Richard Harris (prospector)

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Richard Tighe Harris (October 31, 1833 – October 11, 1907) was a Canadian miner and prospector.

Life[edit]

Richard Harris was born in Drummadonald, County Down, Ireland. He then attended Girard College, a private boarding school in Philadelphia, PA (USA).

He is most famous for co-founding, with Joe Juneau, the city of Juneau, Alaska. The first major gold discovery in Juneau or Douglas Island (across from Juneau) was circa 1880. It has been the political capital of Alaska since 1906.

His Native American guide in southeastern Alaska was Chief Kowee. Kowee is credited with discovering much of the Juneau area. Richard and Joe were sent with Kowee by George Pilz, an entrepreneur from Sitka. Richard and Joe traded with the natives much of their grubstake for hoochinoo. When they returned to Pilz empty-handed, he promptly sent them back to the Juneau area. There, Kowee took them beyond Gold Creek (which today flows beside the city's United States Federal Building[1]) to Silver Bow Basin. Today, a creek on Douglas Island is named Kowee Creek.

After the discovery of gold in Juneau, Richard and Joe loaded approximately 1,000 pounds of gold ore back to Sitka.

The town did not take its current name immediately; originally it was known as Harrisburg, Pilzburg, and Rockwell. Apparently, Joseph Juneau was able to bribe (buy votes from) enough of his fellow miners for it to be changed. Even though the city no longer carries Harris' name, Harris Street remains in Juneau. Richard lived the rest of his life in Juneau, his children and descendants stayed in Juneau for many years. Both Richard Harris and Joseph Juneau are buried in the city's Evergreen Cemetery.

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