National Geographic : 1898 Apr
ALASKA AND ITS MINERAL RESOURCES ity of Cape Lisburne, is a coal field of considerable extent con taining a fuel which is believed to be of greater geological age, perhaps similar to that so extensively mined at Nanaimo and other points in British Columbia. As rocks of Carboniferous age occur in close proximity to this coal, it was long supposed to belong to the Paleozoic coal measures, like that of Pennsylvania, but an examination of the fossil plants actually associated with it has shown this opinion to be erroneous. The various coals of Alaska occur in beds interstratified with sandstone, shale, conglomerate, and clay, these rocks usually con taining numerous fossil plants, leaves, cones, and amber derived from the fossilization of resin from the ancient coniferous forests. The geological formation containing the coal and leaf-bearing shales is called the Kenai formation, and is usually covered by beds of sandstone containing fossil oysters and other shells be longing to the Miocene or middle Tertiary. Like all Tertiary coals, the Alaska mineral is light in propor tion to its bulk, burns rapidly with little smoke, and has a ten dency to break up into small pieces under the action of the weather. The glance coal is brilliant and clean to handle, like anthracite, for which it is often mistaken, but which, bulk for bulk, is considerably heavier. The brown coal gives a brown instead of a black streak when scratched, has the appearance of fossil wood, and in drying splits up into chip-like pieces. The coal-bearing strata are comparatively widespread both along the coast and in the interior, but as yet but few beds have been actually worked. In the Alexander archipelago, on Admiralty island, coal seams and leaf-bearing shales crop out at a number of points along the shores of Kootznahoo inlet, and a mine has been opened from which considerable non-coking coal has been extracted at the head of Davis creek, near Killisnoo village, about 40 miles north east of Sitka. Coal or coal-bearing strata are also reported on Prince of Wales island, near Kasahan bay; on Lindenberg peninsula of Kupreanof island ; on the northeast and also on the west side of Kuiu island ; on the southern point and in Seymour canal, on the western side of Admiralty island; at Whale bay, on Baranof island, 23 miles southeast of Sitka, and at various points on Chichagof island, northwest of that place. Similar occurrences are reported at Lituya and Yakutat bays, on the southwest flanks of the St Elias range.