Frontier journalist had wanderlust and a large imagination

Bernard H. (Casey) Moran had a nose for news -- be it real or completely fabricated. And for Moran, frontier towns, such as Dawson City during the Klondike Gold Rush was the perfect place to put his skills to good use.

Bernard H. (Casey) Moran had a nose for news—be it real or completely fabricated.

And for Moran, frontier towns, such as Dawson City during the Klondike Gold Rush was the perfect place to put his skills to good use.

Moran was born in California in 1873. “Of an Irish-Catholic family he was destined for the priesthood, but the cloistered cell of a monk could never hold the future scribe of the North and after a trip over the fence of the Brother’s School, he landed in Juneau,” according to Moran’s obituary printed on January 19, 1934.

In Juneau Moran sold ice “by the pound, ton or berg,” but the business received quite a cold reception in the frontier town.

He tried to boost his sales by buying iced beverages for would-be customers in hopes that they would develop a taste for cold drinks.

Despite his best efforts the business failed and Moran decided to try his hand at writing for a living.

He moved from Juneau to Circle City in 1896, and, when gold was found in the Klondike, Moran moved on to make his name in Dawson City.

Though his career as a Dawson journalist is difficult to piece together, Moran did work with Elmer J. (Stroller) White at the Klondike Nugget.

“As a resourceful reporter, Casey Moran was a glowing success. He could dig up more news and make a bigger mess of writing it up than anyone the Stroller ever saw,” White later wrote of Moran.

“In fact, the Stroller never had a silver thread in his raven locks until he began editing copy turned in by Casey.”

In 1899, the Dawson Daily News described Moran as: “perhaps the best known and most popular man about town in the days of Dawson’s glory as a mining camp….”

While working in Dawson, Moran claimed to have first-hand testimony that a large boat made of petrified wood was found on a remote mountain top in Alaska.

“Ruins of Noah’s Ark found on mountain in Koyukuk Country” read the headline on Moran’s article in 72 point font.

“His journalistic discovery of Noah’s Ark was a masterpiece – it startled the Christian world – almost resulting in an expedition to Dawson to secure the precious relics,” according to Moran’s obituary printed on January 19, 1934.

As gold fever waned in the Klondike, Moran moved to Fairbanks, where he worked on a variety of newspapers.

From there he joined the stampede to the Porcupine district in Ontario where he opened a small paper himself.

Over the next few decades Moran moved from place to place – from Seattle to New York City to Chicago, Texas and Mexico.

He finally ended up in Venezuela where he founded his own newspaper, which he cleverly named TheTropical Sun.

“It’s a long cry from The Midnight Sun, issued in the palmy days of the Klondike, to The Tropical Sun, which now comes up to throw its great white light on the new Venezuela,” wrote Moran in July 1926.

“When it came to naming this newspaper memory began doing a Charleston and recollections of the Far North danced forth prominently. The Midnight Sun under the Arctic Circle! Why not The Tropical Sun here with the equator just below the clothes line?”

Moran died in Venezuela in 1933.

“He had the often longed for ‘nose for news’, and if news was lacking or the ‘wire was down’ he had the ability to make news that was far more readable and interesting than the greatest story the AP ever cabled,” according to his obituary.

“Casey Moran is gone – but while a pine tree grows along the Yukon or a palm tree waves in the south – the old-timers of either place will never forget him, and kindly tales of his genius will ever keep his memory green.”

This column is provided by the MacBride Museum of Yukon History. Each week it will explore a different morsel of Yukon’s modern history. For more information, or to comment on anything in this column e-mail lchalykoff@macbridemuseum.com.

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