She had always wanted to write a book, but even in her imagination, she probably never considered a book of this size.
It started out to be a simple booklet written in collaboration with two professors at the Alaska School of Mines, but 712 pages later, Leslie Kot Noyes, a 1970 Millikin graduate, found she had written her first book: “Rock Poker to Pay Dirt,” a definitive history of Alaska’s School of Mines and the state’s mineral history. In recognition of her significant contribution, she received the Earl H. Beistline award from the University of Alaska School of Mines last spring.
“Basically it took 10 years to write and 3 years to publish the book,” Noyes says.
“This book recounts more than 50 years of history and stories – all of them intriguing, and important, some of them poignant and some of then hilarious, says the University of Alaska Press.” From gold rush to oil boom, ‘Rock Poker’ ... describes the history of Alaska’s most important industry as no other publication has done.”
Noyes majored in music and a combined major in psychology and religion at Millikin and was pursuing graduate work in historic preservation at Sangamon State University in Springfield, Ill., when her then husband convinced her to move to Alaska. Noyes soon fell in love with the state and realized she was going to stay in Alaska as a “sourdough.” The term, according to her neighbor, “Shorty” Philpot, meant “sour on the land, too short on the dough to leave.”
Noyes ultimately moved to Fairbanks, where she became a researcher for the state on federal land issues and a director for the Miners Advocacy Council. She also began taking magazine writing courses at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
“I had a great professor who said: You get an ‘A’ if published, a ‘B’ if you get a rejection slip and a ‘C’ if you have a manuscript ready to mail,” she says.
Today, Noyes owns Dits’in Yah Arts Ltd., a freelance writing business in Golden, Colo. where she and her husband, Harold, have lived since 1998.
Read the complete profile in the Winter 2003-04 issue of Millikin Quarterly magazine.