While we are preparing to hike into the Salt Chuck mine with our drones to take some aerial images for our next Kasaan mine blog, I thought that I would write a short note on the interesting history of the village(s) of Kasaan which we have referred to in a past Continue reading
(featured photo: Larry Heady at mouth of mine)
As I have been writing blogs on the mines of Kasaan Peninsula, I was thinking about some of my field trips to mines and outcrops on the Island. As I wrote, I could not help thinking of an old friend, Larry Heddy. By the time I arrived in late 2001, Larry had lived here several years. Larry was an interesting combination of rock hound and artist; he also was something of a holdover from the Island’s logging heyday. He and his friend Sherri introduced my wife and me to many of the Prince of Wales’ “treasures”, i.e., treasures to a rockbound.
When I first arrived in Thorne Bay, Larry and I became friends. He was interested in my thoughts on his creations, rock spheres, and in plumbing my general knowledge of geology. (I hold a doctorate in geosciences from the University of Texas at Austin.) We
spent quite a bit of time together in the field those first years after my arrival on the island. He, his friend Sherri, my wife, and I visited many outcrops, borrow pits, and old mine tailings across the northern part of the Island. Often we picked up hand samples that Larry would painstakingly craft into near perfect spheres (see photo – spheres (2) and shop pics) using rather old and worn lathes. As the U.S. Forest Service’s project manager for the Island (and surrounding islands), I would often visit remote sites. I would occasionally return with unusual or simply striking hand samples on which Larry could tediously work his magic and craft a polished sphere – a window on the Island’s geologic history. His studio was a simple Alaskan wannigan (see outside photo). We accumulated 20, or so, of Larry’s creations over time.
A number of years ago, Larry quietly left the Island to return home to be with his children and grandchildren in the Midwest. The Island lost a bit of its color when Larry left. I always will remember him to be a unique fellow of modest means. He was simple in his needs and kind of heart, toward people and critters. Neither my wife, Lavenia, nor I will forget that late 60ish, smiling, ball of energy who scrambled up tailing piles at the It and Salt Chuck mines and hunted for encrinitic limestone exposed in outcrops across the Island in his singular pursuit of sphere making material.
Larry had a significant impact on my wife and me, two Texas transplants. He helped us understand the people and the place we now consider home. Larry epitomizes the spirit of the Island – a spirit not unlike that of the early miners about whom I recently have written.
Lichtenstadter and the Mount Andrew Mine
Abundant natural resources have attracted prehistoric native peoples, European explorers/traders, and Americans to Prince of Wales Island. The Island’s has a long history of natural resource development. Mining has been an important part of that history. This blog continues our series of blogs about mining on the Kasaan Peninsula. One of the principal mines on the Peninsula was the Mount Andrew mine. The Mount Andrews mine is located near the communities of Thorne Bay and Kasaan (see location map in Copper Queen blog).
The Russians, who owned Alaska before 1867, knew of the copper deposits of the Kasaan Peninsula. The first claim was staked in 1867. The Mount Andrew mine has an interesting history of men seeking riches in Alaska. This mine’s tale includes a quest for copper riches by an entrepreneurial miner, shaky partners, an English syndicate’s backing, and plain bad luck in the wilds of Prince of Wales Island in the early 1900’s.
The tale begins…. while coming south from Dawson in 1900, Samuel Lichtenstadter met a
Captain Crooks while on a boat out of Dawson traveling down the Yukon River. Crooks described how he had found copper ore on Prince of Wales Island in the 1870’s when hunting in the vicinity of Kasaan Bay. Crooks agreed to accompany Lichtenstadter back to Kasaan but died before the boat reached southeast Alaska.
Undaunted, Lichtenstadter hired local prospectors in Ketchikan to help him locate the copper outcropping described by Crooks. Lichtenstadter, together with F.F. Black, Harry Trimble and Joe Johnson, went to Kasaan Bay where they found outcroppings of ore and named the prospect after Lichtenstadter’s backer in England, H.Herbert Andrew. This is believed to have occurred shortly after 1900. The Mount Andrew lron and Copper Company was later formed, with Lichtenstadter as its president. Not unlike what may happen in a similar situation today, obtaining a patent for the claim was delayed due to litigation and claim jumping. However, the company brought the mine online and the first ore, 1,250 tons of it, was shipped in October 1906 to a Tacoma smelter.
Mount Andrew was productive from 1906-11 when during the first decade of the 20th century, copper prices soared. The mine is reported to have produced 1973 mt copper, 849 kg silver, and 71 kg gold. Unfortunately for the Mount Andrew Iron and Copper Company, copper supply exceeded demand after World War I and prices fell. There has been no further copper production at the mine since 1918.
However, because of the intense and widespread mineralization on the peninsula, the area has repeatedly been re-examined for copper, iron, and gold, notably during WW II and again since 1990 (including investigations by the US Bureau of Mines and the US Geological Survey). Currently, the Mount Andrew mine is covered by patented claims. The Sealaska Corporation, a native corporation, holds the subsurface rights to the land around the mine.
The Capital City Weekly online magazine (see link at end of paragraph) has an article by Pat Roppel of a July 1971 visit to the Mt Andrew Copper Mine. the article gives additional historical information up to 1968 beyond the period the mine was productive.
Note: featured photo taken from side of mountain on Kasaan Peninsula on logging road in clearcut. Photo by L. Sylvia