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Explorations in Alaska by the United States Geological Survey: Encyclopedia Arctica Volume 1: Geology and Allied Subjects
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962

Explorations in Alaska by the United States Geological Survey

EA-I. (Philip S. Smith)

EXPLORATIONS IN ALASKA BY THE UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

The first specific federal appropriation for explorations by the United
States Geological Survey in Alaska was carried in the Sundry Civil Act for
the fiscal year 1895-96, which was passed by Congress March 2, 1895. The
amount of money thus provided was $5,000 and was made available for the
“investigation of the coal and gold resources” of the Territory. Undeterred
by the meagerness of the funds, the Survey promptly arranged for starting
the work — the studies of the gold resources under Dr. G. F. Becker and
of the coals by Dr. William H. Dall ( q.v .). Becker was assisted by C. W.
Purington and the party was able to visit a number of the mines and touch at
various points along the southern coast from Sitka westward to Unalaska.
Much hitherto unrecorded information was gathered in the course of this
expedition which added greatly to an understanding of some of the major
geologic features of this part of the Territory. Some delay ensued in the
completion of the manuscript containing the results of the work, owing to
Becker’s other commitments so that his findings were not published until
1897 in the Eighteenth Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey,
1896-97 , Part III, pp. 1-86.
The field work done by the Dall party was more or less localized around
coal fields of southeastern and central-southern Alaska. Dall, however, was
fortunate in having a wide knowledge of many other parts of Alaska through

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

his earlier travels and thus added in his report much information regarding
some of the other fields than those he had been able to visit in the course
of his work in 1895. How extensive Dall’s journeys through remote parts of
Alaska had been before he joined the Survey may be realized when it is
pointed out that as a young man of 20 years, he had been a member of the
field group that had been engaged in seeking out a route which c ould
advantageously be followed in laying out a telegraph line that would con–
nect America, Asia, and Europe. (See article in another volume on the Western
Union Telegraph Expedition.) After the abandonment of that project in 1867,
because it was not needed after the successful laying of the Atlantic cable
to Europe, he served with distinction in the Alaskan work of the Coast and
Geodetic Survey until 1884, when he joined the Geological Survey and the
National Museum. Although Dall, after joining the Survey, did not make trips
to the Territory other than that noted above in 1895, and later as a member
of the Harriman Alaskan Expedition, he always retained a keen interest in the
Territory, and, as the world authority on the paleontology of the late
Mesozoic-Tertiary groups of invertebrates, kept constantly informed regarding
all Alaskan matters that pertained to his special field. The results of Dall’s
studies in 1895, supplemented by information he had gained from other sources,
were published in the Seventeenth Annual Report of the United States Geological
Survey , 1895-96 , Part I, pp. 763-908.
Before passing from these two oldest official explorations by the
Geological Survey Survey in Alaska, it seems well to recall that even before
that time three of its members or those who ultimately became its members,
had made notable contributions through other than official channels to the
knowledge of the Territory. Earliest of this group was Prof. Israel C. Russell ( q.v .) ,

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

who, in 1889, as a member of the Coast and Geodetic Survey party that was
concerned with the determination of the position of the boundary between
Canada and the United States, made a boat trip along the Yukon River from
the mouth to and beyond the then assumed position of the boundary line.
In 1890 and 1891, mainly through the auspices of the National Geographic
Society, Russell carried on extensive reconnaissance surveys in the vicinity
of Mount St. Elias. In the course of that work he made notable attempts to
scale the 18,000-foot peak only to be thwarted by exceedingly adverse weather.
In spite of the failure to surmount the mountain, he gathered a wealth of
important scientific information regarding the general features of the mountain
and its environs. The report of the expedition in 1890 was published in the
National Geographic Magazine (11), and of the expedition in 1891 in the
Thirteenth Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey , 1891-92 ,
pp. 1-91.
Another of the Survey men who made a remarkable traverse in Alaska prior
to the time when the Geological Survey officially entered that field was
Dr. Charles W. Hayes ( q.v .). The expedition to which Hayes was attached was
organized and financed by a group of newspapers and was placed under the leader–
ship of Lt. Frederick Schwatka ( q.v .), who had made an enviable reputation by
his traverses along the Yukon River in 1883, and in the vicinity of Mount
St. Elias in 1886. The trip in which Hayes participated was in 1891, and the
route followed led from near Juneau across country to Lewes and White rivers,
and thence across the difficult Skolai Pass to the Copper River. The circuit
thus completed brought the party back to tidewater at the mouth of the Copper
River. This epic journey afforded knowledge of a vast tract of the great
mountainous belt that forms part of the Alaska Range and the adjacent highlands.
The more important of Hayes’ observations were published in the National
Geographi s c Magazine (6).

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

The fourth of the precursors of the Geological Survey’s official entry
into Alaskan exploration to be mentioned here, was Prof. N. F. Reid. In
1890, under the auspices of the National Geographic Society, Reid made
intensive investigations of the glaciers and resulting phenomena in the
vicinity of Glacier Bay. His studies were directed mainly toward obtaining
a better understanding of the physics of glacial motion and of their rates
of flow, so he not only made a number of measurements himself but left care–
fully placed monuments to which subsequent explorers might definitely tie
their observations and thus record long-time fluctuations in the movements
of the ice. The results of his first season’s work were published in the
National Geographic Magazine (10). So exciting were the results of Reid’s
studies in Glacial Bay that with a small party he revisited the area in 1892
and continued and expanded his earlier observations. A report of the work
done in Glacial Bay in 1892 was published in the Sixteenth Annual Report of
the United States Geological Survey , 1894-95 , Part I, pp. 415-61.
Returning to an orderly presentation of the story of the Survey’s
official explorations in Alaska, let us pick up again the record where it
was dropped at the close of the 1895-96 season. For each of the three years
following 1895, an annual item of $5,000 was carried in each of the Sundry
Civil Acts for “the investigation of the coal and gold resources” of the
Territory. Obviously with the insignificant amount of money thus made avail–
able, the only projects that could be undertaken were those of very limited
scope. However, by practicing the utmost economy and restricting the areas
covered to those that could be reached and studied with least outlay for
travel and equipment, it was possible, in 1896, for J. E. Spurr, H. B.
Goodrich, and Frank C. Schrader ( q.v .) to carry a geologic reconnaissance

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

from the head of Lynn Canal across Chilkoot Pass and down the entire length
of the Yukon River, visting en route most of the then known gold camps of
interior Alaska. The results of those investigations were promptly published
and formed the groundwork on which many of the subsequent plans were developed.
(See Eighteenth Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey , 1896-97 ,
Part III, pp. 87-392.
As a result of the growing popular interest in Alaska, many of the govern–
ment organizations began to recognize their responsibilities to carry out
their functions in the Territory and were able to enlist the interest of
Congress in making funds available for the enlarge s d task that properly they
should handle. Among those organizations that received additional recognition
was the Geological Survey, which had its funds supplemented by an item in the
Deficiency Act, passed January 28, 1898, for an additional $20,000 for “geologic
and topographic surveys in Alaska.” Plans were quickly formulated and the
necessary personnel and equipment to carry them out selected and early in
April 1898, four groups of geologists and engineers were on their way to their
field assignments. G. H. Eldridge had general over-all charge of these parties
when together. The separate project assigned to Eldridge specifically was a
reconnaissance of the Susitna River, which empties into Cook Inlet; explore
its course, and to find a suitable pass across from its headwaters into steams that
flow northward and are tributary to Tanana River. Associated with Eldridge on
this trip was Robert Muldrow, a topographic engineer. The results of the
surveys made by this party were published in the Twentieth Annual Report of
the United States Geological Survey , 1898-99 . Part VII, pp. 1-29.

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

Two of the other Alaska parties sent out by the Geological Survey, in
1898, set out together for their journey to interior Alaska from the head of
Lynn Canal and crossed the mountain belt to the north and reached parts of
the Yukon drainage system. At the junction of the White and Lewes rivers,
one section of this group, that with William J. Peters ( q.v .) as topographer
and Alfred H. Brooks ( q.v .) as geologist, turned westward to carry out
reconnaissance in the valleys of the White and Tanana rivers, while the other
section with Edward C. Barnard, topographer, in charge continued down the
Yukon to conduct surveys in the vicinity of Fortymile River and Eagle. The
results of the investigations by Peters and Brooks were published in the
Twentieth Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey , 1898-99 ,
Part VII, pp. 425-94. The topographic map prepared by Barnard of the Fortymile
district was issued as one of the illustrations accompanying Bulletin 375 of
the Geological Survey.
The fourth, and by far the most difficult project undertaken during the
season 1898 with the Survey’s Alaska funds, was the reconnaissance carried
out by Spurr and Post in southwestern Alaska. This work called for the
members of the party to travel by their own canoes from Tyonek; ascend the
Sus t i tna, one of the great rivers flowing eastward from the Alaska Range;
enter Cook Inlet n d e ar its head; and find a pass across the mountains that
would load f t o streams tributary to the Kuskokwi n m River. Arriving on such
westward-flowing waters, the party travaled in its canoes the entire length
of the Kuskokwim to the mouth in Bering Sea. Then, as though the successful
accomplishment of those remarkable traverses merely whetted its zest for the
tackling of even more arduous tasks, the party undertook to fight its way
back to Cook Inlet by plunging into additional traverses by which the course

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

of the Kanektok River was explored. Surveys were carried along the north
shores of Bristol Bay, and then the backbone of the Alaska Peninsula was
surmounted by way of Nakn a e k River and the lakes adjacent thereto. Finally,
the explorers again reached the shores of Cook Inlet, where late in October
they were able to connect with a vessel of one of the regular transportation
companies and thus return to the States.
In addition to these four projects which the Survey was able to under–
take as parts of its own direct program, it was fortunate in having established
relations with the War Department whereby it was able to participate in certain
of the expeditions being sent out to investigate parts of the Prince William
Sound and Copper River regions. By this arrangement a Survey geologist was
attached to each of the two expeditions that were to make the explorations. line missing cf original p. 6 line 12, fr. bottom
Walter C. Mandenhall ( q.v .) was the geologist selected to accompany the expe–
dition led by Captain Edwin F. Glenn. This party, starting near the head of
Cook Inlet, traveled eastward following the general course of Matanuska River ✓ word missing
until, finding a pass between that stream and tributaries of Copper River,
its members continued northward up the valley of the Copper River and
ultimately reached Delta River, one of the streams flowing northward to join
Tanana River. The return of this party from its farthermost point close
to Tanana River followed essentially the same route which it had traversed
on its outward journey. Supplies for the expedition for the entire period
when it was in the field has to be carried by the party so that pack horses
were used for transportation of most of this material, but as is usual with
pack train parties in cross-country travel in Alaska, all the men made the
distance of foot. For an account of the scientific results of this work see
the Twentieth Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey , 1898-99 ,
Part VII, pp. 265-340.

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

The other Alaska expedition sent out by the Army, in 1898, was , under the
leadership of Capt. William H. Abercrombie. To this party was a rr tt ached
Frank C. Schrader (q.v.) as geologist from the Survey. This expedition
started from Valdez and proceeded northward across Valdez Glacier, crossing
the Chugach Mountains, and reaching the Copper River valley. In mid - season
the group divided into two separate units, one of which was placed under the
charge of Schrader. The party under Schrader spent the rest of the open
season traversing parts of the Copper River plateau and the southern part
of the Copper River basin. Transportation for the supplies of this party
was effected by pack train but many of the side trips made by members of
the party involved considerable p b ack-packing by each of the members over
difficult terrain. An account of the results obtained by Schrader was
published in the Twentieth Annual Report of the United States Geological
Survey , 1898-99 , Part VII, pp. 341-423.
In referring to the dates relating to certain of the Survey’s Alaska
project, the reader should distinguish carefully between the dates applying
to the specific appropriation to which the work was charged, or that one on e
which the work was n d one, or the date on which the results were published.
Otherwise one is apt to become confused by the apparent lack of agreement
between the different dates used for apparently the same exploration. The
diversities that arise regarding the dates assigned to fiscal matters neces–
sarily stem from the general practice in the government’s accounting, to
start the fiscal year July 1 and close it on June 30. Obviously this period
does not conform at all to that in which exploration work can be done in
Alaska. As a result, most of the Survey’s projects are started with funds from
one appropriation and completed with those from another. Indeed it would

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

be impossible to operate if one had to wait until an appropriation became
available on July 1 and then scramble around getting men and equipment and
transporting them to the places in Alaska where the work was to be done —
one would be lucky to be able to have the party arrive in time to turn
right around and head homeward to avoid getting caught in the oncoming
winter’s snow and freeze-up. Fortunately many of the Survey’s Alaska appro–
priations have been made “immediately available” which removed from them
some of the limitations placed on others that did not contain this provision.
Of course the date of publication bears little relation to the date
when the field work is done or the manuscript completed by its author. This
is because much editing both of the text and illustrations may be required, and
even after the complete copy is sent to the printer, there are innumerable
steps to be taken before the completed book is in shape for distribution.
From the Survey’s standpoint the assignment of a certain project to
a specified “season” has been found more satisfactory than any other means
of dating a piece of exploratory work. Obviously the term covers an indefinite
period of time, generally embracing the four main steps in any well-organized
exploration, namely, ( 1 ) the period spent in preparing for the job, ( 2 ) the
time required in performing the actual field work, ( 3 ) the analysis and
interpretation of the observations made, and ( 4 ) the preparation of a report
setting forth the accomplishments and conclusions reached. Of course there
are occasionally projects undertaken which are planned to require several
years for their completion, but ordinarily the Survey’s Alaska explorations
have been laid out so that by the time a geologist or topographer has finished
his former work, he would be ready in the spring to make his plans for the
ensuing exploration. The field work is done during the summer and fall.

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

During the winter he completes the working up of his notes, makes the
microscopic studies of the rocks and minerals he collected, submits his
fossils for identification, and does the necessary writing of his report
accompanied by maps and illustrations, so as then to be ready to prepare
plans for his next expedition. That calls for a strenuous schedule but it
was long the proud aim of the technical members of the Alaska group to see
that they maintained that pace. The foregoing explanation may be summarized
by saying that the term season as here used includes the preparatory and
field work of that year and the office and laboratory studies of the succeed–
ing year in which the job was brought to completion.
In determin in g the period during which the Alaska field season is done
it may not be amiss to note that the time of starting or closing the Survey’s
field season is governed by climate and weather conditions rather than the
comfort or whims of the individuals. As is evident, geologic observations
cannot readily be made when there is even a thin covering of snow to obscure
the surface features, and travel with pack train or by boats is impossible
when forage for the animals is lacking, or when the streams are locked in
their sheaths of winter ice. Of course, on certain of the expeditions when
extensive travel was required to reach the field of operations and heavy
supplies had to be dragged in by dog teams, the winter season proved to be
the most advantageous for cross-country travel and a number of the parties
took advantage of these conditions to get to their appointed fields before
the snow and ice disappeared.
The startling discoveries of placer gold in the Canadian Klondike in
1897-98 led to the unprecedented rush of miners and others anxious to make
their stakes in the new Eldorado. This stampede into our neighbor’s territory

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

soon led many of those who did not get suitable properties in that camp to
overflow into Alaska e a nd take up their search for the noble metal there.
As a result new discoveries were made which extended at intervals all the
way to remote Seward Peninsula and the fabulous Nome gold fields. Tens of
thousands of seekers after the promise of quickly acquired wealth thronged
to the Territory and overran even some of its most remote tracts. The
Survey’s task in assisting these hordes of earnest but generally poorly
informed searchers after mineral deposits called for more than ordinary
effort because so few of the physical features of the country were known.
The available maps of the back country were so lacking in accuracy that they
were of little use in showing even the general relations of one gold field
to another, and the geologic setting of most of the mineral deposits was not
even indicated.
It was, therefore, important under this situation that the first atten–
tion should be given by the Survey to getting together quickly general infor–
mation regarding the most important areas and making it available to the
public at the earliest opportunity. This led to the undertaking of broad
reconnaissance surveys which should cover extensive tracts of country rather
than focus attention on intensive studies of small, restricted tracts. This
led to the adoption of a general publication scale for the Survey’s Alaska
maps of four miles to the inch (1:250,000) by which 2,000 to 5,000 square
miles of country could be covered by a single Survey party in a season. Such
a party usually consisted of a geologist and his assistant, a topographer and
his helper, together with necessary camp hands as were required to look after
the horses if a pack train was used, or boatman if boats were used for trans–
portation, together with ax men and such other special camp hands as might be

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

required. Inasmuch as practically all these parties operated at considerable
distances from any regular source of supplies, they were of necessity forced
to carry all of the e quipment and supplies that they would need for the entire
time they were in the field. As the work progressed, modifications in the
general procedures were worked out to make them best adapted to the local
conditions encountered but it is interesting to note that the general plans
as originally laid down were the basis on which most of the exploratory work
for the next forty years was performed . Its success is to be measured by the
fact that it permitted the covering of hundreds of thousands of square miles
without a single serious accident under the most rigorous conditions and
yielded geographic and geologic information of incalculable value at a cost
of only a few dollars per square mile.
The early organization of the Survey’s work in Alaska was more or less
of an adaption of the methods that had been developed in the States for
comparable work there, directed by a group especially designated for the
task. It early became apparent, however, that proper planning and management
called for specially close familiarity with the local situations that had to
be met. Thus it was not long before it was recognized that the committee
type of management which had been used in handling the Survey’s Alaska work
in the early days must give way to more direct one-man planning and respon–
sibility. Thus, in 1903, a separate unit was established as the Division of
Alaskan Mineral Resources, as part of the Geologic Branch of the Survey.
Brooks, who since 1898 had been engaged in Alaskan work, was designated as
the geologist in charge and retained his leadership of its work until his
death in 1924.
It would be too time-consuming to recount here the individual projects
that were undertaken during each of the ensuing years by the Survey’s Alaska

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

unit. A full statement of the accomplishments of each year is given in the
official administrative report of the unit for the appropriate year from
1904 until the close of 1931. Subsequent to that date the publication of
this particular report was discontinued and the work was described in more
general terms in the annual report of the Director to the Secretary of the
Interior, or in the hearings before the House Subcommittee on Interior
Department appropriations.
Although it has seemed fitting to pass over without detailed mention
the year-by-year accumulations of geographic and geologic information that
were collected and interpreted for the public by the Alaska unit of the
Survey, there were a number of outstanding events that served to highlight
certain of the normal yearly accomplishments and thus merit being singled
out for special mention. Necessarily, as the work progressed the cruder
reconnaissance and exploratory surveys that had been adequate in the earliest
work were supplemented by more and more detailed intensive work and certain
of the greater mining camps were studied with great care. As a result of
this higher-grade work, detailed geologic and topographic maps were prepared
to cover the great lode-gold camp near Juneau and the placer-gold camps near
Nome and Fairbanks. Funds, however, were always too inadequate to permit
much of this detailed work being done and even after fifty years of the
Survey’s work in Alaska, less than one per cent of the Territory had been
covered by such detailed maps and reports.
Specific mention should be made of one phase of the Survey’s Alaska
work, namely, the annual canvass of all the mines and prospects so as to
obtain authoritative statistics of the production of minerals from Alaskan
deposits. The tabulations of the records were promptly published and up to

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

1943 afforded the most reliable information as to the progress of mining in
the Territory. These annual summaries included not only statistical data
but also notes on all of the late developments and even of some of those that
were in prospect. These reports were based on hundreds of schedules sent out
not only to the individuals known to be mining but also to mints, assay offices,
banks, express companies, smelters and refineries, and selected individuals,
supplemented by the notes gathered by the various members of the field staff
of the Survey in the course of their explorations through the Territory.
In 1906, the Alaska unit, in addition to its other duties, began to
carry on explorations and examinations of the Territory’s water resources.
At first these studies were concerned mainly with the quantity of water
available at various localities for mining operations. This was an especially
welcome service to miners because throughout most of central Alaska where
there were the great placer-mining camps, water was one of the controlling
factors which often spelled the success or failure of an enterprise. Through–
out most of central Alaska, the annual precipitation is less than 15 inches
or that of a semiarid country. The success of the water resources investi–
gations concerned with the quantity of water available led before long to a
study of the potential resources of water power in the Territory. These
examinations were more or less closely confined to the southern and south–
central coastal regions where the glacial sculpturing of the country had
produced catchment basins separated by rocky gorges with swift flowing
streams or waterfalls, and where the annual precipitation was often more
than 100 inches. A study of the hot and mineral springs was also made and
109 such springs were reported by Gerald A. Waring (13). Unfortunately, the
need to use the all too meager funds available on more pressing investigations

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

necessitated the dropping of the water resources work in Alaska by the
Survey in 1920 and it was not resumed until 1946. (For reports issued
by the Geological Survey on the water resources of Alaska see (2; 3; 4; 5;
7; 8; 9; 12). References (4) and (12) relate mainly to potential water
power.)
In 1907, the installation of a new director, Dr. George Otis Smith,
as head of the Survey changed in part the accent that heretofore had been
placed on phases of the Survey’s work both in the States and in Alaska.
Smith was a highly trained scientist but he had long had close personal
contact with practical problems not only is his official work but also in
his personal affairs t s o that he brought a high degree of business acumen to
his new job. The organization, therefore, soon became imbued with the
sprit not only of doing scientific work superlatively well but also keeping
in mind that the work should be of distinct use to the public from whom came
the funds that allowed the Survey to function.
What effect this modification of the Survey policy may have had on the
larger policies of the nation cannot now be unscrambled from the records of
the past. It is certain, however, that toward the close of the administration
of President Theodore Roosevelt one of the great issues of the day was the
question of “conservation” of the nation’s resources. True, there was much
confusion as to the meaning of the term because followers of Gifford Pinchot
seemed to feel that it implied the locking up of the nation’s assets whereas
others, including the Survey, regarded “the wise utilization” of the nation’s
assets as better defining the aim of the movement. Whatever should have been
the correct interpretation of the phrase, it soon became a question around
which acrimonious disputes raged for several years. This had a serious

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

repercussion on Alaska because, while raging, the problem of Alaskan develop–
ment cane into prominence.
One school of thought fought to prevent the opening-up and exploitation
of any of that country’s mineral resources whereas the other saw that if the
Territory was to be opened up it would be necessary to make inducements to
business sufficiently attractive to compel attention. There were ample grounds
for differences of opinion as to how far either policy should be carried, but
there was no justification for the mud-slinging and falsifications that were
injected into the controversy by the “look tight” school. Before the con–
flict waned the President had been forced to call for the resignation of
Pinchot and accept the resignation of Secretary of Interior Ballinger.
Unfortunately even this solution of the feud could not avoid irreparable
damage on the innocent bystander, Alaska. Alaska, by discouraging the active swing toward
development that had been in progress — ✓ (line missing cf. original p. 14, 4 line fr bottom)
and those effects have not yet been fully dissipated.
Although gold valued at nearly $200,000,000 had been mined from Alaska
deposits by the close of 1911, it was readily apparent to any thoughtful
geologist or mining engineer that the mineral resources of low unit value
could not be profitably developed unless improved transportation facilities
were available to get the product to market. Gold, because of its high unit
value, suffered less because of lack of transportation than any of the other
mineral products — a million dollars worth of gold weighing less than three
tons — but if gold mining was to be done on a large scale, the working of
low-grade ore deposits would require the importation of heavy equipment and
supplies that necessitated far more extensive transportation facilities than
were then available.

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

Foremost in demonstrating this need to the higher powers was Brooks,
and so successful was he in instilling this lesson to the awareness of
President Taft and Congress that, in 1912, a commission was set up with
Brooks as vice-chairman to report “the best and most available routes for
railroads in Alaska which will develop the country and the resources thereof
for the use of the people of the United States.” In spite of the fact that
the authorization of the commission was not formally made until August 1912,
it quickly was organized and set out for a field study of the conditions
adjacent to any of the feasible routes for a railroad from the coast to the
interior. As a result of the commission’s study, conclusions were reached
and submitted to the President who forwarded them to Congress with his
approval on February 6, 1913.
The most important conclusion reached was “that a route from Cordova
by way of Chitina to Fairbanks would furnish the best trunk line to the Yukon
and Tanana waters.” Unfortunately, before the commission’s recommendations
were acted upon by Congress, a change of administration had occurred and
instead of adhering to the original plan, President Wilson had allowed the
substitution of the route by way of Susitna River and Broad Pass for that
way by Cordova. By this change in location many of the advantages that
might have aided in the development of the Territory were lost and much
additional expense and bickering incurred as a constant handicap.
In spite of the regret felt by the Survey at the selection of the Susitna
route for the new main line of the railroad, the Survey could not but feel
that the railroad would aid materially in the development of the country’s
mineral resources as well as settlement for other purposes. Thus the local
coal deposits of the Matanuska Valley and the Healy Creek area were afforded

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

a rail outlet and unquestionably a number of the large gold-mining enter–
prises of interior Alaska could have been developed if this means of
moving large quantities of heavy machinery and equipment had not been
available. A start on the construction of the government-operated rail–
road which was called the Alaska Railroad was begun late in 1914 and the
ceremonies marking its completion took place in 1921.
Throughout all of the Survey’s activities in Alaska, much of its work
had centered around the prospective coal resources of the Territory. The
early investigation of Dall had been followed up by those of G. C. Martin
and others until a considerable body of facts had been built up. Contem–
poraneously with or antedating this work in Alaska, the geologists in the
States had awakened to the stupidity of the way in which certain of our
mineral resources had been alienated from the general use of the pubic by
the existing laws. Thus for many years prior to 1914 the government had been
disposing of its coal lands at a set price per acre regardless of the amount
of coal contained therein — the only qualifying condition being whether or
not the land in question lay within a distance of five miles from a railroad.
This was obviously an unwise policy because in Alaska certain coal beds were
as much as forty feet thick whereas others were of less than minable thickness.
t T hen too the quality of the coal in the different areas differed widely in its
heating value as some were high-grade anthracites and others were low-grade
lignites.
To be fair both to the government and the prospective purchaser, it was
evident that all of the various factors entering into setting a value on a
specific tract of coal land should be determined before its value could be
properly appraised. Although this procedure was obviously fair to both parties,

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

there was considerable opposition to substituting it for the former and then
existing practice. Persons wishing to grab for themselves some of the par–
ticulary high-grade coal lands cheaply, fought against any action that would
increase the price they would have to pay for the lands they coveted. Of
course the fight to pass the necessary legislation was conducted mainly by
other than members of the Survey, but its geologists were constantly being
called on the supply technical information needed by both sides in the hearings.
Finally, in 1914, an act “to provide for the leasing of coal lands in the
Territory of Alaska and other purposes” was passed by Congress and approved
by the President. Since that time none of the coal lands in the Territory
have been allowed to pass permanently into private hands but have been leased
to applicants under the terms of the law and the proceeds received therefrom
have returned to the public pocketbook and thus been available for the benefit
of all out citizens. This leasing policy was later adopted for application
in the disposal of coal and certain other types of mineral lands in the
States proper so that no longer are valuable mineral lands disposed for a
song.
The necessity of placing proper valuation on the coal lands thus became
a matter for the joint application of the specialized knowledge of members
of the General Land Office, the Bureau of Mines, and the Geological Survey.
Close cooperation was established for coordinating the activities of these
different offices, and intensive studies were made in the field for the proper
carrying out of the tasks assigned respectively to the different agencies.
As a result, the two large coal fields adjacent to the Alaska Railroad, which
of course, were susceptible to early development, were examined and subdivided
into appropriate leasing blocks that could be offered for lease to the public,

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while at the same time certain ones were set aside for retention by the
government for its own uses, such as making coal available in emergencies
for the maintenance of the Alaska Railroad or other national uses.
While these Alaska activities were in the process of formulation or
beginning to take shape, the heavy war clouds that had long been hanging
low over. Europe finally broke and the world was precipitated into war.
At first, the direct effects on the work of the Geological Survey and
especially on its Alaska work was relatively slight. As time went on, how–
ever, it became increasingly evident that this nation must have an inventory
of its assets not only for its own protection but also to find out what
supplies it could afford to make available to other nations in whose
success we were vitally concerned. Thus, a number of the geologists of
the Division of Alaska Mineral Resources were assigned to make special
studies of those mineral commodities which might be significant, especially
such scarce materials as tin, tungsten, and chromium. As our nation’s
involvement in the war became more and more imminent, many of the members
of the Division felt the urge to place their personal services more directly
in the military forces of their country. Of the several who left the unit
for this reason, none made a more direct contribution to the nation’s mili–
tary might than Brooks and J. W. Bagley. Brooks early was placed on General
Pershing’s staff as chief geologist of the American Expeditionary Forces and
left in May 1917, for field service in Europe. His ready grasp of the aid
geology could render the troops in the field in the siting of structures for
defense and offense, water supplies, and sources of mineral supplies for
purposes of construction or indicating points of attack within the enemy
lines made his advice constantly sought by his brother-officers, and earned

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him high commendations from his superiors. He had been advanced in rank
to that of lieutenant colonel by May 1919, when, at the close of the war,
he was relieved from his military duties and resumed those of geologist in
charge of the Geological Survey’s Alaska work.
The particular contribution which Bagley was able to make to the nation’s
military program during the First World War was an outgrowth of his regular
duties as a topographer engaged in the Survey’s Alaska work. This is not
the place to try and trace in detail the various steps that led to this
proficiency. Suffice it here to state that because of the short working
season in Alaska and the enormous tracts to be mapped, the Survey engineers
had long given special consideration to devising short cuts or other means
by which their work could be expedited. As a result of Bagley’s studies of
this problem he had devised methods and equipment for obtaining cartographic
data from photographs taken in the field (1). Examples of maps produced by
these methods so impressed the responsible Army officials that early in the
war they induced him to devote his time exclusively to carrying on experiments
for further perfecting the method and equipment and for making it applicable
not only to photographs taken from ground stations looking out horizontally
over the visible terrane, but also to photographs pointed downward from
high-flying airplanes. So successful was Bagley in this work that he became
the foremost exponent of this method of mapping in North America and remained
so during the rest of his career in the Army and as professor in the
Geographical Institute at Harvard University. Contributing in no small
measure to the success of Bagley during the early years while still members
of the Geological Survey was the work of F. H. Moffit and J. B. Mertie, Jr.
of the Alaska unit.

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For many years the presence of petroleum had been recognized at a
number of places in the Territory but at only one had there been any com–
mercial amount of oil produced. In 1920, a bill was enacted relating to
the Territory’s oil lands, drawn along a line similar to that followed in the
act providing for the leasing of coal lands in Alaska. The public interest
was stirred up while this measure was pending in Congress, and the duties
it imposed on the Geological Survey (to determine the areas subject to the
qualifications set up by the act) revived interest in the search for and the
delimitation of the prospective tracts where oil might be developed. This
led the Geological Survey to reexamine many of the fields that had been
hastily reconnoitered in the past as well as to examine with care some of
the areas in the Alaska Peninsula that had not been studied at all heretofore.
Within the next few years several strongly financed companies undertook to
make deep drill tests of the tracts in which they were interested. Unfor–
tunately none of these tests disclosed the presence of commercial quantities
of oil. Drilling was, therefore, stopped without more than a single test
hole on a structure so that they cannot be regarded as conclusively indi–
cating the absence of commercial acc o u mulations of petroleum.
Although for many years the Alaska work was carried on nominally as
a division of the Geologic Branch of the Survey, actually it functioned
essentially as an independent unit under the leadership of Brooks. In 1922,
Director Smith of the Geological Survey, aware of this condition, decided that
this situation should be definitely recognized by making the unit an inde–
pendant branch on equal standing with geology, topography, and water resources.
Brooks was designated as chief Alaskan geologist in charge of the newly
established branch. It will be noted that the various functional activities

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which were performed in the States by the different branches all had been
and continued to be handled for Alaska by the Alaskan Branch.
Activities in the search for oil throughout the world, as well as the
scandals that had arisen regarding the administration of certain of the
government oil reservations in the States aroused the Navy Department into
having a large tract in northern Alaska in which seeps of oil were known to
occur, set aside as a Naval petroleum Reserve for its investigation. As a
result an Executive Order was issued February 27, 1923, setting aside about
35,000 square miles of country in northern Alaska as Naval Petroleum
Reserve No. 4. Most of this vast tract of land had been practically
unvisited up to the time the Reservation was created and the Navy Department
soon invited the Survey to make necessary explorations to determine the
geographic and geologic facts regarding the tract. Sidney Paige with two
other geologists, three topographers, and the necessary camp hands were
assigned to begin the necessary surveys. Although the parties traveled
northward as rapidly as conditions permitted, the sea ice in the Arctic Sea
prevented the vessel on which they sailed from reaching Barrow until late
in July, and field work was stopped by the oncoming of winter by September 2.
In spite of this short season, the parties made notable traverses of the
coastal parts of the Reserve and brought back much new authoritative informa–
tion bearing on the resources of the area.
It was evident, that, in the short time available for parties reaching the
area by ship, extensive inland explorations would be impossible. The obvious
solution of getting more time for the exploration of the inland areas was to
send the parties overland during the winter so that they might be on the
ground to utilize all of the open season in their explorations. This was done

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during the winter of 1923-24. Philip S. Smith and J. B. Merti a e , Jr.,
geologists, and Gerald FitzGerald and R. K. Lynt, topographers, with the
necessary camp hands, made the trip from the railroad at Nenana across the
country with their dog teams to the headwaters of one of the tributaries
of the Colville River, north of the Brooks Range. Much work was accomplished
during the late winter and early spring as well as during the regular open
season so that the Survey estimates three to four times as much could be
be accomplished during a single year, by parties organized as was that of
Smith and his associates, as could be done when the parties were transported
by ships. So well did this method work out that in 1925 and again in 1926
other parties went to Naval Reserve No. 4 overland during the winter and
traversed most of the large streams during the summer in the canoes that
they had brought in by dog team during the winter. As a result of these
four seasons of work most of the larger geographic and geologic features of
the Reserve had been outlined. It was obvious, however, that definite answer
as to prospective value of the Reserve for oil could not be forecast by
surface examinations alone and that, while such surface examinations should
be continued, actual drilling tests were required. The costs and difficulties
of operating in this remote region served to deter the Navy Department from
carrying the test further and so further exploration was carried on in the
search for oil in the Reserve until, as will be noted later, the oncoming og
World War II again focussed the attention of the world on seeking additional
supplies of petroleum and its pro c d u c ts wherever they might be found.
Late in 1924, while these various investigations were under way, the
Survey and geologic science suffered a severe loss through the death of Brooks
who had so successfully led and participated in the Alaska work for more than

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a score of years. The vacancy thus created was filled by the appointment
of P. S. Smith as chief Alaskan geologist and the work continued under his
charge for the next twenty-odd years.
Perhaps the next incident which affected the Alaska Branch that is
worth mention was the transfer of certain duties formerly performed by the
Bureau of Mines in the Territory to the Survey. The necessity for this
transfer arose through the fact that in 1925 the Bureau of Mines, which had
long been one of the bureaus of the Interior Department, was transferred to
the Department of Commerce. As a consequence, many of the activities that
centered around the technical supervision of the coal- and oil-land leases
by the government had to be exercised by agencies of the Interior Department.
Of those having technical knowledge of such matters, the Geological Survey
was obviously most fit. The former members of the Bureau of Mines who were
handling Alaska leases were transferred to the Alaska Branch of the Survey
and for a number of years a field office was maintained at Anchorage, Alaska,
for the conduct of this work. As a result of this transfer, the Bureau of
Mines dropped practically all of its Alaska work and, through a cooperative
arrangement, B. D. Stewart of the Alaska Branch was permitted to render such
assistance as might be required in matters with which his former association
with the Bureau permitted. According to internal arrangements within the
Survey, the Alaska Branch was responsible for the conduct of the field work
required in connection with the leasing work in the Territory, and the
Conservation Branch of the Survey in Washington performed the necessary
headquarter’s office functions. The sum of $22,000 was transferred from the
Bureau of Mines to the Survey for conducting the Alaska work. This arrangement
soon lapsed as the Conservation Branch felt that this amount of money was out

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of proportion to that spent on comparable work in the States and, conse–
quently, the amount was whittled down until after a few years only $7,000
a year was allotted and soon thereafter (1934), the allotment was cut out
entirely and the Alaska Branch as such ceased having an active part in the
supervision of the leasing operations in Alaska.
The year 1926 was notable in the records of the Alaska Branch because
it marked the first extensive use of aerial photographs for mapping parts of
the Territory. The great strides that had been made by Bagley and others
in the preparation of maps from aerial photographs had provided a tool that
would be of inestimable value in covering the mountainous belt of south–
eastern Alaska that was practically inaccessible by any ground methods of
survey. Unfortunately, the cost of obtaining the necessary airplanes and
flying personnel put the project far outside the scope of projects that could
be paid for from the meager appropriations made to the Survey. There were,
however, so many calls for maps of that part of the Territory that it seemed
incumbent on the Survey to discover means by which the work could be done.
Contact was, therefore, made with other government agencies that customarily
operated airplanes to enlist their assistance, but for a long time the quest
was unsuccessful. Finally, however, when the matter was broached to the Navy
Department a responsive spark was struck. The officers recognized the wonder–
ful training such a project would afford a selected personnel from their
service and at the same time produce much needed cartographic data. As
the cost of such training would be essentially the same as that required in
rand u o m flying over well-known terrane, the Navy was willing to detail a
squadron of planes with the necessary personnel and equipment to do the work.
The Survey agreed to attach one of its most experienced topographers, R. H. Sargent,

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

to assist in every way possible and to defray such expenses as were properly
its part of the mapping work. When the project for the aerial work was
announced, many, if not all, of the governmental agencies operating in that
part of Alaska tendered their services, wherever possible, to help as best
they could. With this cordial spirit of cooperation and keen enthusiasm
to carry out the objects of the expedition, it is needless to say that
results were eminently satisfactory. Approximately 10,000 square miles
of country, much of which called for flying under extremely difficult and
hazardous conditions, was photographed and approximately 17,000 negatives
were secured. In charge of the Navy’s operations were Lt. Ben H. Wyatt and
Executive Officer Lt. Wallace M. Dillon, both from the Bureau of Aeronautics.
Recognition of the value of the method of making maps of southeastern
Alaska through the use of photographs taken from airplanes was so immediate
that the Survey was anxious to have the work which had been done so well by
the Navy continued. For several years, because of the urgency of its other
duties, it was not possible for the Navy to resume that work. In 1929,
however, it did become possible for the Navy to take up the task of completing
the photographing of southeastern Alaska, and a well-equipped expedition under
the leadership of Lt. Comdr. (now Vice Admiral) A. W. Radford was dispatched
with the necessary personnel and equipment to carry out the task. Again
Sargent served as representative of the Geological Survey. Again the expedi–
tion made an enviable record of accomplishment, completing the photographing
of some 12,000 square miles of difficult country and virtually completing the
photographic coverage of the entire Panhandle portion of Alaska.
Since its completion in 1921, the Alaska Railroad has had a hard struggle
to make its operating income nearly balance the outgo that was required for

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its expenses. Year after year Congress had been called on to grant supple–
mental funds to make up the deficiency and was becoming increasingly averse
to doing so. In 1930 a senatorial c ommittee headed by Clark Howell made a
trip to Alaska to study the situation and to take such steps as might put the
railroad on a self-sustaining basis. Various palliative measures were sug–
gested but the real answer to the situation lay in increasing the amount of
tonnage handled. Obviously an increase in the hauling of mineral products
would supply this extra business.
As a consequence, the Geological Survey was called upon to intensify
its explorations in the country, tributary to the Alaska Railroad, and ten
parties were dispatched in 1931 to carry out these special investigations.
Practically all of the area adjacent to the Alaska Railroad had already been
reconnoitered by the Survey in its search for mineral deposits so that the
explorations focussed on intensive examinations of those that might furnish
heavy commodities such as coal and ores of the metals rather than on placer
deposits and those that even if successful would yield little tonnage.
Drilling tests were made to determine the potential resources of the
Anthracite Ridge coal field in the hope that the finding of considerable
quantities of high-grade coal might open up an entirely new market for its
product and thus be of material aid to the railroad. Unfortunately, the
tests did not disclose a large quantity of fuel superior to that already
under development and much nearer the regular line of the road. As a further
means of assisting in the search for workable mineral deposits in the vicinity
of the Alaska Railroad, a geologist was permanently assigned to the Anchorage
office of the Alaska Branch whose sole duty was to keep informed of any
mineral finds that he might assist in bringing into production.

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The depression that affected all lines of national endeavor during the
last years of the Hoover administration and the early years of that of
Franklin D. Roosevelt took a heavy toll of the Alaskan activities of the
Geological Survey. Its appropriations were out back to about $30,000 a year
so that its ordinary program was very much curtailed. Fortunately grants were
made for continuation of some of its explorations from funds appropriated
by Congress to the Public Works Administration or Works Progress Adminis–
tration and the payroll of the Branch was temporarily relieved of the salary
of the chief Alaskan geologist, who was designated as in charge of the
administration of the Public Works program in Alaska. The early stages of
the relief work in Alaska were attended by difficulties because, as elsewhere,
many of the schemes for making work were highly impractical. For instance,
much pressure was put behind the plan to send out thousands of unemployed
city dwellers from the States to Alaska to search for hidden supplies of
needed minerals. The proponents of this plan suggested that the Geological
Survey supervise these persons who had no familiarity with mineral deposits
or even with taking care of themselves in a frontier country and most of whom,
therefore, would be a serious liability rather than a help in any such special–
ized task as prospecting or developing mineral deposits, and would entail
heavy expenses for their transportation and maintenance. The foregoing
adverse comments regarding certain of the PWA and WPA activities in Alaska
are intended to apply only to some of the effects on the mineral industry,
as doubtless the efforts in other directions were well planned and carried
out the tided over otherwise very difficult situations.
As the nation began to recover from the severest effects of the depression,
the Survey’s activities began to resume a more normal tone though the decreased

EA-I. Smith: Survey’s Explorations

appropriations allotted by Congress for that work coupled with the constantly
mounting costs for its performance necessitated considerable retrenchment in
the number and kind of projects that could be undertaken each year. Situations
in Alaska had hardly begun to resume some of their ordinary tenor when the war
clouds hanging over Europe finally broke with the German invasion of Belgium,
the Netherlands, and Luxembourg in 1940. The effects on our own country were
promptly realized by our statesmen who saw that we would inevitably be drawn
into the conflict. As part of the preparation for this situation, Congress
made special appropriations for the Geological Survey to carry out intensive
examinations throughout the national domain for those deposits of minerals
that were in short supply and would be needed for any all-out national war
effort. Part of these funds for “strategic minerals” were allotted for
exploration in Alaska. Funds for this search were regularly granted by
Congress for each of the succeeding six years and during that period prac–
tically every known deposit in Alaska that could furnish these needed war
minerals was reexamined by geologists and engineers of the Survey so as to
afford reliable current estimates as to the quantities of the different
minerals that each could be counted on to supply.
As the outbreak of war involving the United States daily became more
and more imminent, the other agencies of the government began to draw heavily
on the accumulated stock of information that had been acquired by the Survey’s
field men in the course of their explorations in the Territory. It would
unduly lengthen this article to try to enumerate the various subjects for
which the knowledge of the Alaskan staff was drawn on to supply information
needed by the war agencies. All existing maps made by the Branch were avidly
sought and utilized. The personal familiarity with the terrane in different

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areas was invoked in answering questions bearing on the location of airfields
and in the availability of materials for their c onstruction or camouflage.
With these countless calls for service and the demand for men for the
Armed Forces, the Survey was sorely put to it to get and maintain the staff
necessary to do even its most essential tasks. Of course the declaration,
in October 1942, that gold mining was no longer considered an essential industry cut
off one line of investigation by the Survey, but for each item dropped a
score of new calls for service seemed to arise.
Of all the lines in which the exploration of the Survey’s Alaska unit
were utilized by the military agencies, none made a greater or more spectacular
contribution than the topographic mapping for the Army Air Forces. As has
been noted, the topographers of the Alaska Branch had long specialized in
catching and recording the major aspects of the terrane and quickly producing
maps that were not cluttered up with a maze of intricate detail. In the
realization of this aim they had devised and were familiar with various
methods for the recovery of cartographic data from photographs taken from
fast moving airplanes and translating the information into maps covering
extensive areas. When the Army Air Force reviewed the situation which it
faced if a global war was to be wage s d , it immediately became apparent that
tremendous areas in North America as well as in all other continents were
little more than blank paper on even the best of existing maps. It was evident,
therefore, that steps must be taken at once to remedy this situation or
invaluable personnel and equipment would be jeopardized in the long-range
operations that must be undertaken. By fortunate chance some of the officers
responsible for the formulation of the War Department’s policies relating
to mapping were acquainted with the Survey’s Alaska maps and with FitzGerald

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who was then chief topographic engineer of the Alaska unit. They readily
appreciated that for fast flying planes the amount and character of topo–
graphic detail shown on these Alaska maps was adequate and could be quickly
grasped by the pilot and so guide him safely on his course. The problem was
to map with a minimum of delay enormous areas of unsurveyed country adjacent
to the routes to be traveled. Obviously this could only be done speedily by
aerial photographic methods. The details of this program were worked out
under the leadership of Capt. Minton M K aye of the Air Forces and FitzGerald
of the Alaska Branch. New photographic instruments were devised and tested
and the whole procedure of working the data up into maps was organized on
more or less of an assembly-line basis, so as to use largely unskilled
personnel who had no previous technical cartographic experience. At no time
was it possible to get adequate personnel to carry on the work on as extensive
a scale as was desired, but in spite of all obstacles the work progressed
rapidly. The new system, called the Trimetrogon method from the trade name
of the lens e used in the aerial cameras selected, rapidly was adopted by
the Army Air Forces as the main method of preparing the maps it needed for
its flyers in their flights throughout all parts of the world. Fit s z Gerald
was subsequently commissioned and placed in charge of all this mapping pro–
gram, and by the end of the war had turned out new maps, covering about
15,000,000 square miles of the earth’s surface, a feat of “exploration”
unparalleled in the annals of cartography. It earned for him the
Distinguished Service Medal, and for the rank and file under him commendations
from the highest military authorities for a good job well done.
After a lapse of nearly 20 years, the Navy Department, in 1945, began
to take renewed interest in the large Naval Petroleum Reserve that had been

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created for its used in northern Alaska and turned to the Geological Survey
for help in planning and carrying out some of its explorations that were
required in connection with proposed developments. These studies have
involved extensive mapping from aerial photographs supplemented by some
ground surveys. A score or more ground parties from the Geological Survey
under the general direction of J. C. Reed and under the immediate charge of
G. O. Gates have made detailed examinations of almost all of the visible
geological formations and have prepared accurate cross sections and maps of
their findings. Several moderately deep wells have been drilled to test
some of the structures that appeared favorable and various modern electrical
and gravimetric devices have been freely used to shed whatever additional
light they could on those features that could not be determined by direct
observation. Altogether the work has been done in a most intensive fashion
and with the best technical skill and equipment.
With the advent of V-E and V-J Days and the cessation of hostilities,
many of the war activities of the Alaska Branch were allowed to taper off.
The civilian activities of the Survey, however, began to take on ever-increasing
prominence owing to the Interior Department’s attempts to foster the development
of Alaska. Increased appropriations were requested form Congress to permit
the various kinds of work performed by the Survey in Alaska to be carried
on much more intensively. To meet this situation, a general reorganization
of the former Alaskan Branch was undertaken, in 1946, whereby it was abolished
and the varied kinds of work it had hitherto done were distributed among the
main functional units of the Survey — thus the geologic work was transferred
to a new unit under the Geologic Branch, the topographic mapping to the
Topographic Branch, water resources studies to the Water Resources Branch,
and the mineral-leasing activities to the Conservation Branch. After more

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than forty years of service on the Survey, Philip S. Smith retired, and
the general coordination of the diversified activities of the Geological
Survey was taken over by Dr. John C. Reed, who serves as staff geologist
to the Director for this special assignment.
In summarizing the accomplishments of the Geological Survey in the
exploration of Alaska, it has seemed desirable to omit from the following
statistics the records of performance during the years subsequent to 1941
when World War II was in progress. This is because much of the work accom–
plished during those years does not lend itself readily to specific measure–
ment and such of the items as could be stated in terms of area were largely
work performed by the Geological Survey for other governmental agencies
and paid for by their funds. Limiting the period discussed to that from
1896 to 1940, both dates inclusive, the Survey has had appropriated by
Congress directly for its Alaska work $2,927,000. The annual appropriation
from Congress for these years has thus averaged a little more than $60,000.
In addition to the foregoing sum, $141,000 was received for the conservation
or leasing work in Alaska; $252,000 was received for miscellaneous services
such as the early work done for the Navy Department in connection with the
Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 4, from PWA and WPA; and $35,000 for a start on
the war work seeking “strategic minerals.” The combined sum of all these
items is $3,355,000. In this connection it may be interesting to point out
that for six years, 1941 to 1946 inclusive, the funds received by the Alaska
Branch from all sources was over $3,646,000, or nearly $300,000 more than the
Geological Survey had at its disposal for all its Alaskan work during the
45 years it had been operating prior to 1941.

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Again reverting to the period prior to World War II, the record shows
that as a result of the foregoing expenditures, the Geological Survey had
at times sent as many as 12 expeditions to the Territory in a single year
for exploration. Approximately three hundred thousand square miles of
Alaska had been mapped by original topographic surveys; about an equal area
had been mapped geologically; and hundreds of stream measurements had been
made. Records had been collected and maintained regarding the production
of minerals to the value of nearly $900,000,000. More than 140 separate
volumes, some of which contain as many as 10 separate sections covering
different investigations, have been issued as units of the Survey’s official
series of professional papers, bulletins, and water-supply papers as well as
a score or more reports on Alaska which have appeared as parts of other
Survey volumes. Hundreds of less formal communications have been prepared
by members of the Alaska Branch for publication in magazines of the scientific
and technical press that are issued unofficially.
Much has been learned about Alaska through the explorations of the
Geological Survey but much still remains for the Survey to do in solving
more of the problems that our great northern outpost still presents. As
yet, less than two per cent has been mapped by the Survey with the degree of
detail that is considered requisite for mapping even the least intensively
developed areas in the States proper. There still remains much to be done
in making an adequate [: ] inventory of the mineral resources of the
Territory. Many distinctly geologic matters, such as the collection of facts
relating to character, extent, and distribution of the areas of permanently
frozen ground in the Territory, have by no means been done adequately in
spite of the fact that this condition widely affects the successful practice

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of farming or the building of roads and structures. Although the work
already done has accomplished much in making the public aware of some of
the marvelous scenic features such as the imponderable mountains, the amazing
glaciers, the majestic volcanoes, the remedial hot springs, and the countless
other manifestations of Nature’s beneficence and inspiration, many others
remain to be explored and described so that they may attract sightseers and
others from all over the world to pay them reverential homage or enjoy their
eternal lure.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Bagley, J.W. The Use of the Panoramic Camera in Topographic Surveying, with
Notes on the Application of Photogrammetry to Aerial Surveys
. Wash.,
D.C., G.P.O., 1917. U.S.Geol.Surv. Bull . 657.

2. Covert, C.C., and Ellsworth, C.E. Water-Supply Investigations in the Yukon-
Tanana Region, Alaska, 1907 X X and 1908. (Fairbanks, Circle, and Rampart
Districts.)
Wash.,D.C., G.P.O., 1909. U.S.Geol.Surv. Wat.Supp.Pap . 228.

3. Ellsworth, C.E., and Davenport, R.W. Surface Water-Supply of the Yukon-Tnanana
Region, Alaska
. Wash.,D.C., G.P.O., 1915. Ibid . 342.

4. ----, and----, A Water-Power Reconnaissance in South-Central Alaska . Wash.,
D.C., G.P.O., 1915. Ibid . 372.

5. Grover, N.C. Contributions to the Hydrology of the United States . Wash.,
D.C., G.P.O., 1915. Ibid . 345.

6. Hayes, C.W. “An expedition through the Yukon district,” Nat.Geogr.Mag.
vol.4, pp.118-62, May 15, 1892.

7. Henshaw, F.F., and Cover, C.C. Water-Supply Investigations in Alaska ,
1906-7. (Nome and Kougarok Regions, Seward Peninsula; Fairbanks District,
Yukon-Tanana Region.)
Wash.,D.C., G.P.O., 1908. U.S.Geol.Surv.
Wat.Supp.Pap . 218.

8. ----, and Parker, G.L. Surface Water Supply of Seward Peninsula, Alaska .
Wash.,D.C., G.P.O., 1913. Ibid . 314.

9. Hoyt, J.C., and Henshaw, F.F. Water Supply of Nome Region, Seward Peninsula,
Alaska, 1906
. Wash.,D.C., G.P.O., 1907. Ibid . 196.

10. Reid, H.F. “Studies of Muir glacier, Alaska,” Nat.Geogr.Mag . vol.4, pp.19-84,
Mar.21, 1892.

11. Russell, I.C. “An expedition to Mount St. Elias, Alaska,” Ibid . vol.3, pp.53-204,
May, 1891.

12. Smith, P.S., and others. Mineral Resources of Alaska, Report on Progress of
Investigations in 1930
. Wash.,D.C., G.P.O., 1933. U.S.Geol.Surv.
Bull . 836.

13. Waring, G.A. Mineral Springs of Alaska . Wash.,D.C., G.P.O., 1917. U.S.Geol.
Surv. Wat.Supp.Pap . 418.

Philip S. Smith
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