KATALLA (Historic Alaska Information)

Well do I remember the starting of Katalla in 1904, and "wildcatting" the Bering oil field the leasing and assigning the rows of sample bottles, the knowing arguments, the maps and hopes which came before me for my services as a lawyer long before I had any idea of an investigation for book purposes.

I was a native of the East, where coal, oil and gas was so common that the prevailing idea "that oil came from the coal deposits and gas from the oil" was born or soaked into me. And although colege theories had almost eradicated it, it came back stronger than ever when I saw the seeping oil, and found that it tasted, smelled and burned the same as at home, and was in the immediate vicinity of a hard coal field, quite the same. But an oil field, or a coal mine, or Indian village, or most anything, is a sort of relief from the leagues and leagues of snow-covered mountains between Sitka and Katalla.

The known Alaskan petroleum-bearing areas are confined to the Pacific Coast regions. One is at Comptroller Bay, with an eastern extension at Yaktag; the other lies along the margin of Alaska Peninsula. At both there are strong seepages. At the former two wells have been drilled at Katalla and produce some oil, and other tests have been made, but the production thus far can hardly have a commercial importance, although I believe it will have in time.

The old village of Kayak is near by. The name, as well as the architecture of the Indian houses, and little grave houses on posts, and the customs of the natives will easily convince the visitor on sight that they are not Siwash. There is a feeling that more than the usual amount of Aleut, and Russian blood, customs and religion are mixed in them than in any others to the southward.

Cape Suckling was one of the best known of the early landmarks on this coast. These great glaciers have washed, shoved and hauled millions of tons of dirt and rock to the sea, and in many places for two to six miles from shore will be apparent beds of this deposit, and at almost every shore point where one attempts to land he will have as much trouble with the mud and silt as he will with the surf or rapidly moving tides.

Kayak is on one of the islands at the entrance of Controller Bay and supposed point of Behring's first approach to the shores of Alaska, July 18th, 1741. and of which Cook took possession for England in 1778.

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