Sharing the Legacy

One of the aspects of my job that I really enjoy, is working on special exhibitions. Finding a topic that has broad appeal and developing a new way to present it to the public. A little over a year ago, our museum started to think about a possible exhibit to commemorate the centennial of the first ascent of Denali’s South Peak (20,327 feet). This 1913 group included Hudson Stuck, the charismatic Archdeacon of the Yukon; soon-to-be first superintendent of Mt. McKinley National Park, Harry P. Karstens; Walter Harper, the athletic, intelligent, and dedicated trail companion of Stuck; and Robert Tatum, postulant for holy orders at the St. Mark’s Mission in Nenana. Joining the group were two young men (each in their mid-teens), John Fredson and Esaias George, also studying at Nenana, who played essential parts in the ascent as well.

1913 crew, from left: Robert Tatum, Esaias George, Harry Karstens, John Fredson, Walter Harper.

It is the exciting story of their ordeal climbing “the great one” that we will tell, in partnership with the Denali National Park staff, during the summer of 2013 in the exhibition Legacy: 100 Years on The Mountain. Narratives taken from the journals of each climber will guide visitors through their journey from Fairbanks, to the peak of the mountain, and back down again. We will also learn about the men, as individuals, and how this event pulled them together as well as drove them apart.

Hudson Stuck with one of his dogs.

As we develop this story, we seek the assistance of our community in identifying potential artifacts associated with these people and their legacies. Anyone with information about items used on the 1913 ascent are asked to contact me or the museum.

I look forward to sharing the stories of these incredible men and the legacies they left behind. Join us next summer for the exciting celebration of this amazing event.

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4 responses to “Sharing the Legacy

  1. Sadly, I have nothing to contribute in the way of the artifacts or their verification, but I am very proud to be related to Robert Tatum, who was my grandfather’s (Frank Tatum) first cousin. I finally came across the book “The Ascent of Denali” during the 29 years I lived in Alaska and it has since been a vital part of my heritage as well as my growing library. ~William A. Tatum

  2. William,
    My name is Patt Dillon and Robert Tatum was my mother’s brother. I don’t know much about the Tatum family, but would like to.
    We are going to Alaska to be a part of the celebration.
    Please contact me if you wish to chat.

  3. Excuse me. He was my mother’s father’s brother!

  4. Patt,
    Thank you for contacting me. Its a thrill to hear from another member of the family. I may be able to offer certain genealogical information, but my knowledge is a bit fragmented. If your mother was his niece, you must have known Mildred Love(?) I also seem to remember “Howard” Tatum being somewhere near to that branch of the family tree. Please feel free to email me at any time. I’m also on Facebook and I’d love to hear back from you.

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