MINERALS (Historic Alaska Information)


The Federal laws and regulations relative to the location and patenting of mineral lands in Alaska are embraced in the compiled laws of the territory of Alaska.

The United States General Land Office, Washington, D. C, issues a circular entitled "U. S. Mining Laws and Regulations Thereunder," copy of which can be secured by application from any local U. S. land office. Those located in Alaska are at Juneau, Fairbanks, and Nome.

The acts of the territorial legislature of Alaska relating to the location of mining claims are embraced in the session laws of Alaska, which can be secured from the Secretary of Alaska, Juneau, Alaska.

Pamphlets embracing both the federal and the territorial laws and regulations pertaining to the location and patenting of mineral lands are on sale at the leading stationers.


The mining industry of Alaska produced during the year 1920 $22,070,000

With the return of pre-war or more normal conditions, Alaska's great mining activities will greatly expand both in the variety of minerals mined and in value of output.

Barytes. This mineral, used in the manufacture of paints, occurs in two places in Southeastern Alaska in commercial quantities and of good quality.

Chromite. Deposits have been discovered near Port Chatham and Seldovia, and also in the Tolovana District.

Cinnabar. Ueta-cinnabar has been discovered in the Iditarod-Kuskokwim region.

Coal. Deposits, ranging in grade from lignite to anthracite, are of greater area than were originally contained in the State of Pennsylvania; and we know now geologically less than half of Alaska. The U. S. Geological Survey estimates the coal area at 12,667 miles. These deposits occur in all parts of the Territory, from Pacific to Arctic oceans, the least favored section being the islands of the southeastern portion, where the deposits are of limited extent. The higher grade finds are in the Bering field near Controller Bay, and those in the Matanuska Valley, north of Seward. Analyses of the coals in these two fields, ranging from bituminous to anthracite, show that in quality they are equal to those of similar fields in the states.

Summer in Skagway, Alaska

Copper. The deposits of Central Alaska are among its most important resources. The only developed copper districts are in the Chitina Valley on Prince of Wales Island and Latouche Island in Prince William Sound. Considerable development has also been done on copper deposits which lie in a belt stretching from Nabesna River to White River. Copper mining began in 1900; the total production is about 613,761,614 pounds, valued at $126,926,096.

Midnight Sun in Summertime Fort Yukon, Alaska

Placer mining is the process of separating particles of gold from the sand or gravel, with which they are mixed, by washing the gravel in moving water, the lighter material being carried away, and the heavy gold remaining, along with any other heavy minerals, such as platinum and tin, which the gravels may contain.

In its simplest form the outfit of the prospector comprises a pick, a shovel, a large flat sheet iron pan, known as a gold pan, an iron constitution and an unfailing fund of hope and patience.

In the second stage he may use a rocker, which is merely a screen on the top of a box, to separate the coarse gravel, while the finer material drops on a sloping board or apron, where by rocking the box sideways, the gravel is cleaned and passes over a lip at the lower end of the apron, which retains the heavier gold.

In larger surface operations the gravel is shoveled into a long sluice box, lined on the bottom with riffles, and set on a good grade with abundance of water, called a sluice-head; but this method requires plenty of room at the end of the sluices to take care of the.waste or tailings. Where the body of gravel is not deep it may all be washed away to reach the richer material in the bottom of the valley trough, which is called the pay streak. If the ground be too deep, shafts are sunk to bedrock and the pay dirt excavated as in coal mining, hoisted to the surface and washed in the usual way. This is called drift mining. In all these hand operations only the cream of the deposit can be removed, as the cost is high, so that large bodies of low grade gravel are left untouched.

When conditions admit the use of water under pressure so that it can be used to tear down the bank and drive the gravel into the sluice boxes, this method is called hydraulic mining, and gravel of much lower value per yard can be handled profitably as the water takes the place of high-priced human labor. This method requires a sufficient slope to the ground to provide dump facilities for the waste.

In flat regions and where the pay is too deep for dredges, this difficulty is obviated by the use of hydraulic lifts. This method, however, requires a greater supply of water with increased pressure as the material must all be lifted by water into the sluice boxes. At the plant of the Pioneer Mining Company at Nome, the material is raised to an elevation of 40 to 50 feet.

In such cases, or where the ground cannot be drained, resort is had to dredging, which can be carried on either in open water or at any point where water can be had in sufficient quantities to make a pond in which the dredge can float;; the dredge being nothing more than a barge with machinery in front to scoop up the gravel, which, after washing, is dumped overboard at the stern by an endless belt on an elevator or stacker, as it is sometimes called.

It is plain that the capacity of the dredge is limited only by the depth to which it can dig, and the size and number of the boulders in the gravel on the bedrock where the best pay is found.

For these reasons, on some of the creeks around Fairbanks the depth of muck and worthless material is too great for dredging operations, while the Nome region, the Iditarod, Ruby, Circle City, Eagle and Fortymile regions, as well as the Kenai Peninsula, are well suited to their use.

U. S. Agricultura! Experiment Farm at Sitka, Alaska

Hurricane Gulch Bridge. Total Length, 918 Feet. 325 Feet Above Bed of Stream

Gold. Placers and lodes are to be found in all sections of Alaska where gold is probably more universally distributed than in any other country of the world.

Graphite, or plumbago, frequently called black-lead, and used for the manufacture of pencils, stove polish, and lubricants, is found on the Seward Peninsula.

Gypsum. One of the non-metallic mineral resources mined on an extensive scale at Gypsum, on the east shore of Chichagof Island, Southeastern Alaska. The crude rock is shipped to Tacoma where it is worked into various forms for sale.

Iron. Large deposits of good grade have been discovered in numerous localities. Magnetite deposits occur on Prince' of Wales Island, in the Illiamna district and near Haines. Hematite occurs in the Lake Clark district. On Seward Peninsula are bodies of iron ore of considerable size.

Lead. Has been discovered and is being developed. The lode mines at Juneau carry considerable galena, and galena-bearing lodes occur in the Ketchikan and Wrangell districts. Lead ore occurs in Fish River Basin of Seward Peninsula, Broad Pass region, and the Koyukuk district. One of the most promising discoveries is in the Kantishna district.

Marble. Marble of an excellent quality is found in numerous localities in the Ketchikan and Wrangell districts, Southeastern Alaska. The most extensive development is in the vicinity of the northern end of Prince of Wales Island, with the center of activity at Tokeen, on Marble Island. Other localities include Dolomi and Dickman Bay at the southeast end of Prince of Wales Island, Revillagigedo Island, and on Ham Island and vicinity. Alaska marble is being used extensively throughout the West for interior building decorations. Cities of the West where Alaska marble can be seen in the larger recently constructed buildings include Seattle, Tacoma, Bellingham, and North Yakima, in the State of Washington; Vancouver, B. C; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Presidio, California; Boise, Moscow, and Lewiston, Idaho, and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Molybdenum and Bismuth have been discovered.

Nickel and Cobalt. A copper lode carrying nickel and cobalt is under development on Chichagof Island.

Palladium. Has been discovered in connection with mining copper ore of the Saltchuck Mine on Prince of Wales Island.

Petroleum. Oil seepages have been known in Alaska for a period of fifty years, those first discovered being in the Iliamna region on Cook Inlet. All the oil lands in Alaska were withdrawn from entry in 1910; but the Oil Land Leasing Act, passed February 25, 1920, contains provisions which promise an immediate development. Under it prospecting and production may be carried on by the payment of certain rental and royalties as follows:

"The Secretary of the Interior may grant a permit for the exclusive right for not to exceed four years, to prospect for oil or gas on not to exceed 2,560 acres of land, provided the permittee shall within two years begin drilling and drill one or more wells not less than 500 feet deep within three years, and shall within four years drill to an aggregate depth of not less than 2,000 feet, unless valuable deposits be sooner discovered."

The secretary may, if necessary, extend this permit for two years.

The discoverers of deposits of oil or gas under the permit shall be entitled to a lease of one-fourth of the land embraced in the permit—such lease to be for twenty years upon a royalty of 5 per cent of the amount or value of the production and an annual rental of $1.00 per acre. The permittee also to have the preference to lease the remainder of the land under his permit at royalty of not less than 12 per cent and other conditions provided.

Alaska petroleum compares favorably with the best Pennsylvania product, having a paraffin base with high gasoline content.

The Katalla field is a producing field with ten wells being operated. The product is refined and sold around Prince William Sound.

Deserted Indian Village, Cape Fox, Alaska

To encourage production of petroleum in Alaska the secretary may waive rental or royalty for not to exceed five years and not more than five permits may be granted to any applicant.

Since the oil leasing regulations became effective, there have been filed at the United States Land Office in Juneau applications for staking oil land in Alaska in eleven different districts as follows:

District / No. Applications / Acres

Cold Bay — 181 / 459,520

Katalla — 65 / 99.973

Yakataga — 36 / 75.520

Illiamna — 30 / 69,400

Kootznahoo — 16 / 35,520

Cape Spencer — 3 / 7,680

Chinitna — 3 / 7,680

Seward — 2 / 3,520

Wasilla — 2 / 5,120

Anchorage — 10 / 19,840

Aniakshak — 6 / 15,360

Total — 354 / 799,133

Platinum has been discovered in placer operations in the Dime Creek region, Seward Peninsula, and from the Copper River region, and was reported as being extensively distributed in Sustina Basin. It is also carried in the copper ores at the Shaltchuck Mine near Ketchikan.

Silver. There are no mines worked especially for silver. This metal is obtained solely in the refining of gold and copper. The yield, 1867-1919, was valued at $6,248,314.

Sulphur. A deposit of sulphur is being developed on Akun Island on the Alaska Peninsula.

Tin. Tin occurs in Alaska and Seward peninsulas and the Hot Springs region of the Tanana Valley, both as placer tin and in lode veins; also in Cleary Creek, near Fairbanks, near Circle City on Deadwood Creek, and on the Notak. Tin mining has taken its place as a regular industry on Buck Creek near Cape Teller in the region north of Nome.

Tungsten. In 1915 a vein was discovered in Fairbanks district, and recently near Sitka, and also in gold placers.


Aniak—Gold placer. Lower Kuskokwim, east of river. Bering River—Coal and oil. South coast, east of mouth of Copper River.

Berners Bay—Gold lode. Southeastern, northern portion, about thirty-five miles northeast of Juneau.

Bonnifield Region—Coal. South Tanana watershed, between Delta and Nenana rivers.

Bremner—Gold placer. East side of Copper River, forty miles above its mouth.

Broad Pass—Gold lode. Head of Chulitna River, northern tributary of the Susitna River.

Hunting: Coats, Knee Trousers and Spiral Leggings Are Worn by Both Men and Women When "Mushing" and Hunting in Alaska and Yukon

Candle Creek—Gold placer. Kuskokwim Valley, eight miles south of mouth of Takotna River.

Casadepaga—Gold placer. Seward Peninsula, forty miles northeast of Nome.

Chandlar—Gold placer. Chandlar River, northern tributary of Yukon, below mouth of Porcupine River.

Chichagof—Gold quartz. Chichagof Island, northern portion of Southeastern Alaska.

Chisana—Gold placer and quartz. Southern tributary Upper Tanana River, near east boundary.

Chisna—Gold placer. Northern portion of Chistochina River, a northern tributary of the Copper River.

Chistochina—Gold placer. Northern portion of Copper River basin.

Circle—Gold placer. About forty miles southwest of Circle, Upper Yukon.

Council—Gold placer. Seward Peninsula, about fifty miles northeast of Nome.

Dime Creek—Gold placer. Koyuk Valley, Seward Peninsula.

Eagle River—Gold quartz. Southeastern Alaska, about twenty-two miles northwest of Juneau.

Eek River—Gold placer. Eastern tributary of Kuskokwim Bay.

Ellamar—Copper. Northeastern shore of Prince William Sound.

Fairbanks—Gold placer, gold quartz and antimony. Tanana Valley embraces Cleary, Goldstream, Ester, Dome, Fairbanks, Vault and Little Eldorado creeks.

Fairhaven—Gold placer. Seward Peninsula, northern portion, embracing Good Hope, Inmachuk River, Kougarok, and Kiwalik.

Fortymile—Gold placer. Southwest of Fortymile, Upper Yukon, adjacent to eastern boundary.

Georgetown—Gold placer and cinnabar. Central portion and'north side Kuskokwim Valley.

Good News District—Gold placer. Kuskokwim Bay.

Hanagita—Copper. Southeast junction of Chitina and Copper rivers.

Hammond River—Gold placer and quartz. Northern tributary, middle fork Koyukuk River, ten miles north of Coldfoot.

Healy River—Gold placer. Northern tributary of the Tanana about forty miles above mouth of Delta River.

Hope—Gold placer and quartz. Northern portion of Kenai Peninsula, southern shore of Turnagain Arm.

Hot Springs—Gold placer. North side of Tanana Valley, near mouth.

Hyder—Gold Quartz. Head of Portland Canal. Iditarod—Gold placer. Lower portion Yukon Valley, east side. Uiamna-Lake Clark—Copper. West shore and mouth of Cook Inlet.

Innoko—Gold placer and quartz. Lower Yukon, eastern portion, 100 miles northeast of Iditarod.

Iron Creek—Gold placer. Seward Peninsula, forty miles north of Nome.

Juneau—Gold quartz. Central portion of Southeastern Alaska.

Kantishna—Gold placer and quartz; 120 miles southwest of Fairbanks.

Katalla—Oil. East mouth of Copper River.

Kenai Lake—Gold quartz. Kenai Peninsula, twenty miles north of Seward.

Ketchikan—Copper and gold quartz. Southern portion of Southeastern Alaska.

Kern Creek—Gold placer. North shore, Turnagain Arm.

Kobuk—Gold placer, jade, copper. East shore, Kotzebue Sound.

Kodiak Island—Gold quartz. South of Cook Inlet. Kotsina-Chitina—Copper. Chitina Valley, Copper River region.

Kougarok—Gold placer. Seward Peninsula, seventy-five miles northeast of Nome.

Koyuk—Gold placer. Koyuk River, eastern portion of Seward Peninsula. /

Koyukuk—Gold placer and quartz. Upper tributaries Koyukuk River, north of Yukon.

Latouche—Copper. Southern end of Prince William Sound.

Lituya Bay—Gold placer. North portion, Southeastern Alaska, outer coast.

Matanuska—Coal. Matanuska River, tributary of Knik Arm, northern reach Cook Inlet.

McKinley Lake—Gold quartz. West side and near mouth of Copper River.

Moore Creek—Gold placer. Tributary of Takotna River, .fifty miles northeast of Iditarod.

Moose Pass—Gold quartz. Kenai Peninsula, thirty miles north of Seward.

Mulchatna—Gold placer. Northern tributary Nushagak River, head of Bristol Bay.

Nabesna River District—Copper. Southern tributary Upper Tanana.

Nelchina—Gold placer. Western section Tonsina Valley, a western tributary of the Copper River.

Long tailed Jaeger, Alaska

Nenana—Coal. Nenana River, southern tributary of Ta-nana, west portion of Bonnifield region.

Nixon Fork—Gold Quartz. Nixon Fork, Takotna River, Kuskokwim region.

Nizina—Gold placer and copper. Northern portion Chitina River, Copper River region.

Noatak-Kobuk—Gold placer and copper. Embracing Noa-tak and Kobuk rivers, northeast of Kotzebue Sound.

Nome—Gold placer and antimony. Seward Peninsula, southern coast.

Port Clarence—Gold placer. Seward Peninsula, sixty miles northwest of Nome.

Porcupine—Gold placer. Klehini Valley, western tributary of Chilkat, northern portion Southeastern Alaska.

Port Wells—Gold quartz. Western portion of Prince> William Sound. 0

Prince William Sound—Copper and gold quartz. South coast, head of Gulf of Alaska.

Rampart—Gold placer. South of Rampart, Center Yukon.

Ruby—Gold placer. Central Yukon, south of river.

Shungnak—Gold placer and copper. Central part, Kobuk basin.

Sitka—Gold quartz. Northwestern portion of Southeastern Alaska.

Solomon—Gold placer and quartz. Seward Peninsula, thirty miles east of Nome.

Squirrel River—Gold placer. Western part of Kobuk Basin, Kotzebue Sound.

Sunrise—Gold placer. Northern portion of Kenai Peninsula, southern shore Turnagain Arm.

Talkeetna—Gold quartz and copper. East side center Susitna Valley.

Tenderfoot—Gold placer. Tanana Valley, sixty miles southeast of Fairbanks.

Togiak—Gold placer and quartz. Togiak Bay, indentation northern shore Bristol Bay.

Tolovana—Gold placer. Upper portion Tolovana Valley, forty miles northwest of Fairbanks.

Tuluksak—Gold placer. East side of' Kuskokwim River, near mouth.

Unalaska—Gold quartz. Aleutian Islands, eastern portion. Unga—Gold quartz. Unga Island, Shumagin Islands, south of Alaska Peninsula. Valdez—Gold quartz and copper. North end and head ofPrince William Sound.

The Wharf at Anchorage, Alaska

Valdez Creek—Gold placer. Northern tributary of Susitna River.

Wade Hampton—Gold placer. North bank Yukon, lower portion, about sixty-five miles above Andreafski (Marshall City)._

White River—Copper. Headwater region of White River, near east boundary.

Willow Creek—Gold quartz. East side mouth Susitna Valley.

Woodchopper—Gold placer. South of Yukon River, between Eagle and Circle.

Wrangell—Copper, gold quartz, and marble. Central portion of Southeastern Alaska. .

Yakataga—Gold placer. Southern coast, west of Mt. St. Elias.

Yentna—Gold placer. Western part Susitna Valley.

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