Prince of Wales Alaska Rainforest Realty, LLC | Southeast Alaska Real Estate | Homes and Lots for Sale

Southeast Alaska, Prince of Wales Island… realtor Dennis Sylvia happy to help you list or view homes and lots for sale on POW communities such as Coffman Cove, Craig, Hollis, Hydaburg, Kasaan, Klawock, Naukati, Thorne Bay, Whale Pass, and remote properties as well.

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Villages of Kasaan; an historical note

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

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larry heady in his element on prince of wales island

(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.


Larry Heady outside his wanagan. Note the milk crates of rocks and large rocks on the left side of photo.

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

Larry Heddy workshop

Inside of Larry Heady’s workshop. On his right are grinders and polishers that were abandoned but rejuvenated by Larry. At the last polisher, an ancient hospital IV drip controlled water used by the polisher. On Larry’s left, his finished projects. His associate Nika is at his feet.

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.


Biomicrite sphere (3 inches in diameter).  A Larry Heddy creation.


Calcite sphere made from hand sample collected from an outcrop on the copper-rich Kasaan Peninsula. A Larry Heady Creation

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.

Larry Heddy and Spheres

Larry Heady displaying his wonderful rock art.

Continue reading

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lichtenstadter and mount andrew mine kasaan peninsula

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).


Prince of Wales Copper Ore from the Jumbo Mine. Photo courtesy of  Microsoft Photobucket and John Betts-Fine Minerals Online Mineral Museum.

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

CQ Blog Fig 1 Kasaan Map

Kasaan Penninsula Map with mine location

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.


Enormous tramway wheel among mining debris and pilings at the Mt Andrew Mine July 1971. Photo courtesy Pat Roppel , Capital City Weekly online.

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

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the “official” herald of spring

The vernal equinox occurred two weeks ago (March 20th) by the calendar and two days ago we heard a flock of geese pass by during the early morning.

But now, spring “officially” has arrived at our Setter Lake – the yellow skunk cabbage (Lysichitum americanum) shoots are emerging from the lake edge’s soggy, organic soil. Alas, the deer are relived by this edible sign of spring.

Skunk Cabbage Shoots

Skunk cabbage shoots. The solitary yellow flower bud is the lone survivor of a nibbling deer.

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Copper Queen/Baranovich

This is the first in a series of blogs focusing on Prince of Wales (PoW) Island’s geology and its rich mining history. This blog is about Charles Vincent Baranovich, a Dalmatian immigrant, and the Copper Queen Mine thought to be the first lode mine in Alaska. This early PoW mine was developed in copper sulfide deposits on the Kasaan Peninsula (see U.S. Geological Survey map, below). The Kasaan Peninsula is located south of the city of Thorne Bay, on the east side of PoW; Kasaan Bay lies to the south and Clarence Strait to the north and east.

CQ Blog Fig 1 Kasaan Map

Kasaan Penninsula Map

Baranovich, known as “The Slav”, had been bitten by the gold fever of the 1849 California Gold Rush. When the California Gold Rush played out, Baranovich looked north to find his fortune in the gold fields of British Columbia (late 1850’s). In 1865, Baranovich obtained a trading permit from the Russian American Company to trade in Kasaan Bay where he built a trading post. At this time, Alaska still was owned by Russia but the Hudson’s Bay Company (British) controlled much of the trade with coastal natives from its hub at Fort Wrangell to the northeast.

Baranovich’s interest in prospecting led him to continue to explore the area around his trading post where he located a copper deposit. He was the first to find copper-bearing rock on the Kasaan Peninsula. Development of the copper deposit, which became the Copper Queen Mine, and later development of a salmon saltery (see Baranovich’s saltery

CQ Blog Fig 3BaronovichSalmonSaltery

Baronovich’s Salmon Saltery

image, right) at this location largely were responsible for relocation of the Haida native village of Kasaan from Skowl Arm, situated to the south, to this site, today’s Haida native village of Kasaan.

The Copper Queen Mine subsequently changed hands several times – from San Francisco capitalists, to British Columbia businessmen, and to New Haven businessmen who formed the Kasaan Bay Mining Company. The Kasaan Bay Mining Company sunk a shaft and developed several rich copper pyrite ore bodies in the area. The company also built a store and salmon saltery in New Kasaan. In 1903, mining and saltery operations were closed down due to the company’s financial plight. The company’s assets were sold at a receiver’s sale in 1904. The story of the Copper Queen ends with its sale to an unknown purchaser in 1907 with 50 tons of ore still at the mine dump. The Copper Queen’s story fades from here.


Charles V Baronovich and family

The Copper Queen was not the largest copper mine on Prince of Wales or even on the Kasaan Peninsula. It never fulfilled Charles Baranovich’s dream of riches. However. the story of the Copper Queen Mine is a part of Kasaan Peninsula’s rich history involving native Haida, Russian, English, and American influence in the cultural melting pot that is Prince of Wales Island.

[Sources: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 345, Wright, et al., 1908; U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 87, Wright 1915; U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1090, Warner, et al, 1961; Fortunes From the Earth, Roppel,1991;  U.S. Bureau of Mines Open File Report 81-92, Maas, et al, 1992; Sit News, Kiffer, 2006.]

Note:  The financial plight of the Copper Queen was due to mining operations being no longer economically feasible.  Due to water flooding the lower levels of the mine, the miners were pumping water out of the mine until early afternoon resulting in actual productive mining for a couple of hours.  The increased cost of production, lowered production, plus the cost of copper extraction were not helped by the decreasing value of copper resulting in the decision to close the mine.

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nothin’ common about the common thrush

In June 1853, Thoreau wrote of an enchanting encounter with the Wood Thrush: “This is the only bird whose note affects me like music. It lifts and exhilarates me. It is inspiring. It changes all hours to an eternal morning.”


Hear! Hear! David Thoreau’s poignant prose about the elusive common thrush resonates with anyone who hears the morning trill of this beautiful bird with its bright orange breast.  The common thrush is also called the Varied Thrush. The website has a page on the varied thrush including a sample of its melodious morning trill.

We are fortunate in having at least one common thrush pair nesting in our immediate area.  The robust orange-breasted male arrived first.  Later we saw the more subdued attired female perched warily at our birdfeeder. Needless to say, we were excited as their arrival gives promise to many happy birdsong mornings.

There is nothing as stepping out onto our deck with a cup of coffee on our Setter Lake spring and summer mornings listening to the trill of the common thrush with the chorus of black-eyed junkos accompanied by the staccato drumming of our resident red-necked woodpecker.

The common thrush is a boreal woodland resident. As such they have been a recurring theme of our Prince of Wales Island springs.  The Audubon website describes their environment as

Thick, wet forest, conifers; in winter, woods, ravines, thickets. Breeds in coniferous forest of various types, but most common in dense, wet forest near the coast, in areas of fir, hemlock, and spruce with dense understory. In migration and winter favors coniferous woods but also occurs in undergrowth of other woods, especially near streams.

As long as we are here, they have a home as we nurture our little woodland refuge.  They are especially welcome as they are ground foragers with a diet of insects and other invertebrates like snails, earthworms, and hopefully slugs.100_6011

For the longest time we have been one of less than a handful of residents along Setter Lake. Recently several of the lakeside lots have gone on the market; we fervently hope all new owners have the same respect and love for our woodland neighbors that we have. (if interested in viewing the lots, please contact Dennis Sylvia at Cell/Msg:  1.775.420.1688 or 1.907.965.5004)  It is truly an enchanting experience to enjoy our dwindling old growth forests from so close.

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its a dog’s world…winter 2016-2017

No snakes…no ticks…no scorpions…no grasshoppers…just bears and wolves!

It’s a dog’s world on Prince of Wales Island, on Setter Lake in South Thorne!  Especially when it snows!


A Texan transplant’s first taste of snow!


“Dang! That is coooold!” exclaims the wader. “Silly girl!” scoffs her big brothers! Puppies at Setter Lake


Play Ball!

In the background of the picture above, the white tanks are propane used for drier and cooking stove. The red tank is deisel-1 used for heating (wood stove is our primary heat source), and the outbuilding is the cistern house. The cistern house contains our rain catchment captured water for household uses.


whatcha doing, Mom?


Snowball Magnet!


Rascally Thor and Iris refereed by the judicious Elias with Rosie as spectator

They revel in it, wonder at it,  taste it, chase each other kicking up clouds of snowfall, burrow in it popping up with comical snow masks.


Rosebug, the head of the low-tiered pups.


Sammie and Eli, 220lbs of Shiloh Shepherd between them in old growth grove.


Homeward bound! Hot coffee and bully sticks!