The Clara Nevada: Gold, Greed, Murder and Alaska's Inside Passage

Overview

February 5, 1898. Witnesses report a giant orange fireball reflected in the glacial waters of Alaska's Lynn Canal. At the height of Klondike gold fever, the Clara Nevada disappeared into an epic storm-taking passengers and priceless cargo with her. Was the explosion an accident or a robbery gone wrong? Did Captain C.H. Lewis make off with $165,000 ($13.6 million in today's currency) in raw gold? Or was the sinking a case of a sea-weary steamer meeting an untimely end? Alaska historian Steven C. Levi combs the ...

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The Clara Nevada: Gold, Greed, Murder and Alaska's Inside Passage

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Overview

February 5, 1898. Witnesses report a giant orange fireball reflected in the glacial waters of Alaska's Lynn Canal. At the height of Klondike gold fever, the Clara Nevada disappeared into an epic storm-taking passengers and priceless cargo with her. Was the explosion an accident or a robbery gone wrong? Did Captain C.H. Lewis make off with $165,000 ($13.6 million in today's currency) in raw gold? Or was the sinking a case of a sea-weary steamer meeting an untimely end? Alaska historian Steven C. Levi combs the archives to piece together the true account of the Clara Nevada's final voyage, attempting to solve the riddle of the lost steamer that resurfaced ten years after that tragic night and became known as Alaska's ghost ship.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609492885
  • Publisher: History Press, The
  • Publication date: 5/14/2011
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 977,348
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven C. Levi is a historian and freelance writer based in Anchorage, Alaska. Levi has lived in Alaska for thirty-three years and has more than thirty books in print, ranging from Alaska history to Westerns, how-to and self-help to poetry and aviation to biography. Levi has also developed educational software, written screenplays and developed creative media presentations using poetry and history. Levi's scholarly articles have appeared in such publications as Journal of the West, Pacific Historian, East Texas Historical Quarterly, Southern California Quarterly, California and Labor History.
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Table of Contents

1 The Maritime Rush to Skagway and Dyea 9

2 The Wreck of the Clara Nevada 17

3 The Seattle Times and Post-Intelligencer Do Battle 27

4 "Curiouser and Curiouser" 35

5 The Search for Answers 39

6 What Happened to C.H. Lewis? 47

7 The End of the Maritime Frontier 65

8 Mass Murder and Robbery or an Accident? 73

Appendix 93

Notes 95

Bibliography 103

About the Author 107

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Articulate and Fascinating History

    THE CLARA NEVADA is one of those rare books that on the surface seems to be a thesis, an academic investigation of an event of significance in history complete with photographs, immaculate documentation, and reportage by a fine reporter. And it is most assuredly all that. But that does not begin to explain the fascination author Steven C. Levi brings to this book. He makes this exploration of an event as fine as any mystery novel or suspense thriller, and it is about something of which very few of us are familiar. How many readers have heard of the ship Clara Nevada and its sole voyage in Alaska's Inland Passage?

    Levi opens his book about the mysterious ship Clara Nevada with a solid description of the 1896 discovery of gold in the Yukon River and the subsequent goldrush fever that swept the nation, bringing thousands of gold seekers to Seattle and points north to claim instant wealth. His discussion (and photographs) of the condition of these people willing to sacrifice all manner of comfort to pan gold is as colorful as any film would be! And those who owned the businesses of the newly discovered area of gold jumped into the fray and produced boats and means of travel etc to benefit form the madness. Among the ships was a 'reconditioned' wreck named the Clara Nevada and after boarding many passengers and supplies she set sail in bad weather in 1898 to take greedy men to the gold nuggets of the Yukon and Klondike rivers - and disappeared. The book then explores all of the witnessed events, the newspaper reports and the tall tales that filled the country - including the history of one CH Lewis who happened to survive leaving questions unanswered to this day. What happened? Where did the bodies go, where did the gold on board go, where did the fate of a ship that eventually was spotted as a ghost ship become a fairytale? as the author states, 'The discovery of a survivor of the Clara Nevada disaster - and a significant individual at that - led to two obvious questions: how did C.H. Lewis survive and what happened to the $165,000. in raw gold? I was haunted by those questions. For two years, I checked archive holdings, government reports, diaries, personal correspondence, business records and court files and sent letters to genealogical societies and maritime museums.'

    Levi has spent years preparing his investigation and the results are here in this immensely readable book. It is a bit a Americana but it is also a vital document about a period in history we have all but forgotten. Steven C. Levi is a scholar but he is also an imaginative writer who has provided us with a brief but completely engrossing little book that is better than most fiction created around this subject. It is a fine read!

    Grady Harp

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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