Students seek to preserve flume tales

Posted: Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Built to carry water within, and now carrying pedestrians atop, the Gold Creek Flume has been part of the Juneau landscape for more than a century. Now some local students are hoping to carry on stories about the historic structure to future generations.

David Haas' third-grade class at Harborview Elementary School is working on a project to gather tales about the flume, which originally shunted water off Gold Creek to run a waterwheel and electric generator. It is now a popular walking path.

Last summer, Haas applied for a grant from the Juneau-Douglas City Museum for a project to have his students speak to local residents who have stories about the waterway's history.

"The idea is to get some of those people in the classroom," Haas said. "I'll have the kids write it up, and we'll make a booklet and publish it."

Haas said the class is looking for "any interesting story or anecdote about walking the flume, or something that happened near the flume or on it."

That could include the flume's construction, tales of animals encountered while walking the path, and avalanches or landslides.

Haas said he would like the class to hear stories about the flume vicinity that pre-date the building of the structure, as well.

The flume is well-used by Harborview teachers and students as a place to observe and study nature, Haas said.

"Some years I've had kids map it. Some years we've done a phenology study," he said. Phenology is the study of how organisms adapt to seasonal and climatic changes.

Earlier this year with the assistance of Alaska Electric Light & Power Co. the company that built the flume in the 1890s - Haas' class published a full-color brochure describing the flume trail.

The publication featured student drawings of plants found along the trail, as well as photographs, a map and directions to the flume. It will be distributed beginning next summer.

Haas said he hopes local residents will be willing to share memories with his class and, through the planned booklet, with future Juneau residents.

"I'm sure there are people with so many wonderful stories," he said. "It would be nice to share those with future generations."

Contact Haas at Harborview at 463-1875 (school is on recess until Jan. 7), or at home at 586-4783. He also can be reached by e-mail at

Andrew Krueger can be reached at

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