Coal Creek Opera Project 

In Spring, 2018, the Hiram College Music Department will premiere Associate Professor of Music Dawn Sonntag’s new opera about the Coal Creek gold mining community near the intersection of the Yukon and Charley Rivers in remote east-central Alaska during the 1930’s.  The opera will be based on historical characters who lived and worked in the mine, including

While Alaska might seem like a distant and remote location to many northeast Ohioans, one of the first miners to discover gold at Coal Creek, Frank Slaven, was born in 1869 in Canton, Ohio. He travelled to Alaska in 1909 and remained there for most of his adult life. In the early 1930’s, Slaven built a roadhouse on the Yukon near Coal Creek.  It became a hub for travelers making their way along the Yukon and for laborers at Coal Creek who were hauling equipment and gold to and from the camp. Helping Slaven run his roadhouse, which is now a National Park Service public access house, was Mary E. Bissell, a young woman from Connecticut who was 25 years younger than Slaven.  Reputed to be a contract bride who had refused to marry the man to whom she was betrothed, Mary Bissell  worked as the bookkeeper for Slaven’s Roadhouse and shared a room with Slaven, who called her his “niece”  in his obituary.


History of the Coal Creek gold mine and Slaven’s Roadhouse, with historical photos:

Effects of the Alaskan gold rush on American Indians:


Old Coal Creek Black and White Photo


Cabin at Coal Creek Black and White Photo

Cabins at Coal Creek

Dredge at Coal Creek

German Journalists in a tent by the creek

3 guys standing by a tree at Coal Creek Black and White Photo

Moose on the Yukon

On the Yukon at Sunset

The Yukon ariel photo from a plane

Slaven with group

Two men and a woman old photo

Winter- man standing by his sled

Women, men and a child standing for a photo by a train

Wood Chopper Roadhouse circa 1920

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