PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND (Historic Alaska Information)
While nature has with lavish hand piled valuable coal on her very sea coast and near great copper mines, she has been stingy with her harbor-making shovel. Comptroller Bay is open to the ills of the sea, and what Katalla did to Kayak, Cordova repeated to Katalla, all because of no harbor protection. At least four railroad companies are now working on roadbeds or field surveys in this oil and coal field, with an apparent intention to haul the coal a little farther to a safe harbor. Even now it is a guess to select the spot destined to be the sea terminus for the oil and anthracite coal, for both of which the consumer, from Mexico to Nome, is eagerly waiting. Natives and native villages, Russians and Russian villages, promoters and promoters' villages, have in turn thrived and fallen within the Prince William Sound country. After a long and useful life to Alaska as a missionary and governor, Rev. John G. Brady may trace his downfall, and Promoter Reynolds his insanity, to the luring prospects of these shores. On the other hand, the profits of every considerable trading company are greatly augmented; the income of the big mills and canneries are fabulously large, and prospects to them are copper lined and coal laden.
Mountains of copper and gold, placer and quartz, behind the range will perhaps soon be the largest producers in the Territory. To handle them, the Guggenheims and Moigans have employed the millions of New York City and the brains of such men as Hawkins and Heney, to whom no passes are 100 high or rivers deep to cross.
The Alaska Home Railway, promoted by Henry D. Reynolds, attracted the press of the country because of advertising; the purse of the Bostonians because it was vouched for by such men as Ex-Governor Brady; the people of Seattle and Tacoma because Reynolds threatened to withdraw his boats from Seattle and land them at Tacoma, as Seattle refused and Tacoma endorsed his promotion scheme; and the whole country because of the Keystone Canyon fight between the forces of the competing railroads in the mountains above Valdez (a similar battle between the Guggenheims and the Bruner Company had taken place a few months prior), which was the bursting point of his development and of many of his stock purchasers. The next chapter was the disgrace of Brady (those knowing him best believe him innocent of fraudulent intentions), the stampede of laborers clamoring for their hard-earned pay, the long legal fight, the reorganization now going into effect, and the insanity of Reynolds, which many Alaskans believe to be a penitentiary dodge.
The town of Valdez endorsed the scheme; women's guilds, school children and everyone subscribed for stock; hotels, papers and a bank were purchased.
The town voted a franchise on every street to Reynolds, and pledged the life of the town to his support. Some day the largest city in Alaska will be on this sound. Valdez may have lost that chance by playing its highest card with Reynolds, and it may yet win with the reorganization. Nowhere in the world are events of importance crowding each other more than here today. It will be an interesting rivalry to watch this fight for supremacy and the commerce of Prince William Sound. It may be Guggenheim's Copper River and Northwestern terminating at Cordova; it may be the Alaska Central at Seward; the Alaska Home at Valdez, or some other yet unknown railroad and port that will be the metropolis of Alaska.
The government tests prove the petroleum and hard coal of Comptroller Bay and hard coal of Matenuska to be equal to the best grades of Pennsylvania. The Bonanza, Nicola, Jumbo and other copper mines near Valdez Creek purchased by the Guggenheims are but mountains of copper, worth untold millions, and yet but a drop in the bucket compared with the richness of the country drained by the Chittistone, Nizina, Chitina. Kuskulana, Kotsina and other streams flowing into Copper River, including seventy-five miles square copper stained throughout. The year 1908 was a prosperous one on these rivers for gold hunters, among the most successful are the well-known Dan Kane, for whom Dan Creek is named, and Pete Monohan, the discoverer of gold on Valdez Creek, now working rich placers near the Bonanza Mines. The only free silver nuggets that I have seen from Alaska came from this country. Copper boulders weighing a hundred pounds roll down the creeks or are washed out of the gold placers, some of which have been piled up, awaiting the approaching railroad. No description of mine can overstate the value of the mineral of this country.