John “Jack” Boswell grew up mining and never stopped. He worked for the Fairbanks Exploration Co. for almost four decades — nearly the entire span of the company’s active operations. He still found time for civic work, including service as a delegate to Alaska’s constitutional convention.
Boswell’s parents were placer miners in Oregon. After coming north in 1926, he got a summer job with the F.E. Co. and stayed. For the next few winters, Boswell took classes, worked as a janitor, played basketball and helped publish the Farthest North Collegian newsletter.
Working full-time for the F.E. Co. after graduation in 1929, Boswell had a hand in most of the company’s dredging projects, from Ester, just outside Fairbanks, to Hogatza in the Koyukuk River country. He and his wife, Jewell, raised a family. He retired as Fairbanks district manager in 1965, after most of the dredges themselves had been retired.
Boswell, as alumni association president, wrote the letter that sparked legislation to rename the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines as the University of Alaska in 1935. He also worked with Otto Geist to save tons of mammoth bones uncovered by the F.E. Co.
In 1955, Alaskans elected Boswell to the constitutional convention, where he served on the resource and executive committees. The delegates drafted the document during a 75-day session in what is now called Constitution Hall.
Before he died in 1978, Boswell wrote a history of the F.E. Co. UAF’s Mineral Industry Research Laboratory published it posthumously.
More online about Jack Boswell:
- A biographical summary from Creating Alaska, the UA project highlighting the 50th anniversary of Alaska’s statehood