Epitaph for Ophir
A novel about an Alaskan mining town
By: George Cheek

Epitaph for Ophir <BR>A novel about an Alaskan mining town <BR>By: George Cheek
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    Price: $20.95

    ISBN: 978-1-59824-525-7
    Edition: Paperback, 402 Pages
    Publication Date: June 1, 2007
    Gold drew stampeders to Alaska’s Innoko river region in 1906, when the town of Ophir was founded. More than 40 years later, the unchanging, government-mandated price for gold was strangling the town and its mining operations. Two young men, trying to recapture a dying way of life, spend a cold but entertaining winter in a remote cabin with an old timer while, in the town, a boatload of liquor contributes to odd goings-on.

    A gunfight with no shots fired, a wrestling match where a woman defeats a man and the initiation of a 16-year-old boy into the brotherhood of the north help break the monotony. Community events take place in a roadhouse and two bars, where domestic disputes become public and where, on one night, a woman, squatting over a spittoon to avoid a 60-below outhouse, demanded to know if goggle-eyed spectators “never saw a lady pee before?”

    A Christmas party for the town’s eight children is disrupted by a bungled knifing and, later, three of the children die in a fire when they are locked in while their parents visit a bar.

    The story is fiction, but Ophir and its troubles both were real. Ophir is gone, wiped out in a fire, but still appears on most maps. A few mines still operate.