Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/421

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY

 

NOVEMBER, 1911




THE BERING RIVER COAL FIELD, ALASKA[1]
By GEORGE F. KAY

PROFESSOR OF GEOLOGY, STATE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA

Introduction

THE Bering River coal field lies a few miles inland from the north shore of Controller Bay, an indentation of the Pacific coast about 1,200 miles from Seattle. In this field are the Cunningham claims which received much publicity in connection with the Pinchot-Ballinger controversy. Much of the coal area is within the drainage basin of the Bering River. To the north of the field is the Martin River glacier with the lofty, snow-capped Chugach range of mountains beyond; to the east of the field and extending for many miles is the Bering Piedmont glacier.

The coal field is accessible by launch and small boat from the village of Katalla, a calling port for passenger steamships. From Seattle to Katalla by way of the "inside passage" is a voyage of seven or eight days; to Cordova, by the "outside passage" and thence to Katalla is a voyage of about five days.

No railroad has yet been built into the coal field, although several surveys have been made and some construction work has been done. Until a railroad has been completed and shipment has been made possible from the coast, the field will remain undeveloped. The chief difficulty in providing transportation facilities is the lack of good harbors on Controller Bay and adjacent parts of the coast. The waters are shallow and the coast storm swept. Many thousands of dollars have already been expended in an endeavor to form sheltered harbors, but it can scarcely be said that the efforts, thus far, have been successful. However, a deep water channel extending into Controller Bay and protected by islands from the ocean storms has recently been mapped by the Coast Survey. It would seem from present evidence that when a

  1. Sometimes named the Controller Bay Field or the Katalla Field.