a few
modifications, which accounted for the crew’s success thereafter according to Beck. Washington beat
Stanford and Cal in 1916 (with Carroll Ebright, future Cal coach, coxing Washington’s shell). The 1916
boat was the “fastest Conibear crew.” In 1917, Conibear’s crews beat Stanford and Cal by six lengths,
“rowing 28 all of the way....This Varsity was one of the very best all-around Conibear Crews.”

In spite of his success, Conibear’s problems with the school continued. In 1916, Beck said
that“[a]n agitation develops, aimed toward reducing Conibear’s salary, or to have him take a six months’
[sic] vacation without pay - neither of which plans were successful.” In 1917, Conibear wrote a


Husky Crew 100 Year History;
Conibear Memorandum.

Rowing at Washington
, IV., page 13; Conibear Memorandum.

Rowing at Washington
, IV., pages 13-15.
Page -347-

memorandum in which he defended his record as rowing coach at Washington, apparently in an attempt
to keep his job. He complained of mistreatment by the school in past years, and showed that he had raised
more money for the rowing program than the school had spend during his tenure.
Women’s rowing is a strong part of the Washington crew program. Conibear lobbied early in his
career to make woman’s rowing a part of the physical education program at Washington, and the school
had an active woman’s rowing program from 1906 - 1917. Women rowed in fours, doubles and singles
initially, and got their first eight in 1915. In 1908, 50 women rowed; in 1910 over 40 women rowed;
followed by 60 in 1911. By 1916, two regattas were held for women, with four eight-oared shells
competing, representing each class. The rules of competition for women were different in those days, with
the crews judged on “posture, appearance (and) oarsmanship.” Women’s rowing was dormant after
World War I, beginning again in 1969 as a club sport, and in 1976 as a varsity sport, becoming a hugely
successful program thereafter.
Coach Conibear died unexpectedly in September 1917, from an unfortunate accident; he fell from
a plum tree he was climbing to pick fruit. His reputation as a rowing coach lived on, however. Conibear
was uniquely responsible for Washington rowing....He pioneered a new movement. He was
original....His name will be revered and his memory will be bright for many generations.
This was the end of an era, but Conibear trained rowers continued his traditions, bringing glory and
recognition to Washington rowing, and spreading the Conibear method of rowing all around the country
when they became coaches at virtually every major university that had a rowing program.

Conibear’s memorandum is located in the University of Washington archives, Broussais C.
Beck papers.


Husky Crew 100 Year History
; Beck,
Rowing at Washington.

Beck, V., pages 1, 14.
Page -348-

Conibear Convinces George Pocock to Move to Seattle
In 1912, Conibear achieved one of his major accomplishments while he was at Washington. He
convinced George Yeoman Pocock and his brother Dick to move from Vancouver, Canada to Seattle to
build shells for Washington’s rowing program. The Pococks came from a family of well known
boatbuilders and rowers in England, and were accomplished rowers themselves.
George’s great uncle, William, built the first seamless rowing shell around 1845 (previously they
were of lapstrake construction). His father was the boat builder at Eton College, a prep school which had
an extensive rowing program, and later manager of Eton’s boat house. The entire Pocock family were
expert rowers. Dick Pocock won the Doggett Coat and Badge Race, the oldest rowing competition, rowing
against professional watermen. Their sister Lucy won England’s women’s rowing championship in 1910.
George learned to row by
emulating Ernest Barry, the professional rowing champion of the world at the
time. In 1908, George won the award as the best rower in England, when he was 17, an award coming
with 50 pounds sterling.
In 1910, brothers George, Dick and Aaron Pocock immigrated to Canada in 1910 to seek their
fortunes in the new world, along with two sisters. After working in the lumber industry, they began
making wooden rowing boats on their houseboat on Coal Harbor, in Vancouver, B.C. Their reputation
for making high-quality racing shells quickly spread, even to Seattle, attracting the attention of Hiram
Conibear, the UW rowing coach.
The Pococks first meeting with Conibear shows how little he knew about rowing. The Pococks
houseboat in Vancouver was accessible only by boat. One day, “a well dressed man was trying hard, but
with total lack of skill, to row a skiff to their floating workshop. He frequently ‘caught a crab’ slashing

Ready All.
A number of medals won by the Pococks, as well as uniforms they received
and pictures of their victories, are displayed at the Pocock Rowing Center in Seattle.
Page -349-

the water with a mis-turned oar, and seemed to lose at least a foot for every two feet of headway he made
toward them.” After the Pococks hauled him on board with a boathook, the man told them, “my name is
Hiram Conibear, I am the rowing coach at the University of Washington in Seattle.” “The Pocock brothers
glanced at each other in some disbelief. His performance in the rowboat had been anything but
professional. In fact, it had been so bad that George recalled, ‘we actually thought he was under the
influence of liquor.’” The Pococks were shocked to learn “this clumsiest of oarsmen” was Washington’s
rowing coach. “On that stormy day in 1912, ours were the only eyes in this area to gaze in wonder upon
the Conibear stroke.”
In spite of his lack of rowing skills, Conibear tried to convince the Pococks to move to Seattle with
a vision of building a rowing dynasty at Washington, and a promise to buy twelve racing shells they would
build for its program, an offer the Pococks felt was too good to be true. It was. There was only money
available to buy one shell, a fact that Conibear neglected to tell the Pococks.
After visiting Seattle, the Pococks returned to Vancouver where they built their first eight-oared
shell for Washington in 1912, named the Rodgers in honor of the Seattle candy maker who donated $200
to Conibear’s building fund. Later, George and Dick Pocock decided to move to Seattle with their two
sisters who had been living with them in Vancouver, while brother Aaron returned to England. In October
1913, the family moved to Seattle after local businessmen pledged funds to build two new eights for
Conibear, for $500 each, and two eight-oared “co-ed” barges and two barge fours for a fledgling women’s
rowing program.
The Pococks built wooden boats in Seattle for several years, happy in “their first real home in the
New World.” They built an eight-oared shell for California the next year, and their reputation for building

Ready All, pages 32, 33.

Page -350-

quality boats spread. One day in early 1916, a local businessman visited their boat-building shop, saw
their skills at wood-working, and said “this is the kind of work I want.” His card said he was W.E. Boeing,
a timberman who formed a new company to build aircraft in Seattle. He incorporated his company,
originally called Pacific Aero Products, on July 15, 1916, with the war in Europe creating a demand for
airplanes build of west coast spruce. The Pococks spent a number of months in California in 1916,
building boats for the University of California and Stanford. When they returned to Seattle, they learned
that Hiram Conibear had died in an unfortunate accident, by falling out of a tree in his back yard. Ed
Leader, who had been stroke under Conibear, was named as Conibear’s successor, but with the World War
in Europe, the continuation of the UW rowing program was in jeopardy. Uncertain about the UW rowing
program, the Pococks went to work wooden building floats for seaplanes for Bill Boeing’s new company
in early 1917, working out of the Red Barn on Lake Union. Rowing was suspended at the U.W. during
World War I.
In 1922, Russell (Rusty) Callow became the UW rowing coach, when Conibear’s replacement, Ed
Leader, left to become the head coach at Yale, taking Dick Pocock with him as his boatbuilder. Callow
convinced George Pocock again to build shells for the UW program, and provided Pocock with a hanger
that had been built during WW I to train seaplane pilots by the military on the school’s campus. Pocock
left Boeing in December 1922, and went into the boat building business full time. George said “on
December 22, 1922, I left the Boeing Airplane Company and started anew in my old love, boatbulding.”
The first boat George built for Callow was the Husky, which was used by the UW crew to win the 1923
National Championship at the IRA in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in a surprise upset of the more established
rowing programs of the East. George Pocock went with the UW crew to the 1923 IRA Regatta. Pocock’s
winning shell so impressed the rowing coaches there that he received orders for eight new eight-oared
Page -351-

shells after he returned to Seattle. Twenty years later, George said that “every shell in the Poughkeepsie
Regatta was a ‘western, clumsily built Pocock boat.’ Thirty of them.”
George Pocock built rowing shells on the Washington campus for over 40 years, supplying the
Huskies and virtually every other crew program in the U.S. and Europe with finely crafted wooden shells
that became the world standard. The Pocock motto about boat building that guided their work came from
George’s father. “No one will ask how long it took you to build it, they will only ask who built it.”
“Pocock shells were known all over the world; they were coveted by every major university with a rowing
program, by every rowing club in England and throughout the world. A Pocock shell was, for several
generations, the standard of the world of racing shells.”

Pocock sold his shells below their market value throughout the world to promote rowing, making
it much easier for rowing programs to get started. Pocock was able to be this charitable because he had
been paid partially in Boeing Aircraft Company stock when he built sea plane floats for the company
during WW I. The stock appreciated in value substantially over the years, giving Pocock the ability to sell
his products for less than their actual worth. Pocock was very generous about the financing of his shells.
When George died, Stan and his sister found a large number of shares of Boeing stock in a drawer that had
been kept for years by their father. They used part of this inheritance to fund the building of the Pocock
Rowing Center on the Lake Washington Ship Canal in Seattle as a lasting tribute to the Pocock family.

Ready All
, pages 42 - 48, 52 - 54,
63 - 65, 70 - 74
; Emmett Watson,
A bit of boat-
building history gone, but not forgotten,
Seattle P.I., unknown date.

Jim Roe, a member of the author’s rowing club, helped start the rowing program at Notre
Dame in the early 1970s, then a club sport. The rowing club had no money, but ordered a shell from
Pocock which was built and delivered at Pocock’s expense. Pocock did not ask for any advance
payment but sent a bill with the boat. Pocock suggested a variety of ways the bill shell could be paid,
including having the crew sell blood to local blood banks.
Page -352-

George Pocock. ca 1920s.
George Pocock, 1942
George Pocock, 1959
Page -353-

Charley McIntyre, a George Pocock inspired world class sculler, determined that between 1924
and 1976, there were 30 Pocock shells in the Olympic games, and crews rowing 27 of them won medals.

Washington Rowers Continue the Conibear Tradition
Ed Leader (UW 1916), Conibear’s stroke, became Washington’s rowing coach in 1919, following
an interruption in the program because of WW I. Beck said that in 1919, the “Washington Rowing System
partly rebuilt after war period.”
Leader coached at Washington until 1922, when he was hired as Yale’s
rowing coach. Russell S. Callow (Rusty) (UW 1915), who also learned to row under Conibear, took over
as the UW coach after Leader. Callow was given substantial assistance by George Pocock who often went
with Callow in the coaching launch to assist with his crews, since Callow had been out of rowing since

Washington returned to the IRA regatta in 1922, under Callow, for the first time since 1914, where
they finished second behind Navy. Washington won its first IRA regatta in 1923, beating Navy by a
length, with other heavily favored east coast crews trailing. This was sensational sporting news since a
west coast team had never before won the IRA. Headlines proclaimed: “Giant Crew from the Far West
Triumphs,” and “Navy Unable to Meet Washington’s Drive.” Washington also won IRA championships
in 1924 and 1926 under Coach Callow. The Husky crews became well known for their size, as well as
their rowing technique.

Beck, IX., page 8.

Letter of 5/24/05 from Stan Pocock to Peter Mallory, author of
The Sport of Rowing, Two
Centuries of Competition,
to be published in the fall of 2011.


Husky Crew 100 Year History;
Eastern Versus Western Rowing,
publication unknown.
Bolles (UW 1926) was Harvard’s rowing coach. He wrote the article to refute a perception that
western rowers were larger than their eastern counterparts, giving them a natural advantage. In 1923,
Page -354-

The success of Washington’s 1922 crew was discussed in newspaper accounts of its race against
Cal in Seattle. The first page of the Seattle Times of April 22, 1922, had a series of pictures of the crew
race, and the headline read “Washington Oarsmen Defeating California by More than Ten Boat Lengths.”
Mark Odell was the race referee identified as “a former Cornell crew man,” and is shown in the front page
picture with the starter, R.C. Hart, President of the Portland Rowing Club.
The UW crews swept Cal in a race that had to be delayed several times because of heavy weather,
cheered on by a “huge crowd” of thousands of spectators in “scores of steamers and launches and hundreds
of rowboats and other small craft,” and on porches of houseboats along the lake.
Washington won its most sweeping victory in years yesterday when her varsity and freshman crews
made a clean sweep of the annual regatta with California, the varsity crew winning by more than
ten lengths, while the Washington freshmen likewise pulled far away from their California
Seattle Times, April 22, 1922, front page. Mark Odell is the man on the left.
the “giant” Washington crew had an average height of 6' 7/8 ", weight of 172 ½ pounds, and 22 years
of age. They were 5 3/4 pounds lighter, 1/4 “ shorter and 7/8 of a year older than the Syracuse crew.
The Navy crew was 1 1/8 “ shorter, and 3/4 of a pound lighter than the Washington crew.
“Washington physically was not vastly superior to the other contenders.” He showed that the
average heights and weights of crews competing in the IRA over an 18 year period (1923 - 1940)
were quite similar, ranging from a height of 74.23 “ to 73.06", and a weight of 180.77 pounds to
173.16. He was surprised at the “uniformity” of the figures. Washington and Cal had won 11 out
of the last 17 races.
Page -355-

The rowing form of the Golden Bears was ragged in comparison to the perfect swing and unison
in the Washington boat. The Purple and Gold maintained a steady stroke of 32 throughout the
course, increasing to 34 and finally to 36 in a brief sprint across the finish line opposite Madison
Park. The great cry that swelled up from the throats of the enthusiastic thousands that lined the
finish line as the splendidly-rowed varsity swept over the line far in front of the Bruin shell, was
taken as evidence that the overwhelming football defeat administered Washington by the Bears at
Berkeley last fall was sufficiently avenged
Spectators watching the perfectly-swinging Washington shell cross the line for the moment forgot
that the Golden Bear crew was in the race. When attention was shifted to the vanquished craft, it
was seen that the Bruin oarsman in No. 5 seat was thrown violently from the shell by the force of
the butt of his oar, just after he had collapsed. Later it was explained that when the victors swept
over the finish, Coach Ben Wallis of the California crew saw Beryl Howell, his No. 5 oarsman,
give out. On the verge of collapse, Howell was failing to catch with his mates. Wallis ordered the
Bear crew to stop rowing. As they did so, Howell gave out entirely and his dragging oar lifted him
bodily from the shell.
The accident caused the Californians to cease rowing so that they were unable to finish. Several
of the Bruin crew laid down in the boat after Wallis gave the order to cease rowing, completely
exhausted. The Washington oarsmen all sat erect in their shell after the finish, in perfect condition.
Washington returned to the IRA regatta in 1922, under Callow, for the first time since 1914, where
they finished second behind Navy. Washington won its first IRA regatta in 1923, beating Navy by a
length, with other heavily favored east coast crews trailing. This was sensational sporting news since a
west coast team had never before won the IRA. Headlines proclaimed: “Giant Crew from the Far West
Triumphs,” and “Navy Unable to Meet Washington’s Drive.” Washington also won IRA championships
in 1924 and 1926 under Coach Callow. The Husky crews became well known for their size, as well as
their rowing technique.


Husky Crew 100 Year History;
Eastern Versus Western Rowing,
publication unknown.
Bolles (UW 1926) was Harvard’s rowing coach. He wrote the article to refute a perception that
western rowers were larger than their eastern counterparts, giving them a natural advantage. In 1923,
the “giant” Washington crew had an average height of 6' 7/8 ", weight of 172 ½ pounds, and 22 years
of age. They were 5 3/4 pounds lighter, 1/4 “ shorter and 7/8 of a year older than the Syracuse crew.
Page -356-

Conibear has been described as “the most famous rowing coach in Washington’s history [who]
never rowed a stroke in a racing shell in his life, but his innovations revolutionized the sport.” The
Conibear stroke has been described as having a shorter layback, a snap of the oar blade the instant it was
inserted into the water, and a “shot” of the blade out of the water at the completion of the rower’s drive.
The Conibear stroke is said to have influenced rowing in the United States for many decades.

Washington Rowers Lobby to Have the Conbear Stroke Recognized
In the 1920s, there was an effort by those associated with Washington rowing to have the stroke
used by the school named after Conibear.
In 1923, Walter McLean, “an old coxwain” on Washington’s crew, gave his ideas about “what we
shall call our justly famous stroke.” When “Connie” took over as crew coach in 1907, his rowers had
learned their skill from Washington’s earlier coaches, and those rowers passed on their knowledge to their
new coach. Conibear
would be the last one to deprecate the help received from his men, not only in the first year but in
all succeeding years...Since then, many oarsmen have contributed their earnest thought and
experience to the development of our stroke....Among whom the writer remembers vividly the
strident-voiced P.D. Hughes and silent
Mark Odell
, all contributed their mite to its refinements.
(Emphasis added)
The Navy crew was 1 1/8 “ shorter, and 3/4 of a pound lighter than the Washington crew.
“Washington physically was not vastly superior to the other contenders.” He showed that the
average heights and weights of crews competing in the IRA over an 18 year period (1923 - 1940)
were quite similar, ranging from a height of 74.23 “ to 73.06", and a weight of 180.77 pounds to
173.16. He was surprised at the “uniformity” of the figures. Washington and Cal had won 11 out
of the last 17 races.

Daves and Porter,
The Glory of Washington.
Page -357-

Let us call it “the Washington stroke” for all of those who have helped evolve it, and so that if there are
improvements yet to be made we may encourage enterprise and incorporate them without changing the
Loren Grinsted, University of Washington’s Athletic Director in the early 1900s, who recruited
Mark Odell to coach its crew in 1905, and hired Conibear in 1906, also lobbied to have the Washington
stroke named after Conibear.
The success of the University of Washington in intercollegiate rowing has directed the attention
of the country to the stroke or system employed...
I was general manager of the university athletic affairs in the fall of 1905. Dr. Speidel, then a
medical student at the University of Chicago, called my attention to Mr. Conibear, then trainer for
the football team on which he played and also for the other athletic teams of the University of
Chicago and for the White Sox...
Mr. Conibear knew how to condition men...Mr. Conibear was employed as general trainer of all
athletes. He was asked as to his knowledge of rowing, because we then had no rowing coach, but
were working with volunteers from eastern colleges, among whom were
Mark Odell of Cornell
and George Strange of Wisconsin(?) Mr. Conibear’s experience was at that time limited to rowing
at a summer school held on Lake Chautaqua, New York. (emphasis added).
Grinsted said that after Conibear was hired at Washington, he spent many hours in the university library
reading rowing texts to learn about the sport. He also got
suggestions from others, including graduates from other institutions who resided here and whom
Mr. Conibear invited to come out and give their suggestions, as well as the suggestions of several
of the men themselves, from time to time, contributed to the development and refinement of the
stroke now employed. It seems clear, however, to me that the fundamental idea of the present
stroke was evolved by Mr. Conibear...and that most, if not all of that stroke were developed and
added during the period when he was rowing coach at the university...


Walter G. McLean Strongly Favors Naming Stroke After Washington,
Seattle Times,
August 20, 1923 (page 13).
Page -358-

[I[t was Conibear who developed the Washington crews that have made Washington famous, and
in my humble opinion, he is the satisfaction to be derived from giving his name to what
is undoubtedly the best rowing stroke ever devised.
Analysis of the Conibear Stroke
Broussais C. Beck, author of the unpublished manuscript
Rowing at Washington
written in 1924,
was a strong proponent of the “Conibear Stroke,” and included an entire chapter in his book entitled “The
Conibear Stroke - Theory and Practice.” According to Beck, some rowing experts believed the Conibear
stroke was the Cook stroke, and others believed it was the Courtney stroke. Beck disagreed with both
These are great compliments and are quite natural, but the Conibear stroke is neither of them.
Simply because three coaches developed better, finished, more powerful crews than any other
American coaches, their crews are reminiscent of each other.
Beck had been coached by both Conibear and Bob Cook (Yale’s coach in the 1897 IRA race who coached
the modified English stroke). Beck said “there are points of great difference” between the Cook and
Conibear strokes.
Conibear was widely separated from Cook and Courtney in distance and in time. His work could
not have been anything else than entirely independent....Inevitably the realization will come that
the Conibear Stroke is radically different in technique and in spirit from any other [in] present-day
Rowing, and that it is entitled to stand by itself as an original product. I had hours of personal
coaching under both Conibear and Cook. I came to love and appreciate both these remarkable and
wonderful men. But their methods and strokes were very far apart, except in preeminence.
Beck believed that Conibear developed his own unique stroke.
It differs greatly from any other stroke practiced by any college in this country during recent times.
The basic fundamental of the stroke is austere disciplined adherence to a combination of actions


Loren Grinsted Believes That Conibear Should be Honored
, Seattle Times, August 19,
1923 (page 29).
Page -359-

which move the shell forward and a rigid exclusion of those movements which move the shell
forward motion. Jerky abrupt movements are wasteful of power, if nothing else, and are studiously
avoided. All the men must do the same thing the same way, at the same time.
Beck described the Conibear stroke as “a commonsense affair” worked out by “Conibear and his
several generations of college oarsmen.” The stroke evolved over the years as Conibear learned more
about the sport and experimented with other ideas, and did not become final until 1916, just two rowing
seasons before his unfortunate death.
First Washington’s own ideas were worked into the Stroke of 1910.
Other coaches’ ideas were
sought and weighed, but unless they seemed fully justified they were not adopted. During 1912
through 1915, certain ideas of the better known Eastern coaches were tried out to see if
Washington had missed something along the way. Trial, elimination and study, guided by a
genius, brought results.
Finally, in 1916, the Conibear Stroke came to be a definite cycle of
... (Emphasis added).
Between 1911 and 1915, Conibear experimented, somewhat unsuccessfully, with a series of
variations to the stroke. The year 1914, was the “height of Conibear’s experimenting with the ideas of
best known Eastern coaches. This crew was probably as further from the real Conibear stroke than any
other Washington crew ever had [been].” By 1916,

Conibear had come back from his experiments to his technique of 1910... [H]e came back to his
1910 stroke, having kept only two of the variations - somewhat shortened reach and earlier bevel
from feather....
Beck believed that Conibear’s return to a modified version of his 1910 stroke was the reason for the
success of his crews after 1915. His crew of 1916, was the “fast Conibear crew,” and the crew of 1917,
was “one of the very best all-around Conibear crews.

Rowing at Washington
, IV., pages 4, 5, 8, 9, 12 - 15.
Page -360-

The stroke Conibear taught in 1910, and the one to which he returned in 1916, which Beck said
was based on “Washington’s own ideas,” was likely the techniques he first learned from his assistant
coaches, i.e., the Courtney stroke learned by Mark Odell in 1897 at Cornell, which he taught to
Washington oarsmen in 1906 and thereafter, which was reinforced by Courtney himself when Conibear
met with him in 1908 at Cornell. As it evolved, the “Conibear Stroke,” was influenced ideas from other
coaches including the Thames waterman’s stroke from George Pocock, and modified by Conibear’s own
Others question the existence of a true Conibear stroke, including Stan Pocock, George Pocock’s
The myth of the ‘Conibear stroke’ as having been something special is really just that. When
Rusty [Callow - UW class of 1915, UW coach 1922-1928] was asked just what the Conibear
stroke was, he said that he had no idea; as far as he could recall, Connie was demanding something
different each of the three years he rowed for him. There is no question, however, that the stroke
being used by Washington when its crews began making themselves noticed nationally under
Leader and then Callow was noticeably different from what was being advocated by East Coast
coaches. Around 1926, it was dubbed locally as the Conibear Stroke as the result of a naming
contest put on by one of Seattle’s newspaper sports editors. I believe its selection was meant to
be in commemoration of Conibear’s unquenchable enthusiasm and dedication for the sport at
Washington. The story grew from there.
Pocock’s view is different from that of Beck, based largely on Callow’s remarks that he saw no
consistent stroke while he was rowing under Conibear. Callow graduated in 1915, the year before Conibear
perfected his stroke according to Beck, and Callow’s rowing years were in the middle of Conibear’s
experimentation with different techniques. During Callow’s rowing years at Washington, Conibear
changed the stroke from year to year according to Beck, and this likely accounts for Callow’s statement

Letter of 5/24/05 to Peter Mallory from Stan Pocock.
Page -361-

to Stan Pocock. Beck was in a position to evaluate Courtney’s rowing techniques directly. He had rowed
under both Cook and Conibear, was a contemporary of Conibear, and had hands on experience with him
for a number of years.
Beck wrote in 1924, about the virtues of the “Conibear Stroke,” a topic to which he had given
substantial thought prior to that date, several years before Stan Pocock said that the term was created by
local sports writers. Conibear did not perfect his stroke until l916, and he died in 1917, so his rowers only
utilized it for a few seasons. It seems that Conibear did create a distinctive stroke, which was actually
made famous by the rowers he coached who later became rowing coaches themselves at Washington and
elsewhere. Seattle sportswriters likely did have a role in creating the mythology surrounding the Conibear
George Pocock’s Influence on the Conibear Stroke

One of the major influences on the Conibear stroke clearly came from George Pocock, who
influenced Washington crews and their rowing style for decades. His Thames waterman’s rowing style
was integrated into Washington rowing techniques, even though he never had a formal coaching position.
Pocock described his style of rowing in an article entitled “
Sculling History: Notes on the Sculling Stroke
as Performed by the Professional Scullers on the Thames River, England,
” which can be found on the
website of the Pocock Rowing Foundation, Pocock emphasized the use of the
sculler’s catch or flip catch, as well as the sculler’s release, which he saw as being key to efficient rowing.
He was very much opposed to using an early roll up which he felt was inefficient and counterproductive
to good rowing.
Page -362-

From the 1920s until 1964, Pocock built his racing shells on the UW campus in the same building
used by the crew. This close proximity to the UW crew and coaches gave him direct influence over the
rowing program. The UW rowing history website says that:
for 50 years, this man was inextricably linked to Washington rowing, building shells next to the
young men that would row them. There is a sense that both drew inspiration from the other: that
the indefinable synergy built between the Pocock shop and the crewhouse, disappeared when the
shop was empty.
In George Pocock’s biography, written by Gordon Newell with George, Newell described the
contribution of the Pococks to the stroke made famous by UW’s rowers, a stroke later known as the
Conibear stroke.
The Pococks had spent much time with Conibear, persuading him to modify the “over-actioned”
stroke he had developed from this theoretical studies of the borrowed skeleton. The “Conibear
stroke” of 1913 owed much to the Pocock-inspired overtones of the traditional Thames Waterman
Stroke, with its emphasis on achieving maximum speed with minimum fuss and effort.
Pocock’s influence on Hiram Conibear and the Conibear coached rowers who took over the UW
program after Conibear died, was described by Peter Mallory:
George Pocock’s influence on Hiram Conibear and on the coaches who followed him was not
merely on the fundamentals of boat moving but also on attitude, philosophy and the subtle details
of watermanship. Over the years, as the Conibear Stroke was taught to generations of Washington
oarsmen. George Pocock was a constant presence. Husky oarsmen knew that a change was in the
offing whenever George appeared in the coach’s launch.
Pocock never volunteered advice unless asked, but he was asked to contribute to the UW rowing
program many times. He contributed to rowing all over the country, giving advice to ex-UW oarsmen who

Ready All, page 42.

Mallory, author of
The Sport of Rowing, Two Centuries of Competition
, page 436.
Page -363-

went on to coach in many different rowing programs. Stan Pocock described some of his father’s
contributions to Washington.
Dad’s ideas and loyalties were truly catholic in nature; he was open to questions from everyone
and gave advice to anyone who asked, oarsmen and coaches alike. Over the years, while I was
growing up, many of his evenings were spent in corresponding with any number of them,
especially those coaches who had rowed as undergraduates at Washington....
[He] volunteered to take out the lower boats (of which there were often several) at Ulbrickson’s
behest [UW coach from the 1930s to the late 1950s] when Al and the Frosh coach were away at
a regatta. During those early years when I was young he did often go out in the coaching launch,
especially when Rusty Callow was the coach [1922-1928]. Rusty had great faith in his ideas,
having been herded along by him when he took over the job seven years after graduation after
having no contact with rowing since. His most intimate contact was with the oarsmen themselves.
I can dimly recall being at the shell house as a small child and seeing him surrounded by the men
after turnout asking questions. I even remember his describing on one occasion the stroke as that
of taking “one helluva cut at it.”...
I did listen and tried to act on the various drills that he would suggest to Ulbrickson on the few
occasions he went with him in the coaching launch. These drills improved what was going on in
the boat. The other thing he did was to look over the several crews to spot those men he thought
were rowing well and draw Al’s attention to them.

There are a number of examples of Pocock’s contributions to UW rowing techniques. One is a
story relayed to Charles McIntyre by George Pocock himself. McIntyre was a world class sculler from
Philadelphia who moved to Seattle in 1949, where he got to know George and the entire Pocock family.
George helped train McIntyre. McIntyre had rowed with Jack Kelly Sr. and Jr., and many other famous
Philadelphia oarsmen before he moved to the northwest. Kelly Sr. won gold medals in the 1920 Olympics
in a single and double, and a gold in 1924 in a single. Kelly Jr. won a bronze in the 1956 Olympics in a

Letter of 5/24/05 from Stan Pocock to Peter Mallory, author of
The Sport of Rowing, Two
Centuries of Competition
Page -364-

single. Kelly Sr. was Grace Kelly’s father and a major influence on rowing in Philadelphia. The story of
the Kelly family, and McIntyre’s association with them, is told in a book published in 2008,
Kelly: a
Father, a Son, an American Quest
, by Daniel J. Boyne.

McIntyre said that Ed Leader (UW 1916), Conibear’s stroke, came to Pocock one time when he
was frustrated with Conibear. Leader told Pocock that there had to be a better way to row than what the
UW was doing; the rowers’ hands and seats were bloody, and the boat did not move well. Pocock said
there was a better way, and demonstrated to Leader his way of rowing, using the traditional Thames
waterman’s stroke. Leader took what he learned from Pocock back to the UW crew, and helped to
integrate it into their rowing style. Leader’s last year at Washington, 1916, was the year that Beck said
Conibear finally perfected his stroke. Beck described the 1916 crew as the “fast Conibear crew.” Leader
Charley McIntyre with George
Page -365-

became the UW coach in 1919, after Conibear died, and coached the Huskies using what he learned from
both Conibear and Pocock. Leader took his rowing techniques to the east coast in 1922, when he became
Yale’s rowing coach.

Another example of Pocock’s influence involved the 1936 Washington crew that won a gold medal
in the Berlin Olympics, which was stroked by Don Hume. Hume told McIntyre that before the Olympic
trials, the UW eight was not moving well and Al Ulbrickson, the UW coach, could not fix what was
wrong. The crew was rowing one day on Lake Washington near the Windermere district, when they met
Pocock rowing his single. Ulbrickson asked Pocock to “show his rowers what he was trying to tell them,
that they did not understand.” Pocock demonstrated his Thames waterman’s stroke, based on taking one
cut at the water. Pocock rowed next to the eight for the rest of the practice, and went with them back to
the boathouse. Hume told McIntyre that this was when the UW crew began to row well, row together, and
move their boat fast. They utilized this style of rowing to win the Olympic gold medal in 1936.
Pocock did have a formal role coaching
1936 UW Crew on Campus
UW crew winning the Berlin Olympics, 1936

Beck quotes Leader as saying “each coach has his own picture of how he wants his ideal crew
to look. Even using the same technique, there will be considerable difference between the crews of
two coaches.”
Rowing at Washington
, IX., page 8.
Page -366-

W crews on occasion. In 1948, the UW eight was the overwhelming favorite to represent the U.S. in the
Olympics to be held in London. Ulbrickson took Pocock with the UW crew to the tryouts at Princeton.
California narrowly beat the UW eight, to the everlasting chagrin of the UW oarsmen, and went on to win
the gold medal under their coach Carroll M. “Ky” Ebright, (UW 1917), who learned to row under
Conibear. However, the UW four came in first, winning the right to represent the U.S. at the Olympics.
Ulbrickson was devastated by his eight’s loss, and asked Pocock to coach the UW four in the Olympics
in his place. The UW four went on to win a gold medal under Pocock’s coaching.
Pocock’s statement that rowing is “rhythm, balance, and harmony” still best describes the sport.
Pocock continued to be an emotional leader of the Washington crew even when he did not have a formal
coaching role, inspiring them to victory with his words as well as his coaching. When the Washington
crew went to race in Henley in 1958, George Pocock sent them off with this message:
Racing is an art, not a frantic scramble. It must be rowed with head power as well as muscular
power. From the first stroke, all thought of the other crew must be blocked out. Your thoughts
must be directed to you and your own boat, always positively, never negative. Row your optimum
power every stroke, try and increase the optimum. Men as fit as you, when your everyday strength
is gone, can draw on a mysterious reservoir of power, far greater. Then it is you who can reach for
the stars. That is the only way champions are made. That is the legacy rowing can leave you.
Don’t miss it.”
Pocock’s original note is mounted on the wall of the Pocock Rowing Club.
George’s son Stan Pocock, joined his father in the boat building business after he rowed at
Washington and later coached its freshmen crew. Stan also coached the Lake Washington Rowing Club,
and his rowers won medals in the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympics. Stan kept up the Pocock ability to
inspire Washington rowers. Stan addressed the Washington rowers before the IRA National
Page -367-

Championships in 2009, where Washington’s eight came from behind California to win the featured race,
and Washington swept all the major races and won the overall team championship.
Conclusion re Genesis of Conibear Stroke
In summary, Conibear used information from many sources to develop the rowing techniques he
taught, ranging from his initial exposure to the modified English stoke from Dr. Sharpe at Chautauqua
Lake in 1905; his own experiments with the skeleton; input from assistant coaches such as Mark Odell
who taught the Courtney stroke in 1906 and beyond; advice directly from Courtney in 1908, elements of
the English traditional method of rowing from George Pocock (the Thames watermen’s stroke); and his
own learned observations of the sport. However, the stroke developed by Charles “Pop” Courtney at
Cornell formed the basis for the Conibear stroke.
Stan Pocock, early 1950s
Stan Pocock, 1955
Pocock, Stan,
Way Enough; Husky Men’s Crew Takes Home National Championship.
National Champions: Huskies Sweep to Win 107
IRA Regatta.

swept all three eights
for the first time since 1997, to win the 107
IRA Championship Regatta Saturday on Lake Natoma.
The Huskies pulled out a race for the ages n the varsity eight to sweep the eights, closing out an
exceptional run that included four of five crews winning gold and all five crews medaling.”
Page -368-

Peter Mallory, in his seminal book,
The Sport of Rowing, Two Centuries of Competition
, has
carefully analyzed the Conibear Stroke, and determined its genesis.
Many have described George Pocock as the sole author of the Conibear Stroke, but history
demonstrates that this is less than the full story. Conibear
s descriptions of the ideal stroke differed
substantially from George Pocock
s written descriptions of the Thames Waterman
s Stroke. It
would be more accurate to recognize that the Conibear Stroke was the result of crucial early
consultation with
Charles Courtney
reinforced by having former Cornell rower
Mark Odell
a volunteer assistant in Washington program. Add in the influence of George Pocock, and
Conibear had everything he needed to supplement his own innate intelligence.

Washington’s crews, well coached because of Cornell’s early influence, dominated west coast
rowing for much of the 20
century. Washington crews, both men and women, competed nationally and
internationally. Rowers trained at Washington under Conibear went on to coach at many other
Universities, bringing with them the rowing techniques developed by Charles Courtney, brought to the
UW by Mark Odell, and made famous as the Conibear stroke. The Conbear stroke became taught all over
the country by ex-UW rowers.
In 1912, there was an effort to create a standard rowing technique in the United States. In the 1912
Olympics, England won the single sculls, coxed four, and the eights competition. In an article that
appeared in the New York Times on December 29, 1912, the President of the National Association of
Amateur Oarsmen in the U.S. noted that in the English system of rower development, rowers learned the
same stroke, whether they attended Oxford, Cambridge or any other program. English rowers were
interchangeable as their body mechanics were the same. Since Cornell had won 33 of the 51
Intercollegiate Rowing Association titles since 1895, he suggested that the U.S. should institute a similar

The Sport of Rowing, Two Centuries of Competition
, page 423.
Page -369-

system of coaching with Charles Courtney as the general supervising or advisory coach of college rowing.
“With Courtney in absolute control of the coaching , the adoption of his system would follow as a matter
of act.” The system was never adopted, and “while no command structure was ever put into practice, with
many of the most revered coaches of the next fifty years emerging from the University of Washington, the
technique that has produced many champion crews for Washington took hold.”
Washington Rowers Become Crew Coaches All Over the Country
In the 1920s and 1930s, a number of Washington rowers were hired to coach crew at most schools
that had strong rowing programs, including Yale, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, the Naval Academy,
and University of California, Berkeley, and elsewhere, spreading Washington rowing techniques to most
major institutions in the United States. By 1937, virtually every major rowing program in the US “enjoyed
the benefit of a Washington coach.” Mendenhall, Tom,
Short History of American Rowing
Ed Leader (U.W. ‘16) coached at Washington after Conibear died, and in 1922 went to Yale as its
head crew coach taking Dick Pocock (George’s brother) with him as an assistant.
Carroll M. “Ky” Ebright (U.W. ‘17) had been a coxswain under coach Conibear, and was an
assistant coach for Rusty Callow at Washington in the early 1920s. Ebright was hired to be the new crew
coach at Cal Berkeley in spring of 1924, and he took Russ Nagner with him, his successor at coxswain at
Washington. Ebright made it clear that he was taking Hiram Conibear’s coaching techniques, and stroke,
to the California school. The Seattle Times said,
as a result of the signing of the two Washingtonians, four schools - Washington, Yale, Harvard and
California - are now coached by either graduates of believers in the Washington crew
system....Yale has Leader as boss and Mike Murphy and Charles Newton, all Washington
graduates as assistants. Harvard has Sam Shaw, last year’s captain, as frosh coach, with Stevens
and Newell of the Portland Rowing Club, great believers in the Washington stroke, as leaders.
The Rise of Cornell Rowing 1871 - 1920,
page 246, 247.
Page -370-

However, Ebright had a hard time getting the Cal rowers to adopt the new system of rowing. “It is very
hard to get the Conibear stroke over with these men...they will go along very nicely so long as they are not
pressed or aren’t tired. The moment they get a little competition, however, they drop back into the stoke
they were taught first, the hard finish, and they are lost. The two simply don’t mix.”

An April 23, 1926 article in Cornell University’s school newspaper, the Cornell Sun,
Rowing Influenced by West’s Methods,
described the influence of Washington trained coaches, and the
“Washington system” of rowing, at Eastern schools.
Ed Leader
Carroll M. “Ky” Ebright

Ebright Signs to Coach Bear Rowing Crews,
Seattle Times January 21,1924 (page
Bear Oarsmen are Disappointing to Ebright and Nagler,
Seattle Times, March 16, 1924
(page 28). Ebright’s concerns were justified when Washington swept California in the 1924 dual
regatta, with the Husky varsity beating the Bear varsity by nearly minute.
Crews Triumph Over
California, Husky Varsity and Freshmen Both Score Sweeping Victories on Lake,
Seattle Times,
April 13, 1924 (page 1).
Page -371-

College rowing not only hold forth prospects of unusually keen competition in the East this spring,
but will be featured simultaneously by introduction of the so-called “Washington system” on a
scale as wide-spread as it is interesting.
No less than four major Eastern institutions will have products of the University of Washington
school as head coaches of their oarsmen this season. The most conspicuous, Ed Leader, of Yale,
begins his fourth year at the helm of the Eli rowing with an unbroken record of varsity victory.
Pennsylvania, Princeton, and the Naval Academy have turned their rowing destinies over to
graduates of this new Far Western cradle of oarsmanship for the first time.
It was three years ago that Leader’s initial success forced the East to sit up and notice this new
rowing dynasty, founded by Hiram Conibear less than twenty years ago at Washington, and
developed to its present fame within less than a decade. While Leader was turning out Olympic
champions at Yale, his alma mater’s success in developing victorious crews under “Rusty” Callow
attracted almost equal attention.
These two factors combined, apparently, to convince Eastern rowing authorities that the
“Washington system” is sycomorus with triumph on the water. At the same time the spread of this
system has been due not only to the fact that Washington had been turning out crews which have
finished first twice and second twice at Poughkeepsie in the last four years, but to the production
of oarsmen capable of imparting their knowledge of this picturesque sport.
It is a coincidence that the Naval Academy, whose varsity crews have been the only ones to defeat
Washington at Poughkeepsie in the last four years, selected Bob Butler, a Washington graduate,
as its head coach for 1926 after differences which resulted in the departure of the famous
Glendons, “Young Dick” and “Old Dick” from Annapolis to Columbia. Chuck Logg, at Princeton,
and Fred Spuhn, at Pennsylvania, are the other new head coaches of the Washington school...
In the face of this new influx of coaching blood and system, Jim Ten Eyck, Syracuse’s “Grand Old
Man” remains the only survivor of the famous school which also included “Pop” Courtney, of
Cornell, Jim Rice, of Columbia, and Joe Wright of Pennsylvania.
Russell S. “Rusty” Callow (U.W. ‘15) coached at Washington (winning the IRA championship in
1923, 1924 and 1926), became rowing coach at Penn in 1928, where he coached for 20 plus years, and
later coached at the Naval Academy where his crew won a gold medal in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki,
Tom Bolles (UW ‘26), a classmate of Al Ulbrickson’s at Washington, was his assistant coach at
Washington until 1937, when he was hired as Harvard’s coach, where he rejuvenated its rowing program.
Page -372-

Returning the favor to Cornell for its early assistance to Washington’s rowing program, in 1937, Rollin
Harrison “Stork” Sanford (U.W. ‘26) was hired as coach of the Cornell crew based on the recommendation
of Tom Bolles, his Washington teammate and newly hired Harvard crew coach. Sanford coached Cornell
for 33 seasons winning four national championships in the 1950s. Norm Sonju (U.W. ‘27) was Sanford’s
assistant at Cornell, and then coach at Wisconsin for 22 years.

Rollin “Stork” Sanford, Cornell coach.
Tom Bolles

U.W. Has Wide Coaching Legacy.
Page -373-

Norm Sonju
In 1937, the domination of Washington and other West coast crews led to an effort by eastern
coaches to shorten the IRA championship race from four miles to three miles, after Pennsylvania withdrew
from the 1938 Regatta..
The unbroken string of triumphs form Pacific Coast crews in the race since 1931, may have had
something to do with the decision. California eights won the race in 1932, 1934 and 1935, and
Washington swept all three races, freshman, junior varsity and varsity, in 1936 and 1937. Many
Eastern coaches felt that superior and rainy conditions in the Pacific Coast give western eights
better preparation for the varsity race.
The meeting was attended by coaches from nine eastern schools. Showing the influence of Washington’s
rowing program, four of the nine schools who attended the meeting were coached by ex-Washington
rowers: Ed Leader of Yale; Tom Bolles of Harvard; Harrison Sanford of Cornell; and Rusty Callow of
Pennsylvania. Seattle Times, December 16, 1937,
Eastern Coaches Revive Discarded Idea.
Russell “Rusty” Callow
Page -374-

The tradition of Washington rowers being hired to coach at other major rowing powers throughout
the country has continued over the years.

Washington has a long tradition of hiring ex-Washington rowers as head coaches, who learned the
sport at the school, thus continuing the UW’s rowing techniques and traditions. Al Ulbrickson, who
stroked Washington’s boat from 1924-26, under coach Rusty Callow, replaced Callow as UW coach in
1927, when Callow left for Penn. Ulbrickson was 24 years old, and coached at Washington until 1959,
achieving three decades of success.
Al Ulbrickson as Washington stroke, 1926.
Al Ulbrickson, as Washington
coach, 1935.

Mike Murphy (U.W. ‘22) coached at Wisconsin. Bud Raney (U.W. ‘35) was frosh coach at
the UW and coached at Columbia in 1947. Delos Schoch (U.W. ‘37) coached at Princeton. Gus
Eriksen (U.W. ‘38) coached at Syracuse. MIT hired several Washington rowers as coaches, Bob
Moch (U.W. ‘36), Jim McMillen (U.W. ‘37), Dick Erickson (UW ‘57), and Bruce Beall (U.W.’73).
Beall also coached at Cal. Dick Erickson (UW ‘57) was the coach at MIT before he coached at the
UW in 1967. John Bisset (U.W. ‘58) and Jerry Johnson (U.W. ‘64) coached at UCLA. Navy hired
Lou Gellerman (U.W. ‘58) and Rick Clothier (U.W. ‘65) who has coached there for 29 years. Kjell
Oswald (U.W. ‘96) coaches at Oregon State. Raley,
U.W. Has Wide Coaching Legacy.
Page -375-

Bud Raney (UW ‘35) coached the UW frosh coach from 1937 until 1947, when he was hired as
coach at Colombia. Stan Pocock, who rowed at Washington in the 1940s, was an assistant coach and
freshman coach under Ulbrickson from 1949-1955. Fil Leanderson, (UW ‘52) replaced Ulbrickson in
1959, and coached the Huskies until 1967. He was replaced by Dick Erickson (UW ‘57), who previously
was the assistant freshman coach at UW in 1959, head coach at MIT, and freshman coach at the UW in
1963. Erickson coached the Huskies from 1967, until his resignation in 1988. In 1988, Bob Ernst took
over at Washington as UW men’s coach. Ernst had coached freshman at UC Irvine, and in 1980, he was
hired as the UW women’s coach, where he led them to six national titles. In 1987, Ernst was appointed
the UW men’s crew coach, breaking tradition since he was the first coach in Washington’s history who
had not learned to row at the UW. He led the UW men to national titles in 1997 and 2007, was a US
Rowing coach, and was part of four Olympic games.

Washington’s crew program took a major step forward when Michael Callahan was appointed as
head coach in 2007, when Bob Ernst stepped down and became the UW women’s crew coach. Callahan
Dick Erickson

Page -376-

Michael Callahan, UW Rowing
coach since 2007.
stroked the 1996 UW crew, and had been coaching at Washington
since 2003. Callahan became head coach of the UW men’s crew
when Bob Ernst, long time head coach, decided to trust the men’s
program to Callahan, and Ernst became coach of the UW women’s
program. Under Callahan’s leadership, the UW rowing program has
reached new heights.
In June 2015, Washington’s men’s crew made history by
winning their fifth straight and 18
overall IRA National
Championship and ninth straight Ten Eyck trophy (team
points title), an achievement unseen in collegiate rowing.
Callahan has now led the Huskies to five straight National
Championships, for a total of six National Championships
in his eight seasons. At the 2012, 2013 and 2015
Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) Regattas,
Washington achieved perfect sweeps by all five Husky
boats - a feat unmatched by any crew in the history of the

Callahan’s five straight National Championship titles won at the IRA regattas are better even than
Charles “Pop” Courtney, Mark Odell’s famous coach at Cornell. From 1895 to 1920, Courtney’s crews
won 13 National Championship titles (including two when Odell rowed for Cornell), six second places,
and four third places (no races were held from 1917 - 1919 because of W.W. I). However, Courtney’s
crews only won four consecutive National Championships, never five, during this period. His crews never
placed lower than third in the IRA Regatta from 1895 to 1920 during his tenure as Cornell’s rowing
Husky Crew Gains National Prominence
Page -377-

Washington’s crew program got national exposure when the June 20, 1949, edition of Life
Magazine ran a special feature on the school with 18 picture of the Washington crew, which can be found
on line at
The following are two pictures from Life, the first one
showing Rod Johnson bending” his oar in mid-stroke, and several UW eights on the Lake.

UW crew of 1947, showing Rod Johnson “bending” his oar
in mid-stroke.
Page -378-

By 2003, Washington men’s eights had won 28 out of 43 Pacific Coast titles, its women’s eights
won 22 out of 27 titles, and Washington crews had won 68 national titles, the first in 1923. Washington
rowers have participated in many Olympic events, winning gold in the men’s eights in the 1936 Olympics
in Berlin, gold in the men’s four in 1948 in London, and a bronze in 1952 in Helsinki.
The Pocock built
shell rowed by Washington’s crew that won a gold medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics was on display at
the Pocock Rowing Center; it was moved to Washington’s new crew house in 2007.
Seattle has become a center for masters and youth rowing as well for collegiate rowing. Nine
rowers with Seattle area connections went to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, competing in men’s and
women’s eights, women’s singles, men’s pair, men’s quad, and men’s lightweight doubles. Five rowers
from Washington’s crew program rowed in the Athens Olympics. Four Seattle coaches, including two
sculling coaches from the Pocock Rowing Center, coached US rowers in Athens, and a Pocock Rowing
Center rower competed in the woman’s singles.
Cornell can take great pride knowing that its rowing program played a major role in influencing
rowing at the University of Washington. Washington thereafter helped to influence rowing throughout
the west coast and indeed the entire country. The Pocock Rowing Center is a master’s rowing facility near
the University of Washington campus in Seattle. It was named after George Pocock and built with the
assistance of Stan Pocock and the Pocock family in the mid-1990s, and a lasting memorial to the Pocock
family’s contributions to rowing. The facility is used by high school rowers, masters, and elite rowers

The Evergreen State Boasts an Unmatched Rowing Tradition 100 Years in the Making,

Sports Illustrated, November 13, 2004.; Raley,
Crew: U.W.’s Most Successful, Stable Athletic
Seattle Post Intelligencer
, May 1, 2003.

The Olympic rowers include Anna Mickelson (U.W. 2002) and Mary Whipple (U.W. 2002)
rowed in the silver medal winning women’s eight, and Matt Deakin (U.W. 2003) rowed in the gold
medal winning men’s eight.
Our Local Olympic Hopefuls,
Seattle Times, August 10, 2004.
Page -379-

training for international competition, taking advantage of Seattle’s wonderful waters that can be rowed
year around. One of the authors, John W. Lundin, rows out of the Pocock rowing center with the Charley
McIntyre Rowing Club, named after our long time coach who died in 2008, after spending much of his
adult life contributing to the rowing community.
The following pictures, taken by Greg Gilbert, Seattle Times photographer in 2002, illustrate the
rowing activity that goes on in and around the Pocock Rowing center. The pictures show members of the
Charlie McIntyre Rowing Club and the Ancient Mariners rowing an octet (a shell with eight seats rigged
for sculling) out of the Pocock Rowing Center. The second picture appeared in the Seattle Times
newspaper on October 6, 2002, showing Charlie McIntyre as stroke and John Lundin in the seven seat .
Octet (an eight-seat boat rigged for sculling) at Pocock Rowing
Center dock, 2002, Charley McIntyre at stroke, John W. Lundin
in seven-seat.
Page -380-

The author, John W. Lundin, rowing seven-seat in octet (a rowing shell with
eight seats rigged for sculling) in Seattle with Charley McIntyre stroking.
Page -381-

Octet in early morning light, Lake Union
Seattle’s Head of the Lake Race, 2002, with John Lundin as stroke
Page -382-

The following picture was taken at a lunch meeting in Seattle in the summer of 2009, between some
of Seattle’s rowing community and author and ex-rowing coach Peter Mallory, who was writing his book
The Sport of Rowing, Two Centuries of Competition
, published in 2012.
From left to right: Bob Ernst, UW women’s Rowing Coach; Charles Minett, Captain of 2003 UW
crew; Lucius Bigalow, father of John Biglow, 1981 - 1982 Olympic Bronze Medalist in the single sculls;
John W. Lundin (the author); Theo Mittet, bow-man of the 1964 Lake Washington Rowing Club Olympic
Bronze Medal coxless-four; Rod Johnson, 7-man of 1948 UW IRA Championship crew, who was seen
“bending “ his oar in picture in the 1949 Life Magazine article; Chuck Alm, 5-man of 1948 UW IRA
Championship crew; John Bisset, cox of 1958 UW crew that won in Moscow; Peter Mallory; Paul Enquist,
bow seat of the 1984 US Olympic Gold Medal double that was coached by Seattleites Stan Pocock, Frank
Cunningham and Charley McIntyre, discussed in David Halberstam’s book,
The Amateurs
; Carl Lovsted,
bow man in the 1952 UW Olympic Bronze medal coxed-four; Kathy Whitman, coach of 1978 USA junior
women’s eight and long time coach; John Sayre, stroke of 1958 UW crew that won in Moscow, and stroke
of 1960 Lake Washington Olympic gold medal coxless-four; Frank Cunningham, stoke of 1947 Harvard
crew, Lake Washington Regatta Champion, author and long time coach; Dewitt Whitman, longtime Green
Lake crew coach; Len O’Donnell, working on a film about the 1958 UW Moscow crew.
Page -383-

Summer 2009, lunch between members of Seattle rowing community and author
Peter Mallory
Page -384-

Odell family diaries and papers
Seattle Times
Seattle Post Intelligencer
Baldwinsville Gazette and Farmers’ Journal
University Resources:
“Husky Crew 100 Year History,” Washington crew website,
University of Washington archives, Broussais C. Beck papers, Accession No. 0155-003
Guide to Cornell University Crew Records, 1881 - 1985, Collection No. 40-1-924, Div. Of
Rare and Manuscript Collections,
Cornell Era
, October 2, 1897, a student publication.
, University of Washington Yearbook, various years
Books, Magazines & Photo Resources:
Beck, Broussais C.,
Rowing at Washington
, Unpublished Manuscript
1923, University of Washington archives, Accession No. 0155-002
Conibear, Hiram, “Coaching A Varsity Crew: What a Man Who Was Not an Oarsman Has
Learned about the Art of Eight-Oared Racing,”
Outing Magazine
, June 1914,
reprinted in Beck,
Rowing at Washington.
Costigan, George,
Handbook on American Mining Law.
Page -385-

Daves, Jim and Porter, W. Thomas,
The Glory of Washington: People and Events that
Shaped the Husky Athletic Tradition
, Sports Publishing, 2004
Humphries, Marc, and Vincent, Carol,
Mining on Federal Lands,
Issue Brief for Congress
Langstedt, Eric R.,
The Rise of Cornell Rowing, 1871 - 1920,
St. Magnus Press, 2012.
Mallory, Peter,
The Sport of Rowing, Two Centuries of Competition
, River & Rowing
Museum, Great Britain, 2011.
McCune, Don,
Trail to the Klondike,
Washington State University Press, 1997.
Mendenhall, Tom,
Short History of American Rowing
, Charles River Books, 1980
Miller, Bill,
The Wild & Crazy Professionals
, presentation at Rowing History Forum at
Mystic Seaport Museum, January 2003
Newell, George,
Ready All: George Yeoman Pocock and Crew Racing
, University of
Washington Press, 1987
Pierce, J. Kingston,
Panic of 1893: Seattle’s First Great Depression,
Pocock, Stanley R.,
Way Enough
, Blabla Publishing, 2000
Satterfield, Archie,
Chilkoot Pass, The Big Strike.
Spence, Clark C.,
For Wood River or Bust: Idaho’s Silver Boom of the
, University of Idaho Press, 1999
Stegner, Wallace,
Angle of Repose
, 1971.
Stein, Alan, Becker, Paula, & the Historylink Staff,
Alaska - Yukon - Pacific Exposition,

Page -386-

University of Washington Photo Archives.
Wahl, Grant,
The Evergreen State Boasts an Unmatched Rowing Tradition 100 Years in
the Making,
Sports Illustrated, November 13, 2004 (available on U.W. crew website)
Young, C.V.P,
The Cornell Navy: 1871-1906

Taylor and Carpenter, 1907
Young, Charles Van Patten,
Courtney and Cornell Rowing
, Cornell
Publishing, 1923
Yukon Territory Photo Archives.
Web Resources:
Courtney, Charles E., Sports Biographies, at
History of NW Rowing
U.W. Rowing History
, http:northwest
Rowing Begins at the University of Washington on December 15,

1899,, enter U.W. rowing history
Seattle Outfits the Klondike Gold Rush,
U. S. Park Service,;
Page -387-

Page -388-