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They Found the Flag Pole

One day in 1909 a group of Alaskan miners, popularly called Sourdoughs, were sitting in a saloon in Fairbanks talking about outsiders such as Dr. Frederick Cook climbing “their” Mount McKinley. Convinced that Cook’s ascent had never been made, some of the miners decided to prove it the only way they knew how—by doing it themselves.

After a long climb, three miners left their base camp and raced for the North Peak, carrying some doughnuts, thermoses of hot chocolate, and a 14-foot wooden flagpole. As simply as they went up, the Sourdoughs returned to camp. But when they returned to Fairbanks, nobody believed them—and nobody could see the flagpole. But in June 1913, when some professional climbers reached the summit, to their surprise they found the flagpole planted by the Sourdoughs.

Today in the Word, July 1995, p. 8