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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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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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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bear bread…anyone?

Found throughout Southeast Alaska, bear bread or conk, is a familiar sight on tree stumps, dead trees, downed trees, even firewood.  They are a the spore producing fruiting portion of the fungus, its main body called the mycelium are stringy filaments that burrow into the tree contributing primarily to its decay by absorbing nutrients, breaking down the structure, etc. Some conks though are thought to protect the tree against other fungus.

The primary ones that I have found on Prince of Wales Island are the tinder conk, artist conk, and turkey tail. There are others that reside on birch, aspen, or cottonwood that I have not seen yet…perhaps because most of my time has been spend in old growth, muskeggy areas of the island.


Bear Bread , Prince of Wales Island (Photo Credit L. Sylvia)

I was told they are called ‘bear bread’ because they are eaten by bears. It would take a bear to eat one as they are tough, fibrous, and not appetizing.

When very young, they look like white luminescent cap mushrooms with filaments growing into the wood. The hard shell appears to grow from or around the cap, initially tiny than growing with time.

One of the most interesting conks I have found was a turkey tail cluster in a patch of dense second growth on our property.

The person who homesteaded our lot had cut down some old growth by the lake. The area was muskeg damp with no light filtering through the dense second growth. The turkey tail was a florescent black. In other years, have found patches of florescent orange-red in the same patch.  I do not know if the patches were sub-species or due to the absence of natural light.  However, we have not seen them since we thinned the dense second growth and the area is profuse with natural light and air movement.

Below are pictures of turkey tail conk au natural. They are beautiful and fascinating.

Out on a cross-country hike, the pups and I found what must be an artist conk featuring a wolfish or human features?  The conk was high up the dead tree. Actually artist conk’s name is derived primarily from the use of their bottom as a canvas for artist.


wolf features?

Conk grows in colonies. There is rarely just one. The individual conks in a colony illustrate the different stages of conk growth. There are tiny nubbins the size of a penny to fully mature sized conks.

It appears to me that some of the individuals merge to make an aggregated mega-conk.

The set of photos below show the immature stage of the conk on the verge of forming its hard outer shell. At this stage its texture resembles that of yam noodles in sukiyaki. Or a water-saturated earthworm.

The remaining photos show the different stages and sizes of conk in a colony. The final photo shows a colony merging.

The oldest conk that I can recall is the one in the slideshow below with our Shiloh Elias peering around the trunk at me. We first saw that particular conk in 2007. When we checked it recently, there were two three inch cedar seedlings growing out of it in what could be considered a circular life-cycle. Unfortunately I dispatched those seedlings.

Slideshow of some bear bread we have found.

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Just as an aside, it is tough photographing anything with our canine pack with me…long noses and hard heads push their way in front of the camera, or mega-paws squash something being photographed as curious pups crowd around to “help”. The command “Sit-stay” accompanied with treats work wonders., one of many articles on the net about conk.

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russ’ floating bit of Americana

A bright forest green wooden boat with the American Flag waving proudly above was an eye-catcher… or perhaps, an eye-sore at the City of Thorne Bay Harbor  It was the ‘home sweet home’ of a Vietnam vet named Russ.


Russ’s bit of Americana – Thorne Bay Harbor 2008 (Photo Credit L. Sylvia)

I did not know Russ except to wave and say “hi” when our paths crossed while attending to “business” in the City of Thorne Bay. He is one of many Vietnam era vets who live in Southeast Alaska with their grey hair pulled back in pony-tails, wearing time-worn faces above time-worn clothing, tooling about “the city” on quads. Russ’ quad had a smaller version of the stars and stripes waving his presence, proud of his country and service.

Some made their homes on “southside” and boated across Thorne Bay from Davidson-Landing to the city center. Russ made his home right there in the harbor where he had easy access to Thorne Bay Market, City Library, and The Port where mail can be picked up everyday, and a cup of espresso and a Nathan’s hot dog can be enjoyed with friends.

Russ’  method of heating aboard his green boat confounded me as his deck always had a prominent stack of firewood dwindling and growing as the gloomy, rainy or snowy days of winter waxed and waned.  To my knowledge, the Thorne Bay Volunteer Firemen were never called to Russ’ place.

About three years ago, I noticed the boat was missing from its slip in the harbor.  Russ must have parted company with Thorne Bay Harbor as I have not seen it in the past three years since. I do not know if he made a final trip to the great harbor in the sky,  sold his quaint floating home and became a soil-bound resident somewhere, or what. Guess I could ask, but I would much rather envision Russ on a perhaps occasionally perilous adventure of his own making on his green wooden boat investigating the nooks and crannies of the Alaskan coastline. Where ever Russ may be I wish him Godspeed.