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Northern Alaska Geographical Items: Encyclopedia Arctica 12: Alaska, Geography and General
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962

Northern Alaska Geographical Items in alphabetical order

EA-Geography: Alaska
(Stefansson Library Research Staff)

NORTHERN ALASKA GEOGRAPHICAL ITEMS

Icy Cape to International Boundary
(Place names arranged geographically)
Folder (1): A - B
Folder (2): C - L
Folder (3): M - Y

Ruby Collins
75 wds. July, 1949 ADMIRALTY BAY, ALASKA

ADMIRALTY BAY, northern Alaska, is the southern extension of the head
of Dease Inlet, an arm of the [: ] Polar Sea. It lies about thirty
miles east of Point Barrow and was so named by the British Admiralty in 1856.
This bay has not yet been thoroughly surveyed. McTavish and Wright
Points, with Kikiktak, Tiny, and Oarlock Islands midway between, mark the
entrance from Dease Inlet. The Inaru, Meade, Topagoruk, and Chipp Rivers
(q.v.) flow into Admiralty Bay.
References:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. 2d. ed. Washington, 1906.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska. Alaska. Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.
VS Guidebook for Alaska. Guidebook for Alaska.

40 wds. Ruby Collins
July, 1949 ASINIAK POINT, ALASKA

ASINIAK POINT, northwestern Alaska, projects into Peard Bay, an arm of the Polar Sea,
south of the broken sandbar leading out to Point Franklin and north of the
mouth of the Kugrua River, which drains into the head of Peard Bay.

Ruby Collins
June, 1949 ATANIK, ALASKA

100 wds
ATANIK, a small Eskimo settlement on the coast of the Polar Sea,
northern Alaska, lies between Point Belcher and Point Franklin and only a few
miles south of Peard Bay.
This tiny village had a population of 19 in 1939. The long winter
trail which skirts most of the arctic coast of Alaska, connecting Seward
Peninsula towns and Kotzebue with Barrow (q.v.), is represented as stopping at
Atanik. It reappears, however, on the other side of Peard Bay, so that it
may be assumed that travelers find their own way across the Bay from Atanik
to the coastwise trail on the other side which leads northeastward to Barrow.
Sources:
Tewkesbury's Who's Who in Alaska Tewkesbury's Who's Who in Alaska . 1947 ed. Seattle, Juneau, 1947.
Aeronautical Chart Aeronautical Chart No.63

Ruby Collins
June, 1949 AVAK INLET, ALASKA

130 wds
AVAK INLET is a shallow, many-fingered inlet emptying into Kasegaluk
La b g oon (q.v.) somewhat south and east of Icy Cape (q.v.) on the arctic t
coast of Alaska. The Avak River debouches into the head of the Inlet. This
small stream rises on the lake-strewn coastal plain and flows northwestward
for about thirty miles before entering the Inlet. (For a general description
of the terrain, flora, and fauna of this part of Alaska, see article on the
Kokolik River.)
Akoliakatat Pass, a few miles east of the mouth of Avak Inlet, breaks
the long sand spit which forms the seaward side of Ka s egaluk Lagoon. Between
one and two fathom can be carried through this Pass, but the approach is
endangered by Blossom Shoals (q.v.), which, according to recent reports ,
would appear to be spreading.
References:
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska. Part II Alaska. Part II . 5th (1947) ed. Washington, D.C., 1947. Aeronautical Chart No.64.
7,310 words

Ruby Collins
July, 1949 BARROW, ALASKA

Proofed 19 Jy 49
may need polishing
BARROW (71° 17′ N.Lat., 156° 47′ W.Long.), a post office and
settlement about eight or nine miles southwest of Point Barrow (q.v.), the
most northerly point of land in Alaska, is itself the most northerly community
with a permanent white population. In recent years, Utkiavi, on Cape Smyth,
has been considered part of Barrow, being separated from it only by a lagoon.
Ever since 1884, Utkiavi has been an important trading post, most of that time
centering around a well-stocked store run by Charles D. Brower. For hundreds
of years before that, however, the Eskimos of Point Barrow traded with other
natives from as far south as Icy Cape and the Kobuk River valley and from as
far east as the Mackenzie River. So extensive were these trading trips under–
taken by the Eskimos before the arrival of the white man at Point Barrow, that
guns sold by the Russians to the Diomede natives and goods sold to the Hudson
Bay tribes stood a chance of ultimately being owned by a Barrow whale hunter.
Geography Barrow faces the Polar Sea, but south of the settlement stretches
the broad, lake-strewn coastal plain which borders all of northern Alaska.
Connecting these lakes and marshes and forming an intricate pattern on the
face of the plain is the northern drainage of the Brooks Range (q.v.). Hun–
dreds of streams flow down from the Range, some northwestward, like the
Utukok (q.v.), some almost directly northward, like the Meade (q.v.), and some
northeastward, like the Colville (q.v.).
As these streams approach the sea, the gradient becomes so slight
as to be indistinguishable to the unaided eye. The drainage, therefore,
becomes confused, and the number of tiny lakes interconnected with riverlets
and creeks increases, until the entire region is transformed into an enormous
[: ] marshland. Grasses, mosses, lichens, and brightly colored flowers
blanket this plain from the first few days of spring in June to sometime in
25

BARROW, ALASKA

September. Travel across this terrain is next to impossible during the
summer. The long hours of sunlight thaw the ground to d epths of one to two
feet, but beneath this layer of soft gravel and vegetable matter, the ground
remains permanently frozen from one year to the next. The summer overland
traveler finds not only that his route is def el le cted by the many lakes and
streams in his path, but also that at every step he sinks knee deep or deeper
into the partly-thawed surface of the marshland. Stefansson reports that many
of the lakes are wadable, averaging one foot or less in depth and varying this
depth hardly more than an inch or so throughout their extent. But progress by
foot is so slow and laborious as to be impracticable.
In winter, on the other hand, this enormous plain is transformed
into the most perfect type of terrain for sledging. Ground, streams, and
lakes are frozen over, many of the more shallow waters being immobilized into
masses of solid ice. Under these circumstances a man with a good dog team and
sufficient basic supplies may travel at will in this country, averaging forty
or more miles a day.
Considering these conditions, it is not surprising the the earliest
explorers and traders to this region, most all of whom arrived by boat during the
short season of navigation, kept to the waterw a ys for the duration of their
stay. Nor is it surprising that here the airplane is of much greater significance
in the transportation of men and supplies than it is anywhere in the United
States.
Navigation Barrow may be reached by ship for only about one month o r a little
more each year; that is from sometime [: ] in August
until mid- or late September. Although the pack ice does not usually move
down upon Barrow until the latter part of September, vessels plan to leave
by about September 10. For the duration of the winter the pack is a constant
25

BARROW, ALASKA

threat to navigation all the way from Icy Cape to Point Barrow. A complete
month of safe, open navigation in this region is considered a good year. (See
Point Barrow, Alaska article.)
There are no harbors for seagoing vessels anywhere between Cape
Lisburne, far down the northwestern coast of Alaska, and the mouth of the
Colville River, over a hundred miles ea st of Barrow. The water is so shoal
along this enormous stretch of shoreline that large vessels must stand off in
open, unprotected roadsteads while their cargoes are lightered ashore. This
situation, of course, obtains at Barrow and is another reason for the importance
of air freight into this region.
Geology With the discovery of oil seepage in addition to the coal deposits
already known to exist on the northwestern coast of Alaska, the
U.S. Navy developed a particular interest in this part of the Territory.
It is coincidental that as early as 1886 Captain (then Ensign)
W.L. Howard, a member of Stoney's naval expedition to the Kobuk River, traveled
to Barrow by way of the Colville, Ikpikpuk, and Chipp Rivers and brought back
a specimen believed to be petroleum residuum from the upper Colville region.
Although this is the only evidence of petroleum ever to come out of the southern
part of the present Petroleum Reserve No.4, it is remarkable that the first
evidence of oil in this entire region should have been discovered by a member
of the U.S. Navy, which department now controls the petroleum resources of
most of northern Alaska.
Naval Petroleum Reserve No.4 was established on February 27, 1923.
It extends from Icy Cape to the mouth of the Colville, and from the crest of
the Brooks Range, northward to the highest watermark on the shores of the Polar
Sea. The Reserve totals about 35,000 square miles.
The Executive Order establishing this Reserve read in part as
follows: "The reservation hereby established shall be for oil and gas only and
shall not interfere with the use of the lands or waters within the area
26

BARROW, ALASKA

indicated for any legal purpose not inconsistent therewith." The staking of
mining claims is not permitted.
The Reserve was the result of a long line of reports concerning
the coal and oil possibilities of this region. In 1901, F.C. Schrader,
the first geologist to visit this part of Alaska, together with W.J. Peters,
a topographic engineer, explored the John, Anaktuvuk, and Colville Rivers.
They followed the shoreline westward from the Colville to Point Barrow, and
thence southward to beyond Wainwright Inlet. Arthur J. Collier, of the U.S.
Geological Survey, made a geological reconnaissance of the Cape Lisburne coal
deposits in 1904, and E. de K. Leffingwell, also of the Survey, examined the
coast in the v icinity of Point Barrow in the course of his exploration of the
Canning River region. Leffingwell's investigations covered the years 1906-1914
and included the first mention of petroleum in the vicinity of Dease Inlet. In
1921, while working for a private company, Harry A. Campbell reported oil
seepages near Cape Simpson, and that same year two groups of oil claims were
staked near that Cape. It was only two years after this that the Executive
Order establishing the Naval Reserve was signed.
Paige comments: "As the bedrock source of the oil was unknown,
the boundaries of the reserve were so drawn as to include the complete geologic
section from the Arctic Mountain watershed on the south to the shores of the
Polar Sea on the north, a distance of some 200 miles. East and west it
measures nearly 300 miles."
The 1946 report of the Alaska Commissioner of Mines reflects the
present attitude toward federal control of the resources of such a large section
of the Territory. "Very little information," he wrote, "has been published
on the results of the exploratory drilling program being conducted by the
U.S. Navy in its petroleum reserve on the Arctic slope. The fact that a large
appropriation has been made for the work indicates that a serious attempt is
to be made to evaluate the potential petroleum resources of this region. Should
a producing field be brought in it would be of considerable importance to the 28

BARROW, ALASKA

Territory. The Secretary of the Interior has recently liberalized the leasing
regulations on oil lands to permit the control by groups of individuals or
corporations of much larger areas than hereto f ore, which should result in
renewed interest in exploring some of the other promising structures in Alaska."
Later in the same report he criticizes the prohibition on staking
mining claims in the Reserve. "The regulation," he remarks, "seems not to be
in the best interests of the Territory and should be amended to permit prospec–
ting and location of mining claims under the mining laws. Provisions for loca–
tion of [: ] claims and mining, similar to those in effect within Glacier Bay
National Monument and Mt. McKinley Nati [: ] nal Park, might be adaptable. Meager
information available on the Brooks Rnage indicates the possible presence of
valuable mineral occurrences. Prospectors willing to explore this little-known
region should be entitled to locate and hold any valuable mineral deposits dis–
covered. Prospecting and mining in the mountainous section would in no way
interfere with the exploratory program of the Navy Department, which is being
conducted in the flatter and foothill sections of the region."
In July, 1949, the government issued a report on the work of the
Petroleum Reserve. "The world's largest oil claim" has, according to this
report, produced a honey-colored oil that swells like gasoline and pour s at
ࢤ70° F. Although no oil in commercial quantities has yet been found, the
Navy has already planned pipelines, highways, and a possible railroad to link
any future fields with the interior of Alaska and the ice-free coast of the
southeastern part of the Territory.
The Navy has also assayed other resources of this vast region.
Estimating Alaska's coal reserves at 110,000,000,000 tons, the department con–
siders that the construction of at least one synthetic gas and oil plant may
be justified. It made certain suggestions as to the use of lignite dust in
agriculture. If snow-covered fields were to be spr [: ] ad with black coal dust,
27

BARROW, ALASKA

for instance, thawing would be considerably accelerated and planting dates
advanced as much as fourteen days. It was further suggested that lignite dust
might be spread over the crops during the growing season so [: ] as to increase
the absorption of heat by the soil and thereby stimulate growth of the crops.
The report also urged the immediate construction of a cement plant with an
initial capacity of 350,000 barrels.
Barrow stands at the apex of the Petroleum Reserve like the fixed
point of a pendulum. If one were to conceive of a rod extending from Barrow to
Icy Cape, a distance of some 150 miles, and were to swing this enormous pendulum
eastward and northward until it once again met the P o lar Sea, in the vicinity of
the mouth of the Colville, the area covered would all fall well within the
Reserve and would, in fact, omit quite a bit of the southern section.
From extremely ancient times Barrow has been the home of a large group great
many of Eskimos who lived entirely from the products of the sea except for the
reindeer skins which they used for clothing and the berries they gathered on
the [: ] marshlands. Elson, of the Beechey expedition of 1826, commanded
a barge trip northward from Point Franklin. He found the number of inhabitants
" to increase in numbers as he advanced to the northward." Beechey's report of
this trip goes on to say, "On the eastern side of the point [ Barrow ] there was
a village, larger than any we had before seen, consisting entirely of yourts.
The natives [: ] , on seeing us anchor, came down opposite the boat in great numbers,
but seemed very doubtful whether to treat us as friends or enemies. We made
signs of friendship to them; and a couple of baidars reluctantly ventured off
and accepted a few beads and some tobacco, which on their return to the shore
induced several others to visit us. These people were clothed like the
Esquimaux we had seen on the other parts of the coast: their implements were
also the same, except that we thought they were more particular in constructing
the bow, the spring of which was strengthened with whalebone."
27

BARROW, ALASKA

Of the Point itself, he remarks: "This point is the termination
to a spit of land, which on examination from the boat's mast-head seemed to
jut out several miles from the more regular coast line. The width of the neck
did not exceed a mile and a half, and apparently in some places less. The
extremity was broader than any other part, had several small lakes of water on
it, which were frozen over, and the village before spoken of is situated on its
eastern shore."
The account of this dangerous voyage in an open boat contains much
information concerning the movement of ice, the direction, speed, and strength
of the current which sets around Point Barrow, and the effect of the wind on
both. Naturally, all these factors had more effect on Elson's small boat than
they do on the large, powered craft of today.
Elson learned from sad experience that the pack responds quickly
to the direction of the prevailing wind. More than once his tiny boat was in
imminent danger of being crushed when a northerly or northwesterly wind drove
the pack swiftly toward shore. [: ] Several times he was saved by a last–
minute shift of the wind to the east or southeast.
Jarvis, in discussing the disposition of the whaling vessels
caught in the ice in 1897, gives a notable description of the movement of
the pack in the vicinity of Barrow.
'The heavy crushings of the 'ridge' are c ua au sed by the ice first
grounding and piling up as it comes closer to the shore. This ridge forms a
barrier to the pack outside and generally is solidly anchored by December or
January. Attached to this and extending some miles offshore is what is known
as the floe, or, locally, 'flaw.' Even in the winter, when the wind blows off
the land the pack drifts off, and a lead of open water is made outside the
'floe.' There is always a slight current in this lead running to the north,
unless the wind is strong enough to stop and turn it. In the late spring and
25

BARROW, ALASKA

summer this northerly current increases at time s to 2 and 3 knots, but the
strength of it must be more or less local and confined close to the land, as
evidenced by the drift of the Navarch .
"This vessel caught in the pack off Icy Cape in the latter part of
July, 1897, gradually worked offshore and to the northward, passed Point Barrow
in August, and during September was about 100 miles east of that point, and about
20 miles from the land. In October, she returned to a position about 40 miles
east of Point Barrow, and then in November disappeared. Her next appearance,
in the latter part of January, was at [: ] Refuge Inlet, about 20 miles to
the south of Barrow Point Barrow, and going off from there she appeared again
in February only 4 or 5 miles from the Point. Thus f o r six months she had been
drifting back and forth within a distance of 250 miles with Point Barrow in the
center, and all the time fast in the pack ice. This could not have happened if
there was a continuous currant in one direction. It would seem also that the
strength of the current is close to the land, and while offshore there is a
slight drift [: ] to the north in summer. In the winter season, however,
the ice is moved about almost wholly by the wind."
Thomas Simpson approached Barrow from the east in August of 1837,
He, too, found great numbers of Eskimos not only on the Point but also everywhere
on the spit. Contrary to Elson's experience, he reported these natives to be
friendly and curious, but by no means hostile.
Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, [: ] the waters off Barrow began to be visited
every year by the whaling fleets. In the course of time, many of these whaling
captains became thoroughly experienced in the hazards of navigation in the Polar
Sea, but this knowledge did not always save them from being caught in the pack
and frozen in for the winter. Many ships were crushed in the ice and their
crews lost or deposited close enough to shore so that they could walk to
safety. The Eskimos became accustomed to sharing their food, clothing, and
shelter with these shipwrecked whalers.
26

BARROW, ALASKA

It was just such a crew that the U.S. Revenue Steamer Corwin
res uc cu ed in August, 1881, the whaler Daniel Webster having been crushed off Barrow
and her crew deposited within safe walking distance from shore.
In November, 1897, Captain Francis Tuttle was placed in command of
the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear with orders to rescue the crews of eight whaling
vessels reported to have been caught cuahgt in the ice off Point Barrow. Because of
the lateness of the season, it was, of course, impossible for the Bear to sail
D d irectly to Barrow. The Bear ship having been brought as far north as the ice
would permit, Lieut. D.H. Jarvis was put in charge of an overland relief expedi–
tion. J arvis received 292 reindeer from W.W. Lopp at Cape Prince of Wales and
another 133 deer from Artisarlook, at Point Rodney. From other sources Jarvis
raised the total head to 448 deer. It was his plan to drive these deer to
Point Barrow where they could be used to supplement the food supply there, and
his plan succeeded.
"In coming from Cape Prince of Wales," Jarvis wrote, "the deer had
traveled over 700 miles in fifty-five days, counting all the delays from storms
and preparations, and Artisarlook's herd had come 100 miles farther, from
Point Rodney."
This overland, mid-winter trek remains one of the most remarkable
res uc cu e operations ever attempted in Alaska. Its success is a credit not only
to Jarvis, but also to Lopp and the several Eskimos who aided him in the actual
driving of the reindeer, and to the hospitality of the Barrow Eskimos and the
generosity of Charles Browers, owner of the supply station at Cape Smyth.
While on his way to Barrow, Jarvis saw large flocks of ptarmigan,
an occasional raven, and several arctic owls. With his arrival and the subse–
quent coming of spring, snowbirds, eider ducks, geese, jagers, owls, and loons
appeared in ever increasing numbers. These game birds were shot for food and
their eggs gathered in June. On the first of July the male eiders began their
flight southward. During the first ten days of this migration, two natives and
27

BARROW, ALASKA

two white men established a shooting station in its path and bagged 1,100 birds.
Since the supply of fish [: ] had given out several weeks previously, these
ducks supplied the final answer to the food problem at Barrow for the spring of
1898. The relief ships arrived during the month of August.
The picture one gets of the village of Barrow during this winter
is, of course, somewhat abnormal. The Eskimos remained in the village proper
while the whalers were quartered outside it, some crews having come ashore and
others having remained on board their ice-bound ships. The Eskimos had, from
the beginning, shared their food, clothing, and what fuel they had with the
shipwrecked men and had suffered much in consequence of this generosity. They
continued to hunt and fish throughout the crisis, dividing their catch among the
enormously increased population. It is particularly noticeable, [: ]
from Jarvis' account, that they did all this naturally and without complaint.
After his arrival, Jarvis had disciplinary troubles with some of the crew
members, but none with the Eskimos. The impression one gets of the whole affair
is of a hard-working, capable, and philosophical people making the best of a
trying situation, going about their regular activities as methodically as condi–
tions allowed, and finding fault with hardly anything.
According to Schrader and Peters, about a dozen white men lived
at Barrow in 1901, and, if the population of Nuwuk were also included, an
additional 623 Eskimos. Schrader mentions the mission school and the Cape
Smyth Whaling and Trading Company in charge of Charles "Brauer." "The keepers
of the post," he continues, "engage to some degree in whaling, in which they
employ the natives. Early in April the whaling parties proceed by dog sled
10 or more miles out over the ice to the open sea, where they pursue their
calling in open skin boats.
"Point Barrow [ by which he intends Barrow ] is almost annually
visited by vessels of the United States Revenue Services and by various whaling
vessels. Ten of the latter are reported to have called there during the summer
28

BARROW, ALASKA

of 1901. Whaling in this part of the Arctic Ocean has been carried on with
varying success by [: ] everal companies during the la [: ] t half century, but is now
reported to be on the decline. The pursuit is hazardous, as the vessels are
often caught in the icepack.
"In 1901 effort was being made by a Japanese to establish a small
trading post at the mouth of Staines River, near the one hundred and forty-sixth
meridian."
According to the 1920 Census Nuwuk had a population of about 94
and Utkiavi, at Cape Smyth, had about 322, the majority of which were Eskimos.
This latter figure doubtless includes Barrow. The drop in population may be
attributed to the depletion of the supply of whales and walrus in the nearby
waters of the Polar Sea as a result of intensive hunting by white men during
the last half of the nineteenth century.
During the 1920's Barrow received three winter mails by dog sled
and one water-borne summer mail from Nome each year. A Coast Guard cutter and
a trading vessel from Liebes & Co., San Francisco, the principle owners of the
trading posts in this vicinity, also called once a year.
The arrival of the airship Norge in the spring of 1926, carrying
Nobile, Amundsen, and Ellsworth (q.v. [: ] ), marked the opening of a series of
airborne visitors to Barrow. Since this date most of the exploration in
this area has been by air. In the summer of 1931 the Lindberghs flew from
New York to Tokyo, stopping at Barrow on the way. On August 15, 1935, Wiley
Post and Will Rogers crashed near Barrow.
On August 12, 1937, Sigismund Levane [: ] sky and his crew left Moscow
in a huge four-motor plane on a proposed flight to Fairbanks. Th [: ] r last radio
message reported them over the North Pole. They were not heard from again, and
one of the most concerted and extended searches ever carried on by air began.
It lasted a full year.
With Barrow as a main winter base (summer operations were conducted
23

BARROW, ALASKA

from Aklavik, Canada) Sir Hubert Wilkins and his companions flew a total
mileage of 45,550 miles, of which some 33,970 miles were north of the Arctic
Circle. He used a Consolidated flying boat for summer work, and a Lockhead
Electra skiplane in the winter. As with the Franklin Search expeditio [: ] s of the
mi d -nineteenth century, more was learned about arctic flying in the course of
the Levanevsky Search than ever would have been learned in many years of normal
arctic flying.
Of the situation as it was then, Wilkins said: "Operation from
Point Barrow in winter called for special attention. Landings were made on the
lagoon which is situated between the houses of the village [ i.e., between
Cape Smyth and Barrow ] . This lagoon might afford a fifteen hundred yard
take off, but it is liable to be rough surfaced with ridges in a variety of
directions. At Barrow it was found that the salt laden hoar frost loaded on
the metal surfaced machine and, if not frequently removed, formed a solid
crust of opaque ice, difficult to observe without close inspection. Such
coatings of ice, even though they might be only a fraction of an inch in
thickness, offer great dangers to the operation of air craft, especially in
the take off. Heavy deposits of hoar frost also accumulated on the instruments
in the cockpit of the machine and on the inside of the walls of the fuselage
at Point Barrow. Constant attention and cleaning, however, enabled us to
avoid any serious consequences of these deposits.
"It frequently happens that a stretch of smooth sea ice is to be
found opposite the village and outside the shore pressure ridge at Barrow.
This might afford a temporary resting place for planes and a take-off ground,
but machines left there for any lengthy period would not be safe from being
carried off by the ice pack or from the crushing of the ice which might take
place at any season of the year."
A Navy base was established about six miles below Point Barrow in
1944. Fresh water for the base is obtained from the small lake nearby, and,
27

BARROW, ALASKA

in case of emergency, supplies can be purchased here. In connection with the
W w ork of this base, Dr. Shelesnyak writes: "The experience of the Navy, chiefly
of the Bureau of Yards and Docks and the Naval Petroleum Reserve No.4 in the
years since 1944 while engaged in petroleum exploration in the Point Barrow
region, can be considered one of the highest types and the most advanced of
scientific exploration of the Arctic. This group has been engaged in actual
exploration and has maintained an all year round operating schedule that is not
only pioneering, but actually leads the way in establishing a pattern for Arctic
colonization."
The Office of Naval Research (formerly the temporary Office of
Research and Inventions) was permanently established and approved on August 1,
1946. That same summer an arctic program of research was initiated and an
Arctic Scientific Station established at Point Barrow. Here it was proposed
to build a laboratory where "civilian scientists under contract with the
Navy Department could conduct investigations of physical and biological
phenomena related to the environment."
"By the summer of 1947," Dr. Shelesnyak continues, "two teams of
scientists, one from Swarthmore Colle [: ] e and one from Cornell Univer [: ] ity were
under way conducting a year's study on the biological aspects of the Arctic,
especially those related to the metabolism of warm blooded animals including
man. The establishment of this scientific station by the Navy is the signal
achievement and is the first laboratory to be established in the North American
Arctic for the single purpose of pursuing basic scientific investigations."
In March, 1948, Laurence Irving, the Scientific Director of the
station, reported that the Office of Naval Research had two laboratories at
Barrow, one doing work in the Natural Sciences and the other designated for the
Physical Sciences.
"These laboratories," Irving wrote, "receive local maintenance and
supplies from the Bureau of Yards and Docks through the Arctic Contractors
26

BARROW, ALASKA

[ Naval Petroleum Reserve No.4 ] , who operate the base camp. Lodging and food
for personnel, common cold-weather clothing, local transportation, and native
technical assistance are also provided through the Arctic Contractors."
All this activity in and around Barrow has tended to increase the
population. According to the 1939 Census, Barrow had 363 permanent residents,
but a 1947 estimate increased this to 575.
One of the three general stores in the town is managed by the
Eskimos under the Alaska Native Service. There are also an Alaska Native
Service school, a fourth class post office, a Presbyterian mission, and two
licensed fur dealers in the town. As would be expected, several officials re–
side in Barrow. A U.S. Commissioner has an office there; the Weather Bureau
a recording station; the Alaska Communication System (U.S. Army) a telegraph and
radiotelephone station; and the federal government a twenty-bed hospital for
the natives. Arctic Contractors, Inc., who are developing the Petroleum
Reserve , maintain a camp at Barrow. The Coast Guard still pays the settlement
an annual visit, and a few trading vessels call at Barrow during the season
of navigation.
In August, 1947, the camp set up by Arctic Contractors, Inc. con–
sisted of seventy-two buildings, mostly of the quonset type. These buildings
included living quarters for about two hundred men, warehouses, machine shops, a
radio and weather building, a carpenter shop, power plant, laboratory, under–
ground food storage refrigerator, magnetometer buildings, cleaning plant,
hos p ital, and recreation hall. Quonset quarters for the wives of a few
employees were in the process of construction.
Operating headquarters for Arctic Contractors are at Fairbanks,
where all personnel and supplies to be shipped in by air are cleared before
entering the Reserve. Administration and purchasing headquarters are at Seattle.
Air support is continuous throughout the year. Noel and Sigurd Wien,

BARROW, ALASKA

owners and operators of Wien Alaska Airlines, both famous Alaska bush pilots
with twenty years' experience, cover a daily schedule, known as the "line haul,"
north from Fairbanks to Umiat and Barrow. There is a 5,200-foot airstrip
at Barrow. Equipment and supplies are brought from Seattle to Fairbanks by
the Naval Air Transport Service.
Every August tons of supplies are brought in to Barr ow by Navy
ships. The program called for 22,000 tons to be landed from four A.K.A. Navy
vessels and one ice-breaker during August of 1947. Surplus Army and Navy
landing barges and some pontoon barges are used in this operation, but perhaps
the most useful machine is the Army weasel. The weasel is an amphibious
tractor-like vehicle which will cross the tundra or [: ] crawl out of the sea
and up onto the ice or vice versa.
Tractors as well as weasels can be used for winter land transpor–
tation and small planes make short runs between the various camps in the
Reserve. From February to late May tractor trains are used to deliver large
shipments of supplies deposited at Barrow for use in other parts of the
Reserve.
A news item in the Alaska Weekly for July 8, 1949 shows how this
mechanized equipment imported by the Navy may be used to lighten the work of
the Barrow Eskimos.
Since the supply of fresh water is restricted, the natives still
depend on ice which has lost its saltiness through crytalization for their
water supply. Navy Seabees at Barrow watched a group of Eskimo [: ] men cutting
ice into blocks with handsaws and dragging the blocks out of the water with
a leather thong. The Seabees offered their help. They set to work cutting
ice with a motor-driven, circular blade timber saw mounted on wheels,
pulled the cakes out of the water with a weasel and slid the cakes ashore on
bent-pipe skids. In one eight-hour day they had cut and store d forty tons of
ice, which is considerably more than a hard-working Eskimo could produce
25

BARROW, ALASKA

in eighty days.
According to a July 15, 1949, item, eleven naval vessels were to take
part in the Barrow supply operations that summer. Known officially as
Operation Barex 49, these ships would deliver supplies for the estimated 500
men attached to the Reserve at Barrow, for the many more farther in the
Interior of the Territory, and for the naval Air Force personnel and instal–
lations on Barter Island, 280 miles east of Point Barrow. An icebreaker was
scheduled to leave on July 19, to be followed on July 26 by the supply vessels.
All ships planned to r endezvous at Point Lay before continuing on to Barrow.
The sc he dule required landing of all supplies accomplished in one week.
Continuous reports from planes equipped with radar would keep the unloading
parties informed as to the direction of the wind and the position of the
pack.
The following chart [: ] outlines the climate at Barrow. Although the
low reading of ࢤ48° F. may seem very cold to some residents of the temperate
zone, it by no means approaches the extreme winter temperatures to be ex–
perienced in the interior of arctic Alaska. The climate of Barrow is marine
and is regulated by the proximity of the Polar Sea. The humidity is high
the year around, and the sky generally overcast. On the other hand, the sun
is above the horizon twenty-four hours a day during the summer months,
so that there is considerably more light than the average of one "clear" day
in thirty or thirty-one would seem to imply.
Barrow Weather Report - 1947 T = Trace
Temp. of the Air Mean Relative Humidity Total Precipitation in Inches Wind Clear Days Cloudy and Partly Cloudy Days Snow fall Total in Inches
Maximum Velocity Aver. Hourly Velocity MPH Prevailing Direction.
Max. Date Min. Date MPH Direct.
Jan 24° 1 sb ࢤ48° 24 [: ] 100 0.07 40 W.SW 9.6 W 12 19 0.8
Feb. 18 ࢤ47° 3 100 0.04 46 E 13.8 E 7 21 0.4
Mar. 20 ࢤ40 5 99 0.36 24 NE 8.0 NE 10 21 4.1
Apr. 27° 12 ࢤ26° 2 98 0.10 30 NE 9.4 E 11 19 1.3
May 36° 24 ࢤ11° 1 97 0.06 35 E 13.7 E 6 25 0.6
June 41° 24 21° 2 96 0.11 25 NE 11.3 E 1 29 T
July 61° 16 29° 6 92 0.09 30 E 11.3 E 1 30 T
Aug. 60° 25 25° 18 92 0.46 35 NW 11.4 W 1 30 T
Sept 41° 3 20° 30 92 0.06 32 W 13 NE 0 30 0.7
Oct. 29° 6 ࢤ6° 29 94 0.43 34 E 13 E 0 31 7.9
Nov. 25° 30 ࢤ12° 26 93 0.16 36 E 14 NE 1 29 3.5
Dec. 12° 27 ࢤ23° 30 92 0.09 29 NE 14.3 NE 1 30 0.6

BARROW, ALASKA

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alaska, Dept. of Mines. Report of the Commissioner of Mines for the
Biennium ended December 31, 1946.

Report of the Commissioner of Mines for the
Biennium ended December 31, 1946.
Juneau, (1947)

Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska, Geographic Dictionary of Alaska, 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
(U.S. Geological Survey. Bulletin Bulletin No.299)

Beechey, Capt. F.W. Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's
Strait...in the years 1825, 26, 27, 28.

Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's
Strait...in the years 1825, 26, 27, 28.
London, 1831. 2v.

Colby, Merle. Guide to Alaska, last american frontier. Guide to Alaska, last american frontier. N.Y., 1942.

Hooper, Capt. C.L. Report of the Cruise of the U.S. Revenue Steamer Thomas
Corwin, in the Arctic Ocean, 1881.
Washington, 1884.

Irving, Laurence. " Arctic Research at Point Barrow, Alaska. " SCIENCE,
March 19, 1948, Vol.107, No.2777, pp.284-286.

Paige, Sidney (and others). Reconnaissance of the Point Barrow Region, Alaska.
Washington, 1925.
Reconnaissance of the Point Barrow Region, Alaska.
Washington, 1925.
(U.S. Geological Survey. Bulletin Bulletin 772)

Pilgrim, Mariette Shaw. Alaska, its history, resources, geography, and
government.

Alaska, its history, resources, geography, and
government.
Caldwell, Idaho, Caxton printers, 1939.

Shelesnyak, M.C. Arctic Research Laboratory, Office of Naval Research, Point
Barrow, Alaska.

Arctic Research Laboratory, Office of Naval Research, Point
Barrow, Alaska.
SCIENCE, March 19, 1948, Vol.107, No.2777,
p.283.

Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Coast of America...
during the years 1836-39.

Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Coast of America...
during the years 1836-39.
London, 1843.

Tewkesbury's Who's Who in Alaska and Alaska Business Index. Tewkesbury's Who's Who in Alaska and Alaska Business Index. 1947 ed.
Seattle, Wash., 1947

U.S. Treasury Department. Report of the Cruise of the U.S. Revenue Cutter
Bear and the Overland Expedition for the Relief of the
Whalers in the Arctic Ocean, from November 27, 1897, to
September 13, 1898.

Report of the Cruise of the U.S. Revenue Cutter
Bear and the Overland Expedition for the Relief of the
Whalers in the Arctic Ocean, from November 27, 1897, to
September 13, 1898.
Washington, 1899.

Willson, C.O. "Full-scale exploration under way by Navy in Arctic Alaska;
Climate major factor in determining exploration work in Northern
Alaska;Seeking Arctic Oil." Oil and Gas Journal , August 9, 16,
23, 1947.

1,050 words

Ruby Collins
July, 1949 BARROW, POINT, ALASKA

BARROW, POINT (71° 23′ N.Lat., 156° 21′ W.Long.), the northern–
most point of land in Alaska, was so named by Beechey in September, 1826, after
Sir John Barrow. In 1837, Dease and Simpson called it Cape North as well as
Point Barrow. Nuwuk (q.v.), the Eskimo settlement on the Point, is the native
word for "tip" or "point." The town of Barrow, which has recently been thought
of as including Utkiavi k , the trading post on Cape Smyth, is on the mainland
about eight or nine miles southwest of Point Barrow.
Captain C.L. Hooper in his report on the second voyage of the
Corwin remarks: "Point Barrow is the most northern point of the United States,
and lacks only 25 miles of being the most northern portion of the continent (a
point of land called Boothia Promontory, in longitude 95° west, lies a few miles
farther north). Point Barrow is a low sand spit which makes out to the northward
about 8 miles from the regular coast-line, which terminates at Cape Smyth, thence
turning to the eastward and extending about the same distance forms a bay named by
Beechey, Elson Bay, after one of the officers of the Blossom. This bay is too
shallow to be of any value, being navigable only for vessels of very light draught
Navigation Point Barrow is open to navigation only about one month out of
every twelve, that is from some time in August to about mid-September.
Most vessels plan to leave the area by September 10.
Captain Hooper gives careful directions as to navigations of
the shallow waters surrounding the point. "To the north of the point," he wrote,
"lying nearly parallel with the shore, and from 1 to 2 miles distant, is a shoal
with only 2 fathoms of water on it, possibly less in places. It is probably 3
miles long from east to west, and 1 mile in breadth. The space between the
shoal and the point affords excellent anchorage out of the way of the drift–
ice which sets past the point. Small pieces from the southward are constantly
starting off shore, and being carried northward by the current, so that an

BARROW, POINT, ALASKA

anchorage on the west side of the point is not always safe or comfortable.
A vessel running for this anchorage from the southward should round the point
within one half a mile, keeping the lead going and not getting inside of 3
fathoms; the anchorage is in 3 1/2 and 4 fathoms. Vessels going eastward of
the point should not 'shut in' the west shore of the point nearer than 2 1/2
miles; and in hauling around the lead should be kept going, and care taken to keep
outside of 4 fathoms, which will clear the shoal. In approaching from the
north keep outside of 4 fathoms until the coast-line to the south is open to
the westward of the point, when the end of the point may be run for with safety
until past the shoal."
The ice endangering these waters is of two basic types. The
first, known as the ice barrier, is made up of large icebergs which have been
grounded about one-half a mile offshore. This barrier extends all the way
from Point Franklin, over fifty miles to the southward, to about two miles beyond
Point Barrow. The second type is called the pack because it is impenetrable
to ships. The pack lies outside the barrier ice, and is estimated to cover
from 60% to 80% of the Polar Mediterranean. The pack [: ] drifts back and forth
with currents in the ocean and with the direction of the prevailing wind.
There is often open water both between the barrier and the shore and between the
barrier and the pack.
The barrier has been known to break up and drift seaward before
strong offshore winds. During this process, openings of leads may [: ] appear
in the barrier, through which, with a shift again to an onshore wind, small
icebergs can drift. Since these smaller bergs have a more shallow draft than
the ice which forms the barrier, they have been known to fill the inshore
water completely, stopping all navigation there. If the barrier remains
unbroken, however, it serves as a protection from the pack ice, which also
drifts with the currents and the prevailing winds. The amount of ice off

BARROW, POINT, ALASKA

Point Barrow varies from year to year. Sometimes the pack is never out of
sight from September to July, and sometimes it drifts far to sea and over the
horizon, where it may stay for weeks on end.
When the inshore water is free of ice, a current, with an
estimated strength of between three and four knots, flows in a northeasterly
direction past the west side of Point Barrow sandspit. Along the east side
of the spit a current flows in a northwesterly direction, with an estimated
strength of one knot. Judging from the movement of icebergs, there seems to
be an eddy centered several miles northeast of the Point where these two
currents meet. For many years the current on the west side of the spit has
been used as an indication of whether or not open water extends north of
Point Franklin. Whaling captains learned that inshore ice north of Point
Franklin reduced the strength of the current and lowered the temperature of the
water even that distance south.
In general it may be said that, during the months of July,
August, and September, navigation is sometimes possible outside the barrier.
Navigation inside the barrier is feasible, but pilots should take soundings
frequently, since old channels are constantly being filled in and new ones formed
by the gouging action of floating icebergs.
Vessels drawing twenty-four feet or less can round Point Barrow
easily by keeping a little less than one mile offshore. Navigation eastward
from the Point is not recommended although, if an easterly passage must be
attempted, August is the safest month. In southerly weather, ships can
anchor just east of the Point as close to the shore as their draft permits with
good holding bottom.
A survey conducted from May to August of 1945 reported the
prevailing winds to be westerly, although winds blew from all directions [: ]
with equal force. The strongest winds did not exceed forty-five miles per hour.
More than half of this time fog was present and rain and snow fell at various

BARROW, POINT, ALASKA

times all summer.
During this particular season, the pack was never completely
out of sight, opening to the westward only to close to the eastward and vice
versa. Large icebergs floated about in the open water all the time. Some
of these, which rose thirty to fifty feet above the sea, grounded at the
five-fathom curve and remained in place a week, until a wind shift dislodged
them.
The mean rise and fall of the tide at Point Barrow is only about
half a foot. The weather station there is one of the oldest in the Territory.
From 1881 to 1883 it was commanded by Major P.H. Ray, of the U.S. Engineer
Corps, who is famous for his dog team reconnaissance trip of the Meade River.
For a general description of this part of Alaska, see article
on Barrow, Alaska.

BARROW, POINT, ALASKA

REFERENCES
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Hooper, C.L. Report of the Cruise of the U.S. Revenue Steamer Thomas Corwin Report of the Cruise of the U.S. Revenue Steamer Thomas Corwin ,
in the Arctic Ocean, 1881. Washington, G.P.O., 1884. in the Arctic Ocean, 1881. Washington, G.P.O., 1884.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, G.P.O., 1947.
VS Guidebook for Alaska Guidebook for Alaska .
540 wds

Ruby Collins
May, 1949 BEAUFORT, CAPE, ALASKA

BEAUFORT, CAPE, on the arctic coast of Alaska, at 69° N.Lat.,
164° W.Long., is a dark mountain coming down directly to the shores of the
Polar Sea. There is no break in the coast at this Cape, which is the
most northerly extension of high land on the coast of Alaska. The mountains
at Beaufort trend inland while the coast continues low.
While writing of the conditions under which he named this point,
Beechey gives a good description of the country in the vicinity of Cape
Beaufort.
"The wind was light, and we made so little progress that on the
9th [ August, 1826 ] Cape Lisburn was still in sight. Before it was
entirely lost I landed at a small cape, which I named Cape Beaufort, in
compliment to Captain Beaufort, the present hydrograp h er to the Admiralty.
The land northward was low and swampy, covered with moss and long grass,
which produced all the plants we had met with to the southward, and two
or three besides. Cape Beaufort is composed of sandstone, enclosing bits
of petrified wood and rushes, and is traversed by narrow veins of coal
lying in an E.N.E. and W.S.W. direction. That at the surface was dry
and bad, but some pieces which had been thrown up by the burrowing of a
small animal, probably the ermine, burned very well.

BEAUFORT, CAPE, ALASKA

"Cape Beaufort is situated in the depth of a great bay, formed
between Cape Lisburn and Icy Cape, and is the last point where the hills
come close down to the sea, by reason of the coast line curving to the
northward, while the range of hills continues its former direction. From
the rugged mountains of limestone and flint at Cape Lisburn, there is an
uniform descent to the rounded hills of sandstone at Cape Beaufort just
described. The range is, however, broken by extensive valleys, intersected
by lakes and rivers. Some of these lakes border upon the sea, and in the
summer months are accessible to baidars, or even large boats; but as soon
as the current from the beds of thawing snow inland ceases, the sea throws
up a bar across the mouths of them, and they cannot be entered. The
beach, at the places where we landed was shingle and mud, the country
mossy and swampy, and infested with [: ] moskitos. We noticed recent
tracks of wolves, and some cloven-footed animals, and saw several ptarmigans,
ortolans, and a lark. Very little drift wood had found its way upon this
part of the coast."

Beaufort, Cape, Alaska

According to the U.S. Coast Pilot, the wide bite extending from
Cape Lisburne (q.v.) to Cape Beaufort is relatively shallow, but with a
regular bottom, so that ships may rest at anchor within two miles of
shore anywhere along this stretch of coast. The water directly off Cape
Beaufort is more shallow than elsewhere, however. Fresh water may be
obtained from any of the several streams which enter the Polar Sea in this
vicinity and Elliott reports coal near Cape Beaufort in a ridge some 300
feet high.

BEAUFORT, CAPE, ALASKA

Although it does not show up on charts for this part of the
arctic coast of Alaska, the indentation eastward of the Cape is reported
to be fairly deep, offering good shelter from westerly and southwesterly
storms.
References:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Beechey, Capt. F.W. Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's
Strait...in the years 1825, 26, 27, 28.
Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's
Strait...in the years 1825, 26, 27, 28.
London, 1831. 2v.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.
105 wds.

Ruby Collins
July, 1949 BEECHEY POINT, ALASKA

BEECHEY POINT projects into the Polar Sea from the arctic coast of
Alaska about midway between the mouths of the Colville and the Sagavanirktok
Rivers. The most easterly of the Jones Island stand a few miles to sea and
directly in front of Beechey Point. In 1837, Dease and Simpson named this point after
a hummock of land seen by Sir John Franklin from Return Island in 1826.
Simpson remarks, however, that his Beechey Point could not be seen from Return
Island "in any state of the atmosphere," because both rise only 30 or 40
feet above sea level and are 12 miles distant from each other.
Recent maps show a town on this point which had a reported population
of 12 in 1947.
References:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the discoveries on the north coast of the
Polar Sea, in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827
Narrative of the discoveries on the north coast of the
Polar Sea, in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827
. London, Murray, 1828.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska. Part II Alaska. Part II . 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.
VS Guidebook for Alaska VS Guidebook for Alaska .
140 wds

Ruby Collins
June, 1949 BELCHER, POINT, ALASKA

BELCHER, POINT (70° 48′ N.Lat., 159° 23′ W.Long.) is a blunt
promontory, about midway between Point Franklin and Wainwright (q.v.), northern
Alaska, on the coast of the Polar Sea. The coast in this vicinity again
is a shingle beach, with lagoons inside, back of which lie rolling hills.
These hills are higher than any other land that can be seen northeast of Cape
Beaufort. North of the Point the coast continues in a low sand beach to
Point Franklin.
The water is shoal for several miles off Point Pt. Belcher. Recent
maps show no streams cutting the coastline in the immediate vicinity of the
Point although tiny Sinaruruk River enters the sea about nine miles south of it.
the Point. This stream should not be confused with the Sinaru which enters the
Polar Sea about half-way between Point Franklin and Barrow, just north of
71° N.Lat.
920 wds.

Ruby Collins
June, 1949 BLOSSOM SHOALS, ALASKA

BLOSSOM SHOALS are a number of ridges parallel with the coast extending
six to eight miles off Icy Cape on the arctic coast of Alaska. These shoals
are greater in extent than shown on charts, and, from the grounding of vessels
and observation, appear to be spreading.
According to the U.S. Coast Pilot the bottom becomes lumpy and the sound–
ings irregular upon approaching these shoals. Vessels are advised to give them
a wide berth, and to round Icy Cape outside the 12 fathom limit.
In 1930, Pederson, captain of the trading vessel Patterson , reported a
good channel through the Shoals about two miles off Icy Cape. The Coast Guard
cutter Northland surveyed a channel with depths of 5 to 9 fathoms, parallel to
the west side of Icy Cape, and about 2.5 miles off. This would appear to be
the same channel reported by Captain Pederson. The Coast Guard also reports
two shallow spots, one with 3 fathom about two miles from the point of the
Cape, and another with 2 1/2 fathom about 2 miles from the same point . of the Cape.
These two danger ous points spots are inshore of the channel. This channel is of par–
ticular importance to vessels caught north of the Shoals by ice setting onto
their outer edge.
Blossom Shoals form the approximate southern limits of the inshore ice
during the July-September season for navigation. The ice moves inshore and
offshore with the winds. As the shoals form a salient at this part of the
coast, open water may extend north and south of them but access from one open–
water area to the other may be blocked by ice on the other side of the shoals.
In summer, the pack ice frequently lies only a few miles offshore between
Icy Cape and Point Barrow, and is likely to close in at any time. A northeast
wind, although it blows directly along the shore, keeps the ice clear of the
shore to and past Point Barrow. Heavy ice, when close inshore, appears to stop
the surface current, nearly or quite, and lowers the temperature to about 36°F.

BLOSSOM SHOALS, ALASKA

or less. It was considered by the Yankee whaling ships that a vessel working
up the shore might readily tell if ice was on Point Barrow by watching the set
of the current and the temperature of the water. If the ice was clear of the
shore, the current would be setting northward from 1 to 3 knots, with a tempera–
ture of about 40° F.
It was a whaler and Revenue Cutter rule that a vessel going northward of
Icy Cape should sight the ice pack frequently, keeping close watch of its
movements, and in the event of its starting inshore should get south of Blossom
Shoals as soon as possible. Several whaling and trading vessels, and Stefans–
son's ship the Karluk , are on record as having been caught in the ice off Point
Barrow, some of them to be carried helpless, beset in the pack, along the shore
to Barrow, where they usually continued [: ] orth from the Point, to be freed
usually when from ten to thirty miles north of the Point.
The preceding information is mainly from the Coast Pilot and is, therefore,
based on a great deal of seafaring experience [: ] ; but nevertheless it requires
comment. The Pilot goes to the extreme of saying that the pack ice "seldom
moves more than a few miles offshore between Icy Cape and Point Barrow," which
would seem an oversata overstatement. For there are sometime periods
sometimes periods of weeks at a time when no ice can be seen from the land and
when in all probability the open water along shore extends far beyond the
horizon. On the other hand, I i t is true, however, that there are summers when the ice scar [: ] cely
ever leaves the beach and when the best chance of getting along is to use a
ship of very shallow draft that can take [: ] advantage of heavy cakes having
been so grounded offshore that they fend the pack away.
On this same coastal stretch the ice may "go abroad" in winter far beyond
the horizon; but at that season it is rare if it stays away more than a few
days. At such times, of course, it leaves a strip of fast ice along the shore.
This varies in width at different places and at different times from a few

BLOSSOM SHOALS, ALASKA

hundred yards to several miles. There have been cases when [: ] in winter the
ice was broken right along the beach at some points so that the width of the
shore ice was only a few yards.
Beechey, who named Blossom Shoals after his ship in August of 1826,
described them as follows: "We passed along the land in about eight fathoms
water until near Icy Cape, when we came rather suddenly into three fathoms and
three quarters, but immediately deepened the soundings again to seven: the
next cast, however, was four fathoms; and not knowing how soon we might have
less, the ship was immediately brought to an anchor. Upon examination with the
boats, several successive banks were found at about three quarters of a mile
apart, lying parallel with the coast line. Upon the outer ones, there were only
three and a half or four fathoms, and upon the inner bank, which had hitherto
escaped notice from being under the sun, so little water that the sea broke
constantly over it. Between the sh [: ] als there were nine and ten fathoms, with
very irregular casts. These shoals lie immediately off Icy Cape where the
land takes an abrupt turn to the eastward, and are probably the effect of a
large river, which here empties itself into the sea; though they may be
occasioned by heavy ice grounding off the point, and being fixed to the bottom,
as we found our anchor had so firm a hold, that in attempting to weigh it
the chain cable broke, after enduring a very heavy strain."

BLOSSOM SHOALS, ALASKA

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. 2d ed. Washington, D.C., 1906.

Beechey, F.W. Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait...
in the years 1825, 26, 27, 28.

Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait...
in the years 1825, 26, 27, 28.
London, 1831. 2v.

U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska. Alaska. Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, D.C., 1947.

VS Guidebook for Alaska. VS Guidebook for Alaska.

310 wds

Ruby Collins
January, 1950 BRITISH MOUNTAINS, ALASKA

BRITISH MOUNTAINS, arctic Alaska, rise treeless and partly
snow-covered sixty or more miles west of the 141st meridian, the Alaska-Canada
boundary, and extend for an equal distance east of the boundary. The name
British Mountains was adopted by the International Boundary Commission for
the crest line on the 141st meridian. Leffingwell extends the name to cover
"the northern portion of the Arctic Range between the boundary line and the
Jago River, where the Romanzof Mountains begin." This demarcation would seem
to omit the Richardson Mountains (q.v.), which appear on most recent maps
as separating the British Mountains from the coastal plain, thereby making
up part of the international boundary. Leffingwell continues: "The writer
has applied the term British Mountains to the portion of the Arctic
Mountains l y ing east of the Romanzofs and north of the Yukon-Arctic divide.
The mountains which Franklin discovered from Point Griffin were undoubtedly
the higher snow-clad granite mountains about the headwaters of Okpilak
River [ just southeast of the Romanzofs ] ."
On July 21, 1826, Sir John Franklin climbed Mount Con i bear o (Conybeare) ,
near the mouth of the Malcolm River some twenty miles east of the boundary
and about eight miles inland. In Franklin's words, the view from this 800-foot elevation
"possessed the charm of novelty, and attracted particular regard. We commanded
a prospect of three ranges of mountains lying parallel to the Buckland
chain [ in Canada ] , but of less altitude. The view was bounded by a fourth range
of high-peaked mountains, for the most part covered with snow. This distant
range was afterwards distinguished by the name of the British Chain."
On the Alaska w s ide of the boundary, the British Mountains
enclose the headwaters of the Kongakut River, and on the Canadian side the

BRITISH MOUNTAINS, ALASKA

entire course of the tributaries to the upper Firth River an d part of the
Firth itself. There are doubtless a great many unnamed streams in this
section of Alaska; but, and since [: ] they are almost entirely unexplored, little is known in detail of the entire region of
the British Mountains. since [: ] they are almost entirely unexplored,
Franklin, John. Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar
Sea, in the Years 1825, 1826, and 1827
Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar
Sea, in the Years 1825, 1826, and 1827
. London, Murray, 1828,
p.134.
Leffingwell, E. de K. The Canning River Region, Northern Alaska The Canning River Region, Northern Alaska . Wash.,
D.C., G.P.O., 1919. U.S. Geol. Surv., Prof.pa Prof.pa . 109.
3,050 wds

Ruby Collins
May, 1949 BROOKS RANGE, ALASKA

THE BROOKS RANGE traverses northern Alaska like an enormous backbone,
forming the divide between the river s flowing southward to the Yukon and
southwestward to Kotzebue Sound, and those flowing northward into the Polar
Sea. The southern drainage system, which includes the Porcupine, Chandalar,
Koyukuk, Kobuk, and Noatak Rivers, are discusses separately. We are concern–
ed here with the rivers flowing northward from the Range.
Although the Brooks Range is spoken of as a unit, it consists of
several individual mountain groups, some of which have separate names.
The De Long, Baird, Schwatka, Melville, and Endicott Mountains, as well as
the Mulgrave, Igichuk, and Lisburne Hills are, for instance, all part of
the Range. The Schwatka Mountains lie between the head of the Kobuk and the
Alatna Rivers; the Melville Mountains between the Colville and the country
east of the Alatna; and the Endicott Mountains more towards Canada. The
Mulgrave Hills separate the lower Noatak from the coast; the Igichuk Hills
form the lower gorge of the Noatak; and the Lisburne Hills extend southeast–
ward from Cape Lisburne. In addition, Leffingwell's map of the Canning
River region shows the Franklin, Romanzof, Shublik, and Sadlerochit
groups north of the Endicotts.
Compared with other ranges, the Brooks is relatively low. Its
sculpture has produced ragged mountain masses interrupted by steeply trenched
or glacially opened out valleys. Throughout its extent from the International
Boundary, on the ea st, to the Colville River, the greatest heights are Mount
Michelson, 9,239 feet, and Mount Chamberlain, 9,131 feet. From the Colville
westward to the Polar Sea, the highest peak, around 8,400 feet, is near the
head of the Noatak River. It forms part of a high ridge west of the Alatna,
where many elevations of over 7,000 feet were recorded. An 8,000-foot
25

BROOKS RANGE, ALASKA

peak was mapped in the upper part of the Noatak about seven miles southwest
of the mouth of Portage Creek. A 7,600-foot peak was recorded at the head of
one of the tributaries of the Chandler River near 68° 15′ N.Lat., 153° 15′
W.Long. There are peaks between 7,000 and 7,400 feet near the head of the
Chandler.
In the vicinity of the Aniuk, a tributary to the Noatak at about 158°
W.Long., and west of this point, no peaks as high as 5,000 feet were recorded
though there are probably some of that height or greater in the unsurveyed re–
gion between the Noatak and the Kobuk west of the mouth of the Aniuk.
The average height of the summit of the Brooks Range from the
meridian of the headwaters of the Aniuk eastward to the Colville region is
probably between 6,000 and 7,000 feet. From the Aniuk westward the highest
parts of the range probably have an average elevation between 3,500 and 4,500
feet, and in the extreme western part near the coast the highest peaks stand
less than 3,000 feet above the sea.
Speaking for the range west of meridian 150°, Smith and Mertie report
that while glaciers were formerly extensive they are uncommon now. In all
the region traversed by the Geological Survey party only three glaciers were
seen, none of them more than two miles long. Two were near the high peaks
at the head of the mappe d portion of the Noatak, the other at the head of the
valley that comes into the Alatna River from the west a short distance down–
stream from the Kutuk, or Pish River. The almost entire absence of glaciers
is in marked contrast with the situation 500 miles or more to the south in
the mountains of the Alaska Range.
Leffingwell found that near meridian 146° there were no proper
glaciers in the [: ] 5,000-6,000-foot mountains visible from the
coast, but that there were glaciers of some size a little farther south,
24

BROOKS RANGE, ALASKA

where the peaks run up beyond 9,000 feet. He considers that over a large
part of the arctic plain of Alaska there is as yet no evidence of past
glaciation. Smith and other members of the Alaska Division of the Geological
Survey are in agreement.
Passes The height of the peaks and ridges makes the range seem a formi–
dable barrier to travel; but there are many gaps at lower eleva–
tions by which passage of the mountains can be made with reasonable facility.
From the Alatna River there is a good route, much used in the past, by
way of Helpme jack Creek and thence across a pass at less than 1,200 feet to the
upper Kobuk. A route by way of the Alatna River to the Noatak is afforded by
a small tributary to the Alatna from the west about twenty-five miles (air
line) above the mouth of the Unakserak, thence across a pass at less than
3,400 feet, and so down Portage Creek, a tributary of the Noatak. Between the
Kobuk and Noatak, passes across the mountains probably occur at the heads of
many of the larger valleys, but the only ones that are definitely known to have
been used are those from the Ambler and Redstone to the Cutler River and the
route southward by the Ipmiluik River (which probably leads either to the
head of the Kogoluktuk or to that of the Ambler River), and one at the head of
Squirrel River over which pack horses are said to have been driven into the
Noatak Basin. The elevations of the routes between the Kobuk and the
Noatak are not known, but probably they do not stand much above 3,000 feet.
There are several good routes north to the arctic coastal plain.
One of these is by way of John River to the Anaktuvuk, across a 2,200-foot pass;
another by way of the Alatna River and its tributary Unakserak to the Killik,
across a pass at 3,800 feet; a third by way of the side streams of the Noatak
to streams tributary to the Colville across passes that, at the heads of the
Aniuk and Nimiuktuk stand between 2,200 and 3,800 feet. There are other
26

BROOKS RANGE, ALASKA

routes by way of the Kugururok, a tributary of the Noatak, to the Utukok
across a pass about 2,600 feet high; by way of another pass at the head of this
same river to the Kokolik; and by way of the Kivalina River across a pass at
about 1,300 feet to the Kukpuk River and thence by another pass at 1,400 feet
to the Kukpowruk.
Victor Shaw, in the Alaska Sportsman for November, 1937, says of the
John pass that the river is swift with a stiff gradient and a rocky bed. In
the spring, canoe travel averages five to seven miles a day, so that during
high water, it takes several weeks to make the pass from Bettles, where there
is a portage of two or three miles to Chandler Lake. Game consists chiefly
of white goat, caribou, ptarmigan, and waterfowl, with grayling in the streams.
Coarse gold has been found in creek gravels on the arctic side, and Shaw
concludes that the formation is probably an extension of the auriferous sedi–
mentary schists and slates of the upper Koyukuk region.
Smith and Mertie's farthest [: ] east was 150° W.Long. Information
on passes east of that point, and going from north to south, is derived
from Leffingwell, from Eskimo report, and from the observations of Dr. R.M.
Anderson of the Stefansson-Anderson 1808-12 expedition.
Generally speaking, the coast Eskimos and the more experience d white
men think sledge passes can be found, and certainly passes for a man with pack
dogs, at the head of practically any river, provided it heads well into the
mountains.
Listing the rivers from west to east, there is no information about a
[: ] Kuparuk pass. That at the head of the Sagavinirktok is considered
bad. Sledges do go through it, however, and the river has other qualities
which make it at least a moderately desirable route. For, of its 200-mile
length, an umiak could, in early summer, probably be tracked 100 to 150 miles,
25

BROOKS RANGE, ALASKA

and there is abundant wood for camping purposes the whole way. In winter
the same stream will be a sledge route, with the excessive curves cut off by
climbing upon the higher land and travelling parallel.
Neither Leffingwell nor Stefansson was able to obtain much information
from natives about the Shaviovik pass. They vaguely believed there was one
and that it was rather difficult.
During the winter of 1908-9, Anderson and his party of Eskimos crossed
easily with sledges and moderate loads through the pass of the south fork of
the Hulahula. Their chief difficulty was with sand bars over which they had
to pull sledges. There are pretty good willows on the north side of this
river and willows and spruce on the south.
One of the worst rivers, by common report, is the Okpilak, for it
rises in some of the high mountains that run up towards 9,000 feet and there–
fore contain glaciers. This applies to both the eastern and western tribu–
taries which form the river.
The local Eskimos in Stefansson's time (1907-14) were uninformed about
passes from the Jago River; but this was natural, for they were not the
original natives and were superstitious about the river.
The Aichilik River passes are said to be difficult. There are many
glaciers, the mountains are jagged, and there are few willows to burn.
The pass up the Turner River is frequently used by Eskimos, Indians,
and whites. It is considered easy and is practically a beaten road. Its main
disadvantage is occasional flooding.
The rivers which we have not mentioned are those which head short of
the mountains or in their outskirts, so that they do not suggest themselves
as routes between the Yukon basin and the arctic coast.
However, it is sometimes a good idea in crossing these northern moun–
tains to forget all about rivers and to go over mountains which seem neither
jagged nor high and where the slope looks good from seaward. This is how the
25

BROOKS RANGE, ALASKA

party crossed which, in early April, were carrying Stefansson south from
Herschel Island to Fort Yukon when he was convalescent from typhoid fever
in 1918. They did not follow river valleys except occasionally and yet made
a good crossing into the valley of the Old Crow.
The Brooks Range reaches to the coast in only three places: for
about 25 or 30 miles south of Cape Lisburne; at Cape Thompson, and again at
Cape Seppings.
At all three of these points steep, unscalable cliffs rise directly
out of the sea to height of from 500 to 1,000 feet. Depths up to twenty
fathoms, deep water for this part of the Polar Sea, will be found directly
off or close to these cliffs, but such depths do not make these waters truly
safe for navigation. Strong winds flow over the cliffs, and there are no
harbors, only an abundance of drifting ice, strong currents, and fog.
From Cape Lisburne northward to Cape Sabine the land is lower and
loses the rugged character of that to the south. The hills are rounded and
rolling, regular in outline, and sloping toward the sea. Toward Cape Sabine
the land becomes a series of ridges and valleys running inland: both terminate
at the coast in bluffs.
Arctic Coastal North of the Brooks Ranger there is a plateau, known
Plain as the Arctic Coastal Plain, which does not reach quite
to the sea. It is a triangular prairie with its apex at Point Barrow, about a
hundred miles north of its base. From mountain foothills in the south the
land slopes northward down to 200 feet on the plateau and as the coast is
approached changes to very low land. Heading inland, by sledge in wirter or
pack animals in summer, from the coast the plain is so nearly level that in
most places it is not possible to determine offhand whether you are going
uphill or down. The rivers are all sluggish near the coast, but thirty or
24

BROOKS RANGE, ALASKA

forty miles inland most of them run between fairly high banks, which shows
that the land does slope up, even though almost imperceptibly, toward the
foothills.
From Oliktok, just east of the Colville, or about midway of the
arctic coast of Alaska, the mountains are probably about 80 miles inland.
As one proceeds eastward, they become visible from near the mouth of the
Kuparuk. Continuing eastward they are nearer the sea and higher so that at
Demarcation Point, only a few miles from the International Boundary, they are
only some six or eight miles from the sea. The highest, as said, are above
9,000 feet and contain a few small glaciers.
On the entire coastal plain, from sea to mountains, there are the
lake multitudes which characterize all non-mountainous northern lands.
Stefansson has hunted over this plain different years, in winter. Neither
he, nor anyone who could help it, has hunted in summer in this area, for the
lakes make progress afoot difficult and tedious. It is often necessary to
walk five miles to gain one. What seems to be an isthmus between two lakes
will frequently turn out to be a peninsula, making it necessary to retrace
many steps. However, frequently these lakes are so shallow that with knee [: ]
boots they can be waded. Stefansson has sometimes waded across lakes more than
a mile in diameter, finding the depth varying only by a few inches. In a
summer crossing of such lakes there may be first a foot of water, then
beneath it a foot of mud through which the traveler sinks at every step to
the level of permanent frost.
The most striking characteristic of this plain is the uniformity of its
landscape. Except for minor details, its appearance is everywhere the same;
prominent landmarks are rare or absent.
Of this region in winter Leffingwell says: The heavy deposits of ice
24

BROOKS RANGE, ALASKA

that are formed over the flood plains of arctic rivers have been described
in many of the recent reports upon Alaska. Middendorff, however, first
described and explained this phenomenon in the middle of the last century, after
several years of observation in northern Siberia. The writer can add very
little either to his description or his explanation.
"Deposits of this kind of ice are called 'glaciers' by miners and even
by some geologists. 'Flood ice' has also been used, but does not convey the
proper impression. Middendorff introduced the term aufeis, and the writer
has adopted it for this report.
"The process of formation of aufeis is as follows: During the winter
the flow of the rivers is locally impeded by the formation of anchor and
frazil ice, or the shoal places may freeze solidly to the bottom. The water
coming from the upper stretches of the river, being thus impeded, will rise
and flood the adjacent land. When the river is entirely frozen over, as is
the rule in the Arctic, the hydraulic pressure is sufficient to bulge up and
fracture the ice at weak places. The escaping water is soon coated with ice,
and the flow is gradually restricted by freezing, until sufficient hydraulic
pressure is set up to enable the water to burst through again. This flooding
and freezing goes on all winter, or at least until the winter flow of water
is so reduced that it can pass through the gravels beneath the ice. Thus a
deposit of ice may be built up, much after the manner of an alluvial deposit.
"If the winter flow is sufficient the aufeis may reach a considerable
thickness, so that it may override the ordinary banks of the river and
spread out over the whole flood plain. The greatest deposit seen by the
writer was about a mile wide and 3 or 4 miles long. The thickness in the
last part of June was about 12 feet.
"In autumn the river is covered with thick ice before the flow is
retarded sufficiently to set up hydraulic pressure. Acting under this pressure
26

BROOKS RANGE, ALASKA

the water forces up the domes and ridges of ice, which are a conspicuous
feature of aufeis deposits. These elevations are as a rule less than 10 feet
high; about 15 feet is the maximum. As a rule their shape is oblong, though
ridges over a hundred feet long have been noted. There is invariably a
fracture along the crest of the mounds, whence water occasionally flows. The
writer has never seen these mounds in the process of formation, but early in
November the Canning was dotted with them. The natives say that they have
seen them rising early in the autumn, accompanied by an outflow of water.
The prospector Arey confirms this report.
"After this first process of formation of the mounds the water escapes
more quietly. As soon as the newly flooded area is frozen over hydraulic
pressure is again set up, but it has only a few inches of ice to fracture.
Consequently there is but slight disturbance of the surface.
"With the advent of warm weather the flooding water, no longer freez–
ing, covers the whole deposit of aufeis. Soon the drainage is concentrated
into troughs, which have been melted along the lines of greatest flow.
As these troughs are cut downward those most favorably situated grow at
the expense of the neighboring streams, until by the time the actual river
bed is reached the water is concentrated into one or two streams flowing at
the bottom of ice canyons...
"The ice is gradually undermined by the river, so that large blocks
break off with loud reports and fall into the water. Navigation at this time
would be very dangerous, for there is danger from falling ice and of being
swept under the ice by the current. All of the ice within reach of the
river is cut cut before the summer is over, but that upon the high bars
may remain until September or may possibly last over a second winter. By
the 1st of July the aufeis of the Canning was removed from the stretch north
of the mountains; a week earlier that near the forks was almost intact.
26

BROOKS RANGE, ALASKA

The mounds often remain some weeks after the thinner deposits have
melted away.
"Okpilak River contained very little aufeis. There was a steep valley
train of ice that had been built out a couple of hundred yards from the
lower end of the West Fork Glacier. A similar deposit floored the bottom
of a valley that stretches eastward from Mount Michelson. At the time of
the writer's visit the Hulahula had two areas of aufeis outside of the
mountains, and within the mountains as far as the forks most of its floor was
covered with ice. Sadlerochit River had one area of aufeis north of the
mountains, but above this there were only a few patches confined to the side
streams. On the Canning aufeis occurs nearly everywhere from the forks to
the coast, the greatest development being near the forks and below Shublik
Springs."
Names The names of the various mountain groups included in the Brooks
Range have been assigned at different times by several different
explorers.
The De Long Mountains, for instance, were so identified by Stoney,
in 1886, in honor of George Washington De Long, like Stoney a member of
the U.S. Navy, who headed the fated voyage of the Jeanette in 1879. Stoney
also named the Baird Mountains after Professor Spencer F. Baird, then
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and the Schwatka Mountains, probably
in honor of Lieut. Frederick Schwatka.
The Endicott Mountains, however, were named by Henry T. Allen, of
the U.S. Army, in 1885, probably after William C. Endicott, then Secretary
of War.
In 1778, Cook called a point between the Noatak and the sea "Mulgrave,"
but Beechey, having approached closer to shore and seen that the hills were
22

BROOKS RANGE, ALASKA

farther inland and of greater extent than Cook had supposed, called them
the Mulgrave Range. Since they are now recognized to be only a minor group
in the Brooks Range, they have more recently been reduced to the status of
"Hills."
Cape Lisburne was discovered and named by Cook in 1778, but it was
Collier, in 1904, who named the highlands extending southwestward from this
Cape the Lisburne Hills.
(See separate articles for the history of the names of individual
rivers, towns, and coastal points in this part of Alaska.)

BROOKS RANGE, ALASKA

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. 2d ed. Washington, 1906.

Leffingwell, E. de K. Canning River Region, Northern Alaska Canning River Region, Northern Alaska . Washington,
1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)

Smith, P.S. & Mertie, J.B., jr. Geology and Mineral Resources of North
Geology and Mineral Resources of North
western Alaska western Alaska . Washington, 1930. (U.S. Geological Survey.
Bulletin Bulletin 815)

U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.

230

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 BROWNLOW POINT, ALASKA

BROWNLOW POINT, on the arctic coast of Alaska, is the western entrance
point to Camden Bay. Only about two miles of water separates this point from the
eastern end of Flaxman Island.
Landing at Brownlow Point during his August, 1826, attempt to complete the
northwest passage, Franklin saw that the "bay" to the southwest (in reality
the [: ] mouth of the Staines River (q.v.)) was strewed with stone and that
his only chance of making progress was to sail northwestward again toward the
ice. After struggling through heavy floe ice, he came upon Flaxman Island.
Shoal water defeated his attempt to sail along the south shore of the island,
and the ice was solidly packed against the north shore. Such experiences as
this very well indicate the unusual amount and persistence of the ice of the
north coast of Alaska during the 1826 season.
Leffingwell, who spent the years 1906-1914 in this part of Alaska, notes
that Brownlow Point is one of the best fishing spots along the coast. Using
four gill nets of 2 1/2-inch mesh, he caught more than 300 fish there in about
18 hours. His catch had an average weight of 1 1/2 pounds.
A narrow line of sandbars and reefs extends southeastward from Brownlow
Point into Camden Bay. The point itself is low and the mainland to the west
of it curves sharply southward to the mouth of the Staines River. This
stream is really the western embouchure of the Canning River (q.v.), another
branch of which drains into Camden Bay several miles southeast of Brownlow
Point.

BROWNLOW POINT, ALASKA

R. J. COLLINS - Photographer
20 MAIN STREET
MILLER FALLS - MASSACHUSETTS
TELEPHONE 2861 BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Marcus. Geographic dictionary of Alaska Geographic dictionary of Alaska , 2d ed. [: ] Washington, D.C.,
G.P.O., 1906.

Franklin, John. Narrative of a second expedition to the shores of the Polar
Sea in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827

Narrative of a second expedition to the shores of the Polar
Sea in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827
. London, Murray, 1828.

Leffingwell, E. de K. Canning River region, northern Alaska Canning River region, northern Alaska , Washington, D.C.,
G.P.O., 1919. U.S. Geological Survey, Professional paper Professional paper 109).

U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska , Part II, 5th (1947) ed., Washington, D.C., G.P.O.,
1947.

EA-Geography: Alaska
(Stefansson Library Research Staff)

NORTHERN ALASKA GEOGRAPHICAL ITEMS
Icy Cape to Int [: ] rnational Boundary
(Place names arranged geographically)
Folder (1): A - B
Folder (2): C - L
Folder (3): M - Y
1980

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 CANNING RIVER, ALASKA

CANNING RIVER, one of the major streams in arctic Alaska, enters the Polar
Sea by two distributaries slightly north of 70° N.Lat., and between 145° and 146°
W.Long. The eastern and larger distributary retains the name of the main stream
and flows into the western end of Camden Bay. The smaller, western distribu–
tary enters the sea just south of Brownlow Point, some 10 (airline) miles west
of the main mouth of the river. This western branch is also known as the
Staines River (q.v.), although this name has been dropped from some recent maps
of the region.
According to Leffingwell, who studied the entire Canning River region
between the years 1906 and 1914, the Canni [: ] g is about 120 miles long. The pros–
pector, [: ] S.J. Marsh, had previously recorded the length as 180 miles, but
Leffingwell feels this is an exaggeration.
The headwaters of the Canning rise in the Brooks Range among 7,000-foot
peaks. The two streams which later join to form the Canning both rise close
to each other and across the divide from the Junjik and East Chandalar
Rivers in the Yukon River (q.v.) system.
The larger and more easterly fork is considered part of the main river,
but the smaller and more westerly is known as Marsh Fork. After flowing north–
ward for about 50 miles, these two streams converge at a [: ] point about 70 miles
from the coast. Mount Salisbury, 6900 feet, rises about 12 miles off to the
southwest of this junction. Leffingwell reports that the ice cap on this peak
may discharge small glaciers into the Canning River system.
This part of the Canning valley is open and trough-shaped, with slopes
rising on both sides to heights of about 3000 feet. Below the forks, the river
flows to the northwest through a flat basin a mile or so wide. For about 7
miles, as it skirts the western edge of the Franklin Mountains, the river

CANNING RIVER, ALASKA

suddenly narrows and plunges through a rocky gorge not more than 100 feet
wide and some 50 feet deep.
North of the Franklin Mountains the basin again opens up. Across a
low area extending eastward from this part of the Canning river flow Eagle and Cache
Creeks, the first named tributaries of the Canning. West of this same stretch
the basin rises about 1000 feet to meet the Anaktuvuk Plateau.
At this point the Canning passes Shublik Springs, which gush out of
the Shublik Mountains at an elevation of some 400 feet above the river , and then
join to form the torrent which breaks through the east bank of the river a few
miles below Cache Creek. Leffingwell reports that these springs continue to
flow all winter. He found the June temperature of one of them to be 43° F.
and the torrent to be impassable on foot.
A few miles farther downstream the river passes around Shublik Island
and within a few miles of Mt. Copleston and then, after skirting the western
end of the Shublik and Sadlerochit Mountains, it enters the upland plateau.
The mountains withdraw from the west side of the river, and a bluff perhaps 100
feet high follows along the east side to within 20 miles of the coast. Below
this point the Canning only slightly incises the face of the coastal plain
and splits about 15 miles from the sea into the two distributaries previously
mentioned.
Climate Leffingwell gives a good account of the weather in the Canning River
Region. Until about January 20 the sun is not visible, but the nights
are clearer during this particular month than at any other time of year.
February is usually marked by warmer weather and storms. Maximum February
temperature recorded by Leffingwell was 43.5° F. March he considers the most
unpleasant month of the year. Temperatures drop and high winds are common.
By April the sun is strong enough so strong that goggles must be worn against

CANNING RIVER, ALASKA

snow blindness. The first part of April is apt to be cold, but a sudden rise
in temperatures toward the end of the month is the earliest sign of spring.
Leffingwell is of the opinion that more snow falls during April and May than
at any other time of year.
Snow buntings, geese, ducks, and sea gulls return in May, and there
is light enough to travel by night. Toward the end of May the Canning River
breaks up, flooding the sea ice at its mouth. River water drains into the
ocean through the many cracks in the sea ice. The sunshine is now sufficient
to soften the snow during the day, although it hardens again each night;
T t ravel is therefore easiest after midnight. The mountains lose most of their
snow during May and, by the end of the month, it is no longer possible to sled
along the river basins.
June weather is clear and warm. Pools of water from melting snow
appear on the ice floes and the snow slowly melts from the coastal plain.
River water eats away the sea ice, and shoal waters are free of ice. It is
now possible to travel short distances along the coast in a small boat.
Travel by water improves during July. At some time during that month an
easterly gale may be expected to drive the ice out of the lagoon west of
Flaxman Island. At about the same time the weather becomes generally windy,
and rainy, skies are overcast and fog is frequent. The stars are not usually
visible again until the last of August. The sea is freest from ice during
August. Navigation s continues to be possible for the first three weeks of
September, although new ice may form at any time thereafter. Land pools and
shoal waters will crust over with ice several times before it forms permanently.
Toward the end of September the ground is already covered with snow,
but the sea ice, although formed, is not yet strong enough to support a man,
and yet is already too thick for boat travel. These conditions suspend all

CANNING RIVER, ALASKA

travel for about a week. Coastal travel is once more possible by mid-October,
but the winter storms have already begun. Leffingwell records gales with tem–
peratures down to ࢤ5° F. for late October, and adds that November and December
are also stormy. The sun sets for the winter about November 20, but the 6
hours of twilight which persist until its reappearance make night travel
possible.
Vegetation The entire course of the Canning River lies well beyond
the tree line. On the upper river, within the mountains,
a few small willows , perhaps 12 or 15 feet high , will be found appear , and farther
downstream scattered patches of cottonwood. Some of these seem very tall
because of the unrelieved flatness of the surrounding countryside, but they
do not measure more than 25 feet high, at the greatest. Leffingwell found no
evergreen trees north of the Brooks Range divide. According to members of the
U.S. Geological Survey who have traveled with horses in the Canning region,
the grasses of the river bars and the plains are [: ] sufficient
throughout the summer to sustain the strength of pack animals so long as they
are not over-worked.
Animal Life Caribou were once extremely numerous everywhere over the
arctic coastal plain of Alaska, but, during the last few
years of Leffingwell's stay, their numbers were greatly reduced and have not been
replenished. Leffingwell reports a few Dall sheep near the headwaters of the
Canning, but no other large game. Eider ducks, black brant, white-fronted
geese, and ptarmigan are all fairly numerous in the Canning region. Although
certain spots are more favorable than others, fishing is generally successful
all along the coast during July and August, and the larger rivers, such as the

CANNING RIVER, ALASKA

Canning, are well-stocked at all times of year. The best season for river fish–
ing, however, is just before the fall freeze-up when the water is low and the
deeper pools are approachable by wading. Eskimos who fish in the river during
the winter usually catch enough to keep them going from day to day. Grayling
are found in the rivers, the salmon trout both in the rivers and along the
coast and the whitefish only in the sea.
According to Leffingwell, the white fox is the most valuable fur–
bearing animal in this part of Alaska. Working continuously a trapper will
secure between 50 and 100 skins a season, although fluctuations in the fox
population are very great from one year to the next.
Exploration Although Franklin had named the Canning in 1826 while passing through
Camden Bay, he did not explore the river. It was not until Collinson was from in
frozen in near Flaxman Island during the winter of 153/54 that was a white man
investigated the Canning region. Going ashore on July 5, 1854, Collinson
discovered that the Staine s River was really another mouth of the Canning.
In 1901, the prospector, H.T. (Ned) Arey, sledded from Pt. Barrow to the Canning
and wintered in that region for eleven years. He was the first white man to
study the region in detail, the first to enter the Canning and the first to
collect native maps of the vicinity. S.J. Marsh, another prospector, went up
the east or main fork of the Canning farther than Leffingwell's upper camp.
Leffingwell's report reviews the history of the exploration of the Canning
region, and brings all pre-existing information concerning it into focus with his
own detailed study of the entire region. Although his main interest is geologic
and geographic, he includes aspects many other aspects as well, all based
upon his own 1906-1914 experiences in the field.

CANNING RIVER, ALASKA

Ice A kind of ice sometimes called "glaciers" and sometimes "flood ice"
is formed over the flood plains of the rivers of arctic Alaska every
winter. Leffingwell prefers the term "aufeis" for this phenomenon.
Extended low temperatures and the shallowness of the lower reaches of
the streams contribute to the formation of aufies. For some distance up from
the mouth of a river anchor or frazil ice may form, or the stream may freeze
solidly to the bottom. At the same time, water continues to arrive from the
upper river through channels which its greater velocity has cut under the
layer of surface ice which covers the entire river. The hydraulic pressure
created by this means increases until it is able to break through the surface
ice. Large quantities of water escape and spread out over the frozen surface
of the river. Very soon this water is transformed into ice, and the break
in the surface ice also refreezes, but never to the strength of the unfractured
sections. The same fractures bursts open again and again all winter long, until
the flow of water beneath is so slight that it can pass through the gravels of
the river bottom. Repetitions of this process sometimes cause the aufeis to
overflow the river banks and to spread out over the flood plain. The greatest
deposit seen by Leffingwell was in June and measured about 1 mile wide, 3 or 4
miles long, and about 12 inches thick.
Before actually breaking through the surface ice, the water always
forces domes and ridges in it. These are usually oblong and about 10 feet
high, although Leffingwell records one 15 feet high. The first fracturing of
these domes, which is always lengthwise of the crest, is explosive, but there–
after the water escapes more quietly.
With spring the river floods and large amounts of water flow through
the domes and out over the aufeis, forming troughs and channels in the surface
of the ice and finally working its way back to the river bed.

CANNING RIVER, ALASKA

With the continuing warmer weather and the flooding of the river, the
ice directly over the river bed it cut away from underneath. Large blocks
of ice break off and fall into the water. Before the end of summer, all the
ice within reach of the river water is cut away, but that which has formed high
on the bars may persist until September of even until the following year.
Aufeis is formed almost everywhere on the Canning, but is greatest near the forks
and below Shublik Springs.
Mineral Resources In view of the fact that it is now proposed to extend the
boundary of Naval Petroleum Reserve No.4 eastward toward
the Canning River, it is interesting to note that Leffingwell mentions a
seepage of oil and some coal outcrops in the western part of the arctic slope
of the Canning River region. He also mentions a few colors of gold in the
stre a ms of the region, but adds that the isolation of the area, the severity
of the climate, the absence of fuel, and the problems of transportation would
probably be sufficient to discourage most prospectors from working the region.
Name On the morning of August 5, 1826, when Sir John Franklin was approaching
the mouth of the Canning from the east, he was "much teased
by the boat's repeatedly touching the ground." However shallow Camden Bay had
proved to be, Franklin found even less water off the mouth of the large river
which he named "in honour of the late Mr. Canning." Franklin further notes
that the water of the bay was perfectly fresh 3 miles from the land and that the
ice was much more loose abre a st of the mouth of the river than it had been
elsewhere along the coast.

CANNING RIVER, ALASKA

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Marcus. Geographic dictionary of Alaska Geographic dictionary of Alaska , 2d ed. Washington, D.C.,
1906.

Leffingwell, E. de K. Canning River region, northern Alaska Canning River region, northern Alaska . Washington,
D.C., 1919. U.S. Geological Survey, Professional paper Professional paper 109.

U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska , Part II, 5th (1947) ed. Washington, D.C., 1947.

Willson, C.O. "Full-scale exploration under way by Navy in arctic Alaska,"
Oil and Gas Journal Oil and Gas Journal , August 9, 1947.

----. "Airborne, surface, and subsurface facilities used in seeking arctic
oil," Oil and Gas Journal Oil and Gas Journal , August 23, 1947.

80 wds

Ruby Collins
January, 1950 CHAMBERLIN, MOUNT, ALASKA

CHAMBERLIN (CHAMBERLAIN), MOUNT (69° 17′ N.Lat., 144° 51′
W.Long.), arctic Alaska, was named by Leffingwell after Professor T.C.
Chamberlin. For some reason the name appears in its alternate form on a
great many recent maps.
Mount Chamberlin rises to 9,131 feet a few miles south of
Lakes Peters and Schrader at the headwaters of the Sadlerochit River.
Leffingwell shows it as the most prominent peak in the Franklin Mountains,
its double, ice-clad summit towering 3,000 feet above the neighboring
mountains.
Leffingwell, E. de K. The Canning River Region, Northern Alaska. Wash., D.C.,
D.P.O., 1919, p.50. U.S.Geol.Surv., Prof.pa. 109.
515 wds

Ruby Collins
July, 1949 CHIPP RIVER, ALASKA

CHIPP RIVER, northern Alaska, the modern name for the stream known
to the Eskimos as the Ikpikpung, flows into the Polar Sea by way of Admiralty
Bay, an extension of Dease Inlet (q.v.). Three other streams, the Inaru,
Meade, and Topagoruk, also enter the head of Admiralty Bay.
Because of the low and almost perfectly flat nature of the surrounding
countryside, and the resultant confusion in the drainage, there has been [: ]
some doubt both as to the name and the course of the Chipp River.
In the early spring of 1883, Lieut. P.H. Ray made a trip to the Meade
River and some of its neighboring streams. He reported the Chipp as the
Ikpikpung. Three years later, in May and June of 1886, Ensign W.L. Howard,
of Stoney's naval expedition to the Kobuk River, traveled down the Ikpikpuk
and the Chipp on his way to Point Barrow. It was Stoney who named the Chipp
in honor of Lieut. Charles Winans Chipp, U.S.N., who [: ] perished
on the De Long expedition of 1881.
According to most recent maps the Chipp is a western branch of a
larger river, the Ikpikpuk, which flows more directly northward and empties
into the head of Smith Bay, the next large depression in the north coast of
Alaska east of Admiralty Bay.
Howard describes the upper Chipp River country as being low, flat,
and sandy. Only occasional mounds of sand and a growth of stubble relieved
the monotony of the landscape. At first the Chipp was only about 100 yards
wide, but soon increased this to 500 yards, remaining shoal and filled with
sand spits and sand islands. Game was scarce having remained farther in the
interior. The river banks were so low as to be scarcely perceptible, causing
the stream to overflow onto the plain during periods of high water.
"Passed [: ] through two lakes," the report reads, "made by the river
widening over the tundra; the first nearly circular and about a mile in diameter;
the second, half a mile further on, was about five miles in diameter. Both
were very shallow (the boats grounded in the larger) and were full of

CHIPP RIVER, ALASKA

sand-spits and islands. The surrounding country was level and a network
of ponds and lakes of all sizes, with the river winding in and out among them
connecting a great many."
At about this point in his trip Howard and his Eskimo companions met a
group of Point Barrow Eskimos who were on their way to the Colville and the
Mackenzie Rivers to trade. They had with them dogs and sleds as well as
boats and were carrying the boats on the sleds over the marshlands until
they should meet open water. "The trip from Point Barrow to Mackenzie River
and return occupies two years. They communicate [: ] and trade with the [: ]
Hudson Bay natives, and the latter sometimes visit Point Barrow, and some of
them visited us at this camp."
So extensive was this brisk [: ]
pre-white trade among the Eskimos that products of the Hudson Bay natives
far to the east or those of the Diomede or Cape Prince of Wales tribes,
to the southwest in Bering Strait, might finally come into the possession
of a Point Barrow Eskimo. The report of the Howard trip mentions the
considerable trading which went on at the mouth of the Chipp. The inland,
Kobuk River natives exchanging all kinds of furs for the rifles, cartridges,
caps, lead, and tobacco which the coast Eskimos had acquired in abundance
from the white man.
43
12
[: T ] 6
43
516

CHIPP RIVER, ALASKA

References
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Stoney, George M. Naval Explorations in Alaska. Naval Explorations in Alaska. Annapolis, Md., United States
Naval Institute, 1900.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.
VS Guidebook for Alaska. Guidebook for Alaska.
3,020 wds

Ruby Collins
August, 1949 COLVILLE RIVER, ALASKA

COLVILLE RIVER, northern Alaska, the master waterway in the drainage of
the arctic slope of the Brooks Range, has a basin of about 30,000 square miles
and is distinguished not only for its size but also for the fact that, contrary
to the many other streams in this drainage system, it flows almost directly east–
ward for hundreds of miles before turning northward to Harrison Bay.
Smith and Mertie point out that although the Colville has been thought
of as the northern boundary of the Brooks Range province, the main stream lies
entirely within the arctic plateau, and is ten to seventy miles from the true
northern front of the range all the way from its head to within 75 miles of the
mouth.
The Colville runs parallel to the trend of the rock formations in the
Brooks Range. This fact offers one possible explanation for the westward extension
of the river. It probably cut headward by eroding a belt of weak rock, thus
capturing a great many northward-flowing streams which had cut their valleys across
the structure of the rocks. It is possible that the Killik, Etviuk, Kuna, Kiligwa,
and all the other early tributaries of the Colville might have been captured in
this manner.
Smith and Mertie suggest further that, since this process began, certain
modifications have taken place in the valley formations surrounding the upper
Colville which may in the future give the advantage to other streams.
According to observations made on the early Colville on May 30, 1925,
in the vicinity of 69° N.Lat., 160° W.Long., Disappointment Creek, a tributary
to the Utukok (q.v.), stands a good chance of recapturing some of the water
from the Colville and its early tributaries. The Colville here is flowing at an
approximate elevation of 2,000 feet and only a few hundred yards south of the
summit of the divide separating it from the headwaters of Disappointment Creek.

COLVILLE RIVER, ALASKA

The divide stands only 110 feet above the Colville, and the distance between the
2,000-foot contour on the two sides of the divide is less than half a mile. From
this point the Colville drops 200 feet in an airline distance of 26 miles, or
considerably less than 10 feet per mile, but Disappointment Creek drops 600 feet
in an airline distance of 7 miles, or almost 90 feet per mile. Given [: ] normal
erosion of the two sides of this divide, Disappointment Creek may be expected to
recapture from the Colville some of the water which that river took from the
Utukok conturies ago.
Measuring from the head of its most westerly tributary, the Colville
is 275 [: ] airline miles long, but, since the river makes several large-scale
bends and numberless smaller meanders, its actual length would be several times
this distance.
Storm, Meridian, Reynard, and Nuka Creeks, the first four tributaries
to the Colville, rise in the vicinity of Thunder Mountain and Lake Noluk near the
southern boundary of Naval Petroleum Reserve No.4 and 160° W. Long. All these
streams enter from the south. The main stream begins a few miles west of the
mouth of Storm Creek and receives a few small, unnamed affluents from the east
side of Meat Mountain. Several tributaries to the Utukok drain from the west
side of this mountain. Disappointment Creek rises at about 69° N.Lat., 160°
W.Long., and flows northward into the Utukok.
From this point the Colville continues eastward, crossing and recrossing
69° N. Lat. but never deviating far from it. Between 159° and 156° W.Long., the
Colville receives the Kiligwa, Kuna, Ipnavik, and Etivluk Rivers from the south,
and Grayling Creek from the north. This part of the river runs between the Brooks
Range and a low group of low hills known as Lookout Ridge. North of this ridge,
but also parallel to it, is the eastward-flowing Awuna, the next important

COLVILLE RIVER, ALASKA

tributary to the Colville.
Between 156° and 154° W.Long., the Colville receives the Kucher,
Kurupa, and Aupuk from the south. This section of the Colville is only a few
miles from the Kigalik River and Maybe Creek, the two streams which join to form
the Ikpikpuk. In the spring of 1886, Ensign W.L. Howard, of Lieutenant G.M.
Stoney's naval expedition to the Kobuk River, reached Barrow by leaving the
Colville here, crossing the low divide to the rendezvous village of Kigalik and
then continuing down the Ikpikpuk and the Chipp to the Polar Sea. This was the
regular route used by the inland Eskimos on their annual trading trips to the
north coast of Alaska.
A few miles east of 154° W.Long., the Colville swings northeastward
away from 69° N.Lat. and starts its tortuous 75-mile journey across the coastal
plain to Harrison Bay. The Killik River, the first stream to enter this part of
the Colville, is one of its major tributaries and comes in from the south.
The Killik rises deep in the Brooks Range in the vicinity of 68° N.
Lat., 155° W. Long., and takes a generally northeasterly course to the Colville.
Its chief tributaries are April and Easter Creeks, in the upper section, and
Chandler River, about 20 miles (airline) from the mouth.
The Chandler is about 45 miles (airline) long and drains from a lake
by the same name. Chandler Lake appears on recent maps in dotted outline but
is reported to be about 10 miles long and one and one-half miles wide at the
greatest. It is large enough for pontoon planes in summer and ski planes in
winter to land and take off after five or six hours at bush flying speed out
of Fairbanks or about one hour from Wiseman.
Chandler River became widely known when coarse gold was found on it.
in the summer of 1935. G. Stanley Herbert, while prospecting this area, found
one tract about 24 miles square that showed high-grade quartz gold throughout.

COLVILLE RIVER, ALASKA

He also traced out one vein outcrop of high-grade silver ore for over 3 miles.
The region was then uninhabited except by roving Eskimo hunters. No development
of these ore deposits has ever been reported, probably because of the ban on
staking mining claims in Naval Petroleum Reserve No.4., in which Herbert's dis–
coveries lie. A request that this ban be removed appeared in the annual report
of the Governor of Alaska for 1948. (Sea Barrow, Alaska, article.)
Farther downstream, Ninuluk and Prince Creeks enter the Colville from
the south and north respectively. The headwaters of the Prince are only a few
miles from those of Maybe Creek, in the Ikpikpuk system.
Perhaps 28 (airline) miles below Prince Creek, the Colville swings
north and, at the same time, receives a large unnamed tributary from the south.
The Anaktuvuk, the largest tributary of the Colville, enters a few
miles below this [: ] stream, and also from the south. It rises in a narrow
valley in the Brooks Range guarded by 5000-foot peaks. Alapah Mountain, 8500
feet, is hearby. Some maps show it draining from tiny Eleanor Lake. Anaktuvuk
Pass, 2400 feet, leads to the headwaters of the John River, a tributary of the
Koyukuk. This pass is only a few miles from where the range falls off to the
plateau on the north, and the Anaktuvuk very soon finds its way out of the
mountains. The intermontane part of the valley is wide, with abrupt walls, and
about 15 miles long. The river descends 200 feet in this distance, passing
[: ]
[: ]
through several small lakes, including Cache Lake, and receiving a tributary
from Stuver Mountain.
After leaving the mountains the Anaktuvuk enters a broad basin about
40 miles in length, which has been incised in the Anaktuvuk Plateau, where it
receives several tributaries. Below this basin there is a small canyon and then

COLVILLE RIVER, ALASKA

the valley broadens to a width of two or three miles. Both above and in the canyon,
the Anaktuvuk has many rapids and the bed is strewn with glacial boulders.
Farther downstream the current is between 2 and 6 miles per hour. Below the
canyon, Willow Creek and Nanushuk River enter from the east, and the Tuluga
comes in from the west. The Anaktuvuk is about 100 (airline) miles long.
Perhaps 40 (airline) miles below the Anaktuvuk, the Colville bends
eastward for about 10 miles and then turns northeastward for perhaps 30 more
miles before entering Harrison Bay. The Itkillik enters from the east about
25 (airline) miles up from the mouth.
The Itkillik is over 150 (airline) miles long. It rises in the
Brooks Range in the vicinity of 68° 05′ N.Lat., 150° 30′ W.Long. and takes a
generally northerly and northwesterly course to the Colville. For its first 30
miles it is over-shadowed by towering 7,000- and 8,000-foot peaks, but thereafter
works down the mountain plateau and so to the low, flat, lake-strewn coastal
plain. Its upper sections are relatively straight, but the coastal section,
because of the inadequacy of the drainage, is braided, tortuous, and extremely
meandering.
The Colville enters Harrison Bay about 40 miles east of Cape Halkett
between 150° and 151° W.Long. The enormous delta is conventionally mapped as
about 20 miles wide, with a 15-mile radius and 5 or 6 mouths, but, like most
large deltas, it is really indefinite as to its eastern and western boundaries.
The channels shift every year so that even the relatively recent air
survey map of the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey is neither accurate nor complete.
It is probable that during some years the best channel for boats has been the
one called Main Channel, or the second most easterly one on the U.S.C. & G.S.
map 9400; but when Stefansson was there on several occasions between 1907 and
1914, a better channel seemed to be the one most easterly, past Oliktok Point.

COLVILLE RIVER, ALASKA

From his own experience and from native report, Stefansson believes that a boat
drawing 5 or 6 feet could probably navigate both the most easterly and the most
westerly branches of the delta to the mouth of the Utkillik, and do doubt, some
distance beyond.
The Colville d elta is composed of innumerable low islands which are
constantly merging and regrouping from year to year. On their seaward sides they
[: ] pass gradually into marshes, mud flats, bars, and finally shoals
which are continuous with the ever-deepening ocean floor. Sand dunes, some 60
or more feet high, appear on the islands at the head of the delta.
Schrader suggests that the "Pelly Mountains," noted and named by Dease
and Simpson in 1837, during their trip westward to Barrow along the north coast of
Alaska, may have been sand dunes similar to these at the head of the Colville
delta but a little farther west. Other explorers have never been able to find the
Pelly Mountains. Schrader goes on to explain that, under certain conditions of
light along this coast, refraction causes low objects to be enormously exaggerated
in the vertical scale. This, in combination with the generally unrelieved
flatness of the surrounding countryside, may explain why Dease and Simpson mis–
took a group of sand dunes for a mountain chain.
To the landward side the islands of the delta are fairly heavily
covered with "willow," which means small growth alders, willows, and several other
species. They are twig size near the seaward edges of the delta and may be 10
or more feet in height on the landward side. In addition to growing willow, the
delta islands have fuel both as drift willow from the Colville itself and as
ordinary seaborne driftwood from the Mackenzie and other rivers.
The freshening influence of the Colville extends 12 or 14 miles
into Harrison Bay. The delta water is often fresh enough for cooking purposes
as far east as Oliktok Point, westward some distance beyond the most westerly

COLVILLE RIVER, ALASKA

channel shown on the map, and seaward a few miles beyond the delta edge. But
the "tide" which rises some hours before the advent of a westerly gale, and
which may run to five or even six feet, may carry salt water up the delta channels
not merely to what is mapped as the head of the delta but perhaps 10 or more
miles farther still.
The appearance and character of this extensive river changes with the
terrain through which is flows. Above Prince Creek the current is so strong that
little or no progress upstream can be made by rowing, and it is likewise impos–
sible, because of the current, to effect a crossing that holds to a direct line.
The early tributaries, especially those from the Brooks Range or south side of
the river, are swift, but those from the Lookout Ridge or north side are relatively
sluggish. This is particularly true of the Awuna and Prince Creek.
[: ]
Between the mouth of the Anaktuvuk and Ocean Point, about 10 miles
upstream from the delta, the current is 3 to 4 miles per hour, but below this
point the current is slack, although the river is deeper than the channels
through the delta.
Canoe navigation is possible from the mouth to a considerable distance
up Storm Creek, near the head of the Colville; for the entire length of the
Anaktuvuk, and the Etivluk; and for the greater part of Prince, Killik, Chandler,
and Awuna Rivers. Above the Killik, the Colville usually follows a single, fairly
deep channel, so that it could probably be traversed by shallow-draft launches
as far as the Nuka River. From the mouth of the Killik to the Prince, the
Colville splits up into several channels which are frequently interrupted by
sand bars so that travel, even by canoe, is difficult during periods of low water.
Below the Prince to the head of the delta, the river again becomes [: ] deeper
and would probably accomodate a small river steamboat.

COLVILLE RIVER, ALASKA

[: ] continuous line of bold, steep-faced bluffs walls the west side of
the river all the way from the mouth of the Anaktuvuk to Ocean Point, 40 miles
farther south. These bluffs descend gradually from a height of 200 feet in the
south to about 80 feet at Ocean Point, where the river turns eastward away from
them.
Schrader's explanation for this formation is that the Colville has
migrated laterally westward across what he calls the Colville Flats, down-cutting
into the torrains composing the plain so extensively that the west side of the
river is banked with these high bluffs and the east wide is an expanse of low,
abandoned flats laid waste by the river.
The Colville Flats form a triangle covering probably 2,000 square
miles and extending northeastward from the mouth of the Anaktuvuk, as an apex, to
the coast, where they include the Colville delta and attain a maximum width of
50 or 60 miles. Shallow ponds and lakes are everywhere strewn about these flats,
and the dead level is relieved only by occasional mounds of gravel rising perhaps
10 to 40 feet above the surface.
Schrader suggests that the Colville once entered the ocean through
Gwydyr Bay (q.v.), some 30 or 40 miles east of the present delta, or even through
Prudhoe Bay (q.v.), still further east, and that it has migrated westward to
its present position, eating away at the bluffs on the west and leaving behind,
on the east, a desolated flat.
Willows more than four or five feet high begin to be found approximately
20 miles away from that sea water which in summer is constantly cooled by drifting
ice. Near the mouth of the Itkillik some of the willows are 15 and even 20 feet
high. By native report there are some spruce trees toward the head of the
Itkillik; but one of Stefansson's companions of his third expedition, Aarnout
Castel, who, subsequent to 1930, lived on the Colville above the mouth of the
Itkillik, told Stefansson verbally (1935) that he was sure there were no spruce.

COLVILLE RIVER, ALASKA

However, he said this made little difference as willows, good for fuel and
suitable for [: ] native-style house building, were everywhere abundant.
In pre-white times the Colville was one of the chief meeting and
trading places where goods originally brought from Siberia by the Port Clarence
people would find their way through Kotzebue Sound to Eskimos on the north
coast of Alaska, and as far east as the Mackenzie delta. Inland Eskimos from
the upper Kobuk, Noatak, and Colville Rivers used the Colville Valley to reach
the arctic coast of Alaska. In the spring they would follow the caribou north–
ward to the edge of the mountains, wait for the ice to break, and then sail
all the way downstream. Those go [: ] ng to the Mackenzie followed the Colville
to its mouth, and those going to Barrow left the upper Colville, crossing Look–
out Ridge and sailing down the Ikpikpuk and the Chipp. The return trip was made
by water to the head of navigation where the boats were cached until the following
year. Wood for these boats was either brought across the divide from the
timbered valleys of the southerly and westerly flowing rivers or else was obtained
as driftwood on the coast.
Although, as Brooks points out, the Colville Valley supported a large
native population in pre-white times, it was by and large nomadic so that few
permanent settlements grew up along the river. Rendezvous points might buzz
with activity every spring, but they would be almost deserted at all other times
of year.
Since the beginning of intscnvie intensive development work on the development of in Naval
Petroleum Reserve No.4, however, Umiat (q.v.), about half way between Prince
Creek and the Anaktuvuk has been the site of continuous year-round activity.
(See also Barrow, Alaska, article.)
There are a few landing fields in the valley, one called Colville

COLVILLE RIVER, ALASKA

Bar, at the mouth of the Killik, and another on Chandler Lake, but no information
as to their facilities is available. Chandler Lake has an emergency seaplane
anchorage near the south end.
Dease and Simpson named this magnificent river, the Colville, on July
24, 1837. "Coasting along [ Harrison Bay ] ...for eight miles," Simpson wrote,
"the beach preserved the same low character, consisting of mud and gravel; the
soundings nowhere exceeding seven or eight feet on a bottom of gravel and sand.
At length, at 9 A.M., the water shoaled to from one to two feet, and, after
seeking in vain for a deeper channel, we were obliged to stand out to sea. We,
[: ] however, had the satisfaction of tracing the land to the bottom of the bay,
into which a very large river falls; for the water, even at the distance of three
leagues to seaward, was perfectly fresh. We called it Colville River, as a mark of
our respect for Andrew Colville, Esquire, of the Hudson's Bay Company." Although
his written account gives the name as [: ] "Colvile", it appears on Simpson's map
as "Colville", which spelling has been retained.

COLVILLE RIVER, ALASKA

References
Baker, Marcus. Geographic dictionary of Alaska. Geographic dictionary of Alaska. 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Brooks, Alfred H. Geography and geology of Alaska; a summary of existing Geography and geology of Alaska; a summary of existing
knowledge. knowledge. Washington, 1906. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Professional
Paper Paper , No.45)
Schrader, F.C. Reconnaissance in northern Alaska Reconnaissance in northern Alaska . Washington, 1904.
(U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper No.20)
Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the discoverios on the north coast of America. Narrative of the discoverios on the north coast of America. ..
during the years 1836-39. during the years 1836-39. London, Bentley, 1843.
Smith, P.S., and Mertie, J.B., Jr. Geology and mineral resources of northwestern Geology and mineral resources of northwestern
Alaska. Alaska. Washington, 1930. (U.S. Geological Survey. Bulletin Bulletin 815)
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska. Part I Alaska. Part I I. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.
VS Guidebook for Alaska. VS Guidebook for Alaska.
55 wds

Ruby Collins
January, 1950 COPLESTON, MOUNT, ALASKA

COPLESTON, MOUNT, a peak of unreported elevation at the
west end of the Shubelik Mountains, arctic Alaska, was named by Sir John
Franklin after Dr. Copleston, provost of Oriel College. Franklin called
the group rising just south of Mount Copleston the "Rocky Mountains," but
these have since been renamed in honor of the explorer himself.
Leffingwell, E. de K. The Canning River Region, Northern Alaska The Canning River Region, Northern Alaska . Wash.,
D.C., G.P.O., 1919. U.S. Geol.Surv., Prof.pa Prof.pa . 109.
U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Chart Chart 9400.
205 wds

Ruby Collins
May, 1949 CORWIN BLUFF, ALASKA

CORWIN BLUFF, between Cape Lisburne and Cape Sabine on the arctic
coast of Alaska, near 165° W.Long., is a headland two hundred feet high,
projecting only slightly beyond the regular coastline and interrupting
the continuity of the beach for only a few hundred yards. Collier, who
investigated coal possibilities here in 1906, says that the development of
the coal beds at Corwin Bluff would be easy because of their perfect regu–
larity. He sa w no reason why mines developed in this way could not be
worked all winter.
Coal mined and cached in winter would be available for shipment in
summer if piled on the level ground above the cliffs or at places near
sea level where the cliffs are lower and snowdrifts do not form. There are
at least two such places convenient to Corwin Bluff, with good beaches before
them for landing. Collier believes lightering would be best, which can
probably be done more easily at Corwin Bluff than at Nome because ships can
anchor near shore.
Corwin Bluff lies only a few miles west of Thetis Creek (q.v.),
beyond which another coal deposit is known to exist. Both these deposits
have for many years been used by the Eskimos living in this region and by
the whaling and Coast Guard vessels sailing these waters.
References:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Smith, P.S. & Mertie, J.B., jr. Geology and Mineral Resources of North- Geology and Mineral Resources of North-
western Alaska western Alaska . Washington, 1930. (U.S. Geological Survey,
Bulletin 815 Bulletin 815 )
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska. Alaska. Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.
17
420 wds

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 CROSS ISLAND, ALASKA

CROSS ISLAND, in the Polar Sea, about 12 miles off the arctic
coast of Alaska, belongs in a chain of low sand islets and shoals stretching
from about 146° to 150° W.Long., a distance of some 100 miles. These islands
lie, in general, from 4 to 7 miles offshore, although Cross Island is more nearly
10 miles off. From east to west the island chain contains Flaxman Island,
near the mouth of the Canning River, the Maguire, Stockton, and McClure Islands,
Cross Island, and the Midway, Return, and Jones Islands. The most westerly of the
Jones group, Thetis Island, lies off the mouth of the Colville River, in Harrison
Bay. Between these islands and the mainland stretches the inland waterway
known as Simpson Lagoon.
Cross Island was so named in 1889 by Charles H. Stockton, of the
USS Thetis , for the wooden cross erected there by whalers.
The islands making up this chain are of two kinds. Some are nearly
barren, low sandbars; others are somewhat higher and prairie-like. The Spy
Islands, at the west end of the Jones group, are mainly gravel, though with some
vegetation. Beginning with Leavitt Island, of the Jones group, there are sever–
al that are comparatively big and grass-covered. In the more easterly part of
the chain the only island with much grass is F laxman. Proof that vegetation
is slow to take root is given by Leffingwell who notes that, although the cross
on Cross Island was erected before Stockton visited it in 1889, the gravel was
still bare at its base in 1914.
The gravel islands are heaps of earth on which there was a lot of
driftwood until the introduction of wood-burning stoves, just before 1900.
Thereafter, most of the wood was collected and burned as fast as it beached.
Cross Island is more talked about than all the rest combined. This is because it
happens so often that ships from the west are held up there by ice pressing
in from seaward. Small ships may enter the lagoon at Cross Island and proceed
eastward; or they may anchor behind the island and wait for a change of wind or

CROSS ISLAND, ALASKA

current to move the ice.
Because of the tongue of ice which often forms there, Cross Island
is identified in the U.S. Coast Pilot as one of the most difficult places along
this coast. The channel between the island and the mainland has depths from
6 to 12 feet, but both this channel and the entrances between the islands
appear to be shoaling. At one time U u p to 18 feet [: ] could be carried through Newport Entrance,
between McClure and Stockton Islands, but less water was found in 1944.
Vessels may enter past pole Island, about midway of the chain,
steering for a small inshore group of islands until in mid-channel. They can
then follow the mainland, coming out near the Return Islands. The entrance
channel is said to be marked by a pole on the island.
Sources:
VS Guidebook for Alaska Guidebook for Alaska
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington,D.C., 1947.
Stockton, Charles H. "The Arctic Cruise of the U.S.S. Thetis in the
Summer and Autumn of 1889." National Geographic [: ] Magazine National Geographic [: ] Magazine ,
Vol. II, No.3, 1890, pp.171-198.
100 wds

Ruby Collins
January, 1950 DAVIDSON MOUNTAINS, ALASKA

DAVIDSON MOUNTAINS, arctic Alaska, run approximately parallel
to the shores of the Polar Sea, [: ] but separated from it by the British
and Richardson Mountains. They stretch northwest-southeast between the
basin of the Old Crow River and the Romanzof Mountains and are bounded on the
south by the Endicott Range.
The Davidson Mountains form part of the Yukon-Arctic divide between the
Yukon and arctic drainage systems . From the south side of the range flow
the Coleen and Sheenjek Rivers, both of which enter the Porcupine, one of
the major tributaries to the Yukon. The northern flank of the range
sends small tributary waters into the Kongakut and Firth Rivers, both of
which flow northward to the Polar Sea.
930 words

Ruby Collins
July, 1949 DEASE INLET, ALASKA

DEASE INLET, an arm of the Polar Sea, cuts southward into the north
coast of Alaska from the eastern end of Elson Lagoon (q.v.) between Christie
Point and Tangent Point. Igalik Island, one of the [: ]
Plover group , which stretches eastward from Point Barrow sandspit to form the
northern boundary of Elson Lagoon, lies directly in the entrance to Dease
Inlet.
[: ] From midway between Christie and Tange nt Points the Inlet
extends about 15 miles in a southwesterly direction. Its width varies from
about five to about 15 miles, and its depth from about 6 to 8 feet, except
near the beach where it is extremely shallow. The southern end of the Inlet
is marked by McTavish and Wright Points, on the west and east shores respec–
tively, and by Kikiktak, Tiny, and Oarlock Islands midway of the five of six
miles of water separating these two points.
South of these islands the Inlet merges into Admiralty Bay (q.v.) which
is shorter and comparatively wider than the Inlet proper.
The best entrances into Dease Inlet are by way of Elson Lagoon and
Sanigaruak Pass. Small boats can pass near Tangent Point, but this entrance
is not recommended for any except light draft vessels.
A survey of Dease Inlet made in 1945 reports that the winter ice did
not break up in Elson Lagoon until July 28, and that it started forming
again on September 13. The survey launches had difficulty in getting out of
the Inlet on September 15, by which time both the inlet and the lagoon were
covered with one inch of ice. During the winter , ice forms on these two
bodies of water to a thickness of 6 to 10 feet.
Dease Inlet and several of the local promontories were named by
Thomas Simpson in August, 1837, during his trip westward to Barrow along
the north coast of Alaska. "The land, which so far had led north-westerly,"
he wrote, "soon turned sharply off to S.S.W., forming an acute angle, well

DEASE INLET, ALASKA [: ]

termed Point Tange n t. The gravel reefs here separate from the muddy beach,
and stretch, as I found on our return, in a direct line of eleven miles to
Boat Extreme, enclosing the singularly shaped bay, of which we had now com–
pleted the tecious circuit, and on which I conferred the approppiate title of
Fatigue Bay...After travelling about ten miles, and wading through many a salt
creek, the waters of which wer e at the freezing temperature, the land, to our
dismay, turned off to the eastward of south, and a boundless inlet lay before
us. Almost at the same instant, to our inexpressible joy, we described four
Esquimaux tents, at no great distance, with figures running about. We immediate–
ly directed our steps towards them; but, on our approach, the women and
children threw themselves into their canoes, and pushed off from the shore...
The men were absent, hunting, with the exception of one infirm individual,
who, sitting under a reversed canoe, was tranquilly engaged in weaving a fine
whalebone net. Being unable to make his escape with the rest, he was in
an agony of fear; and, when I first went up to him, with impotent hand he made
a thrust at me with his long knife. He was, however, soon convinced of our
good intentions; and his first request was for tobacco, of which we found men,
women, and even children inordinately fond...Our new friends forthwith brought
us some fresh venison; and, concluding, not without reason, that we were very
hungry, they presented, as a particular delicacy, a savoury dish of choice
pieces steeped in seal-oil. Great was their surprise when we declined their
favourite mess; and their curiosity in scrutinizing the dress, persons,
and complexions of the first white men they had ever behld, seemed insatiable.
They shewed us, with evident satisf ca ac tion, their winter store of oil,
secured in seal-skin bags buried in the frozen earth. Some of their reindeer
robes, ivory dishes, and other trifles were purchase; and I exchanged the

DEASE INLET, ALASKA

tin pan, which constituted my whole table service, for a platter made out of
a mammoth tusk!...Confidence being now fully established, I told them that I
required one of their comiaks, or large family canoes, to take us two or three
days' journey--or sleeps, as they term it--to the westward; after which we
should return. These skin boats float in half a foot of water...They acceded
to my demand, without a scruple...Scarcely had we left the shore when a strong
north-eas t wind sprung up from seaward, bringing back the cold [: ] dense
fog. We could not see a hundred yards ahead, but steered due west, by
compass, across the inlet, which at this narrowest part proved to be five
miles wide. I had much gratification in naming it Dease Inlet, as a mark
of esteem for my worthy colleague. The waves ran high on the passage, but
our new craft surmounted them with wonderful buoyancy. The coast we
attained was from ten to fifteen feet high, and the ground was solidly frozen
within two inches of the surface. Not a morsel of drift wood was to be found
in this land of desolation; but we followed the example of the natives, and
made our tiny fire of the roots of the d warf willow, between three upright
pieces of turf. Our oomiak turned to windward, and proppe d up with the
paddles, formed a good shelter; and under it we stowed ourselves snugly away
for the night...We breakfasted at the northern point of land, on a gravel
reef, where some drift wood had been washed up...It afforded me unfeigned
pleasure to call t h is point after Chief Factor Christie [ of the Hudson's
Bay Company ] , a warm personal friend, and also a zealous promoter of the
interests of the expedition. Lofty icebergs appeared to seaward; dark–
coloured seals were sporting among the masses in-shore; and one of [: ]
those gelatinous substances called by sailors 'sea-blubber' was, for the first
time, seen floating in Dease Inlet. From Point Christie the low coast, con–
sisting of mud and sand, with a facing of ice, again turns westward."

DEASE INLET, ALASKA

References
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the Discoveries in the North Coast of
America; effected by the Officers of the Hudson's Bay Company during
the years 1836-39
Narrative of the Discoveries in the North Coast of
America; effected by the Officers of the Hudson's Bay Company during
the years 1836-39
. London, Bentley, 1843.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.
VS Guidebook for Alaska Guidebook for Alaska .
95 words

Ruby Collins
July, 1949 DOCTOR ISLAND, ALASKA

DOCTOR ISLAND [: ] a [: ] small, low, sandy island in the Polar Sea
just east of Point Barrow (q.v.), the most northerly point of land in
Alaska, has been identified with Crescent or Martin Island, which names
appear on British Admiralty charts of the mid-nineteenth century. The
Eskimo name for Doctor Island is Il-liut-kak. Eastward from Doctor Island
stretches the chain of the Plover group (q.v.) to form the northern boundary
of Elson Lagoon (q.v.). For descriptions of the land and sea conditions
governing life in this part of Alaska, see articles on Point Barrow and
Barrow.
170

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 DUCK ISLAND, ALASKA

DUCK ISLAND, between Prudhoe and Foggy Island Bays on the arctic
[: ] coast of Alaska, is a small, silt island in the delta of the
Sagavanirktok River. It was identified and named by Leffingwell during his
reconnaissance of the Canning River country between the years 1906 and 1914.
The Pacific eider duck builds its nest only on islands fringing a
coastline. A few of these nests will be found on almost every member one of the
island chain starting with Flaxman Island, off the mouth of the Canning
River, and continuing westward to the Jones Islands, near the mouth of the
Colville. The Pacific [: ] eider has favorite nesting places, however, and
Duck Island is one of these. According to native report, hundreds of Pacific
eiders collect on Duck Island each year, and the Eskimos have been known to
gather 300 to 400 eggs during a single raid on the island. Leffingwell
remarks that too frequent raiding causes the birds to abandon a location,
so that the Pacific eider may have left Duck Island since Leffingwell
reported the situation there in 1914.
Source:
Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, Northern Alaska Canning River Region, Northern Alaska . Washington,
D.C., 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)
70 words

Ruby Collins
May, 1949 DYER, CAPE, ALASKA

DYER, CAPE, on the arctic coast of Alaska, between Point Hope
and Cape Lisburne, was named by Beechey in 1827. The Eskimo name,
Kapaloa (Capaloa) is still retained by the small creek which enters the
ocean in a falls on the south side of Cape Dyer. Collier recorded this
name for the creek in 1904. There was once a native village with the
same name on the Cape, but it [: ] is now abandoned.
References:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
550 words

Ruby Collins
July, 1949 ELSON LAGOON, ALASKA

ELSON LAGOON, northern Alaska, is separated from the Polar Sea by
Point Barrow sandspit on the west, the Plover Islands on the north, and
the mainland on the south. It may be entered either by way of channels
between the Plover Islands or from the east by way of the wide opening
opposite Christie Point and the entrance to Dease Inlet.
Beechey named this lagoon in September, 1826, "in compliment to
Master Thomas Elson," of the Royal Navy, the member of Beechey's party who
commanded a barge trip from Point Franklin northward along the coast of
Alaska to Point Barrow and then southward into the Lagoon. The work of
Elson and his companions, which proceeded despite the almost constant threat danger of
being crushed by the ice or carried away by the strong northeasterly current
which sweeps up the west side of Point Barrow sandspit, produced the first
accurate map of this section of the Alaska coastline.
According to the Admiralty charts, the Eskimo name for this lagoon
is Tasuk, meaning "enclosed water", i.e. a bay.
Elson Lagoon [: ] is from
two to five miles wide, about sixteen miles long, and uniformly from eight
to ten feet deep. The important navigable entrances to the Lagoon are
Eluitkak Pass, at the north, Ekilukruak Entrance, in the center, and Dease
Inlet, at the southeast. When using this latter entrance vessels can avoid
shoal water by keeping to the mainland (southern) side of the Lagoon.
Eluitkak Pass, between the eastern end of Point Barrow sandspit and
Doctor Island, the first of the [: ] Plover Island, is the main
westerly entrance to the Lagoon. The Eskimo name means "something wrong
with the pass." Ekilukruak Entrance, between Deadmans and Tapkaluk Islands,
[: ] farther east in the [: ] Plover group, means "big, wide."
Moore Channel, which appears on some maps, is reported to lead

ELSONLAGOON, ALASKA

past some small, sandy islands just east of Point Barrow into Port Moore.
The Admiralty assigned this name in 1853 in honor of Commander Thomas E.L.
Moore, R.N. The Eskimo name has been variously reported as Ik-ke-ra-luk
and Ikiraaluk.
Brandt Point projects into the southern part of the Lagoon a few miles
from the base of Point Barrow sandspit. Scott Point is a promontory on the
southern shore about midway between Brandt and Christie Points. Iko Bay
indents the southern shore a few miles east of Scott Point.
Many small streams drain the marshes south of the Lagoon and flow
northward into it, but none of them is named on recent maps.
The climate is arctic, characterized by short, cool summers, long,
cold winters and a low annual precipitation. Although the surrounding
countryside is treeless, the entire coastal plain south of the Lagoon is
covered with lichens , and mosses, grasses, and a great [: ] ariety of flowers
during the short growing season. The large herds of reindeer which have been
[: ] maintained in this area attest to the value of this terrain as pasture
land. The native population is mostly marine in culture, depending on
products of the sea for their food and fuel, but they have always dressed in
reindeer skins, which are obtained by regular hunting trips into the interior,
or by trade with the inland Eskimos.
For a general description of this part of Alaska and a history of
its exploration, see article on Barrow, Alaska.

ELSON LAGOON

References
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Paige, Sidney, & Foran, W.T. Reconnaissance of the Point Barrow
Region, Alaska
Reconnaissance of the Point Barrow
Region, Alaska
. Washington, 1925. (U.S. Geological Survey.
Bulletin Bulletin 772)
Smith, Philip S., and Mertie, J.B., Jr. Geology and Mineral Resources
of Northwestern Alaska
Geology and Mineral Resources
of Northwestern Alaska
. Washington, 1930. (U.S. Geological
Survey. Bulletin Bulletin 815)
960 wds

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 FLAXMAN ISLAND, ALASKA

FLAXMAN ISLAND in the Polar Sea, is the most easterly of the chain of
low, sand and gravel islands which skirts the arctic coast of Alaska all the
way from the mouth of the Canning westward to the mouth of the Colville River,
a distance of over 100 miles. Flaxman Island lies slightly northwest of the
Canning River delta. Reading Leffingwell's map from east to west the other
members of this long island chain include Mary Sachs Island, the Maguire,
Stockton, McClure, Midway, Return, and Jones Islands.
Generally speaking the north coast of Alaska is sinking, which means
not only that the sea flows in over the land because the levels are changing,
but also that the sea has a chance to attack with its waves this year places
that were not accessible last. Flaxman Island, Leavitt Island and the rest of
the prairie group are subject to this pressure.
A geological formation has been named after this island because of the
frequency of its exposure there. The Flaxman formation is a deposit of
foreign glacial till, sometimes containing glacial ice. This formation is
often exposed all along the arctic coast of Alaska, but is never found inland.
The till is made up of clay, boulders, gravel, and sands. Where
the clay is not mixed with muck and sand it is a dark blue-gray color. The
boulders are a particularly noticeable characteristic of this formation and
range from 10 feet in diameter to less than 2 feet. Many of them have the
rubbed and worn look of the ordinary glacial boulder, but some are angular
and shattered by frost. Quartzites are the most conspicuous and numerous
kind of rock in this formation, and are commonly pink, red, or purple, and
banded, cross-bedded or conglomeratic. Dark greenstones are frequent although
pink and red granites are more noticeable. Leffingwell found no sandstones,
limestones, or metamorphic rocks among the Flaxman rocks, these being restricted
to the till of the mountains in the interior. [: ]
Leffingwell does not think that the ice underneath the Flaxman
formation is entirely glacial nor that the whole of Flaxman Island is underlain
by it.

FLAXMAN ISLAND, ALASKA

As a whole, except for the glacial ice possibly contained in it, the
Flaxman formation is a thin surface layer. The boulder clay is somewhat less
than 3 feet thick at the greatest, and the boulders themselves are mostly super–
ficial. Leffingwell found evidence of this formation not only on the islands
off this coast, but also along the coast itself, although these evidences were
not continuous and did not extend more than a mile inland. The mouth of the
Canning, Shaviovik, and Sagavanirktok Rivers showed typical deposits, and the
coastline all the way to and beyond Barrow revealed the formation in certain
places.
Leffingwell reports that the ice in the la g oon west of Flaxman Island
usually breaks up and floats westward before an east gale sometime before the
middle of July. Ice outside the island chain, however, does not usually move
until much later. At about this same time raw winds begin to blow and the
days become foggy and cloudy. Drizzling rains are frequent, but heavy rains
are uncommon. The skies clear somewhat in August, and the stars once more are
visible.
Sailing eastward from Pt. Barrow [: ] in the Enterprise ,
Collinson sighted Flaxman Island [: ] about August 5, 1851, but passed on
beyond Herschel Island into British territory where he spent two winters.
In 1853, returning westward, he again sighted Flaxman Island on September 14.
Ice forced him into shoal water abreast of the island, and, being hemmed in
by heavy ice, he tied up to a floe grounded in 7 1/2 fathoms. In this position,
on September 26, the Enterprise was frozen in for the winter. The ensuing
ten months were spent in charting the coast and the interior. On July 15,
1854, the ice began to break up, and Collinson set sa i l for Point Barrow, which
he reached on August 8.
A shoal area is reported to exist about 25 miles northeast ward of
Flaxman Island and northwest of Camden Bay, but no definite information con-

FLAXMAN ISLAND, ALASKA

cerning it is available. In 1944 its existence was reported as doubtful,
although it still appeared on charts of the region.
White whales, walrus, and bearded seal are seldom g seen in the
vicinity of Flaxman Island, but the small Point Barrow seal is abundant. White–
fronted geese migrate past Flaxman Island on their way westward to their breed–
ing grounds near Harrison Bay.
Summer travel between Flaxman Island and Barrow is almost exclusively
by boat. In average weather, the trip can be made in a native canoe in about
10 days, and by whaleboat or other powered vessel in from 3 to 5 days. When the
ocean is frozen, the trip along the coast and over frozen bays can be made by
dog sled, but, in recent years, the airplane has to a large extent replaced
other methods of travel. There are now no permanent settlements on Flaxman
Island.
Mikkelsen described Flaxman in 1906 as being four miles long and
three-fourths of a mile wide. According to Stefansson, who was in this area from
1913 to 1918, it is probably less than half a mile wide now, and very likely
sections have been cut off the ends, or perhaps there has been a channel made
through it. A few years hence, Flaxman Island may be two or three tiny islets;
a few score years hence it may be nothing but a series of gravel bars, like
Cross Island.
But even on a sinking coast there are building processes, though
temporary. Sandbars may be made somewhat higher by one of the sea's activities,
particularly by the ploughing up of the bottom through ice under pressure, and
the shoving of the scooped up material against or upon the sandbars. As said,
it can happen, too, and often does, that one gap in the island chain may be
filled up this year so as to be impassable, while another has [: ]
deepened so much that craft can get in with double the draft of last year.
In his description of Flaxman Island, Mikkelsen reports that its
east end is about 35 feet high. Only Leavitt Island of the Jones group is as

FLAXMAN ISLAND, ALASKA

high as that, only Barter Island is higher. The mainland shore is frequently
only five or six feet high, and, at times, slopes right down to sea level.
Sources:
Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, Northern Alaska. Canning River Region, Northern Alaska. Washington,
D.C., 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)
Franklin, John. Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar
Sea, in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827
Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar
Sea, in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827
. London, Murray, 1828.
VS Guidebook for Alaska. Guidebook for Alaska.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska. Alaska. Part II. 5th(1947)ed. Washington,D.C., 1947.
410

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 FOGGY ISLAND, ALASKA

FOGGY ISLAND, a gravel island on the east side of the Sagavanirktok
River delta, on the arctic coast of Alaska, was named by Sir John Franklin
during his August, 1826, attempt to complete the northwest passage.
The fog, which had tormented and delayed Franklin ever since he had
cleared Demarcation Point, reached an extreme state of density and persistence
at Foggy Island. The expedition was delayed at "this dreary place" [: ] or some
time. Attempts to sail westward from the island were defeated by the [: ]
shallowness of the delta channels and by the persistence of the fog.
"Fog is," Franklin wrote, "of all others, the most hazardous state
of the atmosphere for navigation in an icy sea, especially when it is accom–
panied by strong breezes, but particularly so for boats where the shore is
unapproachable. If caught by a gale, a heavy swell, or drifting ice, the
result must be their wreck, or the throwing the provisions overboard to
lighten them, so as to proceed into shoal water. Many large pieces of ice were
seen on the borders of the shallow water; and from the lowness of the tempera–
ture, we concluded that the main body was at no great distance. We had also
passed through a stream of perfectly fresh water, which we supposed was poured
out from a large river [: ] in the immediate vicinity,
[ this would be the Sagavanirktok River ] but the fog prevented our seeing
its outlet. . . The obstinate continuance of fog forms another material differ–
ence between this season and the same period of 1821. . . As an instance of the
illusion occasioned by the fog, I may mention that our hunters sallied forth,
on more than one occasion, to fire at what they supposed to be deer, on the
bank about one hundred yards from the tents, which, to their surprise, took
wing, and proved to be cranes and geese."
Between August 16 and 18, Franklin beat his way a few miles farther
westward to the Return Islands, which he called Return Reef, but was there
forced to turn back.

FOGGY ISLAND, ALASKA

The other islands in the Sagavanirktok delta, Howe Island for
instance, are composed of silt. [: ]
[: ] Foggy Island, however, is composed of glacial drift.
According to Leffingwell, Foggy Island may have been formed by the grounding
and subsequent wasting away of a large iceberg. Only a deposit of drift
would then remain to ma [: ] k its former position. Leffingwell suggests that
some of the ice found below the surgace of Foggy Island may be the last
remnants of the iceberg that carried the boulders, gravel, and till, of which
the island is composed, along the arctic coast of Alaska to the mouth of
the Sagavanirktok River, and there laid them down.
Sources:
Franklin, John. Narrative of a second Expedition to the Shores of the
Polar Sea in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827
Narrative of a second Expedition to the Shores of the
Polar Sea in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827
. London, Murray, 1828.
Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, northern Alaska Canning River Region, northern Alaska .
Washington, D.C., G.P.O., 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey.
Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 FOGGY ISLAND BAY, ALASKA

FOGGY ISLAND BAY opens into the Polar Sea between Point Brower,
on the north end of Foggy Island, and Lion Point, on Tigvariak Island. It
receives the waters of three arctic Alaska rivers: the Sagavanirktok, the
Kadleroshilik, and the Shaviovik. Only one branch of the southern distribu–
tary of the Sagavanirktok flows into this bay, the others veering northward
and [: ] debouching directly into the Polar Sea.
Foggy Island Bay is generally shoal, having from three to six feet
near the shore and gradually deepening to eighteen or more feet outside the
entrance. There is a very shallow channel with only about 1 1/2 feet of water
between the mouths of the Shaviovik River and Tigvariak Island which leads
into Mikkelsen Bay (q.v.)
Source:
Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, Northern Alaska Canning River Region, Northern Alaska . Washington,
D.C., 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)
540 wds

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 FRANKLIN MOUNTAINS,ALASKA
Revised January, 1950

FRANKLIN MOUNTAINS rise abruptly from the coastal plateau of
arctic Alaska between the Hulahula and the Sagavanirktok River (q.v.) just
south of 70° N. Lat., and between 144° and 148° W.Long.
Thomas Simpson and P.W. Dease arrived at the mouth of the
Sagavanirktok River about June 20, 1837. Looking southeastward they saw the
Franklin Mountains. Simpson wrote: "The portion of the Rocky Mountains
[ the Brooks Range ] visible from the coast does not terminate, as conjectured by
Sir John Franklin, with the Romanzoff chain. After a brief interval, another
chain commences, less lofty perhaps, but equally picturesque; which, in
honour of the distinguished officer whose discoverie s we were following up,
we named the Franklin Range. . . In the afternoon [ of the 22nd ] we enjoyed a
distinct view of the Franklin Mountains, extending from S.E. to S.W. by S. (true),
the central and highest peak bearing S. by E. about twenty miles distant. They
were still partially covered with snow; and the whole range presents a
precipitous front to the coast."
C. H. Stockton in command of the U.S.S. [: ] Thetis
mentions these mountains in his account of a trip along the north coast of
Alaska in 1889. "As we ran from off Lion Reef to Camden Bay," he wrote, "we
sighted the beautiful ranges of mountains close to the coast known as the
Franklin and Romanzoff mountains, making an agreeable change in the topography
of the shore, which had been low and monotonously flat since leaving Point
Hope and the vicinity of Cape Lisburne [ in northwestern Alaska, south of Point
Barrow ] ."
Leffingwell somewhat revises the position of these mountains.
From Simpson's report it might be assumed that they lie mostly west of the

FRANKLING MOUNTANS

Canning, but Leffingwell places them mostly east of the Canning. Both the
southern and western boundaries he reports as indefinite, then adds, "on
the northeast the Franklin Mountains end definitely against the higher
Romanzof Mountains. . . [ and ] on the southeast border they appear to merge
into the British Mountains." There are some mountains between the Canning
and the Saganavirktok Rivers, but these are lower and farther from the coast
than those east of the Canning. Many maps identify this westerly group
as the Franklin Mountains, but Leffingwell feels that the main mass of the
range lies eastward from the Canning and marks his map accordingly.
Leffingwell, who Having spent the years 1906 to 1914 in northern Alaska, Leffingwell
gives the first detailed description of the Franklin Mountains. The northern
boundary (that facing the Polar Sea) is steep, rising 3,000 feet above the rolling
upland. The southern boundary merges into the Brooks Range to form the Yukon–
Arctic divide and is, therefore, less well-defined. On the northeast they

FRANKLIN MOUNTAINS, ALASKA

end definitely against the higher Romanzof Mountains (q.v.), but on the southeast
they seem to merge into the British Mountains.
The northern front of the Franklin Mountains average about 5,000
feet above sea level, but between the forks of the Sadlerochit River , they rise to
7,000 feet. Mt. Salisbury, 6900 feet, west of the upper Canning and perhaps 60
miles from the coast , is double-peaked. Mt. Chamberlin, 9131 feet, some 35 miles
northeast of Salisbury and south [: ] of Peters and Schrader Lakes belong properly
to the Romanzof Mountains. Except from the headwaters of the Sadlerochit River,
very vew peaks are distinguishable in the Franklin Mountains, but the abruptness
with which they rise above the unrelieved flatness of the coastal plain makes
them memorable. Many of the higher peaks are snow-covered the year around,
although those visible from the coast are not usually so.

FRANKLIN MOUNTAINS, ALASKA

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Mar [: ] us. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, D.C.,
G.P.O., 1906.

Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, northern Alaska . Washington,
D.C., G.P.O., 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper 109)

Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the [: ] Discoveries on the north coast Narrative of the [: ] Discoveries on the north coast
of America. . . during the years 1836-39 of America. . . during the years 1836-39 . London, Bentley, 1843.

Stockton, Charles H. "Arctic Cruise of the U.S.S. Thetis in the Summer and
Autumn of 1889." National Geographic Magazine National Geographic Magazine , II,3, 1890,
p.171-198.

200 wds

Ruby Collins
June, 1949 FRANKLIN POINT, ALASKA

FRANKLIN POINT, on the arctic coast of Alaska, somewhat north of
the midway point between Icy Cape and Point Barrow, is one of the highest spots
on the sand bar stretching northward from Point Belc [: ] er. At Point Franklin this
sandbank turns abruptly eastward toward the mainland, outcropping again in a
broken chain known as the Seahorse Islands. In this way the bank partially
encloses a large lagoon which may be considered part of Peard Bay (q.v.), which
lies immediately south of Point Franklin.
The Point itself is a very small sand island with a few hummocks
on it, but it is so tiny and far removed from the Seahorse group as to be
difficult to make out.
Openings between these islands are usually very shallow and always
changing. The greatest changes would seem to occur between Point Franklin and
Peard Bay, immediately to the south of the Point where only a narrow strip of
sand appears above water to indicate the existence of this extensive sand bar.
Northward and northeastward from Point Franklin, a shoal extends
several miles out to sea, so that vessels rounding the Point should give it a
berth of at least four or five miles.
Beechey named this point in 1826 after Sir John Franklin, for whom
he was looking throughout t his voyage up the coast of Alaska.
265

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 GWYDYR BAY, ALASKA

GWYDYR BAY, an arm of the Polar Sea, indents the arctic coast of
Alaska in the vicinity of 149° W. Long., and receives the Kuparuk (q.v.), the
only large river between the Colville and the Sagavanirktok (q.v.). The entrance
to Gwydyr Bay is shoal and partially cut off from [: ] open sea by the Return
Islands (q.v.).
On August 26, 1826, after being storm-bound for seven days, Sir John
Franklin was able to make astronomical bearings and to trace the shores of this
bay around to the western entrance point, which he named after his Lieutenant
(afterward Captain) George Back, R.N. Leffingwell gives Point Storkersen
as the eastern entrance point to Gwydyr Bay. From Back Point, Franklin saw
a hummock of land to the westward which he named after his friend, Captain
Frederic William Beechey, who was at that very time awaiting Franklin's
arrival in Kotzebue Sound. Franklin had intended to complete the westward
passage [: ] and to meet Beechey somewhere south
of Barrow on the northwest coast of Alaska. Heavy ice, fog, and violent
storms, however, so delayed Franklin, that he was unable to procede byond
beyond Gwydyr Bay and Return Islands. His Beechey Point, which appears on
current maps, is probably the same as Point Berens, named by Dease and Simpson
in 1837.
Simpson describes Gwydyr Bay as protected by a chain of gravel reefs
(Return Islands). [: ]
By July 24, when he was in the bay, the ice was hard aground on the seaward
side of the reef. Gwydyr Bay is extremely shoal, carrying only one-quarter
to one fathom, but this was sufficient for Simpson's small boat and is like–
wise sufficient for the skin boats which the Eskimos have for centuries used
along this coast.

GWYDYR BAY, ALASKA

Sources
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, D.C., 1906.
Franklin, Sir John. Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the
Polar Sea in the years 1825, 1826,and 1827
Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the
Polar Sea in the years 1825, 1826,and 1827
. London, Murray, 1828.
Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, Northern Alaska Canning River Region, Northern Alaska . Washington,
D.C., 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)
Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the Discoveries on the north coast of
America. . . during the years 1836-39.
Narrative of the Discoveries on the north coast of
America. . . during the years 1836-39.
London, Bentley, 1843.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. 5th(1947) ed. Washington, D.C., 1947.
VS Guidebook for Alaska Guidebook for Alaska .
165 words

Ruby Collins
July, 1949 HALKETT,CAPE, ALASKA

HALKETT, CAPE (70° 46′ N.Lat., 152° 18′ W.Long.) well over one
hundred miles east of Point Barrow on the north coast of Alaska, is the western
entrance to Harrison Bay, an arm of the Polar Sea.
The water close in to the north side of the Cape is shoal, but
it is reported that a landing can be made south of the island at the Cape. There
is a trading post on the Cape which, in 1939, had a population of 31.
Dease and Simpson named this Cape in July, 1837, in honor of one
of the directors of the Hudson's Bay Company. Of his observations in this
vicinity, Simpson wrote: "The land trended north-east, for eight miles, to a
small island, separated from the mainland by a channel too shallow for boats.
This island appeared to be a favorite resort of the natives in the spring,
for we found a spot where baidars had been built, and picked up an antler out
asunder with a saw. . . This remarkable point was named Cape Halkett, in compliment
to one of the Company's Directors. It terminates the great bay, which, from
Point Berens, is forty-three geographical, or fifty statute miles, in beadth.
[ Harrison Bay ] ."
VS Guidebook for Alaska Guidebook for Alaska
References:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Coast of America Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Coast of America ;
effected by the Officers of the Hudson's Bay Company during the effected by the Officers of the Hudson's Bay Company during the
years 1836-39 years 1836-39 . London, Bentley, 1843.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.
845 wds.

Ruby Collins
August, 1949 HARRISON BAY, ALASKA

HARRISON BAY, one of the widest indentations in the north coast of Alaska
between Point Barrow and the Alaska-Canada boundary, is marked by Cape Halkett,
on the west, and by Oliktok Point, on the east. The distance between these two
points is about 57 miles. From a line drawn across the entrance, Harrison Bay
is about 20 miles deep, at the greatest.
Dease and Simpson named this Bay in July, 1837, while on their way
westward to Point Barrow along the north coast of Alaska. Of it Simpson wrote:
"On this spacious basin, which receives the waters of two noble rivers, we con–
ferred the name of Harrison Bay, in honour of the Deputy Governor of the
[ Hudson's Bay ] Company, whose attention has long been sedulously directed to the
moral and religious improvement of the natives of the Indian country."
The "two noble rivers" are the Colville and the Itkillik (q.v.), the
former being the longest and most extensive waterway in all of northern Alaska.
The lower ten or fifteen miles of these two streams join and enter the head of
the Bay in an enormous, triangular delta, the base of which projects several
miles into the Bay proper.
The shoreline is irregular. From Cape Halkett it veers southwestward
for a little over ten miles, past the mouth of Garry Creek and to within a few
miles of the eastern end of Teshekpuk Lake (q.v.). This large lake occupies most
of the peninsular separating Harrison from Smith Bay, the next more westerly
indentation of the coast (q.v.).
Following an exhausting twenty-five-hour trip across the shoals of Harrison Bay, in July, 1837,
Dease and Simpson named the Garry "after Nicholas Garry, Esquire,
whose name has long been associated with Arctic research,"
They found the mouth
of the Garry to be a mile wide and its banks thickly covered with driftwood,
apparently deposited there by the river.
From this point the shore of the Bay proceeds eastward for well over
fifteen miles to A ti garu Point. Midway of this section a narrow finger of water leads

HARRISON BAY, ALASKA

westward into the mainland to the mouth of a small stream known as the Kogru
River. This short stream rises in a tiny lake very close to the eastern end of
Lake Teshekpuk, and flows eastward into Harrison Bay. Off the mouth of this
river is Saktuina Island.
Dease and Simpson reported the country backing this part of the Bay as
plains masked with short grass and moss, perfect pasture land for the large
herds of reindeer which they saw. The coastline itself was composed of banks of
frozen mud about 10 to 15 feet high.
From their camp at Point Comfort, near the mouth of the Garry, members
of the party again saw the "Pelly Mountains," lying to the southeast between them
and the mouth of the Colville. Simpson had first noted these mountains when
approaching Harrison Bay from the east and named them "in honour of the public–
spirited Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company." Subsequent travelers to this
region have never found any mountains near the south shore of Harrison Bay.
Schrader, of the U.S. Geological Survey, suggests that Simpson and all his com–
panions were deluded by a group of sand dunes in this area which, by comparison
with the perfectly flat expanses on every side, acquired considerably stature
in the eyes of these weary travelers. Schrader further explains that under
certain conditions of light on the north coast of Alaska, all objects are
magnified in the vertical scale. These two facts together make it possible to
understand how Simpson might have named some forty-foot sand dunes the Pelly
Mountains.
From Atigaru Point the shoreline bends southwestward and then eastward
again to meet the Colville-Itkillik delta. The main channel through this delta
is the most easterly but one . From here the shore of the Bay curves northeastward
to Oliktok Point.
Pacific Shoal (q.v.), in the northwestern part of the Bay, lies about
8 miles east of Cape Halkett, and tiny Thetis Island, the first of the Jones

HARRISON BAY, ALASKA

group (q.v.), lies a few miles northwest of Oliktok Point.
It is particularly with reference to Harrison Bay that the whaling
captains of the nineteenth century emphasized what they considered a rule, that
the number of fathoms shown when they cast the lead gave the approximate mileage
from the coast. On this stretch they said it was important to sound frequently
and not to go within the 10-fathom line except very cautiously. There has been
reported and recorded on charts a 10-fathom sounding 40 miles from shore (near
71° 50′ N.Lat., 151° W.Long.), but this would be a small shoal, and the
10-fathom line is no doubt frequelty frequently at a distance of no more than 10 to 15 miles
from the coast. It was a whaler rule that land must never be visible from the
bridge while a ship was crossing Harrison Bay.
For the winter c ro ssing of this Bay the shoalness is convenient, for,
when anyone attempts to make a sledge course direct from Cape Halkett to Oliktok
Point, he does not usually have to swing much coastward to avoid rough ice.
This means that pressure ice here grounds normally along about the 8 or 10-fathom
depth.
No doubt a good deal of pressure ice takes ground, especially in middle
and late winter, much farther to seaward than the direct line from Halkett to
Oliktok or even from Halkett to the Jones Islands; for ordinarily the shore floe
is farther offshore opposite Harrison Bay than at most other points on the north
coast of Alaska.

HARRISON BAY, ALASKA

References
Baker, Marcus, Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River region northern Alaska Canning River region northern Alaska . Washington,
1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)
Schrader, Frank Charles. Reconnaissance in northern Alaska Reconnaissance in northern Alaska . Washington, 1904.
(U.S. Geological Survey. Professional paper Professional paper No.20)
Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the discoveries on the north coast of America Narrative of the discoveries on the north coast of America . . .
during the years 1836-39 during the years 1836-39 . London, Bentley, 1843.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska. Part II Alaska. Part II . 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.
VS Guidebook for Alaska VS Guidebook for Alaska .
45

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 HOPSON POINT, ALASKA

HOPSON POINT is a low promontory on the arctic coast of Alaska in
the vicinity of 70° 10′ N.Lat., 146° 30′ W.Long., which appears on Leffingwell's
map of the Canning River region. Alaska Island, one of the Maguire group (q.v.),
lies a few miles off from this point.
Source:
Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, northern Alaska Canning River Region, northern Alaska . Washington
D.C., G.P.O., 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)
60

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 HOWE ISLAND, ALASKA

HOWE ISLAND, off the arctic coast of Alaska between Prudhoe and
Foggy Island Bays, is a conspicuous silt island in the delta of the
Sagavanirktok River (q.v.). Leffingwell, in 1914, estimated it to be
30 feet high at the eastern end. Anxiety Point, at that same end, was named
by Sir John Franklin during his August, 1826, attempt to complete the north–
west passage.
Sources:
Franklin, John. Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar
Sea, in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827.
Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar
Sea, in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827.
London, Murray, 1828.
Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, northern Alaska. Canning River Region, northern Alaska. Washington,
D.C., 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey, Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)

Ruby Collins
June, 1949 ICY CAPE, ALASKA

465wds
ICY CAPE, about midway between Point Franklin and Cape Beaufort on the
arctic coast of Alaska, is a low, flat point on the sandspit forming the
seaward side of Kasegaluk Lagoon.
The small Eskimo village of Akeonik lies on the mainland just opposite
Icy Cape and the Avak River empties into Avak Inlet (q.v.) south of the Cape.
The report of the 1924 Geological Survey expedition describes another
settlement at Icy Cape as being situated on the low headland that forms
it. According to the Survey, the Bureau of Education maintained a school in
this village for many years, but, since the enrollment was less than a dozen
children through this period and schools were badly needed in other more
thickly populated sections of the Territory, this Icy Cape school was finally
closed.
The Geological Survey found that the town had one or two other good
houses [: ] in addition to the schoolhouse and several sod houses which
the Eskimos had built. In 1924, about forty natives lived in the Icy Cape
settlement at least part of the year, and a branch of one of the Wainwright
stores carried a small stock of supplies. At that time several thousand rein–
deer, owned cooperatively by the small community, were pastured on the main–
land with a semi-permanent camp for the herders at [: ] Akeonik. Although
this town does not appear in the 1939 Census, it is without any doubt still
in existence.
The water off Icy Cape is shoal, offering only 2 1/2 or 3 fathom
directly offshore. Blossom Shoal s (q.v.), which is reported to be spreading,
lies directly off Icy Cape and presents a major hazard to pilots in these
waters.
The meridian of Icy Cape forms the western boundary of U.S. Naval
Petroleum Reserve No.4 (q.v.)

ICY CAPE, ALASKA

Cook named this Cape in 1778 ; H h e was followed, in August of 1826, by Beechey.
"This cape, the farthest point reached by Captain Cook," Beechey wrote,
"was at the time of its discovery very much encumbered with ice, whence it
received its name; none, however, was now visible. The cape is very low,
and has a large lake at the back of it, which receives the water of a con–
siderable river, and communicates with the sea through a narrow channel much
encumbered with shoals. There are several winter habitations of the
Esquimaux upon the cape, which were afterwards visited by Lieutenant Belcher.
The main land on both sides of Icy Cape, from Wainwright Inlet on one side to
Cape Beaufort on the other, is flat, and covered with swampy moss. It
presents a line of low mud cliffs, between which and a shingly beach that
every where forms the coast-line there is a succession of narrow lakes capable
of being navigated by baidars or small boats. Off here we saw a great many
black whales--more than I remember ever to have seen, even in Baffin's Bay."

ICY CAPE, ALAK SKA

[: ] BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. 2d Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. 2d ed. Washington, D.C., 1906.

Beechey, F.W. Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait. . . Narrative of a Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait. . .
in the years 1825, 26, 27, 28. in the years 1825, 26, 27, 28. London, 1831. 2v.

Smith, P.S. & Mertie, J.B., Jr. Geology and Mineral Resources of Northwestern
Alaska.

Geology and Mineral Resources of Northwestern
Alaska.
Was ington, D.C., 1930. (U.S. Geological Survey. Bulletin Bulletin 815)

Tewkesbury's Who's Who in Alaska and Alaska Business Index. Tewkesbury's Who's Who in Alaska and Alaska Business Index. Juneau, Alaska, 1947.

U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska. Part II Alaska. Part II . 5th (1947) ed. Washington, D.C., 1947.

VS Guidebook for Alaska.

Aeronautical Chart No.64

U.S.C. & G.S. Chart No.9400.

Ruby Collins
July, 1949 IKPIKPUK RIVER, ALASKA

790wards
IKPIKPUK RIVER is the major tributary to Smith Bay, an arm of the
Polar Sea on the north coast of Alaska between Point Barrow and Harrison Bay (q.v.)
This river is formed by the junction of Kigalik River and Maybe
Creek at about 69° 23′ N.Lat., 154° 35′ W.Long. The Kigalik flows eastward
for about 50 miles (airline) through the northern foothills of the Brooks Range,
and Maybe Creek takes a similar route in a westerly direction to its junction
with the Kigalik.
A camp named after the Kigalik was the rendezvous village visited
by Ensign Howard, of the Stoney expedition, in May, 1886, while on hi [: ] way to
Point Barrow from Fort Cosmos on the Kobuk River. Here Howard found thirty
tents and 150 natives, [: ] all preparing for their
annual trading trip to Point Barrow. Collected here were eighteen seal skin
umiaks and twenty deerskin kayaks. Everyone was busy, the men making new boat
frames, the women tanning skins and making clothing. These were all interior
Eskimos going to trade their deerskin clothing and certain other objects for
the marine products , guns & ammunition available from the Barrow Eskimos.
Howard climbed the highest hill (which proved to be only 500 feet
high) separating the Kigalik from the Colville (q.v.) and noted that the Ikpikpuk
was "tortuous in the extreme, bending and doubling upon itself in a remarkable
manner."
Below the mouths of the Kigalik and Maybe Creek, the general dire [: ]
tion of the Ikpikpuk is determined by the northward slope of the plateau north
of the Brooks Range, but this, like the other streams in the northern drainage
system, has so deeply incised its course that the floor of the upper Ikpikpuk
stands several [: ] hundred feet below the uplands. Many of the side streams
entering the main river have also eroded their courses along the east-west
trend of the weeker belts of rock. This is particularly true of the Kigalik
and of Maybe Creek. Such a drainage pattern has been classified as trellised.

IKPIKPUK RIVER, ALASKA

From its point of origin the Ikpikpuk continues in a generally
northerly direction receiving Titulak River from the west and Price River from
the east, within the first thirty-five miles (airline) of its tortuous course.
Perhaps another thirty-five miles (airline) below Price River, the west fork
of the Ikpikpuk, known as the Ikpikpung or Chipp River (q.v.), branches off on
its way to the head of Admiralty Bay (q.v.). The more easterly and main fork
of the Ikpikpuk continues for another thirty-five miles (airline) to the head
of Smith Bay which it enters by way of a considerable delta.
Miguakiak River, which rises in Teshekpuk Lake, enters an eastern
channel of the lower Ikpikpuk. Teshekpuk Lake occupies a considerable portion
of the peninsula separating Smith Bay from Harrison Bay, the next large bay to
the east. tThe Miguakiak, I i ts main outlet, is perhaps thirty or forty miles
long.
The entire length of the Ikpikpuk is navigable by canoe. In the
opinion of the 1926 Geological Survey party it might also be navigated by shallow–
draft [: ] launches.
Although its airline length is only a little over 100 miles, the
actual length of this stream could easily be twice this distance. The
"bending and doubling" noticed by Howard increases as the river approaches the
sea. From the mouth of the Titulak to Smith Bay, the Ikpikpuk works a snake–
like course across fifty miles of lake-strewn marsh and grassland which charac–
terizes the coastal plain of this part of Alaska. The surrounding countryside,
although it actually slopes slightly down toward the sea, appears to be perfectly
flat for as far as the eye can see.
"Perhaps the most striking characteristic of the coastal plain,"
wrote Smith and Mertie, "is the uniformity and monotony of its landscapes.
Except for minute minor details, its appearance is everywhere the same. Its
slope is so slight that to the unaided eye it appears to stretch away to the
horizon as an endless flat. Prominent landmarks are entirely absent. Owing

RIVER
IKPIKPUK Alaska

to its [: ] featurelessness even minor elevations such as sand dune 10 feet
high appear to be notable prominences; in fact, it is said that one of the
earlier explorers reported a range of mountains east of the Colville where
subsequent explorations have proved that only low sand dune s exist. Over these
plains the winds sweep with unbroken severity, and the traveler caught in the
sudden storms that are common in the winter finds it next to impossible to get
any natural shelter. In the summer the poorly drained tracts of upland afford
only spongy footing, which makes travel laborious and slow, and lakes and deep
sloughs necessitate circuitous deviations from direct courses."
The banks banks of the lower Ikpikpuk are only a few feet above
the level of the water so that, during times of high water in the spring, it
overflows its banks and floods much of the surrounding countryside. As would
be expected, this part of the river is shallow and the current [: ] slow.
The only settlement on the Ikpikpuk, according to recent maps,
is Valley of Willows about ten miles below the junction of the Kigalik and
Maybe Creek.

IKPIKPUK RIVER, ALASKA

References
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alask Geographic Dictionary of Alask a. 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Smith, Philip S., and Mertie, J.B., JR. Geology and Mineral Resources of Geology and Mineral Resources of
Northwestern Alaska. Northwestern Alaska. Washington, G.P.O., 1930. (U.S. GEOlogical
Survey. Bulletin Bulletin 815)
Stoney, George M. Naval Explorations in Alaska Naval Explorations in Alaska . Annapolis, Md., United
States Naval Institute, 1900.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.
VS Guidebook for Alaska. Guidebook for Alaska.

Ruby Collins
July, 1949 INARU RIVER, ALASKA

130words
INARU RIVER, northern Alaska, joins the Meade River (q.v.) from
the west only a few miles above the point where the Meade debouches into
Admiralty Bay, an extension of Dease Inlet and the P l o Sea.
The Inaru is about sixty miles long and flows in a generally
northeasterly direction, roughly parallel to the coastline of Alaska between
Peard Bay and Barrow (q.v.). The headwaters of the Inaru may be reached by an
easy portage of only about ten miles from Peard Bay.
The Inaru is so meandering, narrow, and steeply banked as to have
remind some explorers of an artificial ditch. The current is sluggish, and the
entire river is navigable by canoe.
On his way to the Meade River in March, 1883, Lieutenant P.H.
Ray crossed the Inaru, which he called the Kuahroo . The name appears in this
form on some early U.S. Coast Guard maps of the region.
References:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Smith, Philip S., and Mertie, J.B., Jr. Geology and Mineral Resources of Geology and Mineral Resources of
northwestern Alaska. northwestern Alaska. Washington, 1930. (U.S. Geological Survey.
Bulletin 8 Bulletin 8 15)
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska. Alaska. Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.
VS Guidebook for Alaska Guidebook for Alaska .

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 JONES ISLANDS, ALASKA

960wds
JONES ISLANDS, also called Thetis Islands, in the Polar Sea, off
the arctic coast of Alaska, are a chain of small, low sand islands extending from
the Colville River delta eastward for about 25 miles to Return islands. They
stand several miles offshore from Oliktok, Milne, and Beechey Points, for forming part
of the northern boundary of Simpson Lagoon.
Travel ing westward, Dease and Simpson came upon this group of islands
in July, 1837, and named them for Rev. David T. Jones, "the faithful and eloquent
minister at Red Rivers."
Capt. Robert McClure, of the Investigator , stopped at the Jones
Islands on August 11, 1850. It was on this trip that McClure, although defeated prevented
by the ice from sailing it himself, completed the surveying work on the north–
west passage. He found the shores of Jones Islands stre wed with driftwood.
During the afternoon of the 11th, about 30 Eskimos came out in skin boats and
traded f ish and ducks for tobacco. One of these Eskimos had a gun which he had
obtained from the Russian Fur Company.
"Their surprise, of course," wrote McClure, "was very great, par–
ticularly at the size of our handkerchiefs (the sails); the whale boats attracted
their attention, and they asked if trees grew in our country sufficiently large
to make them. . .As a fair specimen of the observation of these people and their
aptitude for trade, the following may be taken. Seeing that we cut the tobacco
into pieces to give in exchange for their fish (salmon trout), they began to do
the same with the fish; this, however, we would not admit, so they were obliged
to come to our terms."
To these natives McClure entrusted a despatch which they were to
deliver to the Russian trading post on the Colville River, whence it would
ultimately reach the Admiralty Office in London.
C.H. Stockton renamed the Jones group after his ship the Thetis ,
in which he sailed eastward along the north coast of Alaska during the summer of

JONES ISLANDS, ALASKA

1889. Most recent charts continue to call these the Jones Islands, although the
most westerly, off the mouth of the Colville and Point Oliktok, is identified as
Thetis Island. From west to east the Jones group includes Thetis, Spy, Leavitt,
Bertoncini, Bodfish, and Cottle Islands. The largest was reported in 1940 to be
about 3 miles in length.
When Stefansson first saw these islands, in 1907, the longest of them,
the one named by Leffingwell Leavitt Island, after Captain George B. Leavitt of
Portland, Maine, was at least 6 miles long. All islands along the north coast
of Alaska east of Barrow are being rapidly destroyed by the sea. In his Hunters
of the Great North,
when speaking of his stay among the Jones Islands the summer
of 1907, Stefansson writes: "The Eskimos had told me that in prehistoric times
(before the memory of the fathers of the old men living) there had been a big
Eskimo settlement on one of the Jones Islands which lay in a row parallel to the
coast a few miles offshore. . . .This [: ] island was a little bigger thatn Flaxman.
I say was , designedly; for it and all the other islands are growing smaller year
by year.
"It seems the north coast of Alaska is sinking gradually. So long
as the sea ice remains in winter and spring, nothing happens to the injury of the
islands. But when the ice goes away, as it does nearly every summer, and when a
gale comes from the open sea, the waves will undermine the cliffs of the islands at
a great rate, so that the coa s tline sometimes recedes as much as a hundred y ards
in a single summer. When the early whalers came to the north coast of Alaska,
Flaxman Island was probably some eight or ten miles long. It is now no more than
half that long and less than half as wide as it used to be. The Eskimos said
that similarly the ocean was rapidly cutting away the sites of the villages on the
Jones Islands and that all sorts of ancient implements and other relics were being

JONES ISL [: ] NDS, ALASKA

washed away by the sea.
"The island containing the house ruins was a low, rolling prairie. . .
There was a great abundance of driftwood on the north coast and we erected a com–
fortable camp near the ruins. As I had been told, the sea was cutting this
island and it appeared as if half the village site was already gone. I found
awash on the beach a number of carvings of bone and ivory and a number of weapons
and implements of bone and wood. These differed in some respects but not funda–
mentally from those that were in use by the Eskimos when the whites first came
to the country. The houses had all fallen and looked superficially merely like
so many mounds. I found on investigation that the ground plan had been similar
to that of the houses not in use along the coast. In my opinion this village was
inhabited no more than two or three centuries ago."
None of the Jones Islands is more than 20 or 30 feet above sea level.
Spy Island is really two or three closely connected sand spits forming a semi–
circle, the result of the action of waves and ice. Westerly winds drive five–
and six-foot "tides" against the northern and northwestern shores of these
islands, leaving behind a considerable amount of driftwood. Easterly winds
raise the water only slightly, so that the wood left by easterly winds is
carried away during westerly storms, but the reverse is never possible.
The west end of Spy Island is highest and broadest and encloses a
lagoon of salt or brackish water which freezes over later than corresponding
bodies of water on the mainland coast, although it is only about one foot dee p .
The vegetation on these islands is of the type found on dry, sandy ground.
Leffingwell erected a beacon on Thetis Island in April, 1910, as an
aid to navigating the shallow waters of Harrison Bay. "This island," he ex–
plained, "is the first place picked up in crossing Harrison Bay from the west,
and it is important that it should be recognizable."

JONES ISLANDS, ALASKA

Stefansson, and the hunting party which left the Karluk before she
was beset, arrived at Thetis Island (which Stefansson calls Amauliktok ) on
September 2, 1913. "Inside this island chain," Stefansson writes, "we found the
ice young and rotten, so that crossing to the mainland was not practicable and we
camped for the night, using for cooking and warmth our sheet-iron stove, and drift
wood which in this district is abundant. [: ]
"The name of this sandspit is typical in the sense that an Eskimo
place name is frequently found, when translated literally into English, to be
the equivalent not of a word but rather of a sentence of ours. Thus
Amauliktok means 'he killed a Pacific eider.'"

JONES ISLANDS, ALASKA

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, D.C., 1906.

Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, Northern Alaska Canning River Region, Northern Alaska . Washington,D.C.
1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)

McClure, Robert. "Proceedings of Captain M'Clure of Her Majesty's Ship
"Investigator," in search of the Expedition of Sir John Franklin,
from Au ust 1850 to April 1853, and reporting the Discovery of
the North West Passage." (Great Britain. Admiralty. Papers Papers
Relative to the Recent Arctic Expeditions. Relative to the Recent Arctic Expeditions. London, 1854. No.V)

Simpson, Thomas Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Coast of the Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Coast of the
Polar Sea, in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827 Polar Sea, in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827 . London, Muarray, 1828.

Stefansson, Vilhjalmur. Friendly Arctic. Friendly Arctic. New ed. N.Y., Macmillan, 1943.

Stefansson, Vilhjalmur. Hunters of the Great North Hunters of the Great North . N.Y., Harcourt, 1922.

Stefansson, Vilhjalmur. Guidebook for Alaska Guidebook for Alaska .

U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, D.C., 1947.

85

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 KADLEROSHILIK RIVER, ALASKA

KADLEROSHILIK RIVER, arctic Alaska, rises between the Franklin
Mountains and the Sagavanirktok River and flows in a generally northeasterly
direction into Foggy Island Bay, a shallow arm of the Polar Sea.
The fanlike upper drainage of the Kadleroshilik system originates
in part in the foothills of the Brooks Range, about 45 miles inland, and in part
in the many lakes and marshes strewn over the coastal plain. For its last 25
or 30 miles the Kadleroshilik follows a well-defined channel, entering the bay
at about 70° 12′ N.Lat., 147° 35′ W.Long.
Source:
U.S. C&GS. World Aeronautical Chart World Aeronautical Chart (63) Brooks Range, Alaska.
490 wds

Ruby Collins
May, 1949 KA S EGALUK LAGOON, ALASKA

KASEGALUK LAGOON, off the arctic coast of Alaska, starts about
ten miles north of Cape Beaufort (q.v.) and stretches northward without
a break past Point Lay and Icy Cape (q.v.) to within a few miles of
Wainwright Inlet (q.v.). Separating this lagoon from the ocean is a
narrow strip of sand beach, elevated but a few feet above the water,
with several small, shallow openings through it south of Icy Cape, and
two considerable openings north of that cape. The land on the inside of
the lagoon is generally low; but, in coasting along, some small bluffs
with low, rolling land back of them can be seen in places.
South of Icy Cape the lagoon has three rivers emptying into it,
the Kukpowruk, Kokolik, and Utukok (q.v.), and its whole ex tent is
filled with flats and bars that make it scarcely navigable even for native
skin canoes. North of Icy Cape the water in the lagoon is deeper.
Through an opening about 10 to 12 miles from the Cape, 8 feet of water can
be carried safely, with 2 to 3 fathoms inside. The channel is close to
the sand spit on the south side of the entrance.
References:VS Guide Book for Alaska; U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska. Pt.II,1947.

KASEGALUK LAGOON, ALASKA

While in charge of the overland relief expedition to Barrow
in 1898, Jarvis (q.v.) passed Kasegaluk Lagoon. His diary for March 14
reads in part as follows: "We now came to the lagoon that stretches along
this coast for a distance of more than 100 miles, about 5 to 10 miles wide,
and separated from the sea by a narrow [: ] sand spit with four openings
in the entire length. Three large rivers empty into the lagoon south of
Icy Cape. About 15 miles below Point Lay is the mouth of Kookpowruk
[ Kukpowruk ] , a large stream nearly 100 miles long. Its source is to the
south of the Meade River Mountains, and it runs in a general northeasterly
direction. The Kokolik, the shortest of the three, rises on the north side
of the mountains, its mouth being just back of Point Lay. The largest
and farthest north is the Ootookok [ Utukok ] . Its head waters are near
a branch of the Noatok and almost directly south of Icy Cape, and its mouth
is in the lagoon, about 15 miles south of the cape. Before the wild deer
were driven from this part of the country there were large [: ]
settlements on these rivers, and the natives from Kotzebue Sound often
made the passage up the Noatok and down the Ootookok in the spring, to trade
with the people on the northern coast.
"Along the shores of the lagoon, near the mouths of the rivers,
the land is marshy and low, gradually rising to rolling hills until the
Meade River Mountains are reached. The southern part of the lagoon is
shallow and filled with bars, but the northern half is wider and has
depths of 3 fathoms in places, and through the two openings from 8 to 10
feet can be carried. There are only a few small streams emptying into
the northern half, and the land back of the lagoon is generally higher
than along the southern half."
120 wds

Ruby Collins
January, 1950 KATAKTURUK RIVER, ALASKA

KATAKTURUK RIVER, arctic Alaska, rises in the Shubelik
Mountains in the vicinity of 69° 33′ N.Lat., and 145° 30′ W.Long. and
flows northeastward through the Sadlerochit Mountains (q.v.) and across
some twenty miles of coastal plain to the Polar Sea. The mouth of the
Katakturuk is double, opening into Simpson Cove, midway of Camden Bay, which
in turn is an arm of the sea.
Leffingwell, who spent the years 1906-1914 in this part
of Alaska, found two exposures of ground ice on the east mouth of the
Katakturuk. He thinks these were probably formed where when hydraulic pressure
had bulged up the frozen turf. Leffingwell was one of the first to make a
study of ground ice in Alaska. Those interested in this subject are
referred to his detailed study of the Canning River region.
Leffingwell, E. de K. The Canning River Region, Northern Alaska. The Canning River Region, Northern Alaska. Wash.,
D.C., G.P.O., 1919. U.S.Geol.Surv., Prof.pa. Prof.pa. 109.
45

Ruby Collins
June, 1949 KILIMANTAVIE, ALASKA

KILIMANTAVIE is a small Eskimo village at the extreme northern end of
Kasegaluk Lagoon on the arctic coast of Alaska, about fifteen miles south
of Wainwright (q.v.).
According to Murdock this name means "sling." It has been variously
reported throughout the years as Kilametagag-miut, by Tikhmenief in 1861;
as Kolumakturook, by Petrof in 1880; and as Kilimantavie by Jarvis in the
late nineteenth century.
Recent maps show no river in the immediate vicinity of the village
and the surrounding countryside is perfectly flat. The settlement does
not appear in the 1939 Census, so that no estimate of its present size can
be made.
The long winter trail which skirts the arctic coast of Alaska passes
through Kilimantavie on its way southward to Kotzebue and Seward Peninsula
and northward to Barrow.
References:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Smith, P.S. & Mertie, J.B., Jr. Geology and Mineral Resources of North Geology and Mineral Resources of North
western Alaska western Alaska . Washington, 1930. (U.S. Geological Survey. Bulletin Bulletin 815)
Aeronautical Chart No.64
1,235 wds.

Ruby Collins
June, 1949 KOKOLIK RIVER, ALASKA

THE KOKOLIK RIVER is a meandering stream which flows into Kasegaluk
Lagoon at about 69° 45′ N.Lat., in the vicinity of Point Lay, on the arctic
coast of Alaska. This river is the second more northerly tributary to the
lagoon, its mouth lying between those of the Kukpowruk and Utukok Rivers (q.v.).
The Kokolik rises in the Brooks Range, its headwaters draining
from Tingmerkpuk and Poko Mountains near 68° 30′ N.Lat., 162° W.Long. For
about 50 or 60 miles the rivers flows almost directly northward, through a
narrow valley in the midst of the mountains. At about 69° 12′ N.Lat., it
veers northeastward of 162° W.Long. finally curving northwestward, recrossing
this same meridian, and continuing in a sinuous but generally westerly direc–
tion to Kasegaluk Lagoon. The Kokolik is about 120 (airline) miles long, but,
because of its numberless meanders both great and small, is without doubt
actually at least half again that length.
The only named tributaries to this river enter early in its course
long before the stream has found its way out of the mountains. These are:
the Tingmerkpuk River, from the west, and Iligaruk Creek, from the east. A
great many other streams enter all along its course, but they are not identi–
fied on recent maps.
For the final half of its course, the Kokolik escapes completely
from the mountains and crosses the low, lake-strewn coastal plain. The
surrounding countryside here is almost perfectly flat with a resulting
confusion of drainage systems, so that the course chosen by the Kokolik is
particularly tortuous for these last 60 or more miles.
The Kokolik is navigable by canoe for a considerable part of its
length. During the winter, of course, it freezes over early in September,
remaining frozen until the last of May or early June. The spring break-up

KOKOLIK RIVER, ALASKA

is often accompanied by sudden, sharp rises of the water-level at different
points along the stream. These are c au sed by the damming of blocks of ice
at a point below the flood area. Smith and Mertie reported just such a rise
in the water on June 4, 1926. On June 5, however, the Geological Survey
party set out downstream in canoes, which they were able to use to the mouth
of the Kokolik. The highest water came on June 8, after which date no more
ice was seen in the river.
Vegetation The entire course of the Kokolik is above the spruce line,
and even the scrub willo w growing along the banks are small and
so thinly scattered that the places where they are sufficiently abundant for
camp uses are many miles apart. This paucity of firewood, particularly in
the regions where driftwood from the sea is unavailable, reduces causes the natives
living in these regions to spend ing at least half of their time in a never–
ending search for fuel. They often travel ten or more miles by dog team on
these fuelling trips, but even so get only enough for their most basic needs.
Blueberries, salmonberries, currents, and cranberries grow along
al l most everywhere on the arctic coastal plain. The blueberries in this region
are slow, ripening in the fall. The natives often allow them to freeze on
the bushes and to be covered with the winter snows. They are then gathered
in the spring. Howard mentions this technique and adds that the berries
treated in this manner were particularly delicious. The Salmonberry ripens
in late July.
The Eskimos of this region also eat something which they call
"mashu", which is the root of a knotweed belonging to the genus Polygonum.
This root is eaten raw and boiled and is reported to taste much like sweet
potato.
The most striking characteristic of what is otherwise a severe and
unrelieved country is the great variety and brilliance of the many kinds of

KOKOLIK RIVER, ALASKA

flowers which bloom from early spring to fall over the arctic plain section
of the Kokolik and all the other coastal rivers of northern Alaska. The
first to show are large pu r ple and white anemones, and these are followed by
a wide variety of blooms belonging to the poppy, mustard, saxifrage, rose,
and aster families.
Animal Life Mountain sheep have been reported in the upper Kokolik region al–
though constant hunting has reduced their numbers, and they are now
found only in the most inaccessible sections. The U.S. Geological Survey
party of 1924 saw caribou in the hills bordering the upper Kokolik, and, at
the same point, one good-sized brown bear. One possible explanation for
this party's seeing so few bear is that their visit coincided with
[: ] during the period of hibernation. This same party saw many red, cross,
and black foxes, in the interior, but no white foxes. Rabbits were not as
numerous near this stream as near those either farther northeast or farther
south. One wolverine was killed in the May 15 camp on the upper Kokolik.
Ptarmigan, snow-white in winter and brown in summer, were found
in flocks of hundreds. Ducks and geese were next most abundant and one lone
swan was seen. Hawks and owls also live in the Kokolik region.
Many different kinds of fish, especially tomcod along the coast and
grayling in the smaller inland streams, were reported, as well as some whitefish
in the same streams as contained the grayling.
The so-called 'incidental' wild life of these regions are is often
more apparent to the traveller than the larger animals considered above.
For instance, in the summer the air is alive with swarms of mosquitoes
and flies as well as with less troublesome and much more beautiful dragon–
flies and butterflies. Arthur Gibson, of the Canadian Arctic Expedition,
1913-1918, listed thirteen families, 62 genera, and 114 species of
Lepidoptera alone, for almost exactly the same kind of country as [: ] is

KOKOLIK RIVER, ALASKA

presently under consideration. From the middle of July to the middle of
August, unless the [: ] weather is stormy, mosquitoes range over this coastal
plain in such h ordes that outdoor work is maddening. Veils and gloves are
essential for it. Even the caribon reindeer, rubbing their heads against the brush and are tormented so badly that they cannot
graze in peace, and but wander about looking for a breeze which might blow the
insects away. By the end of this
mosquitoe-ridden month they are noticeably thinner from interrupted grazing
and loss of sleep. Mosquitoes are apt not to be so numerous along the coast where
there is almost always a breeze off the water, which drives the insects to
take shelter in the vegetation inland. However, an offshore breeze will
bring them back in swarms.
All along the coast the beaches are strewn with the remains of
crabs, starfish, jelly fish, and many different kinds of molluses--proof
enough of the abundance of marine life in these waters.
There are no named settlements along the Kokolik River except for
Kokolik itself at the mouth. This small Eskimo village was not reported in
the 1939 Census, so that [: ] its present size is unknown.
The long winter trail which skirts the arctic coast of Alaska,
lead s ing southward to Kotzebue and Seward Peninsula and northwa rd to Barrow, runs
passes along the narrow sandspit which forms the seaward side of Kasegaluk
Lagoon, thereby passing within a mile or two of the mouth of the Kokolik.

KOKOLIK RIVER, ALASKA

References
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Smith, P.S. & Mertie, J.B., Jr. Geology and Mineral Resources of Northwestern Geology and Mineral Resources of Northwestern
Alaska Alaska . Washington, 1930. (U.S. Geological Survey. Bulletin Bulletin 815)
VS Guidebook for Alaska VS Guidebook for Alaska
Aeronautical Chart Aeronautical Chart No.64
40 wds

Ruby Collins
January, 1950 Konganevik Point, Alaska

K ONGANEVIK POINT (70° 02′ N.Lat., 145° 10′ W.Long.) on the
north coast of Alaska projects into the west side of Camden Bay about midway
between the mouth of the Tamayariak and Katakturuk Rivers. The name sometimes
appears as Kanganeyik Kanganeyik , but Konganevik is more generally accepted.
90 wds

Ruby Collins
June, 1949 KUGRUA RIVER, ALASKA

KUGRUA RIVER empties into Peard Bay, an extension of the Polar Sea
on the arctic coast of Alaska, about midway between Icy Cape and Point Barrow.
The [: ] Kugrua heads in a low divide westward from the head–
waters of the Inaru River (q.v.) and flows in a generally northwesterly
direction for about thirty miles (airline) to the head of Peard Bay. The
entire course of this river lies on the lake-strewn, coastal plain which
borders all of northern Alaska. It receives several small tributaries, but
none of these is named on recent maps.
1730 wds.

Ruby Collins
June, 1949 KUK RIVER, ALASKA

KUK RIVER (meaning River River!) is the name given to the lower segment
of a system of waterways formed by the j oining of several long rivers which may
be considered as tributaries to Wainwright Inlet (q.v.) on the arctic coast of
Alaska, at about 70° 30′ N. Lat., 160° W.Long.
The Kuk itself is only about thirty-four miles long, but it is between
four and five miles wide in places. Its two major affluents, the Kaolak and
Avalik Rivers (q.v.) , join to form the Kuk at about 70° 08′ N.Lat., 159° 41′
W.Long., after which the Kuk proceeds in a northwesterly direction to the
Inlet. About thirteen miles below this junction, the Kuk receives the Omalik
from the east. A few miles farther downstream the Ivisaruk and the Altakrok
come in from the west and the Kungok from the east. Karmuk Point marks the
southern side of the entrance into Waiwright Inlet, and, although there is a
small promontory on the north side of the entrance, it is not named on recent
charts.
The Avalik rises on the north side of a relatively low divide north of the
B r ooks Range, from the other side of which drain the headwaters of the Meade
River. The entire course of the Avalik may be said to lie on the [: ]
broad coastal plain which skirts this part of Alaska. The Geological Survey
party of 1924 ascended this river in canoes to about 69° 55′ N. Lat., 157°55′
W.Long. In this vicinity the highest land was about 250 feet above sea level.
Throughout this distance the river was so shallow that the bottoms were prac–
tically worn out of the boats from scraping over bars.
[: ]
This same Geological Survey party found a great deal of bone and mammoth
ivory on these bars in the Avalik. The tusks ranged from five feet to only a
few inches in length and most of the teeth were small. Even more interesting
were the skulls of horses, one in an almost perfect state of preservation , which

KUK RIVER, ALASKA

were found in the bars. Upon later examination these were reported to be
[: ] he remains of a Pleistocene horse. Musk ox skulls were also found in this
neighborhood, some of them lying unburied on the surface of the ground, in a
bleached but perfect condition.
The Survey also observed the living fauna of the region. Some caribou
were seen, even though the party passed th [: ] ough the region in the summer when
the large herds break up into smaller family groups. Red, cross, and black
foxes were seen in almost all parts of the interior, but no white foxes.
Rabbits were numerous throughout the lowland areas, and some lynx, marten,
muskrat, and squirrel were seen, A a lthough these were more numerous south
of the Range, along the Kobuk, Alatna, and Noatak Rivers, than they were in
the region presently under consideration. A great many kinds of birds inhabit
this section including ptarmigan, ducks, geese, and swans.
With the arrival of spring several kinds of land birds appear. Canadian
jays or camp robbins, snow birds, ravens, crows, and many other species were
the constant companions of the 1924 Geological Survey party. Next most common
were the hawks, owls, and eagles.
Grayling is the principal fish to be found in the smaller inland streams,
and are everywhere numerous enough to be relied on for food.
In almost every respect the country surrounding the entire course of the
Avalik is similar to the lowland sections of the Kokolik, to which article
the reader is referred for more information on the vegetation and climate of
the this Avalik region.
The 1924 expedition covered only thirty or so miles of the Avalik, but
the river measures about fifty (airline) miles in length. Its actual length
is probably considerably more than this. A great many streams, all unnamed
in present-day maps, enter the Avalik both from the north and the south. The
only named tributary is the Ketik River, which enters from the south only a

KUK RIVER, ALASKA

few miles above the mouth of the Kaolik, the other main fork of the Kuk River.
The Ketik is much longer than is indicated on Smith and Mertie's map
of 1924. It rises across the low divide which sends tributaries southward
into Carbon Creek, one of the early affluents of the Utukok. From this point
the Ketik flows northward for about fifty-five (ailine) miles to the Avalik.
The Kaolak rises in a relatively low divide only a few miles from the
Utukok at a point several miles below Elusive Creek, on that river. The
Kaolak then continues with remarkable directness, considering the flatness of
the surrounding country, in a northeasterly direction to the Kuk. This river
is somewhat shorter than the Avalik, being perhaps forty (airline) miles long.
As has already been mentioned, these three rivers are almost completely
contained in the broad, flat, lake-studded marsh and grassland which is the
coastal plain of this part of Alaska. This entire area is well above the
spruce line; and only small scrub willow grow along the banks of these streams, and
E e ven this [: ] growth is so scanty as to be unreliable as a source of fuel.
In winter the streams are completely frozen over, the smaller ones being solid
ice to the very bottom. In the summer, on the other hand, the frost in the
ground thaws to a depth of from one to two feet, turning the entire country–
side into an enormous bog, hundreds of square miles in extent. Hoardes of
flies and mosquitoes bread in this mammoth bog, making the life of the summer
visitor to this region a misery. Strong, tightly-fitting head nets, gloves,
long sleeves and pants legs are indispensible to traveling across this terrain
in the summer. Wherever possible, it is advisable to keep to the waterways,
since travel by boat is much more comfortable and much faster than it is
overland by foot.
It should be added that from the earliest days of spring, this same
enormous marshland is covered with a brightly-colored carpet of gaudy,
short-stemmed blossoms. These do a great deal toward relieving the monotony

KUK RIVER, ALASKA

of the landscape and toward diverting the visitor's attention from whatever
troubles he may meet in his travels.
The Geological Survey party of 1924 found broad tracks of
sandstone and shale containing numerous thick beds of coal bordering almost
the entire course of the Kaolik and Avalik Rivers. The only places where
this condition was found not to exist was for a distance of about ten miles
up from their junction with the Kuk River.
Kuk River was first reported by the Coast Survey in 1869 as the
Kook . Since then, it has also been written Kok and Koo . On a Hydrographic
Chart dated 1892, there were two rivers, the Koo and the Kee , and, near [: ]
Point Collie at their mouths, a village called Koogmute , "river people."
Kuk is now the generally accepted spelling for the name.
The two small villages of Kangik, at the junction of the Avalik and the
Kaolak, and Anaktuk, just a few miles below this point, appear on recent maps
but not in Baker's Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . It would appear, there–
fore, that these two settlements have grown up since 1906 when the second
edition of the Dictionary appeared. Neither of these towns was included in
the 1939 Census, so that there is no way of estimating their presents size.
There are no settlements on the Kuk itself, probably because of its
proximity to Wainwright (q.v.), one of the major towns on the arctic coast
of Alaska, just above Wainwright Inlet.
However, the main landing strip for Wainwright lies on Karmuk Point,
the southern entrance point to the Inlet.
Of the coal in this region, Smith and Mertie wrote: "Coal beds in the
vicinity of Wainwright are said to have been known to the whites in 1889, and
since that time they have been mined in a small way and in primitive fashion to
supply local needs. The coal beds are more or less continuous from a
locality a short distance southeast of K armuk Point throughout the valleys of

KUK RIVER, ALASKA

the Kuk River and its tributaries the Avalik and Kaolak Rivers. The thickest
and most accessible beds seen, however, crop out along the east side of the
Kuk River between points 8 miles and 20 miles south of Wainwright. The coal
lies practically horizontal with very gentle [: ] warpings, so that
apparently it is everywhere under a relatively thin cover. Openings to get
out the coal have been made at three places in the shore bluffs...
"The coal is evidently of subbituminous rank and of less heating value than
the other coals so far described. This lower quality is believed to be due to
the lesser folding that the beds have undergone and not to an original differ–
ence in the beds themselves.
"A few hundred tons of coal has been taken from these beds on the Kuk
and used locally. The coal that has been taken is, of course, of the poorest
quality, as it is more or less weathered and mixed with surface debris. No
real mining has been practiced. The natives simply gopher out from the surface
the coal within reach of their picks and shovels, so that nowhere are the ex–
cavations more than 4 or 5 feet underground. The roof is a fairly heavy sand–
stone, which disintegrates rather rapidly on exposed surface but probably is
firmer underground. No timber is used, and the roof is strengthened by leaving
a considerable thickness of coal next to the sandstone. The coal is sacked
in bags containing 90 to 100 pounds of coal and is brought to Wainwright by
the natives in their skin boats during the summer or by dog team in the winter...
" The current price paid by the traders for this coal at Wainwright is
about 75 cents a sack, but even at that price it does not supplant imported
coal, which sells for more than twice as much.
"Farther south, toward the headwaters of the tributaries of the Kuk, no
thick beds of coal were recognized. On the Kaolak River Foran found only
thin beds exposed, though the presence of considerable amounts of coal on the
bars suggested that there were probably other beds which were concealed by the

KUK RIVER, ALASKA

slumped banks or moss-covered stretches. On the Avalik River three small coal
beds were seen a short distance above Kungik. Of these the lower two were
less than 1 foot thick, but the upper one, which, however, was only poorly
exposed, was at least 3 feet thick. Still farther up that stream other coal
beds were recognized at a number of places, practically as far east as the
stream was traversed, but none of them seemed to be of great enough thickness
to be mined, and it was the geologist's impression that in the eastern part
of the valley practically n one of the beds was more th an 1 foot thick."

[: ] KUK RIVER,
ALASKA

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.

Smith, P.S. & Mertie, J.B., Jr. Geology and Mineral Resources of North Geology and Mineral Resources of North
western Alaska western Alaska . Washington, 1930. (U.S. Geological Survey. Bulletin Bulletin 815)

United States Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington,
1947.

VS Guidebook for Alaska.

195

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 KUPARUK RIVER, ALASKA

KUPARUK RIVER, northern Alaska, enters the Polar Sea by way
of Gwydyr Bay (q.v.) forty or fifty miles east of the Colville River (q.v.).
This is probably the same stream which Baker identifies as the Kupowra , which
name he says was reported in 1903 by S.J. Marsh, a prospector. Marsh, himself,
wrote it Koopowra . Leffingwell records this discovery as the joint work of
Marsh and another prospector, F.G. Carter.
Leffingwell believes that the Kuparuk heads in a lake near
the north front of the Brooks Range perhaps 120 (airline) miles from the sea.
A recent map shows a large, unnamed tributary coming in from the southwest
only about 30 miles from the mouth. The major portion of the Kuparuk lies
on the broad, flat, lake-strewn coastal plain which borders all of this
part of Alaska. Because of the inadequacy of the drainage, the river follows
a braided, meandering course and would measure, in actual travelling distance,
many miles longer than the airline distance from head to mouth.
Leffingwell reports that the Kuparuk delta is about equal in
size to that of the Canning River (q.v.) and that the stream is navigable
for only a very few miles. There is very little wood for fuel along its banks.
Sources:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, D.C., 1906.
Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, Northern Alaska Canning River Region, Northern Alaska . Washington,
D.C., 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)
275 wds.

Ruby Collins
May, 1949 KUKPOWRUK RIVER, ALASKA

KUKPOWRUK RIVER, northern Alaska, flows into the south end of
Kasegaluk Lagoon (q.v.) a few miles south of Point Lay, on the shores
of the Polar Sea, at about 69° 36′ N.Lat., 163° W.Long. Its Eskimo
name was first published in 1890 as Koopoowrook, but the present form is
now generally used.
The headwaters of this river would seem to rise in the De Long
Mountains somewhere between Mount Kelly (2,800 feet) and Tingmerkpuk
Mountain (3,600 feet) near 68° N.Lat., 163° W.Long. The river then
flows almost directly northward for some ninety or more miles to Kasegaluk
Lagoon. For about two-thirds of its course the Kukpowruk works its way out
of the mountains and the scattered foothills north of the De Long group,
finally entering upon the lake-strewn coastal plain.
Although its course is direct when considered over-all, it is sinuous
in detail. The Kukpowruk receives several tributaries, the more westerly
of which seem to rise near the headwaters of the Kukpuk (q.v.), the main
tributary to Marryatt Inlet, and the more easterly across divides in the
vicinity of Tingmerkpuk and Poko Mountains which separate the Kukpowruk system
from that of the next more northerly tributary to Kaegaluk Lagoon, the
Kokolik (q.v. [: ] .
U.S. Geological Survey parties have found considerable quantities
of coal near the mouth of the Kukpowruk where the bed-rock is folded.
Farther upstream thirteen mineable beds were found, all three or more feet
thick, and innumerable deposits three feet or less thick. It is felt that
great quantities of coal , which could be reavealed by excavation. underlie this entire area, even where it is not
now exposed

KUKPOWRUK RIVER, ALASKA

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. 2d ed. Washington,
1906.

Paige, Sidney, & Foran, W.T. Reconnaissance of the Point Barrow Region,
Alaska

Reconnaissance of the Point Barrow Region,
Alaska
. Washington, 1925. (U.S. Geological Ssurvey. Bulletin 772)

Smith, P.S. & Mertie, J.B., jr. Geology and Mineral Resources of North–
western Alaska.

Geology and Mineral Resources of North–
western Alaska.
Washington, 1930. (U.S. Geological Survey.
Bulletin Bulletin 815)

125 words

Ruby Collins
June, 1949 LAY , POINT, ALASKA

LAY, POINT on the arctic coast of Alaska about midway between
Cape Beaufort and Icy Cape, opposite the mouth of the Kokolik River, is
a slight bend in the narrow sandspit forming the seaward side of Kasegaluk
Lagoon. Beechey named this Point in 1826 after his naturalist, George
Tradescant Lay.
The Eskimo village at Point Lay had a population of 117 in 1939,
a general store run cooperatively by the natives, and an Alaska Native
Service school. The school had an enrollment of 44, in 1940, It has been
reported that good coal is available about three miles up the Kokolik River.
The long winter trail which skirts the arctic coast of Alaska
passes through Point Lay on its way southward to Kotzebue and Seward
Peninsula and northward to Barrow.
215 wds

Ruby Collins
May, 1949 LISBURNE, CAPE, ALASKA

LISBURNE, CAPE (68° 52′ N.Lat., 166° 17′ W.Long.) is a bare, dark
mountain, 849 feet high, on the arctic coast of Alaska, north of Point Hope
(q.v.) and south of Icy Cape (q.v.). The Cape is rugged, rising steeply from
the water , and is easily recognized by the many pinnacles and scattered rocks
near the summit.
The coastline turns abruptly eastward at Cape Lisburne, and, although
there are no outlying rocks, a ridge extends perhaps six miles northeastward
from the Cape. Thirty feet of water will be found over this ridge for several
mi [: ] es offshore. Violent and gusty winds spill off this Cape, so that, [: ]
with an offshore wind, vessels should keep clear of the Cape. Birds nest
in great numbers in the rocks forming Cape Lisburne, and sailors, travelling
this route in the summer, have reported the air dark with their wings.
Eastward from the Cape, the coast becomes lower losing [: ] ll of its
rugged character, the hills becoming regular and rounded and sloping gradually
down to the sea. Approaching Cape Sabine (q.v.), the next named promontory,
the land is a series of ridges with valleys running inland from the water's
edge.
Cook discovered and named Cape Lisburne on August 21, 1778. It has
erroneously been called Lisburn, or Lisbon. The Eskimo name Wevok (q.v.)
is still used for the small native village on the Cape.
References:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.

EA-Geography: Alaska
(Stefansson Library Research Staff)

NORTHERN ALASKA GEOGRAPHICAL ITEMS
Icy Cape to Int [: ] rnational Boundary
(Place names arranged geographically)
Folder (1): A - B
Folder (2): C - L
✓ Folder (3): M - Y
200

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 MCCLURE ISLANDS, ALASKA

THE MCCLURE ISLANDS, in the Polar Sea off the arctic coast of Alaska,
just northeast of Foggy Island Bay and the mouth of the Sagavanirktok River,
are composed of five small, low, sandy islands hardly more than thirty or
forty feet above the level of the water.
Leffingwell named these islands after Captain Robert McClure, R.N.,
of whom Leffingwell writes: "The shoals he met off Yarborough Inlet were un–
doubtedly the Midways. He was thus the discoverer of the long chain of
islands that extend from the Midways to Flaxman Island, and his name has been
given by the writer to the first group east of Cross Island, as those first
seen by him have already been named the Midways."
Yarborough, or as it is now called, Yarboro Inlet, one of the
important entrances into the lagoon formed by this island chain, runs between
the McClure group and Cross Island.
Reading Leffingwall's map from west to east the McClure group is
made up of Narwhal, Jeanette, and Karluk Islands, and Islands No.20 and 19.
Leffingwell named the first three islands after the famous whaling
ships whipas which helped him during his exploration of the Canning River region,
1906-1914. At that time Capt. George Leavitt commanded the Narwhal , Capt.
John Bertoncini the K Jeannette , and Capt. Steven Cottle the Karluk.
Sources: Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, northern Alaska. Canning River Region, northern Alaska. Washington,
D.C., 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)
50 wds

Ruby Collins
July, 1949 MACKAY INLET, ALASKA

MACKAY INLET, Polar Sea, indents the north coast of Alaska immediately
east of Dease Inlet and behind Tanget Point. During their trip westward along
the coast to Barrow in 1837, Dease and Simpson named this small, shallow inlet
after James M'Kay, one of their guides, M'Kay had, three years previously,
served with Sir George Back (q.v.).
References:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Coast of America; Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Coast of America;
effected by the Officers of the Hudson's Bay Company during the effected by the Officers of the Hudson's Bay Company during the
years 1836-39. years 1836-39. London, Bentley, 1843.
310

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 MAGUIRE ISLANDS, ALASKA

THE MAGUIRE ISLANDS, in the Polar Sea northwest of the mouth of the
Canning River, are part of the chain of low, sand and gravel islands which
skirts the arctic coast of Alaska all the way from the mouth of the Canning
westward to the mouth of the Colville River, a distance of over 100 miles.
Other members of this chain are the Jones, Return, Midway, McClure, and
Stockton Islands west of the Maguires, and Mary Sachs and Flaxman Island,
east of the Maguires. Challenge Entrance separates the Maguire group from
Stockton Islands, and Mary Sachs Entrance separates the Maguires from tiny
Mary Sachs Island. These two channels lead from the Polar Sea into Simpson the
inland passage or l L agoon , which separat es ing this long island chain from the mainland.
Reading Leffingwell's map from west to east, the Maguire group con–
tains Challenge, Alaska, Duchess, North Star, and Islands No.6 and 3.
Four prominences on the mainland correspond almost exactly with the position
of the first four of these islands, namely: Points Gordon, Hopson, Sweeney,
and Thomson. Depths in the l [: ] goon vary from twelve to six feet. Slight
as these depths are, they have for centuries proved sufficient for the
extremely light-draft skin boats in which the Eskimos sail these waters.
The first four islands in the group were named by Leffingwell,
during his 1906-1914 reconnaissance of the Canning River region, after
whalers and other types of vessels which had sailed this part of the Polar Sea.
According to Stefansson and Leffingwell, all these islands are
rapidly being eroded and cut up by the action of the waves and the gouging
and piling effects of grounded ice. (See Jones Islands and Flaxman Island
articles.) Some of the islands mentioned and located by earlier explorers have
now been reduced to reefs and shoals or have disappeared entirely.
Boulder Island, mentioned by Franklin in 1826, has since been completely
submerged.

MAGUIRE ISLANDS, ALASKA

Sources
Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, northern Alaska. Canning River Region, northern Alaska.
Washington, D.C., [: ] 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey.
Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur. Guidebook for Arctic Alaska. Guidebook for Arctic Alaska.
120

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 MARY SACHS ISLAND, ALASKA

MARY SACHS ISLAND, in the Polar Sea, is, except for Flaxman Island,
the most easterly of the chain of low, sand and gravel islands which skirts the
arctic coast of Alaska all the way from the mouth of the Canning westward to the
mouth of the Colville River, a distance of over 100 miles. This island chain
includes the Jones, Return, Midway, McClure, Stockton, and Maguire Islands west
of Mary Sachs Island, and Flaxman Island at the eastern end of the chain.
Mary Sachs Entrance separates that island from the Maguire group,
but there is no boat channel between Mary Sachs and Flaxman Island. Mary Sachs
Entrance leads from the Polar Sea into Simpson [: ] l L agoon which separates this
long island chain from the mainland. Mary Sachs Island is named for the tender
on Stefansson's Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913-1918.
Sources:
Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, northern Alaska. Canning River Region, northern Alaska. Washington,
D.C., 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur. Guidebook for Arctic Alaska Guidebook for Arctic Alaska .
140 wds

Ruby Collins
June, 1949 MAUDHEIM, ALASKA

MAUDHEIM, ALASKA, northern Alaska, on the coast of the Polar Sea, was established
about three miles southeast of Wainwright (q.v.) by Dr. Roald Amundsen, during
1922 and 1923. Amundsen, who was then investigating northern flying conditions, needed such a
base while preparing for his proposed flight over the North Pole in a heavier
than air machine. The site of this camp, near the entrance to Wainwright
Inlet, had certain advantage over the situation of Wainwright itself.
Small boats could take shelter in the Inlet and still be near Maudheim, where–
as the roadstead at Wainwright is completely unprotected. The site was, in
general, less swampy than that of Wainwright, and it was nearer the coal beds
on the north side of the Inlet, as well as to the route into the interior by
way of the Kuk River.
After Amundsen's departure, the buildings were [: ] taken over by a trading company
for [: ] a warehouse.

1,045 words Ruby Collins
July, 1949 MEADE RIVER, ALASKA

MEADE RIVER, one of the longest and most important rivers in [: ]
northern Alaska, flows into the head of Admiralty Bay, an extension of
Dease Inlet and the Polar Sea. Three other rivers, the Inaru, Topagoruk,
and Chipp, also enter the head of this Bay.
The Meade would appear to rise in the northern foothills of the Brooks
Range at about 69° 30′ N.Lat., 157° 30′ W.Long, across the divide from the
headwaters of the Colville (q.v.), which in this part of its course flows
eastward and parallel with the Range. For about fifty-five (airline) miles
the Meade flows almost directly northward. Having achieved the broad,
flat coastal plain which borders all of this part of Alaska, the Meade then
veers first northwestward and then northeastward for a final seventy (airline)
miles to its many-channeled entrance into Admiralty Bay. The lower Meade
is [: ] meandering and [: ] ortuous. No exact record of the length of this
river has ever been made, but it could easily, because of the numberless
bends and twists in its lower section, be as much as twice the airline length.
The Geological Survey party of 1926 turned back several miles north of 70°
N.Lat. after covering 125 measured miles of the Meade R r iver. [: ]
[: ]
A few miles above the mouth of the Meade, the Inaru River (q.v.)
enters from the west. The only other named tributary is the Nigiaktuvik,
which also flows in from the west at about the point where the Meade turns
northeastward.
Throughout its length during periods of low water, the Meade occupies
only about one-half of its channel. About one hundred miles up from the
mouth the channel is between five and six hundred feet wide and the current
averages between three and five miles per hour. Forty miles from the delta
the channel has widened to between 1200 and 1500 feet, and at the delta
the main channel is 2,000 feet wide in som e places and the distributaries

MEADE RIVER, ALASKA

about 500 feet wide. This part of the river flows at a rate of about 2 or 3
miles per hou r . Tides effect the Meade for 30 or more miles upstream.
In the course of their report, Paige and Foran give the following
description of the Meade River country:
"The coastal plain rises gradually to the south and on Meade
River 85 miles inland stands about 100 feet above sea. Here the
river bottom is incised to a depth of 60 feet. Along the lower
reaches of the river much of the land is swampy and is flooded
during high-water stages. The plain is dotted by innumerable lakes.
Farther inland the rivers are cut deeper and the swamps are not
so abundant. The coastal swamps are not continuous but are
separated by dry areas, affording hard ground. It is these dry
areas that furnish the reindeer pastures so abundantly utilized
in regions adjacent to Wainwright and Barrow."
March 28, 1883, Lieutenant P.H. Ray left the base of the U.S. Army
Signal Corps expedition, which was then in its second winter at Cape Smyth,
traveled by sledge and with Eskimo companions southwest along the coast 20
miles to the Sinaru and then struck inland directly south for his proposed
exploration of the upper Meade River. He found the terrain s at first so
flat that for miles there was no landmark at all and he gained the impression
that most of the country was lakes. Gradually, however, the land assumed a
rolling character, and when the party struck Meade River, apparently near
70° 35′ N.Lat., 157° 15′ W.Long., he found it flowing through a valley
about one and one-half miles wide "with bold bluff on either hand from 40
to 60 feet high."
Tracing the river south, they found it meandering so that they could
not afford the level and comaratively easy going of the ice but preferred
to ascend the banks and travel parallel to the stream's general course, which
was a little west of south. At 70° 37′ N.Lat., 157° 11′ W.Long., they
passed "a big bluff which is a noted landmark among the natives and known
as Nuasuknan." It rises from 50 to 75 feet and is visible for many miles
around.

MEADE RIVER, ALASKA

After perhaps ten miles travel south from this landmark the country
became more rolling and broken so that when they struck the river the banks
were one hundred feet high and "showed excessive layers of turf and sand
where the action of the river had cut them away during the freshets in the
summer." They found some fossil ivory (no doubt mammoth). Arctic willows
skirted the bank but no driftwood of any size was seen.
The Ray comments on the scarcity of drift willow shows that he had
adopted the point of view of the local Eskimos. Usually when Eskimos
traverse the rivers of northern Alaska, even where the local "willows" (the
common northern name for willows, alders, etc.) are [: ] 15 or 20 feet high
and abundant, they will depend for fuel mainly on the drift willows which
have come from higher up and are lodged on sandbars. These are usually
dry in winter and are less bother to find and use. It is possible to burn
green willows in sheet-iron camping stoves and in camp fires but they are
more trouble to work up and two or three times as many must be used. The very
small d warf birch burns well if the twigs are twisted into bundles.
By Ray's map, his farthest south was about 69° 50′ N.Lat., 157° 45′
W.Long. Here he climbed from the Meade River to the summit of a bluff which
was 175 feet above the river and could see on the sky line mountains
running nearly east and west about fifty miles away. From the break of
the country, he concluded that Meade River has its source in that range
so he named them Meade Mountains, evidently part of the Brooks Range.
Along the route, Ray found ruins of several winter huts and the
natives told him that three generations before the region was inhabited by a
people who lived by hunting and fishing and did not come to the coast. By
1927 Smith and Mertie found no traces of this settlement.
The only village on the Meade River now is the small Eskimo settlement
of Atkasuk, near 70° 30′ N.Lat., 157° 30′ W.Long. Near this site the

MEADE RIVER, ALASKA

1926 Geological Survey party found an outcrop of coal indicating a large,
nearby horizontal , underground bed perhaps three feet thick. The coal of
the Meade region, however, although similar to that on Wainwright Inlet (q.v.),
proved on analysis to be of subbituminous rank.
Paige and Foran felt that, although these deposits were of considerable
use to the local Eskimos, they would not warrant removal by barge to the
coast, [: ] lying as they did over thirty miles upriver from Admiralty
Bay, a body of water not much frequented by coal-burning vessels. Equally
large and higher-grade deposits had already been located on the northwest
coast of Alaska between Cape Lisburne and Barrow. These deposits have been
used for centuries by the Eskimos and , since the mid-nineteenth century , by
whaling vessels sailing these waters.

MEADE RIVER, ALASKA

References
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Paige, Sidney (and others) Reconnaissance of the Point Barrow Region Reconnaissance of the Point Barrow Region ,
Alaska Alaska . Washington, G.P.O., 1925. (U.S. Geological Survey.
Bulletin Bulletin 772)
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.
VS Guidebook for Alaska Guidebook for Alaska .

55 wds Ruby Collins
January, 1950 MICHELSON, MOUNT, ALASKA

MICHELSON, MOUNT, a glacier-clad peak in the Romanzof
Mountains of northern Alaska,rises to 9,239 feet. It is about midway
between the upper reaches of the Hulahula and Okpilak Rivers in the vicinity
of 69° 20′ N.Lat., 144° 20′ W.Long. During his 1906-1914 expedition,
Leffingwell observed this peak. He reports that it was named after
Professor A.A. Michelson.
Leffingwell, E. de K. The Canning River Region, Northern Alaska. The Canning River Region, Northern Alaska. Wash., D.C.,
G.P.O., 1919, p.97/ U.S.Geol.Surv., Prof.pa Prof.pa . 109.
U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey. Chart Chart 9400.
U.S. Army Air Forces. World Aeroanutical Chart World Aeroanutical Chart [: ] No.63.
2 [: ]

Ruby Collins
September, 1949 MIDWAY ISLANDS, ALASKA

THE MIDWAY ISLANDS, a group of three small islands in the Polar
Sea off the arctic coast of Alaska, belong to a chain of low, sand islets and
shoals stretching from about 146° to 150° W.Long., a distance of some 100 miles.
These islands lie, in general, from 4 to 7 miles offshore and contain, from
east to west, Flaxman Island, near the mouth of the Canning River, the Maguire,
Stockton, and McClure Islands, Cross Island, and the Midway, Return, and Jones
Islands. The most westerly of the Jones group. Thetis Island, lies off the
mouth of the Colville River in Harrison Bay.
Simpson Lagoon, the "inland passage" formed by these islands, is
extremely shoal but will accomodate the skin boats of the Eskimos in which a ton
of load means only a few inches of draft. The Eskimos have for centuries used this lagoon for
centuries for their spring and summer trading trips, since the outlying island
chain and the shallowness of the water serve to protect the lagoon from the
heaviest ice. Simpson Lagoon is only 3 to 5 miles wide at the ends, but widens
in the middle in the vicinity of the Midways and Cross Island, to about 10 or 12
miles.
The most westerly and largest of the Midways is known as Reindeer
Island, and the most easterly is Argo Island. The middle and smallest member is
not named on Leffingwell's map.
Reindeer Island was named by Leffingwell after the whale ship of
that name which was wrecked in the vicinity, and Argo Island was named for the
yawl, Argo. Argo Shoals lie southest of the island.

MIDWAY ISLANDS, ALASKA

Sources:
Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Regions, Northern Alaska Canning River Regions, Northern Alaska . Washington,
D.C., 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)
VS Guidebook for Alaska Guidebook for Alaska

240 Ruby Collins
September, 1949 MIKKELSEN BAY, ALASKA

MIKKELSEN BAY, an arm of the Polar Sea, indents the arctic coast
of Alaska between Harrison and Camden Bays. Tigvariak Island and the mud flats
at the mouth of the Shaviovik River may be said to separate this bay from Foggy
Island Bay, immediately to the west. Reliance Point, on Tigvariak Island, and
Point Bullen, on the mainland, are the western and eastern entrance points to
Mikkelsen Bay. These two points are about seven miles apart,and the bay indents
the shoreline to a depth of about four miles.
During his reconnaissance of the Canning River region, 1906-1914,
Leffingwell named this bay after Captain Ejnar Mikkelsen, with whom he had shared
command of the first year's work of the Anglo-American Polar Expedition.
Mikkelsen Bay is shoal throughout, having a greatest depth of per–
haps 18 feet and carrying only 2 feet or less near shore on the southwestern side.
Recent maps show three unnamed streams flowing into the bay. Across a shallow
lagoon from the entrance to the bay lie the Stockton Islands (q.v.), one group
in the chain of sand and gravel islands which stretches all the way from the
mouth of the Canning to the Colville River. From east to west some other members of
this island chain are Flaxman Island, the Maguire, McClure, Midway, and Jones
Islands. Although these small, low islands are only a few feet above [: ]
[: ] sea level, they serve to protect the lagoon between them
and the mainland (Simpson Lagoon) from the worst attacks of the pack ice. The Eskimos, whose large
skin boats will float several ton in a few inches of water, have used this inland
waterway for centuries.
Sources:
Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, northern Alaska Canning River Region, northern Alaska . Washington,
D.C., 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)
85 wds.

Ruby Collins
July, 1949 MILNE POINT, ALASKA

MILNE POINT projects into the Polar Sea from the arctic coast of
Alaska about midway between the mouths of the Colville and Kuparuk Rivers.
Dease and Simpson named this promontory during their trip westward along the
coast to Point Barrow, in July, 1837. Pingok Island, on e of the Jones group,
stands several miles to sea and directly in front of Milne Point. The water
off the Point is shoal, carrying only from one to one and one-quarter fathom,
but this is sufficient for the extremely light-draft skin boats of the
Eskimos.
References:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska. 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the discoveries on the north coast of the Narrative of the discoveries on the north coast of the
Polar Sea, in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827. Polar Sea, in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827. London, Murray, 1828.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska. Part II Alaska. Part II . 5th(1947)ed. Washington, 1927.
VS Guidebook for Alaska VS Guidebook for Alaska .
130 wds

Ruby Collins
June, 1949 MITLIKTAVIK, ALASKA

MITLIKTAVIK is a small Eskimo village a few miles below Wainwright (q.v.)
on the arctic coast of Alaska. It lies on the unnamed promontory projecting
into the northern part of Kasegaluk Lagoon just north of Pingorarok Hill.
The entire region around this hill and up and down the coast on each side of
it was reported by the Geological Survey in 1924 to contain numerous thick
beds of coal. In this respect it is similar to the vicinity around Corwin
Bluff and Thetis Creek (q.v.) many miles to the south. Mitliktavik did not
appear on the 1939 Census so that no estimate can be made of its present size.
The long winter trail which skirts the arctic coast of Alaska passes
through this settlement on its way southward to Kotzebue and Seward Peninsula
and northward to Barrow.
References:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Smith, P.S. & Mertie, J.B., Jr. Geology and Mineral Resourcesof Northwestern Geology and Mineral Resourcesof Northwestern
[: ] Alaska Alaska . Washington, 1930. (U.S. Geological Survey. Bulletin Bulletin 815)
Tewkesbury's Who's in Alaska Tewkesbury's Who's in Alaska . Juneau, Alaska, 1947.

90 wds Ruby Collins
May, 1949 NIAK CREEK, ALASKA

NIAK CREEK enters the Polar Sea about five or six miles south of
Cape Lisburne on the north coast of Alaska.
This short creek rises in the vicinity of Mount Hamlet (2,000
feet) and flows southwestward into the sea, dropping over several falls
a mile or so up from the mouth. There is a small native camping place
at the mouth, and the long winter trail which runs southward to Kotzebue
and Seward Peninsula and northward to Barrow passes close nearby.
Collier first reported this name in 1904. It has also been
written Neak .

75 wds Ruby Collins
June, 1949 NOKOTLEK RIVER, ALASKA

NOKOTLEK RIVER is a small stream emptying into Kasegaluk Lagoon on the
arctic coast of Alaska about midway between Wainwright and Icy Cape (q.v.).
The headwaters of this stream have not yet been surveyed, but they would seem
to rise ten or fifteen miles inland in the midst of the broad coastal plain
which skirts this part of Alaska. The Nokotlek would appear to drain the
section west of the Ivisaruk, which flows northeastward into Kuk River (q.v.).
References:
Smith, P.S. & Mertie, J.B., Jr. Geology and Mineral Resources of Northwestern Geology and Mineral Resources of Northwestern
Alaska Alaska . Washington, D.C., 1930. (U.S. Geological Survey. Bulletin Bulletin 815)
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington,D.C.,1906.

180 wds Ruby Collins
July, 1949 NUWUK, ALASKA

NUWUK, meaning the "tip" or "point", is an Eskimo settlement village at
Point Barrow, the most northerly point of land in the territory of Alaska.
Nuwuk was once a very large Eskima substantial settlement of several thousand
natives. Ever since the mid-nineteenth century, however, when white men
first began to hunt compete with the natives hunting the whales and walrus in the nearby waters of the Polar
Sea, the village has grown steadily smaller. The population was a little
over three hundred in 1853, but only 94 in 1920.
By 1926, the number of natives to be found at Nuwuk fluctuated with
the seasons, varying from fifty to about one hundred. Some of these Eskimos
had prospered and built frame houses in imitation of the white man, but
others still lived in sod houses in the winter and in tants in the summer.
The sea around Nuwuk is open to navigation perhaps one month out
of every twelve. This is usually the month of August, although the first
part of September often sees ice-free water in the vicinity. For conditions
of navigation in this vicinity and the general characteristics of the
surrounding countryside, see articles on Point Barrow and Barrow.

NUWUK, ALASKA

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.

Paige, Sidney, & Foran, W.T. Reconnaissance of the Point Barrow Reconnaissance of the Point Barrow
Region, Alaska Region, Alaska . Washington, 1925. (U.S. Geological Survey.
Bulletin Bulletin 772)

Smith, Philip S., and Mertie, J.B., Jr. Geology and Mineral Resources Geology and Mineral Resources
of Northwestern Alaska of Northwestern Alaska . Washington, 1930. (U.S. Geological
Survey. Bulletin Bulletin 815)

220 wds Ruby Collins
August, 1949 OLIKTOK POINT, ALASKA

OLIKTOK POINT, meaning "it shakes or trembles," or possibly, "to flood,
to overflow," is an inconspicuous point on the arctic coast of Alaska at what
is both the eastern limit of Harrison Bay and of the Colville delta. This is
the Point Berens, which Dease and Simpson named after one of the directors of the
Hudson's Bay Company, but this name did not become established.
Directly in front of and only a few miles off from the Point is Spy
Island, one of the Jones group. Between is shoal water averaging from five to
ten feet in depth. West of the Point, along the shores of Harrison Bay, the
cutbanks are sometimes 15 or more feet high, but east of the Point the mainland
shore is as high as the Jones Islands in places, and these have some hills and
cutbanks 20 to 30 feet in elevation.
It is a general rule on this coast that driftwood is found on beaches
that face north or west of north, with little on beaches that face east of north.
That is , of course, because [: ] there are high "tides" which come with and just
before westerly winds, while low "tides" result from easterly winds. So wood
that has been deposited by an easterly gale will be carried away by a westerly;
but the westerlies place their wood so high that it can not be reached by the waves
caused by easterly winds. (Actual tides on this coast probably never have a gap
of more than a foot or two between high and low water. Storm "tides" may rise
6 or possibly even 7 feet.)

OLIKTOK POINT, ALASKA

References
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River region northern Alaska Canning River region northern Alaska . Washington,
1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)
Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the discoveries onthe north coast of America... Narrative of the discoveries onthe north coast of America...
during the years 1836-39 during the years 1836-39 . London, Bentley, 1843.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska. Part II. Alaska. Part II. [: ] 5th (1947)ed. Washington, 1947.
VS Guidebook for Alaska. VS Guidebook for Alaska.

70 wds. Ruby Collins
July, 1949 PACIFIC SHOAL, ALASKA

PACIFIC SHOAL (70° 48′ N.Lat., 150° 00′ W.Long.), the Polar Sea,
is reported about eight miles east of Cape Halkett (q.v.) off the north coast
of Alaska in the entrance to Harrison Bay. It is believed to be about one
mile long and to carry only about fifteen feet of water.
Captain Knowles, of the whaler Pacific , reported this shoal
prior to 1889, and it was named for that vessel by the Hydrographic Office . in honor of his vessel.
References:
Baker, Marcus, Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. [: ] 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.
Guidebook for Alaska Guidebook for Alaska .

335 wds Ruby Collins
June, 1949 PEARD BAY, ALASKA

PEARD BAY indents the arctic coast of Alaska eastward of Point
Franklin, ( [: ] 70° 54′ N.Lat., 158°36′ W.Long.) and about midway between Icy
Cape and Point Barrow. This Bay is a deep bight which is often used by vessels
in heavy southerly and southwesterly winds, and for protection from ice when
it sets toward the shore. The bottom of the bay is regular and the soundings
decrease gradually to the shore.
The entrance to Peard Bay is partially obstructed by the sandhar
which extends northeastward from the mainland a few miles north of Atanik to
Point Franklin where it bends eastward forming the Seahorse Islands. This
sandbar, although actually continuous, does not appear above water except in
the form of a chain of islands, of which Point Franklin is one. Since the
water is shoal on all sides of these islands, the depths in Peard Bay are
less in the western and southern parts which border the sandbar than at the
eastern end, which borders on the mainland.
Beechey named this bay and many of its the neighboring [: ] features.
"On the 21st [ August, 1826 ] they arrived off a chain of sandy islands," he
wrote, speaking of the barge party under Elson which he had sent to explore
the coast northward of Icy Cape, "lying some distance from the m ainland, which
I have distinguished by the na [: ] e of the Sea Horse Islands. As the wind was
light and baffling, they landed upon several of these for observations; and
tracking the boat along the shore, at eight in the evening they arrived at
the point to which I transferred the name of Cape Franklin, from the cliff on
the main land to which I had originally given that name, as I found by the
discoveries of Mr. Elson that the cliff was not actually the coast line. From
Cape Franklin, the coast, still consisting of a chain of sandy islands lying
off the main land, turned to the south-east and united with the main land,
forming a bay on which I bestowed the name of my first lieutenant, Mr. Peard."
The name of Peard Bay has often been written "Pearl", and appeared
on one chart as "Pedrl."

285 wds Ruby Collins
July, 1949 PERIGNAK, ALASKA

PERIGNAK (PERGNIAK, BIRNIRK) is an Eskimo summer camp on the
west shore of Elson Lagoon about midway between Nuwuk and Barrow (q.v.) in
the extreme northwesterly part of Alaska. The whalers called this spot
Shooting Station or Hunting Beach, since it was the spot to which many Eskimos
came each summer for duck hunting.
The following, taken from Jarvis' report of the Overland Relief
Expedition to Barrow, 1897/98, gives some idea of the quantities of eider
ducks then available in this part of Alaska.
"About the 1st of July the male eiders began their flight to the
southward. They came from the east of Point Barrow along the lagoons,
crossed the sand spit at the head of Elson Bay, and flew out over
the ice beyond the ridge to the open water, which they followed
until out of sight. When the wind was northeast, they flew by
the shooting station established by H.B.M. ship Plover in the winter
of 1853-54 in great masses — flocks of hundreds, and one flock
following close on another. As soon as this flight began we
established a camp at the shooting station, composed of First
Mate J.L. Ellis, of the Orca , and Capt. E. Aiken, formerly in charge
of the refuge station, and two natives. In ten days while this
flight lasted they shot and recovered and sent to our camp 1,100
eider ducks. " Our supply of fish had given out several weeks before,
and these ducks not only filled the place on our weekly ration,
but also furnished an excellent change and addition to the food.
The natives also secured a large supply of cusk, and the question
of food was ended as we now had but one month to wait for your
arrival."
The sand reef at this point is not more than 100 yards wide, so
that it provides an easy portage by which small boats can take advantage
of the lagoon which usually opens earlier in the spring and affords smoother water than
the ocean. Tradition has it that this was formerly the main settlement,
and that the ground became so low that the sea flooded and made it unin–
habitable. During the summer of 1912 Stefansson conducted archaeological
studies at this site and confirmed the tradition, finding archaeological
specimens upon which (and upon specimens found here by others later) was
built the archaeological concept of Birnirk Culture. The excavations

PERIGNAK, ALASKA

showed that the settlement went back to the time before either fish
nets or tobacco pipes came into use, therefore some three or more
centuries.
References:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
U.S. Treasury Department. Report of the Cruise of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Report of the Cruise of the U.S. Revenue Cutter
Bear and the Overland Expedition for the Relief of the Whalers Bear and the Overland Expedition for the Relief of the Whalers
in the Arctic Ocean, from November 27, 1897, to September 13 in the Arctic Ocean, from November 27, 1897, to September 13 ,
1898 1898 . Washington, G.P.O., 1899.
[: ]
VS Guidebook for Alaska Guidebook for Alaska .

45 wds Ruby Collins
July, 1949 PINOSHURAGIN, ALASKA

PINOSHURAGIN, northern Alaska, was reported by Petrof in 1880 to
be a native village on the Seahorse Islands. The Russian explorer gave
its population as twenty-nine. No such settlement appears on more recent
maps of the area, although it may well still exist.
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906

110 wds Ruby Collins
May, 1949 PITMEGEA RIVER, ALASKA

PITMEGEA RIVER, northern Alaska, enters the Polar Sea a half mile
west of Cape Sabine (q.v.) and about 40 miles east of Cape Lisburne (q.v.).
It is considerably larger than Thetis Creek (q.v.), a few miles to
the south, but, like it, has a lagoon at its mouth which extends well
inland. However, except in time of freshet, it is hardly navigable even for
canoes.
The stream is said by natives to head in the same lake as the north
fork of the Kukpuk. From its source the course of the river roughly des–
cribes a semi-circle, flowing first northeast, then north, then northwest to
the sea. For some distance up from the mouth the valley is reported to be
broad and filled with gravels and fossil ice.
Reference:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, 1947.

120 wds Ruby Collins
July, 1949 PITT POINT, ALASKA

PITT POINT, considered by some as the eastern entrance to Smith
Bay (q.v.), an arm of the Polar Sea on the north coast of Alaska, was named by
Deas e and Simpson in July, 1837. "Pitt Point," Simpson wrote, "the northernmost
spot passed during this day's march, is situated in lat. 70° 53′, long.
152° 54′. A few miles on either side of it, we observed a stream of discoloured
fresh water rushing through the reefs, probably from a considerable lake, but
the atmosphere was too hazy for ascertaining the fact."
Simpson was perfectly correct in his assumption of the existence
of a large lake in the vicinity. Teshekpuk Lake, twenty-five miles long and
twenty miles wide, and lies directly south of Pitt Point, and occupies much of the peninsula separating Smith Bay from
Harrison Bay (q.v.). [: ]
References:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, 1906.
Simpson, Thomas. Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Coast of America; Narrative of the Discoveries on the North Coast of America;
effected by the Officers of the Hudson's Bay Company during the effected by the Officers of the Hudson's Bay Company during the
years 1836-39. years 1836-39. London, 1843.
U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. Aeronautical Chart Aeronautical Chart No.63.

490 wds Ruby Collins
July, 1949 PLOVER ISLANDS, ALASKA

THE PLOVER ISLANDS, Polar Sea, are a broken chain of sand spit
islands extending from Point Barrow, which is itself a sandspit and the
most northerly point in all of Alaska, eastward beyond Dease Inlet. This
island chain runs parallel to the north coast of Alaska and from two to five
miles offshore, enclosing a shallow body of water known as Elson Lagoon (q.v.).
The eastern entrance off Christie Point, leads directly southward into Dease
Inlet as well as westward into the Lagoon.
Traveling eastward from Point Barrow, the principal islands in the
P lover group are: Tapkaluk, cooper, Martin, Igalik, Kulgurak, and Tulimanik.
Depths in the various entrances into Elson Lagoon between these islands
cannot be relie d on to remain as charted. Channels are continuously being
filled in and new ones created by the action of currents and by the plowing
action of large ice floes grounded by strong winds. When there is heavy
ice offshore, small boats often use Elson Lagoon for east-west trips along
this coast, but it is advisable to put out a [: ] boat to sound ahead of
the ship both when entering and leaving the Lagoon.
Before the first white men visited them, the Eskimos living on these
islands maintained a strictly marine culture, obtaining food, fuel, and
clothing from the products of the sea. The only exception to this way of
life was that they did use reindeer skins for their winter clothing, which
necessitated they obtained by annual hunting trips into the interior in search of these or by trade with inland
animals tribes . With the influx of white traders and whalers around 1830 and the
gradual infiltration of a few permanent white settlers to this part of
Alaska, however, these Eskimos acquired some of the white man's customs
and developed a desire for some of his goods.
For instance, in place of his own seal or whale oil lamps, the
Eskimo began to use wood-burning stoves, with the result that, although these

PLOVER ISLANDS, ALASKA

island beaches had formerly been covered with driftwood, there was very
little to be found after about 1900. A certain amount of driftwood is still
cast up on the islands, but it is usually too watersoaked to be used for
fuel. The natives now spend a considerable amount of time searching the
spits for wood not only for their own use but also to [: ] sell in Nuwuk
and Barrow (q.v.).
On some of these islands there are ancient graveyards and the
remains of old Eskimo houses. The graves were originally covered with drift–
wood, but, since this has now been collected for fuel, the graveyards are
merely b g roups of bones [: ] lying exposed on the surface of the ground.
Stefansson, during his 1908-1912 expedition, recovered about one hundred
skulls from such graves as these and many other bones of Eskimos who had
died before the white man affected the culture. These bones are now in
the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
The British Admiralty named Cooper and Martin Islands during
expeditions of the 1850's. No explanation is obtainable as to the meaning
of the Eskimo names for the remaining four islands in this group.

190 Ruby Collins
September, 1949 PRUDHOE BAY, ALASKA

PRUDHOE BAY, an arm of the Polar Sea, indents the arctic
coast of Alaska about midway between the mouths of the Colville and Canning
Rivers (q.v.). Points Heald and McIntrye are, respectively, the eastern and
western entrance points to the bay. The Midway Islands stand a few miles
offshore and slightly east of north from Prudhoe Bay. The water is shoal
throughout, averaging only from three to nine feet. Sir John Franklin named
this bay during his August, 1826, attempt to complete the northwest passage.
Fog-bound, and threatened by gales and heavy ice, Franklin
tried unsuccessfully to enter Prudhoe Bay and anchor in safety. He was forced
to land on one of the gravel reefs which lie part way across the entrance.
Leffingwell's map of 1914 shows up to nine feet inside but never more than
three feet of water over the shoal across the entrance, the exposed parts of
which are the reefs of Franklin's acquaintance. Although the reef on which
Franklin landed was only about 500 yards in circumference, without water and
almost bare of driftwood, he gratefully reports that a large body of ice had
gone aground directly to seaward. These grounded floes served to protect
the Franklin party from the fast-moving drift ice beyond.
Sources:
Baker, Marcus. Geographic dictionary of Alaska Geographic dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington, D.C., 1906.
Franklin, John. Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shoresof the Polar Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shoresof the Polar
Sea, in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827. Sea, in the years 1825, 1826, and 1827. London, Murray, 1828.
Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, Northern Alaska Canning River Region, Northern Alaska . Washington,
D.C., 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)

145 wds Ruby Collins
September, 1949 RETURN ISLANDS, ALASKA

RETURN ISLANDS, off the arctic coast of Alaska between Beachey
Point and Gwydyr Bay, were the most westerly point reached by Sir John Franklin
in his 1826 attempt to complete the northwest passage. These small, low sand
islands are similar to the J ones group (q.v.) and to Flaxman Island (q.v.)
both in formation and history.
The Return Islands rise only 30 or 40 feet above seal level, and,
like the other sand islands off this coast, are rapidly being eaten away by the
action of waves and ice. From west to [: ] east they include Long, Egg, and
Stump Islands.
Franklin called this group Return Reef and reported seeing a large
bay (perhaps Harrison Bay), a point of land, and a distinct mound to the westward
or it. Leffingwell s [: ] ays that just such a point and mound are visible from Egg
Island. Although at the time he was in the country (1906-1914) local usage
[: ] kept the name Return Reef, Leffingwell preferred Return Islands, and it is
as such that they appear on most recent charts.

RETURN ISLANDS, ALASKA

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, Marcus. Geographic Dictionary of Alaska Geographic Dictionary of Alaska . 2d ed. Washington,D.C., 1906.

Leffingwell, Ernest de K. Canning River Region, Northern Alaska Canning River Region, Northern Alaska . Washington,
D.C., 1919. (U.S. Geological Survey. Professional Paper Professional Paper 109)

U.S. Coast Pilot. Alaska Alaska . Part II. 5th (1947) ed. Washington, D.C., 1947.

VS