Young Men Go North, by Joe Upton

Paperback: $19.95
ISBN: 9781684920495
eBook: $9.99
Memoir

Young Men Go North, by Joe Upton

“I went up on the Star of Alaska in 1918.” It was 1965 and an old timer was spinning a tale for 18-year-old Joe Upton. Of sailing up from San Francisco to Alaska’s remote and austere Bristol Bay aboard a square-rigged ship loaded with Chinese cannery workers, Norwegian and Italian fishermen, and American carpenters. They’d drop anchor in some remote Bristol Bay river, the last snow still on the shores. Lower the pile driver and drive a forest of pilings, build a cannery on top. Install the boiler and the canning machines. Finally, the first of the salmon flipping and stirring in the river off the cannery. The run: what they had all come north for and time to launch and rig the sailing gillnetters. And all set on that treeless shore with a steaming volcano looming over them.

A few years later, flush from a season on a Bering Sea king crabber, Upton headed north with his own salmon boat at last. That first eye-opening season became the stuff of Upton’s award winning Alaska Blues: A Fishermen’s Journal. For the next 20 years, as homesteader in a roadless settlement with a floating bar, fish buyer, and finally as gillnetter in what was to become the Legendary Bristol Bay red salmon fishery, Upton fished and also chronicled the powerful drama that is Alaska commercial fishing.

His full journey, laid out here, is a riveting tale of what brings young men North, generation after generation.

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