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Gonzaga Alumna Sheila Kelly Pens Compelling Tale of Hard Rock Gold Mine on Alaska Frontier

Part of the cover for Gonzaga alumna Sheila Kelly's book.

Part of the cover for Gonzaga alumna Sheila Kelly's book. Artwork courtesy of author Sheila Kelly.

SEATTLE – Gonzaga alumna Sheila Kelly (’64) says her first book, the nonfiction Treadwell Gold: An Alaska Saga of Riches and Ruin,” published last May by University of Alaska Press, began as a memoir of her father’s youth in Alaska before he moved to Spokane in 1918.

Sheila Kelly, a 1964 Gonzaga alumnus, is the author of “Treadwell Gold: An Alaska Saga of Riches and Ruin.” Photo courtesy of the author Sheila Kelly

Sheila Kelly, a 1964 Gonzaga alumnus, is the author of “Treadwell Gold: An Alaska Saga of Riches and Ruin.” Photo courtesy of the author Sheila Kelly.

The Kelly family lived near Gonzaga for 50 years. Her late father, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Raymond F.  Kelly, taught at Gonzaga Law School for 39 years. Her late brother Judge Marcus M. Kelly also sat on the Spokane Superior Court bench. Four of her five brothers, including Marcus, are Gonzaga alumni.

The book ultimately became a compelling tale of boom and bust at the Treadwell, Alaska gold mines, and still contains some nuggets about the Kelly family. Sheila says her father essentially donated the family home at 718 E. Sharp Ave. to Gonzaga in 1964; it serves as one of several theme houses for students.

“Treadwell Gold is a dramatic story about a hard rock gold mine that was largest in the world at one point before it caved in and flooded,” said Kelly, who lives in Seattle with husband Geoff Bellman (’61), whom she met at Gonzaga.

Sheila says she was captivated by the stories told by her father and aunts, who were born and raised in Treadwell at the turn of the 20th century. They talked about gracious living in a mining town with country club amenities. Treadwell embodies an important part of Alaska history, and Kelly has brought the scene to life.

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