When Coal Was King: Dick Craine & Half-Wolf Dog, circa 1901

He could have been known as the Buffalo Bill Cody of the Northwest. And for a short time Captain Dick Craine told his tales and exhibited his museum of curios at his Green River Gorge Resort, just east of Black Diamond. He was born about 1870 in Perry, Ohio and by age 17 left home for the Pacific Northwest. In Bellingham he worked in logging, then traveled to Alaska where he mined gold, hunted, and trapped. Eventually he operated his own steamer on the Yukon River, where he traded with Native Americans and Eskimos and obtained the title Captain.  When these adventures ended, he gathered a troupe of Eskimos and became a showman much like Buffalo Bill Cody. He displayed native artifacts and fossils at the Pan Am Exposition in Buffalo and then joined an “Eskimo Village” for the Charleston Expo. His renamed Alaskan Village toured Europe, playing at London’s Crystal Palace, then Paris.  Returning to America he presented his show in New York, Chicago, and finally the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.  There he married Bessie (Wilson) of Issaquah, where the two had met four years earlier. For the next 12 years, Capt. Dick’s Hiawatha pageants, combined with lectures, were performed at Chautauqua summer festivals. Retiring from show business due to a spinal injury suffered as a young man, Craine built a resort at the Green River Gorge about 1920. There he displayed his collection of curios and sometimes donned the persona of Felix or Sourdough, his alter-ego being an old-timer from the Yukon Territory. But, more about that next week. This 1901 photo of Craine and his half-wolf dog, plus biographical information comes courtesy of Richard Feldman, a doctor and part-time historian from Indianapolis, who recently visited the Gorge as part of his research into Captain Dick Craine.