Carl Gordon Parker

Carl Gordon Parker February 6th, 1916 to September 4th, 1978

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Carl Parker

Carl Gordon Parker was born on February 6, 1916 in Fairbanks, Alaska. He was the son and grandson of Klondike stampeders. Carl was the youngest of four children born to Fred B. and Genevieve Parker, both pioneers and early settlers of Fairbanks. His siblings include sister Genevieve Parker Metcalfe (inducted in 2004), sister Jackie (Hortense) Landru and brother Fred D. Parker. When not “on the creeks” they lived on the corner of 10th and Cushman in Fairbanks.

Carl attended Fairbanks schools graduating from the University of Alaska, School of Mines in 1939 with a B.S. in Mining Engineering specializing in hydraulic mining. He spent his career mining around the Fairbanks area especially in the Livengood and Fairbanks Districts. Carl was active in the Alaska Miners Association and the Pioneers of Alaska. He had an ongoing relationship with the University of Alaska School of Mines, in particular with his friend and classmate AMHF Inductee Earl Beistline, a mining educator at the university and leader in the Alaska mineral industry.

Carl was active in the local Fairbanks mining community serving in several capacities. Once while serving as President of the local chapter of the Alaska Miners Association, he was to give a memorial talk. It had been raining heavily. Carl sent a message to Earl, then a college professor and Dean of the School of Mines saying “It is raining, my dam runneth over and I am speechless!” Earl gave the talk.

Parker Family Beginnings

Gold was discovered in the Klondike region of Yukon, Canada in August of 1896. The Klondike Gold Rush (1897-98) brought many people from all walks of life to Alaska. In December 1897, three men from Bellingham, Washington arrived in Dyea, Alaska, gateway to the Chilkoot Trail, heading for the Yukon goldfields. Those three were Carl’s father, Fred Benjamin Parker (1892-1962), his grandfather, Fred A. Parker (1849-1929), and his uncle George Parker (1879-1914).

The three men had left their sawmill jobs in Seattle to join many others seeking adventure and gold in the Klondike. Besides gear and provisions, the Parkers brought sawmill equipment over the Chilkoot Pass and down the Yukon. They arrived in Dawson in the summer of 1898 with a large raft of lumber in tow and set up a mill to supply the lumber needs of miners, businesses, and residents. Caught up with the gold-seeking spirit, all three Parkers filed mining claims in the Klondike.

In the summer of 1899, after the discovery of gold deposits near Nome, Fred B. Parker built a small boat in which he floated 1,500 miles down the Yukon to St. Michael. From there he took a local passenger steamer to Nome and for the next few years he moved between Dawson and Nome, alternately sawing and mining.

After gold deposits were discovered near Fairbanks, the Parker men packed up the family sawmill and headed for Fairbanks on horse-drawn sleds. They left Dawson on March 12, 1903, first heading north on the frozen Yukon and then west on the Forty Mile and Goodpasture trails. At the junction of the Goodpasture and the Tanana Rivers, the group stopped to build rafts and awaited break-up before floating down the Tanana. They arrived in Fairbanks on May 22, 1903, two and one-half months after leaving Dawson.

Forming a partnership with his friend Charles Carroll, Fred B. set up a sawmill at the corner of 1st and Lacey Streets. They were ready and waiting for the influx of stampeders who came in the spring of 1904. As the first sawmill in the Tanana Valley, the Carroll & Parker Lumber Company did a thriving business filling orders for flume, sluice, and building lumber.

The current State of Alaska Fourth Judicial District courthouse in Fairbanks currently sits on the property where the lumber company first stood. Fred B. always said he was the first mayor of Fairbanks in 1905 after a bitterly fought election in which he won over gambling elements who were trying to take over the town.

Carl Parker

The Carroll and Parker Lumber Company was established in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1904, at the site of the current 4th Judicial District Courthouse.
Photo Credit: Parker family collection

One of the new arrivals in 1904 was Genevieve Rebecca Boas (1878-1961), a young woman who shared Fred B.’s adventurous spirit. Genevieve was born in Fall River, Massachusetts on December 14, 1878. She became an apprentice in the baking and candy making trade after being selected off an orphan train in North Dakota. She left at the age of 18 and arrived in Dawson, Yukon Territory, in the spring of 1898 where she worked in a Dawson bakery for two years. Leaving Dawson for Valdez in the spring of 1901 she bought and operated a “Candy Kitchen” store until the spring of 1904 when she moved to Fairbanks with the hope of starting a candy business in Cleary City.

The story as passed down by the family is that Genevieve met Fred B. when she walked into the Carroll & Parker Lumber Company to buy materials for building her store. Fred B. instead talked her into opening a candy store located in the Post Office building in Fairbanks.

The rest, as they say, is history. Genevieve was married to Fred B. Parker on June 13, 1905 in Fairbanks at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. They had four children: Genevieve Alice (1907-1995), Hortense (Jackie; 1911-1960), Frederick Dayton (1914-1982) and Carl Gordon (1916-1978).

In the summer of 1903 Felix Pedro and his partner discovered gold on Fairbanks Creek, a nine-mile-long creek with its hilltop beginning near the Steece Highway twenty miles north of Fairbanks, on what was to be referred to as “Discovery.” Many claims were made and leased to miners who came in droves. Among those arriving pioneers were family names, members, that made Fairbanks and Alaska what they are today to include the likes of Eagan, Stepovich, Sather and Parker.

As described by Isabel Eagen Richards in her 1968 article published in the Alaska Sportsman, ‘The Silent Creek’, the distances along the creek was referred to not by miles but by claim distance relative to the “Discovery” location point. Examples are 16 Above, 2 Below, 12 Below and so on. Dan Eagen was on 1 Above, Jack Eagen a ¼ mile away; Stepovichs at 12 Below and Parkers at 4 Above on “Crane Gulch.”

Carl Parker

The Parker Family at Crane Gulch, Fairbanks district, Left to Right: Carl Gordon, Frederick Dayton, Jackie (Hortense), Genevieve Alice, Geneieve Rebecca (Boas) and Frederick Benjamin Parker, circa 1920
Photo Credit: Vieve Metcalfe Collection

Carl Parker

Upper Fairbank Creek basin, aka ‘The Silent Creek’ (Richards, 1968).

Family life on Fairbank Creek evolved. Several of the miners went back to the “old country” to claim a wife; for example, Dan Eagan to St. John’s Newfoundland in 1913; and Wise Mike Stepovich to Yugoslavia in 1929. Childhood playmates were many. Dan Eagan had four children. Jack Eagan had seven children. Mike Stepovich 1 (Wise Mike) had five children. Mike’s oldest son, Mike II, became Alaska’s last Territorial Governor. Fred B. Parker had four children, including Carl—the focus of this article.

Early day life on Fairbanks Creek (Meehan) included spontaneous dances, piano, guitar and mouth organ music, not to mention poker and pool. By 1910, there were 500 people, 4 salons, 2 dance halls, a general store, a schoolhouse and a restaurant, to name a few.

Early mining techniques were simple, making use of panning, rockers, and of course, drifting. The first dredge made its way to Fairbanks Creek in 1911, a second in 1918 and a third in 1950. The oldest was owned by an English firm dba Fairbanks Gold Dredging Company. Fred B. used an “open cut” method working in thawed ground.

In 1905 Fred B. and Genevieve built their first home in Fairbanks on the northeast corner of 10th and Cushman where they raised their family when not at their various mining claims. They subsequently moved into their second home across the street on the southeast corner, at 1003 Cushman. This home was designed by architect Ernie Wackwitz and built in 1930 by his brother Fred. At the time it was considered one of the finest residences in Fairbanks, as shown in the picture below. The Parkers bought the house from Ernie and his wife in 1943 and lived there until they sold it in November, 1956, to the Boy Scout organization.

The children of Fred B. and Genevive were raised to be independent, confident and self-sufficient while growing up in the mining community of Meehan on Fairbanks Creek, in the town of Fairbanks and at other locales. They became miners, engineers, businessmen, equipment operators, and authors, while learning such skills as writing, hunting and fishing.

Carl Parker

The Fred B./Genevieve Parker House at 1003 Cushman (at 10th Avenue) was built in 1930 by Fred Wackwitz and considered one the finest homes in Fairbanks
Photo Credit: Audrey Parker collection

Some Other Parker Family Resumes

Genevieve Alice Parker Metcalfe was the oldest daughter and became well known in the Fairbanks community. She was the first woman to graduate from the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines with a B.S. degree in Geology and Mining in 1928. She was hired by the F. E. Company in Fairbanks and after a short tenure was transferred to the Boston Office. There she met and married John Metcalfe, a second-generation U.S. Smelting, Refining, and Mining Co. (USSR&M) geologist-engineer-manager destined for the company’s higher echelons. In 1965, John and Genevieve, from the Boston office, toured the Hogatza, (locally known as “Hog River”) dredge with then General Manager for Alaska, Jim Crawford. Her biography can be found in the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Newsletter Vol. 6, No. 1, 2004 and on the website. Jackie (Hortense) Parker Landru attended the University of Alaska where she met and married her husband H. C. (Buck) Landru in 1929. He was educated as a historian with multiple degrees and years of teaching experience including one as a professor at the University of Alaska. Together they prospected for gold on the high tributaries of the middle Kuskokwim until the outbreak of WWII when they moved to Fairbanks. There they homesteaded, raced dogs and Jackie continued her career as an author. She was the author of the book Sled Dog of Alaska, published in 1953 and winner of Boys Life, Dodd Mead prize competition. Like her sister Genevieve A., Jackie was an avid dog musher and owned several dogs most of her life. They were her hobby. Hortense earned her nickname “Jackie” after her lead dog Jack Frost, of whose intelligence and courage she boasted to her many friends. In addition to the book, she wrote many articles for the Boys Life Magazine under the name Jack Landru. In those days it was more readily accepted to be a male author writing about this profession instead of a woman. The book was dedicated to Leonard Seppala, the hero of the Nome Serum Run and the unquestioned king of dog mushing of his day. He was a long-time friend of the Parker family. Seppala gave Jackie several of his dogs. One of his dogs, who refused to run, was given to Carl Parker and became the family pet, aptly named “Sepp.” Frederick Dayton Parker was bitten by the mining bug like his father, older sisters, and younger brother. As a young man he mined near Dawson then later on Deadwood and Mastodon Creeks near Circle Hot Springs in the Circle Mining District. His long-time mining partners were Jack Raymond and Hoppy (Forrest) Hopkins who called themselves P. R. & H., initials which were on a sign at the entrance to Deadwood Creek. They claimed it stood for “Poor, Rugged & Hungry.” Fred married Candy (Ulla) Gumaer (1921-1980) in 1944 and they lived various years in Alaska, Washington and California while spending most summers in Alaska or Canada. Fred worked ground both in Candle and Deering, Alaska in the Northwest Arctic Borough as well as in the Nome area. He mined a short time in Atlin, British Columbia, Canada as well as went on prospecting trips to Prescott, Arizona and Peru, South America when not mining. His final mining efforts were on Fairbanks Creek.

The Mining Career of Carl Gordon Parker

Carl Parker spent his early life at mining camps with the family on Crane Gulch on Fairbanks Creek. The family had moved there in 1914 and lived there for seven years while Fred B. worked on his mining claims. While growing up among the mining camps, Carl found his calling as a gold miner at an early age along with his siblings. While living on Fairbanks Creek he attended the Fairbanks Creek school and later Fairbanks public schools. In 1921, the family moved full time to Fairbanks after his father sold the mining property. Carl graduated from ‘Old Main’ high school in 1933 and then from the University of Alaska School of Mines in 1939. He was an engineer, mechanic and jack-of-all trades by necessity when living so far out of Fairbanks.

Carl entered a partnership with his parents in 1934, and actively mined for three years before graduating from the University. Parker & Son was an open-cut mining operation initially on Fairbanks Creek in the Fairbanks District but was later moved to Olive Creek in the Livengood District. Carl brought his education, experience and know-how to complete the mechanization of their mining operation.

Former mining methods, such as drift mining on Olive Creek, allowed the frozen ground to thaw naturally, then it was washed into ‘the cut’ and then into the sluice box via a hydraulic nozzle/monitor. Water was diverted from nearby Ester Creek by means of a ditch. Unfortunately, the amount of coarse gold produced from this method was not enough to justify the expense of drift mining. It was determined that these methods would not work for mining on Olive Creek as the gold recovered from Olive Creek was exceptionally fine and found in ground rich with clay that required amalgamation to recover the gold. Additionally, lack of water was a major problem. In order to conserve water, two dams, one above and one below the operation, were constructed to resolve this problem. Before mining could begin the ground, also known as ‘overburden’, was stripped to a depth ranging from four-to-eight feet.

Mining operations consisted of two shifts: the first operated from 7 am to 6 pm, and the second from 7 pm to 5 am. The day shift focused on moving the thawed material of the cut to the upper dam. Hydraulic nozzles supplied with water from the lower dam would wash the material into the sluice box, some 30 inches wide and 144 feet long. A dragline would remove large boulders, preventing them from going into the sluice box. By the end of the day shift, water in the lower dam would be heavily saturated with clay resulting from the circulation of the water from the upper dam, then through the sluice box, and returning to the lower dam.

The actual sluicing was shut down at the end of the day shift and a tractor would be used to break up the accumulated clay in the lower dam. The night shift used water from the lower dam to assist with breaking up the clay while even more water was pumped to the upper dam to be ready for the day shift the next morning. The circulating water would be directed to flow over the cut as an aid to thawing the surface. This nightly “mucking out” operation enabled the mining operation to continue operating under most conditions. Typical operations would last roughly five months a year. For example: in 1940, sluicing began on April 22nd and ended on September 14th. Mining would continue this way for over forty years in total, with the exception of several years during World War II.

Carl married Gladys H. Smith on July 9th, 1941 in Ketchikan, Alaska. Gladys (1915-2007) was born in Ladner, British Colombia, Canada and became a registered nurse after completing training at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, British Columbia. After responding to an ad for nurses wanted in Alaska she sailed for Ketchikan in January 1937. She then worked at the Ketchikan General Hospital. Although she had a great adventure living in Ketchikan, she admitted that she only wanted to stay long enough to earn passage home. Her plans changed after she took a boat trip with her girlfriend to Seattle. Carl was on this trip as well with his friends and after several days of having fun “morning, noon and night” she was introduced to Carl on the trip back to Ketchikan. At the end of the two-and-a-half-day trip Carl and Gladys were engaged. They were married for 38 years and had three children, Leslie in 1942, Donald in 1944 and Audrey in 1946.

When World War II began in Europe in the fall of 1939, the United States became concerned about Alaska and the enormous amount of work that would be needed to defend this territory. On October 18th, 1942, the U.S. War Production Board issued Order L-208 which prohibited the mining of gold unless it was a by-product of a strategic material.

After his equipment was commandeered for the war effort, mining was shut down from 1942-1945. Carl and his family moved to Washington State where he worked as a Lead Tooling Inspector for Boeing in Renton, Washington. Gladys described her memories of the Livengood area mining camp life:

“Without fanfare, I arrived at Olive Creek July 14th, 1941 after a hot dusty drive from Fairbanks. My first home was the "white wanigan", one of the buildings built by J.L. Von Gohren, the dragline operator and a carpenter by trade when the camp was first located in 1940. There was also a new and well-equipped cook house with hot and cold running water, a meat house and a shower house downstream a few hundred yards. Just below the bath house was an old log house used as a bunk house. Further downstream was an old, abandoned building known as the "Wheeler Cabin". Upstream about 1/4 mile was "Discovery Cabin" formerly occupied by the previous operators of the mining property, Ted and Harriet Hudson. This had been their home for many years. Ted was an old gentleman from Kokomo, Indiana and he and his brother, Jim, had been in the area prior to 1920. Ted had gone on a prospecting trip with Jay Livengood, grubstaked by Luther Hess. Jay Livengood had staked Livengood Creek and Ted Hudson staked Olive Creek.

Carl's mother and father were living in a camp in a tent-like affair built mostly by Carl's mother, which had very few of the comforts of home. They were not happy when I intruded into camp but placed a bouquet of wildflowers on the table in the wanigan as a welcome. The crew was an odd assortment of the old and the young. J.L. Von Gohren was an old hand, two of Carl's lifelong friends.

Clarence J. Carlson, was known as Swanny and Clarence H. Carlson was known as Care. The cook, Mary O'Dea was a delightful and typical camp cook and put many fine meals on the table for a crew of about sixteen. There were several "old hands" who had spent many years mining in "the bush". They all welcomed me and told me many tall tales which I accepted as gospel truth, at first.

1941 was a very profitable mining year and I saw many pans of gold though I was not really much impressed at the time. We spent the summer at Olive Creek and were there through October stripping the ground ahead for the next season. We returned to camp in early 1942, driving through snow and ice and many glaciers on the road. Leslie was soon to put in an appearance, but I was able to spend a couple of months there before going to town for the big event. There was much talk of war but we were so involved with our own affairs we more or less ignored the news until the order came from the army that all women and children were to leave Alaska. We did in the fall of the year. The mining equipment was commandeered and leased to the army.

We did not return from Seattle till the Spring of 1945 and Donald was about six months old. The camp at Olive Creek was badly overgrown and the buildings neglected. Eventually, that year, the mining equipment was returned and we prepared once again to take up mining life”.

In 1947 the buildings described in Gladys’ narrative, the cook house, meat house, bath house, and bunk houses were moved and/or constructed downstream below the Wheeler Cabin on Olive Creek. A two-story log cabin which became the family’s main cabin, was added to the camp along with a two-story shop where heavy equipment could be worked on. This camp setting remained as the “base camp” for Olive Creek Mines, no matter where the actual mining was done. It is located off the Elliott Highway near Livengood, Alaska.

In 1973 five acres of the camp was granted ‘homesite’ status and ownership remains in the family as of today. Base camp included a two-story shop, a cook house, a meat house, bath house and main headquarters.

Carl Parker

The two-story shop where equipment such as caterpillar tractors were repaired during the mining seasons and during the off season
Photo Credit: Parker family files

Carl Parker

The elongate cook house shown was designed by Genevieve R. Parker, Carl’s mother, and built in 1947 by J.L. Goren. The bath house and meat house lie in front and to the right.

Carl Parker

The Parker camp ‘Headquarters’ at Olive Creek

Carl Parker

The ‘White Wanigan’ was skidded into Olive Creek prior to 1941. It is next to the ‘Foster Cabin’, named for Robert L. Foster, who spent summers in the area for the U.S.
Photo Credit: Parker family files

For a brief time, Carl Heflinger became a partner of Carl Parker when Fred B. and Genevieve R. sold their share of the mining company. In 1948, Carl and Gladys bought out the Parker & Son partnership and formed Olive Creek Mines. Equipment included in the sale was, among other items, a diesel pump, iron screens, drills, trucks, an Allis-Chalmers No. 14 tractor, an R D-8 Caterpillar Dozer, a T D-9 International Tractor, light plant, as well as all buildings and personal property located on Olive Creek. Also included was a P & H Dragline Shovel, model 755, swinging a 1-3/4 cu yd bucket from a 70’ boom. This P & H Dragline is now located on the property of the Operators Union (Local 302) in Fairbanks, Alaska

Carl Parker

Gladys Parker sitting on the edge of the P&H Dragline at Olive Creek, undated
Photo Credit: Parker family files

In 1951, the Carl Parker family bought a house in Pacific Palisades, California where they spent the school months while Carl commuted to Fairbanks to do spring and fall drilling in preparation of summer mining; basically, living as snowbirds. By 1957 the family moved back full-time to Fairbanks, living in Island Homes for a brief time and then many years at 541 9th Avenue until the 1967 flood destroyed that home.

Carl Parker continued to mine on Olive Creek until 1958, when a sub-lease was taken from the USSR&M Company on a property on Little Eva Creek near Ester, within the Fairbanks District. After Carl’s mining was finished there, the equipment was again relocated to Olive Creek in the Livengood district.

At this time, ditching and preparatory work was started on Amy Creek in the Livengood District, and mining continued there until 1962. Olive Creek Mines’ smaller operation on Amy Creek consisted of a dragline, two caterpillar dozers, plus a sluice box, camp gear, pipe and pumps. The water to operate the sluices was lifted 120 feet over a distance of 3,400 feet with a nozzle pressure of 35 pounds per square inch.

Carl then operated a placer mining operation on Lillian Creek, Livengood District, until ill health forced him to retire. He died on September 4, 1978, while on vacation with family in Canada.

Gladys Parker leased the Lillian Creek mining claims and equipment to Ron and Kathy Tucker in June of 1979; eventually quit-claiming the claims to them in 1999.

Carl Parker

Cleanup on Olive Creek, undated; LEFT, Carl Parker, Robert L. Foster, and Bob Chapman; RIGHT Nick Mandich and family friend
Photo Credit: Parker family files

Carl Parker

Carl Parker, Nick Mandich, and Gladys Parker at Olive Creek, undated
Photo Credit: Parker family files

Carl Parker

Amalgamated gold in sluice box, Olive Creek Mines, undated
Photo Credit: Parker family files

Carl Parker

Fred Benjamin Parker, Carl’s dad, with gold sponge, Olive Creek Mines, undated
Photo Credit: Parker family files

Other Activities and Carl Parker Family Legacy

Carl and Gladys were very active in the Fairbanks community as well as life-long participating members of the Pioneers of Alaska. Carl was inducted into the Men’s Igloo No. 4 in 1947 and served as President in 1969. Fred B. had been initiated into the Men’s Igloo No. 4 in 1926 while his wife Genevieve R. was inducted into the Pioneer Women of Alaska in 1930. Gladys was inducted into the Women’s Igloo No. 8 auxiliary in 1959 as well as their daughters Leslie and Audrey in 1973. Carl belonged to the Fairbanks Masonic Temple. Both Carl and Gladys belonged to and were very active with the Fairbanks Curling Club.

Today, some 130 years after placer gold was first discovered Interior Alaska, the stampeders and pioneer miners have been replaced in some measure by larger business interests, although some smaller scale mechanized placer gold mining operations still operate in Alaska today. In many venues, the small drift and sluice mining operations and even the USSR&M dredges have been replaced by much larger operations the likes of which Carl and his contemporaries were unlikely to have imagined. Carl and his family and other fellow miners were lucky to have been able to experience a unique way of life; one where they could be independent and self-sufficient and still be able to achieve their dreams. They made a living doing what they loved and one can’t ask for any more than that.

This biography not only celebrates the mining career of Carl Parker but also the lives of other Parker family members that mined gold in ‘The Last Frontier’ for nearly 100 years.

Written by Audrey E. Parker and Leslie Parker Pentland, Ph. D. Edited by T.K. Bundtzen



Crawford Isto, Sarah, 2007, Good Company, A Mining Family in Fairbanks, Alaska. University of Alaska, Press, Fairbanks, AK p.p. 92-93, 174, 186, 234.

Landru, H.C., 1980, The Blue Parka Man, Alaskan Gold Rush Bandit. DODD, MEAD & COMPANY, New York. NY, Author’s Preface.

Parker, Audrey E., 2003, Livengood – The Last Stampede, Hats Off Books, Tucson, AZ, page 146.

Parker Pentland, Leslie, 2000, Historic Trails, The Parkers. Seattle, WA

Newspapers and Periodicals

Metcalf, Vieve, Bundtzen, T.K., and Beistline, E.H., 2004, Genevive Alice Parker Metcalfe, 1907-1995, in, Bundtzen, T.K. and Kelly, Landon, editors, The Paystreak, vol. 6, no. 1., March 2004, pages 8-12.

“Fred Benjamin Parker” obituary in Alaska Sportsman, October 1962.

“Funeral Services Are Held Here for First Mayor of Fairbanks” Jessen’s Weekly, July 25, 1962.

“Mining Business Rubs Off on Carl Parker; Dad Plans Memoirs” Jessen’s Weekly, June 9, 1960.

“Boy Scouts Acquire New Home from Parkers on Cushman St.” Fairbanks Daily News Miner, November 27, 1956.

“From Ketchikan to Barrow” article on Jackie Landru Alaska Sportsman, May 1953, page 24.

“Parker, Fred B.,” Who’s Who in Alaska and Alaska Business Index, 1947.

“Stretching a Scant Water Supply As Far As Possible in Alaska” Mining World, June, 1941 p.35-36.

Richards, Isabel Eagen, 1968, The Silent Creek: Article published in three parts in the Alaska Sportsman magazine; pages 23-25 (July); pages 10-11 and 48-51 (August); and pages 12-13, and 40-41 (September).

Map of Fairbanks Creek from Pioneer Museum, Fairbanks who got it from Candace Waugaman, who got it from the UAF Archives Bunnell Collection.

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