Funter Bay History: Dano Mine Part II

I recently acquired some photos that I believe are related to the Alaska-Dano Mine at Funter Bay, circa 1920. These needed a bit of detective work to place.

The first photo, taken at high tide, shows several buildings, a boat moored to a piling, and another boat full of people being rowed nearby.

camp

Identifying this photo required some additional research into the Alaska-Dano Mining Co’s surveys, specifically US Mineral Survey No 1513. While the near-shore buildings are not shown on the survey plat, they are described in the text of the document as improvements to the property.

Dano Improvements

The directions in the survey are given in the 90-degree compass heading format used by surveyors, which allows the measurements to be plotted on a map. This results in roughly the layout seen below. Orange squares are buildings, with the two-story bunkhouse in the center and the two log cabins at the sides. The 4th log cabin mentioned was farther up the mountain.

Dano survey

Both of the frame structures in the photo seem to be built directly on tree stumps, a cheap and easy (if not long-lasting) foundation. The smaller frame building in front of the bunkhouse does not appear on the survey, so it may not have existed at the time (built later, or burned down prior). I would guess this to be a tool storage or workshop building. The smaller structure farther to the right is likely an outhouse, and the white structures behind the bunkhouse could be wall tents.

A two-story bunkhouse such as this indicates more than a few workers, structures of similar size at other mines housed a dozen or more men. (A photo from Katalla shows what the inside of an Alaskan bunkhouse might look like). A kitchen was sometimes located in the bunkhouse, although separate mess tents were also common to reduce fire hazards. Mine camps also usually had a blacksmith shop, an assay office where drill cores and samples were evaluated, and sometimes separate cabins for the owners or management. Stables for any horses or mules might also be found nearby.

Despite the different number of structures shown on the survey, I believe the photo matches the Dano Mine’s camp pretty closely. In addition to the two-story bunkhouse, the rise of land (tree tops) in the background matches the rise behind and to the right of the surveyed location.  Towards the top of this rise are found shafts and artifacts from the Dano Mine, and farther back is the first tunnel (seen collapsed in my earlier post), likely the “Little Pete” tunnel. The shoreline is fairly generic, but would match this location at high tide. Additionally, a slightly earlier and more distant view of the Dano Mine’s shore camp seems to show a large structure in approximately the right place to be the bunkhouse. The other frame structure did not seem to exist yet when this photo was taken (1919). A smear of light-colored material to the right is likely mine tailings from the tunnel and shafts.

dano_zoom

Below is another map of the Dano claims (rectangles) with some of the tunnels labeled. The curving lines are streams.

Dano map

The next historic photo appears to be farther back from the beach, towards the Alaska Dano’s other tunnels near the base of the mountain.

mountain

This photo is not at any of the mine workings, so the people could be on a trail to the mine or on a hunting trip. They seem to be standing in a muskeg meadow with some swampy water in front of them, looking towards a nearby ridge with a mountain stream in the background and a round hill between. Identifying the exact location required a little more photo analysis. Below are some crops from a 1982 infrared aerial photo of Funter Bay, which helps to identify some of the terrain features in the older photo. This is a best guess based on my knowledge of the area and interpretation of the photo.

dano_sat_1

1982 CIR aerial courtesy of US Geological Survey.

dano_sat_2

Lastly, this photo seems to be looking North from near the Dano beach camp. The hills in the background seem to match the terrain behind the cannery, which is just barely visible along the far shoreline to the right.

ice

Several men in a rowboat are roping an iceberg, maybe for use in local cold storage rooms or iceboxes. Summer icebergs used to be common sights along the Inside Passage and even in Downtown Juneau, but as the climate warms and glaciers retreat, they are much rarer today.

Unfortunately I don’t have any more information on these photos, such as the name of the photographer(s) or any of the people shown. Its possible some of these are related to a group of Seattle high school students who visited Funter Bay in 1919. If any readers happen to know more, I would love to hear about it!

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