Funter Bay History: Helen Antonova, Mining Engineer

May 28, 2015

One of the first women to graduate with a degree in Mine Engineering, Helen Anatolievna Antonova arrived at Funter Bay in the fall of 1929. Born in Russia in 1904, Antonova traveled through China and Japan with her mother before moving to the United States. Her early life was spent in Siberian mining towns, and despite early work in theater, she always dreamed of becoming a mining engineer. She enrolled in the University of Washington’s College of Mines, the only woman to do so at the time (though not the first in the US).

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University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, Tyee 1928, pg 57. Courtesy UW Digital Archives.

As a female student in a traditionally male field, Antonova encountered much skepticism from officials and unfriendliness from classmates. She would later experience mistrust from coworkers (and their wives). Despite being told by the dean that no one would hire a woman for mine work, she led a successful career as a mine engineer, working throughout the US. On several occasions she was offered roles in theater and in Hollywood, but preferred surveying and assay work over acting.

After finishing her thesis and graduating in 1928, Antonova found a job with a mining company in Funter Bay. She recalled that the owner initially assumed her to be male, writing that he was surprised an engineer would have a woman’s name. Helen described Funter Bay as a small mining town, but noted that nothing could be purchased there. Despite its small size and remote location, Funter was home to a fellow female UW alumni. May Sophia Otteson (Tubbs) was a graduate of the class of 1916 and daughter of Charles and Mary Otteson, who ran another mine close to the one which employed Helen.

Conditions at Funter were spartan, a house was provided for Helen and her mother but was poorly insulated and had almost no supplies. The mine owner’s wife suggested they bring their own wood-burning stove with them. Groceries and goods were brought out on the weekly steamer from Juneau. Some medical care was available from a nurse living at the nearby cannery. Running water and electricity came from a waterfall, and stopped working during the winter. Helen took these conditions in stride, sometimes standing in icy water while surveying. The mine was reportedly very happy with Antonova’s work, and begged her to return after she moved back to Washington state.

Helen eventually married a Russian miner from Juneau (She mentioned that many Russian miners worked in Alaska, some sneaking over from Siberia illegally in rowboats). Her new husband became jealous of Helen’s superior position and income, and demanded they move back to Washington so he could pursue a degree of his own. She divorced him after his attitude and anger grew worse.

After moving back to the Lower 48, Helen held various jobs at mining and refining companies. She later married Nicholas All from New York (Her last name is sometimes listed as Antonovall). Helen Antonova All was interviewd in 1978 by author Joan Dufault, whose book Vintage: The Bold Survivors! contains more details of her life and experiences.

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Funter Bay History: Seattle High School Students

March 24, 2015

In the summer of 1919, a group of Seattle high school students traveled to Alaska to work at the Funter Bay cannery. One or more of the group took a number of photos during this and possibly subsequent trips. I have been posting photos from this collection over the last several weeks.

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The above photo was likely taken soon after arrival at Funter Bay. The boys are wearing outfits more appropriate for school than for cannery work. One boy on the left has a Ballard HS letter jacket.

A list of the students along with contact information for their parents is labeled “Contracts… Funter Bay”. The back has some of the same names along with numbers, perhaps related to hours or pay.

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The names on the list are:
Clarence Hawley
George Anderson
Malcolm Owen
Harold Hendrickson
Roy F. Swenson
Marvin Kleve
Ed Wilkerson
George Fraley
Gilbert Swart
Elmer Green
Cedric Hilton
Eugene Walby
Robert Stevens
Webster Hallett

Twelve of these boys attended Ballard High School, while two (Owen and Hallett) attended Lincoln High School.

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Professor Carl Milton Brewster taught Chemistry at Washington State University. Some of these students went on to study Chemistry at various Washington colleges. Prof. Brewster is likely the older man seen in several of the group photos (at center, below). The students have acquired more rugged outfits and a variety of hats in this photo:

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Some of these photos are RPPCs, or private photos printed on postcard stock. Several images are wallet-size prints with writing on the reverse side, and some of the smaller prints are partially hand-colorized. There were also a few commercial postcards, likely purchased during the trip. As some of the photos in this set are from later years, one or more of the boys probably returned for subsequent summers. Cannery work reportedly paid better than the summer jobs available in Seattle at the time.

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Written on the back of this photo; “We are rowing boat on the bay”. The cannery bunkhouses are visible in the background:

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And on this photo; “We boys cross the bay and go up to the tunnel of the gold mine”. Apparently a visit to the mine required fancier clothes! This may have been a day off for the boys, or could have been an educational visit to learn about assaying or other mine-related topics.

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This photo of Harold Hendrickson is labeled “Me (Buck)”. He may have been the photographer of some or all of these images:

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After graduation several of these boys attended the University of Washington, including Harold Hendrickson, Clarence Hawley, and Gilbert Swart. Hawley and Swart both went into chemical engineering. Hendrickson seems to have followed the relatively new field of air conditioning, writing several papers on the subject. He is listed in the 1940 census as an Air Conditioning Engineer in California.

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Some associated photos from the same collection were taken at other locations, possibly by the same people on their way to or from Funter Bay. These include more RPPCs, trimmed wallet-size prints, and at least one commercial postcard.

Inside passage view, possibly from a steamship:

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View from a ship, probably of Taku Glacier near Juneau:

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The next two images show the Steamship Admiral Evans, which occasionally called at Funter Bay. The first appears to be a commercial postcard, possibly purchased on board. The 2nd seems to be labeled in the same way as some of the cannery tender photos from this collection. This may have been taken on the way to Funter Bay at the start of the 1920 season.

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Many of the Ballard students seen here went on to form a club called the “Knights of the Moon”, established January 31, 1920 (Per the Seattle Times). As described in a 1994 Times article, the club was started by 13 friends who attended Ballard High School in 1917, 1918, and 1919. Most of the club members were school athletes who played basketball and baseball, and the club fielded Church League and City League teams after high school.  Several members were good singers, who would go to “Ballard Beach” in Seattle to “bay at the moon” according to Clarence Anderson (George Anderson’s brother). The club would put on dances, beach parties, and theater parties. Anderson reported that there was no drinking at these parties, and credits the club for keeping some young people out of trouble.

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Eventually the club reached 50 members, pledging new members like a fraternity, and not missing a monthly meeting until 1987. The Times article went on to report the final meeting in 1994, as only three charter members were still alive.  (Charter Members were listed as Carl Anderson, George Fraley, George Frazier, Clarence Hawley, Harold Hendrickson, Herman Leander, Richard Smith, Roy Swenson, Edwin Wilkerson, Rolf Wiggen, Clarence Anderson, George Anderson, and Harold Shepard).

Several of my recent posts feature other photos from this collection, possibly including and/or taken by some of these people. They are:
Steam Donkey Part II (includes another group photo of the Ballard Students)
1920s Cannery Postcards
1920s Cannery Workers
Cannery Tender Operations
Navy Ships
Dano Mine Part II

I would like to thank Dr. Alice Eagly for providing information about her father, Harold Hendrickson. I would also like to thank the Ballard High School foundation for providing research material on these students.


Funter Bay History: Dano Mine Part II

February 23, 2015

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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1982 CIR aerial courtesy of US Geological Survey.

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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.

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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!


Alaskan Mine Names

December 12, 2013

I recently came across a large collection of mine names in Alaska. Names containing “Treasure”, “Rich”, “Jumbo”, “Bonanza”, etc are quite popular as a way to entice investors, but here are a few less enticing and perhaps more descriptive mine names!

Bum Cat
Horrible
Waterhole
Holy Moses
Wrongtrail
Troublesome Creek
Wicked Witch
Crazy Mountain
Pipedream
Singin’ Sam’s Rainbow Mine
Problem Gulch
Poor Chance
Slug Gulch
Whistlepig
Chickenlicken
Pooped
The Smell
Moonshine
Whiskey Creek
Smuggler’s Cover
Agony #1 & 2
Aching Back
Bruiser

And of course, a few named after wives, girlfriends, or perhaps local ladies of negotiable affection:

Lucky Lou
Clara Bea
Fanny Gulch
Nancy’s Hope Chest
Pricilla’s Delight
Darling Creek
Sweetheart Ridge
Little Sue
Lucky Nell
Lucky Lady
Maid of Mexico
Busty Belle
Double D Mining Co


Funter Bay History – Dano Mine

May 27, 2013

The Alaska Dano Mining Co (aka Alaska Dano Mines Co, merged with Keystone Gold Mining Co) operated a medium-size mine at the South shore of Funter during the first third of the 20th century. Charles Otteson and Willis. E. Nowell were the chief developers of this mine. Some of the claims were apparently located by local prospector Richard Willoughby (more on him here).

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Charles Ottesen of Denmark left home early to become a sailor. He eventually ended up in Tacoma where in 1890 he married Mary Neilsen, also of Denmark. In the mid 1890s they moved to Juneau. Around 1900 (some sources say “prior to 1898”), Charles staked several mining claims around Funter Bay (some sources misspell his name as Otterson or Patterson). Both Charles and Mary lived and worked at Funter Bay and in Juneau, commuting back and forth in a sailing sloop. Charles later worked as a caretaker at Funter Bay until the late 1940s. Here’s a photo of the couple at Funter Bay.

Charles Ottesen:
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Willis E. Nowell came from a family of miners and mine managers. His father Thomas Nowell came to Alaska in 1885, along with his brothers George and Benjamin, helping to found the the Berners Bay Mining and Milling Co. The Nowell family did some mining elsewhere in the US, and was very active (though not always successful) in Juneau-area mining for several decades, including Berners Bay, Perseverance Gulch, Sheep Creek, Douglas, and other areas. Thomas’ son Willis Nowell Sr. was a prominent violinist, who switched his career to mining after visiting his father in Alaska. He continued to play the violin in Juneau. Willis also became an agent for the Alaska Steamship Company. Willis’ brother Frank was a noted photographer in Alaska. A street in West Juneau is named after the family.

Willis E Nowell with violin:
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Courtesy of Alaska State Library, Nowell Family Photograph Collection, P402-03

Side note: I am tempted to start calling this blog “Funter Bay, a history of Mustache Enthusiasts”

The Alaska Dano / Nowell-Otteson mine included workings in several locations. Original claims and development occurred near the sandy beach at the South shore of Funter Bay. Later, the claims extended in a long swath to the SE, and included a longer tunnel high on the side of Mount Robert Barron (the apparent goal being to follow a “ledge” or vein, of quartz from its outcrop near the beach to a hoped-for “mother lode” in the mountain). The company built a corduroy road through the swampy muskeg from their beach camp to the base of the mountain, and trails to the various mine workings. They do not appear to have had much mechanization beyond ore carts, some small stationary steam engines, and the tractor for the road.  There were no major aerial trams or railroads (It’s possible that there was more equipment which was salvaged when mining wound down). The Dano mine later logged an area of old growth forest near the end of their road, leaving a clearcut which is still visible in infrared aerial photos.

Funter claims 1921

The first claims along the beach were staked by the Keystone Gold Mining Company in 1897. The War Horse Lode, part of Alaska Keystone’s properties, is listed as part of the Dano mine, so it is likely there was some consolidation of claims and mergers of companies (or different companies owned by the same people). There were several companies named “Keystone”in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, I am not entirely sure which, if any, were related. A 1906 government report notes that the Alaska Keystone Company did some development work on the War Horse Mine in 1897 and 1900, including a 48 and a 125′ shaft, and 320ft of drift. Ore was supposedly returning $100 of gold per ton. No work was reported between 1900 and 1906, although the company filed as a “foreign” (out of state) corporation in 1905. Later work on these claims is attributed to the Alaska Dano Mining Co, and the Dano company’s “Little Dandy” Lode was staked across the former War Horse and Big Injun claims of the Keystone company around this time. Also confusing is the appearance in the late 1920s of the “Williams Mine”, which was actually in Hawk Inlet on the other side of Mt. Robert Barron. Some modern-day documents refer to the upper Dano workings as the Williams Mine.

Keystone

Today, much of the beach property has been patented (made permanent private land, vs a temporary mining claim), and has been subdivided into private cabin lots. (Almost all of the sandy beach area above the high tide line is private property, if you are visiting Funter, please avoid trespassing).

The Dano operation does not appear to have had a permanent dock, relying instead on the smooth sandy beach and protected stream mouth in front of their camp to land boats.

A barge tie-up on the tidal gravel bar at the mouths of Ottesen Creek and Dano Creek. (I previously had this listed as part of a cannery fish trap, but further review of the position, and the tidal location, leads me to believe it was related to the mine):
Pilings

dano 1921

A general timeline of operations at the Alaska-Dano:

(Context: Joe Juneau and Richard Harris “discovered” (were shown by natives) gold in Juneau in 1880. Mines quickly sprang up including the Treadwell, Perseverance, and other operations nearby. Prospectors soon spread out into the surrounding mountains and islands in search of more gold).

1868: Captain J.W. White of the survey vessel Wayanda notes some promising geology at Funter Bay.
1880:
George Pilz (who bankrolled Harris and Juneau) finds some gold at Funter Bay (per Roderick).
1887:
Prospectors Richard Willoughby and Aaron Weir (or C. Weir or Ware?) stake some claims at Funter Bay. (per Roderick’s Preliminary History and others).
1889:
The Nowell Company bonds some of “Willoughby and Ware’s” claims for $50,000. Nowell spent several thousand on development, backed by an Eastern Company, but one report states that they abandoned the initial dig since the ledge (vein) dried up as it got deeper.
1897
: Gold deposit discovered near the sandy beach, War Horse Mine development begins.
Pre-1898: Otteson stakes various claims at South shore of Funter Bay.
1900: Two shafts had been dug (50ft and 125ft), and 320ft of tunnel (This is probably the work of the Keystone Gold Mining Co).
1905: The Keystone Gold Mining Co files as an out of state corporation.
1916: “Otteson Group” of claims staked.
Before 1919: A “good trail” had been built from the bay to the top of Mount Robert Barron, and a 200′ tunnel was driven at an elevation of 1,050 feet.
1919: Geologist J.B. Mertie notes promising quartz outcroppings at the “Nowell Otterson” group of claims.
1920: The Alaska Dano company is formed.
1921: The company reported a large amount of “free gold”. 100′ of tunnel and a winze (angled shaft) had been dug.
By 1922 they had another 250′ of tunnel.
1924 and 25: “A limited amount of development work” was done.
1926: Some prospecting work was done, but no production was reported.
In 1927, Only the minimum work to maintain claims was done.
In 1928, “Prospecting work only” was carried out.
1929: “A little development work” included driving 76 feet of tunnel. The Williams Mine apparently had some leasing discussions with Dano.
1938: Property listed as “Idle”, with “Intermittent development”
1945: Willis Nowell passed away, his family applied to secure his stock in the Alaska-Dano mine.
1955: Charles Ottesen passed away.
1960s: Fred Eastaugh became involved with the property.
1968-69, the Dano company did some logging.
A 1981 report mentions that 265ft of tunnel was dug after 1900, and that only 100oz of gold was produced (some documents indicate that more was run through a neighboring mill under contract, and the output would be higher if listed seperately)
1991: Fred Eastaugh listed as president of the Alaska Dano Mines Co.
1994: Some surface mapping and sampling performed.
1996: “Alaska Dano Claimants” performed limited sampling and re-staked claims on federal land adjacent to the patented claims.

It appears the Dano’s investment money dried up during the 1920s and never really reappeared. The major workings completed included a 400′ tunnel, several shorter tunnels, some relatively shallow shafts, various open cuts, the road, timber clearcut, and other minor work.

Despite apparently limited returns, activity never quite stopped at the Dano claims. After the big gold finds in the Juneau area, prospectors were always hoping to find the “next big thing”, even into the 80s and 90s. The Greens Creek Mine across Mt. Robert Barron turned out to be the “next big mine” of recent times, and more recently the Berner’s Bay mines have begun reopening. Today, there is renewed interest in some other area mines, as gold prices continue to rise. Mining companies continually poke at the Juneau mines hoping to get approval to re-open. Dano maintained most of their claims, and continued doing development work to meet the maintenance requirements. The logging operation may have been an attempt to make more profit from the property outside of mining.

Present-day remains:

There are still a few remains of the Dano camp near the beach. Early work included a few open cuts, shafts, and tunnels. The most prominent remaining feature is the steam boiler which probably powered their shaft hoists and possibly other equipment.

Directly in front of the boiler is a semi-collapsed shaft, with a few logs over it and a metal pipe leading down into it (probably for a dewatering pump). Some of this wood might be the remains of a small headframe:

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Another shaft nearby. This one has been made “safe” in the time-honored tradition of Western mining: Throw some bed frames over it and call it a day:

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Part of a winch found nearby, which may or may not be related to one of the shafts (it could also be part of a boat):

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Shorelines around Funter Bay tend to come in “benches” that show where the sea level used to be. This is not due to sea level dropping, but the land rising! After the glaciers retreated, the ground tended to “bounce back“, and raise a bit. Travelling inland from the water, you would generally observe a 10′ dropoff just below extreme low-tide line, a 10′ bluff a little above extreme high-tide line, and another 10′ bluff back in the woods where the old high tide line was (you can find clamshells near the back bluff that aren’t old enough to be fossils, showing that the change was fairly “recent”).

Below is a tunnel into the back bench behind the Dano beach camp. It was fairly unstable and flooded, I would not recommend going into this (or any) tunnel:

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Eventually, the near-shore deposits either proved marginal, or the difficulty of digging shafts near sea level caused the miners to move farther back from the shore. The Dano claims stretch all the way to the top of Mount Robert Barron, and I believe there are some small shafts very high on the mountainside (At the “two shafts” lode).

Dano claims (shaded), and tractor trail to the base of Mt. Robert Barron:

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The main adit, was located closer to the base of the mountain, next to a small waterfall on Dano Creek. The corduroy road up to this mine is marked on various topo maps as a trail, a tractor trail, or a road. Likely the mine used a gas crawler tractor to haul supplies and equipment up to the adit from the beach.

Part of the Dano mine’s corduroy road:

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A bridge on the Dano road over a small stream:
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Not much is left of the road, most of the corduroy has rotted back into the ground cover. It’s still possible to follow it with some bushwhacking, but it’s not really a useful or passable trail. Beavers have dammed up parts of the muskeg along the way, flooding the route of the former road in a few places.

Higher on the mountain, a few more signs of the Dano Mine are visible. This is a cabin site near the mine’s upper tunnel (sometimes referred to as the Otteson Mine). There’s not much left of the cabin aside from some logs, metal bits, and stove parts.

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The mine adit (tunnel entrance) is immediately adjacent to Dano Creek. Mines in Southeast tend to be damp due to the high humidity and prevalent groundwater, but there is likely even more flow into this tunnel due to the stream. This has probably contributed to some of the collapse near the entrance.

(Note: I do not recommend that you go in any mine workings. They are often dangerous, unstable (as seen below), and many are still private property).

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The adit has collapsed somewhat, crushing this ore car:

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Inside the tunnel, tracks along the floor are still in decent condition, despite the high humidity:

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Part of a Dupont dynamite box:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tools and a rail bending jig (The C-shaped thing):

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Drill bits:

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Iron leeching from a metal ore vein with water pouring off an iron stalactite:

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Below is one of the “fun surprises” of old mine tunnels; hidden shafts! You can be walking along, and suddenly the “rock” you think you’re standing on turns out to be a thin layer of mud or dirt over rotten boards and a deep pit. This one is flooded, so at worst you’d get a dunking, but others can drop you into a death trap:

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That’s all I have on the Dano mine for now!


Funter Bay History – Mansfield Mine & Other Small Mines

April 17, 2013

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The Mansfield mine (also listed as the Seattle mine) is located at 500ft elevation about 3/4 of a mile from the head of Funter Bay. Discovered in 1908, the claim showed promise of gold, copper, zinc, and lead. A beach camp at the head of the bay still has some barely-visible cabin foundations, locally known as a blacksmith and/or mule-skinner’s cabin. A blazed trail leads up through the woods to the mine site and the ruins of another log cabin.

The prospect has two short tunnels (less than 100′ long), a small amount of railroad track, and one ore car. Transporting the ore car up to the site probably involved disassembling it and using mules to pack the parts to the mine. Inside the cart you can still find an intact pick and drill steels, it’s almost like a history exhibit! More rusty tools were found inside the mine adits. Several open cuts were also in the same area, a narrow ridge of granite with quartz veins cutting through it.

Apparently the claim was promising enough to pack in equipment, but not profitable enough to mechanize or exploit it beyond the small workings.

John at the upper cabin site, one of the cut logs is barely identifiable.:

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The ore cart outside the first adit:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Inside the ore cart, a collection of mining tools:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The first, and longest, adit. The tunnel featured rails along most of its length, and was flooded with about a foot of water:

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Chris poses at the end of the tunnel. We suspected it might be flooded and didn’t feel like packing waders along, so we used the latest in Alaska fashion accessories: Trash bags and duct tape:

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Iron and calcium deposits on the floor, and the exposed quartz vein in the granite tunnel:

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The second adit was partly collapsed and much shorter (about 20ft, probably dug around 1916 according to USGS data). This one featured an intact pickaxe (shown in the top photo), and some kind of clamping or plier tool, seen below:  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The mine claim was marked with corners like this: A metal can containing paper with claim information, jammed into a blaze in a tree. The can was pretty well stuck in there, the tree had grown around it a little since it was placed.

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Finding this mine was pretty interesting. Despite having hiked and hunted around the area extensively, I’d never stumbled across it. The trails are overgrown and the tunnels and mine cart are covered with thick brush, so there’s not much to see until you get right on top of it. I first heard of this mine while perusing some old survey documents relating to claims. I was able to locate the original USGS survey monument and derive GPS coordinats for the claim site based on the surveys. We then set out with a PDA running digital topo maps to try to locate the mine. Even with coordinates, it took us some time to find the two tunnels, and we still missed finding some of the open cuts. The GPS also required an external antenna to get a signal through the thick tree coverage.

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Some scenery on the way to the mine:

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View out over Funter Bay from the mine site:

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There were several other small mines near the head of the bay. The Portage prospect, across Bear Breek, was started in 1900 and had a small shaft, tunnel, and trenches, but did not reach profitable ore. I have heard there is some machinery still visible at this site. The “Bear Creek” placer claim of 1967 was just downstream of this, and was probably a local resident’s gold-panning spot.

On the back side of the pass, facing Juneau, was another “Bear Creek” claim, this one for Tremolite asbestos. Around 1928, a Juneau resident named Augustus DeRoux discovered asbestos while searching for gold and copper. The Alaska Asbestos Co built a road from the beach around 1930 and apparently started a “rail tram”, but abandoned it when the USGS found the deposit not worthwhile.

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