It maybe spring time in Alaska but is also a very sad time. News that John Schnabel passed away brings a sadness over the placer mining community, the Town of Haines and most everyone in Alaska and the rest of the north. Many Yukoneers will feel the sadness also as it is Johns grandson Parker, who mines in the Dawson area.
John was born February 11, 1920 in Kansas. He grew up on a farm but during the Great Depression his family lost the farm and his father went to Alaska seeking more opportunities, leaving John and the rest of his family back down in the lower 48. When John turned 19 he headed up to Alaska and joined his father and the two set up a sawmill. John later took over the sawmill and eventually owned a hardware store and even became mayor of Haines Alaska.
After having heart surgery at the age of 68, doctors told John to stay active and healthy and it was at this point in time that John purchased the Big Nugget Mine on Porcupine Creek in Alaska. John worked and ran the mine and taught his grandson Parker how to mine and in around 2011 Parker took over the mine. John still gave out sound advise on how to mine from time to time.
For a few years from 1941, he volunteered to serve his country after the Pearl Harbor bombing, and he served in the Air Corps until 1946. He then returned to Alaska and married his wife Erma Dire. John passed away on March 18 2016 at the age of 96. RIP John.