RAILROADS (Historic Alaska Information)
The litigation of the Alaska Central was finished two months ago. and peace reigns once more among the stockholders, and the road will proceed rapidly, as about twenty-five miles of grade is already complete and timbers on hand. Both the Alaska Central and the Copper River and Northwestern have progressed beyond the fifty-mile post with rails, and this year will add much. The Guggenheims have terminal station, shops, etc., erected; the road from Cordova to Abercombie Rapids, fifty-four miles, is complete and known as the Copper River Railroad as far as the Tusnuna River, above which it is known as the Copper River and Northwestern. Only a few miles of the latter has been built, but it will this year be completed to Bremner Flats, and such boat and train service connected as will enable not only the company but the country to develop rapidly. They will have five good boats on the Copper River and a small boat will operate as far up as Gulkina. This service will enable the miners to get into Copper Center, Gulkina, or even Valdez Creek without much hardship - advantage of which I expect to take for myself. From these points and others trails lead across the country and along every river and creek in every direction. The road work of the government is commendable, but inadequate for the business traffic, which is no fault of Major Richardson in charge of it.
The population of Prince William Sound and Cook's Inlet includes some of all the native races hunter trapper, trader, canneryman, prospector, promoter and miner. The Indian villages arc numerous but small. I he Greek Church of Russia and Russian Creoles may be found in almost every village.
There are numerous islands of importance in the Sound. Hinchingbroke, on which Baranoff located Port Etches, where he built his ships for the Sitka Expedition (the native name for the island and village is Nutchek), was a Russian trading post for many years, and is a fishing station now. Later Orca became the most important village and largest fishery. Now the Ellamar mines and village by the same name is a busy place of 500, and the mines on La Touche and Knight Islands are almost as industriously engaged digging out blocks of copper for the smelter at Tacoma or elsewhere.
The Ellamar miens are under the sea at high tide and within sixty feet of the surface. I am informed that they will place a coffer-dam before proceeding to remove more metal. This will enable them to work the level between high and low tides, at that point about twenty-five feet. The tides in some of the arms of the sea in this vicinity approach thirty feet and are very high at all points for several hundred miles up and down the coast. There is an Indian village at Tatitlike, but like elsewhere it is in the same state of decay that the race is. I believe there are five thousand residents in the vicinity of Prince William Sound, a thousand in the valleys of the Copper River and tributaries, two thousand at Seward and Susitna River and tributaries, a thousand on Kanai Peninsula, besides another thousand on the shores of Cook's Inlet. This estimate includes a mixture of natives and Russian Creoles not exceeding a fourth of the whole number. The development of the coal and oil at Comptroller Bay (or Bering River) and at Matanuska and of the mineral in the basins of the Copper and Susitna Rivers will double this population every year or two.
While the ports of Vladivostok, St. Petersburg, those in Norway and Eastern Canada in the same latitude, or even a thousand miles farther south in places, are frozen, these ports are mild and open. In fact, no oter ports in the world so far north are open and free of ice in the winter season. Neither does any other country in the world in the same latitude (or five hundred miles farther south, for that matter) have such mild climate. The influence of the Japanese Current are wafted inland up the Susitna and Copper and over the plains of the Kuskoquim, which with the long hours of daylight and warm summer sun will make this a better farming country than other lands much farther south.