Funter Bay History: 1929 Ordway Aerial

February 16, 2015

The Juneau-Douglas City Museum recently posted a 1929 aerial image of Funter Bay, and gave me permission to use a high-resolution scan. This photo was taken by Frederick Ordway, “Alaska’s Flying Photographer”. Ordway opened a photo shop in Juneau in 1927 and was known for photographing many Alaskan subjects. He died in 1938 in in a crash in Oregon.

The photo was taken the same year as the US Navy’s aerial photo survey of Southeast Alaska (previously shown here and here), but offers a different angle on the bay. Click the image below to view it full size:


Funter Bay, Alaska Postcard, 1929, photograph by Fred Ordway. Image courtesy of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, JDCM 88.45.001.

Mount Robert Barron dominates the skyline in this image, showing nearly its full 3,475′ elevation (the very top seems to be cut off by the edge of the photo). The cannery is seen in the middle left, with Coot Cove (“Scow Bay”) in front of it. Across the bay is the AAGMC mine camp. Floating fish traps are visible in the foreground, just above the title text. These would be moored in a shallow area for winter storage, to prevent storm damage.

The view looks a little different today, as a section of the mountain experienced a landslide in the 1990s after heavy rains.


Another interesting feature from the 1929 postcard is visible in Crab Cove beyond Highwater Island. This white blob is in the right location to be the camp of the Mansfield Mine. I have not previously seen this mine photographed, so despite the lack of detail it’s still an interesting white blob!


Close up of Funter Bay, Alaska Postcard, 1929, photograph by Fred Ordway. Image courtesy of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, JDCM 88.45.001.

A survey from 1915 shows the Mansfield Company’s “Hidden Treasure Millsite”. The land claim seems to have been cancelled or denied, as it does not appear on master title plats for the area (it overlapped some other mineral claims). Unfortunately the accompanying field notes are largely illegible, so there are no details about the size and construction of buildings. The survey plat for MS 1035B shows a cabin and shed near the location photographed above.

Hidden Treasure Millsite

Today all that remains of the Mansfield camp is a faint rectangle of decaying logs where the cabin and shed used to be. Anecdotal evidence describes a stable for pack mules at this location. The Mansfield Mine hauled some equipment up to their tunnel site, including track and a single ore car, seen in a previous post.



Funter Bay History: 1926 Aerial Photo

March 13, 2014

As a follow up to previous aerial photos and maps of Funter Bay, here is some imagery from 1926 taken during a US Navy coastal survey. The US Forest Service and The National Archives office in Anchorage were very helpful in finding these for me!

1929 Aerial Composite

The above is my attempt at creating a photomosaic from multiple frames. The resolution is a bit lower than later aerials, and I have not taken the time to match levels across each frame, but they give a good overview of the bay in the year they were taken. The original format of these images is a little different, as seen below:


As with the 1929 photo mentioned before, these were part of a systematic effort to obtain aerial imagery of the Alaskan coast and islands. The Navy used a number of Loening OL aircraft to obtain the photos, while support ships housed the developing lab and carried extra fuel. More information on the project can be found here.

A few notable features have been labeled in the image below. The exact date of this flight is not given, but based on the location of the fish traps I would assume it to be Fall. The traps have been pulled in to shallow estuaries for winter storage. The boats clustered around the cannery could be independent fishermen rather than cannery vessels.


Other images from this project can be obtained from the National Archives at Anchorage,  a finding aid can be requested that gives flightlines and serial numbers. The citation/location information for the images used here is as follows:

Record Group 57 / USGS Alaska Aerial Survey
Box 135
Flightline T-26
Photographs #853-863
Location: Admiralty Island
Shelf Location: 02/10/14(2)

Funter Bay in Maps

May 6, 2013

Here is a compilation of maps and aerial photos showing Funter Bay over more than 100 years. I wish I’d had this collection when I was a kid! They are great for seeing the rise and fall of development around the bay. The difference between high and low tide is also striking. If you’re a boater thinking of visiting Funter, take a look at some of the low-tide images before you take a short-cut, or you may be the next boat that someone has to pull off the sandbar! (Also think of the wind direction and bottom type, the anchors shown as moorage locations on the nautical charts are kind of another local joke… people end up dragging anchor if they use those spots in the wrong winds).

Some of the aerials are very large files, click them if you’d like to view the originals, but give them a few seconds to fully load (they may look grainy or pixelated at first).

I have collected these from several sources. The aerial photos are public domain data, produced by the Department of the Interior / United States Geological Survey. Many of these can be found at

Most of the topographic maps are products of the USGS, and can be found at

Nautical Charts were produced by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey (later NOAA), and some can be found at

Funter Bay in 1905 (Nautical Chart):
1905 chart

1905 vicinity chart:
1905 vicinity chart

1914 nautical chart (essentially the same as the 1905 edition):
1914 chart

1921 USGS map showing some of the mining claims on the South Shore:Funter claims 1921

1948 aerial photo (click to open detailed original scale):
1948 Funter Bay

The 1948 aerial above is cool because it shows many of the old docks and waterfront structures that are now gone. I’ll try to highlight a few of these in a later post.

1951 vicinity map (USGS terrain-shaded topo):
1951 topo

1962 map by the Overseas Mineral Cooperation Association (a Japanese mineral investment group):1962 OMCA Map

I have highlighted structures shown on the OMCA map in red. I find it interesting that they show the cabins near Clear Point as well as the cabin between the creeks at Crab Cove.

1979 CIR aerial, taken from a NASA U-2 Spyplane as part of the Alaska High Altitude Aerial Photo project:
1979 Funter Bay

We did have a framed copy of the image above when I was a kid. This is in Color Infrared or CIR, meaning vegetation is shown in false-color red, and you can discern different types of vegetation from the different shades of red (so clearcuts and patches of different trees stand out from the predominant spruce):

1982 aerial photo (Color Infrared, click to open very large original):
1982 Funter Bay

1985 topo map of Mansfield Peninsula:
1985 topo

1987 nautical chart:
1987 chart

1990s topo map:

1996 or 1998 aerial photo (current residents may be able to pick out their houses and cabins in this one!):
1998 Funter Bay

2004 satellite image (sorry, not as high-res):
2004 Funter Bay

And just for fun, here are a few of my own photos from various aircraft passing over Funter.

2010 oblique aerial looking South-ish over Crab Cove, coming through the pass from Juneau:

2011 oblique of Funter Bay as seen looking NW-ish, from an Alaska Airlines jet:

With commercial satellite maps, most companies have yet to include much coverage of Funter Bay. However, if you zoom all the way in on Bing Maps, you’ll get some decently high-resolution imagery (although the light balance is bad).

This site is also really cool:

Similar to the old California Coastline project (but hopefully with less Barbra Streisand), the Alaska Shorezone Viewer allows you to pull up images (and video) of almost the entire Alaska coast! The interface is a little clunky and takes some getting used to, but the images are amazing!

That’s all I’ve got for now. If I come across any more interesting maps of Funter Bay, I will try to post them here!