OFF THE BOAT
Interesting People Who Landed On Our Shores

Legendary prospector kin visits, vows to return

He didn’t know much about his famous relative, but he sure came to a place that does.
George Carmack’s great grandnephew stepped off the train at the White Pass Depot and into his history. It’s a history he’s just getting familiar with.
His famous great granduncle was one of the discoverers of gold on the Klondike in 1896 and created the furor that was the Klondike Gold Rush.
“He left to come to Alaska, discovered gold and that was the last we heard of him,” said Ed Carmack while visiting this September. “Stories were always told about it, but my cousin got some old photos and it was really interesting, and we decided to come up.”
Ed said his father, George III, resembles the original, but “Dad married an Italian girl,” and he spread his arms wide, “and so you get a big guy like me.”

Ed’s son was named George, and his daughter has kept the Carmack name after marriage.
He and his wife, Chris, flew to Anchorage and went up to Denali and then worked their was down to take the last leg of their tour on the Inside Passage.
They tried to figure a way to get to Carmacks in the Yukon, but renting a car was too expensive and there aren’t many tour buses that go that way. Maybe next time, they said.
“In Denali, the mountain was in clouds, but then it cleared – only the eighth time it did this year,” he said. “And we saw wolves howling, something the tour guide said he’s only seen two times. We were lucky.”
“That’s the Carmack luck,” said Karl Gurcke, historian for the National Park Service, who came out to meet the Carmacks and answer any of their questions. –DL

Familiar voice, face enchanted crowd at local saloon

Many characters wash up on our shores, but none as entertaining as Dallas McKennon. You’ve heard him on TV, seen him on the big screen. Probably never knew it. He’s just one of those versatile character actors who labors in obscurity.
He was the voice of the cartoon character Gumby, the tough dog and the Chihuahua in “The Lady and the Tramp,” the voice of Archie on the Saturday morning cartoon show; the voice of Goliath in this fall’s “Davey and Goliath,” he was the storekeeper on the “Daniel Boone Show,” the cook in the movie “The Birds,” and more.
“I was the cook who saw a guy lighting a cigar as a pool of gas washed to his feet,” he said while in town Sept. 18. “‘Don’t light that cigar,’ I screamed, and then there was the explosion.”
McKennon may be a Californian, but he has history here in Alaska. His mother helped drive a herd of cattle from Cordova to Fairbanks in 1914, one of two women on the drive. He worked on drilling the Whittier Tunnel, and the engineer on that project, Anton A. Anderson, was the one who got him hooked on Robert Service.
“He got me intrigued with Robert W. Service, that’s what I want to do while I’m here, so I can come up on the ferry and do ‘The Spell of the Yukon,’” he said.
So, there he was, taking the mic at the Red Onion to a crowd that seemed at first uninterested, drinking, talking, but eventually he drew them to him. Just by his stage presence, they knew they were in the company of “somebody.” The only people held truly rapt by his recitation of “Spell of the Yukon” from the get-go were the R.O. madams at a back table – familiar with the words and what they meant.
He sang some of the words, saying Service’s words were so beautiful they should be set to music.
While he hasn’t heard anything from the Alaska Marine Highway System about his idea, he’s hopeful.
At 83, with more energy than a roomful of 20-year-olds, we just may see him whirling off the ferry dock and into the summer scene next year. -DL