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Chichagoff Island Mines

Chichagof Alaska - 1920

Annual report of the Territorial Mine Inspector to the Governor of Alaska‬ By Alaska Mine Inspector - 1921

Chichagoff Island


Chichagoff Mine
The Chichagoff Mine, located at Klag Bay on the west coast of Chichagof Island, continued operations during the year with the normal crew of about 175 men.

In the value of its output the Chichagoff Mine now occupies first place among the lode gold mines of the Territory.

Much underground development was done during the year and numerous improvements made. These include the retimbering of the main shaft and top station. A new Lidgerwood hoist having a somewhat greater capacity than the old one was installed at the main or No. 2 shaft.

The Chichagoff property is equipped with two mills, the Chichagoff, with 20 stamps and the Golden Gate, with 10 stamps.

In the Chichagoff mill, which handles the bulk of the ore from the mine, the principal treatment operations consist of stamp crushing, plate amalgamation, fine grinding with pebble tube mills, table concentration and flotation.

Up until July, 1921, the Golden Gate mill was not provided with fine grinding equipment. At that time a large tube mill was installed together with additional concentrating tables. This mill is now employed exclusively in treating the ores obtained from the Over-the-HiU and Rising Sun claims.

A description of the ore body at the Chichagoff Mine is given by R. M. Overbeds in U. S. Geological Bulletin No. 692, Mineral Resources of Alaska 1917, pp 114-116.


Hirst-Chichagof Mine
At the Hirst-Chichagof Mine, located at Hirst Cove on the west shore of Chichagof Island, an average of nine men were employed during 1921 prosecuting underground development work and installing a ten-stamp mill and new compressor. Underground work was carried on for 270 days of the year. A total of approximately 1000 feet of development work was driven. The mill tunnel level was driven to an intersection with the vein, which had previously been developed by two upper tunnels. The vein was drifted upon in a southeasterly direction for several hundred feet. In the prosecution of this work the downward extension of the ore body revealed in the upper tunnels was discovered and developed. Subsequently a two-compartment, well-timbered raise was driven on this ore shoot, connecting the mid-level tunnel with the intermediate tunnel 175 feet above. It is now planned to drive a second raise connecting the intermediate tunnel with the upper tunnel. This work will enable stoping operations to be begun on the upper levels and provide a direct gravity outlet for the ore to the mill level.

The installation of the stamp mill is practically complete and milling operations are expected to commence early in 1922.


Falcon Mining Company
The property of the Falcon Mining Company is located on Falcon Arm, about twelve miles southeast of Chichagof.

Active development of this ground continued throughout 1921 with an average of sixteen men employed.

Numerous surface improvements were made and a total of approximately 1200 feet of tunneling completed. All the tunnel work was in a cross cut adit which is being driven to intersect the downward extension of veins which outcrop at a considerable elevation above the tunnel.

At the time of visit, in September, 1921, this cross-cut had attained a total length of 1270 feet, and work upon it was progressing steadily.

A 24-inch fan driven by a 6 H. P. Fairbanks Morse engine was used to supply air at the face of the tunnel.

This property is provided with substantial equipment and a camp which affords comfortable and sanitary living quarters.


Apex Group
Development work on the Apex group of claims, owned by J. H. Cann and associates and situated on Lisianski Inlet, was carried on by the Chichagoff Mining Company who had a bond on the property. A total of 15 men were employed during the working season, 10 at the upper camp and 5 at the beach camp.

The Apex vein outcrops boldly on the face of a bluff several hundred feet in height, rising above the talus slopes bordering the broad, flat-bottomed basin of Cann Creek lying approximately 1-1/2 miles from the beach at Lasianski Inlet. This basin has an elevation of about 900 feet above sea level, and on its border is located the upper or working camp of the property. The lowest outcrop of the vein which occurs in the bed of a small stream tributary to Cann Creek, is at an elevation of approximately 1300 feet, at the junction of the talus slope with the base of the bluff above mentioned. From this point, for several hundred feet in elevation, the vein, which is composed of almost solid quartz accompanied by a narrow band of fine grained dike material, is plainly visible from a considerable distance. Along its outcrop the vein averages approximately 20 inches in width and stands out in marked contrast with the dark colored diorite bedrock in which it occurs.

From the base of the outcrop and for a height of at least 150 feet an ore shoot of remarkable richness appears at the surface, visible free gold being plentifully scattered over the face of the vein. The gold occurs in very fine particles quite evenly distributed within the mass of the quartz. Occasionally pieces the size of a pinhead or a little larger are to be seen.

The underground development work done on the Apex Group consists of two tunnels, the upper one being a drift and the lower a crosscut.

The upper tunnel was commenced on the outcrop a few feet above the stream bed at its lowest exposure, and was driven a distance of 30 feet along the strike. This tunnel was driven along the footwall of the vein, which in the tunnel strikes about S 15° W and dips at an angle of approximately 65° to the westward.

Commencing at a point a short distance in from the portal the tunnel is wholly within the footwall of the vein, the ore being left standing in place with its footwall forming one wall of the tunnel. At the face the vein was crosscutted and was shown to consist of 40 or more inches of solid quartz at that point, and is said to average close to $100 per ton in value.

No further work has been done in this tunnel nor along the outcrop above it.

A lower crosscut tunnel was commenced in the fall of 1920. This occupies a position approximately 400 feet in elevation below the upper tunnel above described. It had been driven a total distance of approximately 1000 feet at the time of visit in September; 1921. Work on this tunnel was continued until about the first of November, two hundred and seventeen feet of additional crosscutting and two hundred feet of drifting being completed in a search for the vein. The results of this development work were not sufficiently encouraging to meet the expectations of the operators and the bond was thrown up by the Chichagoff Company who removed their equipment from the property.

Further development of this property will undoubtedly follow the adjustment of certain phases of the ownership in the claims.


El Nido Group
The El Nido Group, also owned by J. H. Cann and associates and lying adjacent to the Apex Group, was actively developed during the greater portion of the year. An average of 14 men were employed In construction and development work.

The progress made at this property during one short working season has been remarkable. The work of transporting the materials and equipment from the beach to the various construction sites and the construction work itself were accomplished with great dispatch and unusual efficiency. A skid road was first built, 3000 feet in length leading along Cann Creek from the beach to a point at the foot of the bluff over which the power house and compressor plant were erected.

From this bluff to the upper basin, which lies at an elevation of about 900 feet, Cann Creek flows through a gorge of considerable depth and with precipitous sides.

A jigback tram, built of second hand % inch hoisting cable, 1500 feet in length and in a single span, served to transport equipment and supplies from the end of the skid road to the site of the mine camp in the upper basin.

On the skidroad the motive power employed consisted of a Fairbanks Morse 6 H. P. hoist, having a 12 inch drum supplied with % inch cable, and mounted on skids. This rig was moved forward under its own power and anchored at a given station. The cable was then. attached to the skid bearing the load to be moved and the latter was then drawn forward to the hoist. As much as 7-ton loads were handled in this manner without difficulty.

The powerhouse and compressor plant is situated in the bed of Cann Creek Canyon. To supply this plant with water from the upper basin, 350 feet in elevation above, it was necessary to erect a pipe line along the walls of the gorge. This pipe line is made up of 12 and 8 inch steel pipe and is 1150 feet in length. It is carried along the canyon walls by an ingenious arrangement of timber supports.

A 12x12 in. Blaisdell Machine Company compressor driven by a 6 foot Pelton wheel under a 350 foot head, supplies air for the machine drills used.

Substantial bunk houses were built at the beach and in the upper basin near the tunnel site. The building of the skid road and movement of supplies and equipment commenced in May, with several feet of snow on the ground. By the last of August all construction work had been completed at both camps and at the power plant-compressor site, and 50 feet of tunnel had been driven with machine drills. This work was in a crosscut for the vein started approximately 100 feet in elevation below the outcrop. The total distance to be driven in this croscut in order to reach the vein was estimated at from 210 to 240 feet. By the end of the year a total of 593 feet of tunneling had been completed, 273 feet being in crosscuts and 3 20 feet in drifts.
Work was discontinued on the property with the advent of deep snow and will be resumed as early in the spring as snow conditions will permit.


Brown Bear Group
The Brown Bear Group consists of' several claims lying between the head of Deep Bay and Didrickson Bay, arms of Portlock Harbor on the west coast of Chichagof Island, about 6 miles in an air line northwest of Chichagof. The group belongs to Cox Brothers of Chichagof, who are developing the ground.

During the summer of 1921 a good pack trail was built from the head of Deep Bay to the claims, about a mile inland, a permanent cabin was built and a considerable amount of surface stripping and opencutting done on the Brown Bear vein. The solid quartz in the vein is from 12 to 40 inches in width, averaging about two feet at the outcrop, which has been exposed at numerous places over a strike distance of several hundred feet. The vein outcrops at an elevation of 350 feet above sea level.

The quartz body occupies a shear zone in graywacke country rock and strikes N 30° W. At the time of visit sufficient work had not been done to determine the dip with certainty. The wall rocks appear at the surface to be considerably altered and at some distance from the quartz filling are more or less mineralized with pyrite. The quartz is said to contain free gold.

A tunnel has been commenced at a point about 60 feet in elevation below the outcrop and will be driven approximately 100 feet to an intersection with the vein.

This tunnel had been driven a total distance of 75 feet at the close of the year.


Basoiniuer and Radio Claims
The Basoiniuer and Radio groups are situated on opposite sides of Ogden Passage north of Doolth Mountain, the Basoiniuer being on the south shore and the Radio on the north. On the former an 18 foot tunnel has been driven just above tidewater on a shear zone in graywacke country rock. On the Radio group a tunnel at tidewater and another at an elevation of 160 feet have been driven. The former is 18 feet in length and the latter 20 feet with 20 feet of open-cut approach.


Pacific Coast Gypsum Co.
The gypsum mine of the Pacific Coast Gypsum Company, situated at lyoukeen Cove on the east shore of Chichagof Island, was operated continuously throughout the year with an average of 25 men employed.

Production was made on a somewhat larger scale than during the previous year. In addition to stoping operations considerable development work was completed during the year. A new manway raise was driven from the bottom or 300-foot level connecting with the surface. This raise provides a means of egress from the mine other than by way of the main vertical working shaft and was driven largely as a safety measure.

This property produces a very high grade of gypsum which is transported in barges to Tacoma and there prepared for market at the company's mill.

The mine has been opened by a vertical shaft to a depth of 300 feet. At that depth the deposit is undercut by a system of drifts and crosscuts above which stoping is done by the shrinkage method. Electrically operated augers are employed in drilling. The material is trammed in mine cars which are hoisted to the surface by cage in the shaft. A small steam engine operating over a surface trestle tram serves to convey it from the shaft bin to the wharf bunkers about 1*4 miles distant. Owing to shallow water adjacent to the shore line an 1800 foot approach to the ore bunker dock was made necessary to allow deep draught vessels to berth. The upkeep of this dock and approach together with the maintenance of the mile of surface railway trestle constitutes a heavy item of expense in production. Actual mining operations are conducted very economically.


Gold and Copper Group
The Gold and Copper Group consists of 6 claims lying 18 .miles from Chichagof near the head of Pinta Bay, the most northerly arm of Portlock Harbor.

During 1921 development work to the extent of 140 feet was done en the group. Of this, 100 feet was tunnei work and 40 feet open cutting. The claims are now held by Thos. Baker, George Baly and James Toby.

The principal mineral found on the claims is chalcopyrite and the country rock is greenstone.

A description of the ground by R. M. Overbeck is contained in U. S. Geol. Sur. Bulletin No. 692, Mineral Resources of Alaska, 1917.


Stag Bay
During the summer some work was done on a group of claims held by Al Wilson and M. Truesdale on the south side of Stag Bay near its junction with Lisianski Strait. The outcrop, upon which some stripping and open cut work was done, occurs at an elevation of about 2500 feet and lies in a saddle in the ridge between Wilson Creek and Lisianski Strait. Sufficient work has not been done to determine the extent or attitude of the deposit which consists of disseminated iron and copper sulphides in a very basic intrusive country rock.


Mining and Scientific Press, Volume 104 - 1912

"Klag (Kleg) bay is on the west coast of Chichagof island and is part of an extensive archipelago of which Khaz bay forms the entrance from the Pacific Ocean. The coast north of Khaz bay is flanked for several miles seaward by rocks, reefs, and low wooded islets. Khaz bay lies 16 miles northwest of Salisbury sound, and the voyage from the mines to Sitka necessitates a coastwise run of 8 to 12 miles in the open ocean. The total distance to Sitka is 50 miles, and the operating mines maintain their own gasoline boats. Freighters plying between Seattle and the southeastern Alaska bring in occasionally heavy machinery and supplies, and take out shipments of accumulated concentrate. During the winter the upper three miles of Klag bay is frozen over."


According to the Coast Pilot "Klag Bay, at the head of Khaz Bay, is cluttered with islands, and the shores are foul especially on the east side behind the islands in the bay. The two entrances to the bay lead through narrow crooked channels, with foul shores and strong currents, which are difficult except for small vessels at slack water. Strangers should enter at low water slack when the dangers will show above water or be indicated by kelp."

When the mine shut down, much of the buildings and equipment were abandoned in place. Many of the buildings have since fallen down, but a number are still standing, and rusting equipment is scattered everywhere. Mining took place between 1905 and 1942, producing 660,000 ounces of gold and 195,000 ounces of silver. Shafts and passages extend underground 4,800 feet horizontally, 4,300 feet vertically, and 2,750 feet below sea level. Entrance to the mine was a short distance in the woods on the south end of the town site, near a large creek.

Coordinates: Download the Sitka Quadrangle Publication from USGS

Suggested Reading and Products:

Alaska Gold Prospectors Guide

Where to Prospect for Gold in Alaska Without Getting Shot!

1897 map of Gold mines & mining, Alaska

Lyra's Alaskan Gold Panning Paydirt