THE GREAT ALASKA DUMP
It all started for me about 5 months ago when I phoned Rick xxxxxxx , who lives in Anchorage , Alaska , to see if he had acquired any new cans to trade. We talked
a little while and then Rick mentioned that he and Doug xxxxxx and Steve
xxxxxx were planning their next major dumping trip. It was a trip they had been
planning all year. Rick briefly mentioned what they had in store and if I was
interesting on joing them. I thought it would be impossible to make the trip due
to limiting factors--- cash and the wife. I always wanted to go to Alaska and to
go dumping as well would be the ultimate. Rick had planted the seed and now it
was up to me to get things going. The first obstacle was overcome by selling
some baseball cards I had stashed away a few years back. With the money from
the cards I bought a plane ticket and with the left over cash I bought another
plane ticket to send my wife back to Albuquerque the week I would be gone.
The trip was planned the third week of June and by early May all the
arrangements were in place. Rick had promised me I would see plenty of wildlife
and find plenty of cans. Rick is like the Dominos pizza guy , he delivers!
In comes Herman xxxxxxx. Herman is a good friend and when I told him about
the trip it sounded so good he wanted to go also. After a few phone calls to
Rick ,he was cleared to join us.This was great because now I had a traveling
partner for the long flight to Alaska. Herman met me at my place Friday night
and by Saturday morning we were off. We had four hours of sleep Friday night
since Herman had some car problems. That kind of set our sleeping pattern for
the next week.
The plane trip was uneventful and since I had never seen Rick before he said he
would be wearing a bright pink cap so we could spot him easily. Only Rick could
get away with something like that! It was only Saturday and we wouldn't be
leaving for the "BIG TRIP" until Tuesday. Rick took us to see fellow Rusty
Buncher Steves place for a great BBQ salmon dinner. We talked cans
for awhile and then preceded to our other Alaskan host Doug. We
talked some more and then headed for the GREAT ALASKAN BUSH
COMPANY for some drinks (Ill let you figure out what kind of place it was?!)
After that we called it a night.
Sunday, Rick primed us for some great Alaskan dumping by taking us to an old
gold mining camp called the Ford Mine. It was a 20 of hours from
Anchorage and had lots of old buildings standing. If this place was in California
it would have been raped and plundered long ago. The surrounding scenery
was gorgeous. Rick took us to the dump where we found 3 variations of Rainier
108-21,Sicks Select 118-12 and Rick even found a few 49er cans. On the way
back we hit a couple of other places which yielded only some national brands.
One area was overgrown with a nasty plant called Devils Club and the
mosquitoes were something fierce.
Monday , Rick had planned "clean" day for us. No dumping today but great
sightseeing. It seemed everywhere on this trip the scenery was breathtaking.
We stooped at a couple of bars ; one called the BIRD HOUSE. The bar is so
slanted if you set your beer down it slides away from you.
The floor is covered with 6 inches of sawdust and the walls have business cards
and underwear for wallpaper. Rick then took us to get some glacier ice for the ice
chests. This is 10,000 year old ice and last 3 or 4 days since it is so dense. We
pulled up to the glacier lake and with the use of the trusty potato fork we scooped
up chunks of ice. That night we headed for Doug's house for dinner. We did some
trading and BSing. After trading with these guys I could have gone home then and
been happy. Steve went to go get some food for the trip and Rick left to go get
some boos for the trip. We along with Doug ,were to pack the truck but we got too
involved trading stories instead of packing. We figured we'd let Rick and Steve
help us when they came back! The mode of transportation for this trip was Doug's Suburban and a U-haul trailer to haul home our goodies. We all finished packing and called it a night.
The BIG TRIP was a trek from Anchorage across the borderinto Canada to the mining town of Clarkston. This
town supported the Bisbee mine. The mine operated form the turn of the
century and closed down in 1937. Any cans we found would surely be pre-1937.
Doug , Steve , and Rick sure did their homework for this trip. Doug devised a
checklist listing over 100 items. Rick subscribes to the 7 Ps theory-- Proper Prior
Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance! To get to Clarkston we first had to drive
to Cowboy which was 8 and 1/2 hour drive away. Then Clarkston was only 129 miles
away but all dirt washboard road which the maximum speed would be 15 miles an
hour. Tuesday finally arrives and we are off. We left at 7:15 am. Herman suggested we
start off the day listening to tape of music he like--speed metal. That lasted for
about 15 minutes (13 minutes too long !!!) Along the way we stopped at a roadside
campsite. Out came the detectors but only national brands were found. We then
continued our uneventful trip to Cowboy. At least half of this town was deserted and plenty old. We found a few dumps but again just national brands were found. There was way too much scrap metal for the detectors to do any good. We then searched around some old cabins. We did find some rough Pabst Old Tankard OIs. It was time for a beer break and we headed for the truck. After a few beers it was time for a piss break. I walked over to a group of trees and pissed on a pile of rust. It looked like one of the guys had gone over this area so I hadn't given it much thought. About 5 minutes later Doug had to do the same thing but he decided to turn over some of the rust. Out of the pile came some old beer cans. A Rainier mountain can was found. Herman and I then joined Doug and staring turning over the cans. After about 45 minutes we had 12 keepers including some Horlucks( Later on the flip side we ended up throwing these cans away). While we were still BSing Herman wandered off alone to check on some cabins. A half hour later he comes back with one can. He didn't seem too excited about it but it was a grade 1 Horlucks OI 82-31. It was truly a beautiful can with its shiny copper top and bottom. He found it in one of the attics of the cabins. What a find! We all checked te attics of the other building but to no avail, there was only Herman's can.
A little history on the Horlucks can, the one pictured in the BCU also came out of this town Cowboy! Herman's can may very well be the best example known. It was now around 4:30 pm and it was time to hit the road again. We were only 60 miles from our destination! This road we were traveling on was an unimproved dirt road which used to be the old railroad grade. Glaciers could be seen to the left and right of us. On either side of the road were dense forest with roadside lakes every few miles or mosquito farms as Rick would refer to them as. One of the biggest thrills of this road was the old railroad bridge crossing. 265 feet below the bridge is the river. It is only one lane so if a vehicle is coming from the other direction , someone has to back up. Up to a few years ago it didn't have guard rails!! After crossing the bridge we looked for a place to camp for the night. Doug found a spot off the road and but the truck up to it. Doug did a heck of a job backing the truck up the hill , it must have been because of the previous 12 beers! We pitched a tent and Rick would sleep with us in it. Doug and Steve would sleep in the truck.
Once things were settled ,all we could hear was the drone of 10,000 bugs wanted to
get inside the tent. We were all excited in the morning and wanted to get going. It was about 7AM when we hit the road again. It was but 15 minutes when we saw a grizzly bear cross the road. It was a "grade 2" yearling. By the time we got up to it had scampered off into the woods. We unpacked our dumping tools and headed for the town of Clarkston. It was less than 2 miles but we had a river to cross. We made it to town and our first order of business was breakfast. Clarkston is a semi-ghost town. It does have a restaurant and a lodge. I would say less than 20 people live there year round. There were lots of old building and we spotted dumps right away.
After breakfast ,we asked the lady who ran the place if she knew of any old dumps. She directed us to the end of the street where there was a huge dump. There must have been 20,000 beer cans in it. It was down the side of a hill and had lots of trees for protection from the sun. The preservation was excellent. We all spread out and started digging. I started pulling out Schlitz Vitamin D cones while the others were finding Rainier Mountain scene OI cans. Rick and Doug hit a spot which had Acme ales and class book Horluck OIs. We were all in dump heaven. The pace was fast and furious. The condition of the cans was unbelievable. We found some Bud and Pabst OIs which were wash off grade 1 condition.
Rick then found a spot of Horluck 82-31. Then Doug found an Apex can in a can. After about 5 hours digging we turned up Acme Ale , Apex cones, 2 different Horlucks, 2 different Rainiers,5 different Schlitz cones, 6 different Pabst, Tru Blu , and Golden Glow. We also found whiskey bottles ,tobacco tins, shrimp cans, vials, ink wells,crowns,oil cans, coffee cans and some rare Alaskan beer bottles. most of the dump though was beer cans.
Doug , Steve , and Rick made the hike back to the truck to get some boxes and gear while Herman and I dug some more. When they came back we divided up the loot which was almost as much fun as funding them. We all then made a trip back to the truck to store our cans and get more boxes. After that we cleaned up and went for dinner. The 13.95 dinner special was a 3 chicken leg dinner and I don't know what was so "special " about it! They also charged way too much for beer. The decor of the restaurant and bar was great. It had all kind of antiques and relics on the walls, including a Yosemite Lager self framed tin!.
After dinner we all sat around in Ricks and Doug's room ,drinking and discussing the days treasures. No one expected to find such a good dump. It was 9pm ,and Herman decided to do a little scouting for the next day. At this time of year the sun never really smuts and it is daylight for most of the day. About midnight Herman comes back with 2 nice Apex cones and says he knows where more are. . We gave Herman a new nickname and called him the "Snake" because he's always slithering around finding spots to dig. He has other nicknames such as Sperm,Vernin and the "Mole". Steve, Doug and Rick had nicknames already. Steve is known as "Mr. Clean" because he never gets dirty in the dump. Rick is known as LWS (Large white Specimen) and Doug is known as "Biker Doug" which couldn't be further from the truth!
Morning finally arrives and we eat. It cost me $8 for 2 slices of French toast. Herman led us to the new dump spot where we proceeded to pull out more Apex cones. Although some were in poor shape we took them all since they are so rare. We found more Rainier mountain cans, Tru Blus and Ballantine beer and ale OIs and Schlitz lager flat bottom cones. We also found miscellaneous items such as a telegraph key and 3 different Apex bottle caps.
After this dump we head for the mine. This was 5 miles away but they did have an old broken down looking bus that would take you there for $5. We piled our bikes in the back and would ride back since it was all down hill.
Bisbee Mine is a very interesting and historical spot. It has 20-30 building still
standing along with its 14 story mine shaft. The dump up here was in the slag piles and had no protection from the sun. Most of the cans were sun bleached or rusted al to hell. As for finding keepers here this place was a bust. Herman and I split and the rest were to leave a short time later. LWS broke the seat of his bike so he had to ride along with Steve on the way back. that was a sight to see!!!
We hit another dump in Clarkston with about 10 Horlucks. During the rest of the day we walked around town turning over every rust pile we saw ,which was a great many. We found a 50's dump which had Rainier Jubs. We finished up the by eating again in the only restaurant in town. This time the dinner special was roast beef for $16.95 and again I still don't know why they call it special! We went back to the lodge and talked most of the night away.
The next day Herman and I skipped breakfast and slept in The others had got up at 7 am. We poked around a little more and decided it was time to leave. It took the 5 of us 2 trips each to haul all our stuff back. Everything made it across just fine. At the truck we made sandwiches and divided up the rest of the cans and headed out. we made it back to Anchorage the next day by 1pm .
This find was by far one of my best dumping trips although it is not uncommon for
Herman. Even he did admit he had a good time.