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The West Virginia. Cyclopedia


Alaska (historical)

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Coal loading tipple of the mining operation at Alaska, circa 1906
USGS map of 1913 showing location of the Alaska mine

The Alaska Coal and Coke Company was incorporated on Sept. 28, 1887, by Dr. Joseph E. Robins, William A. Brown, and others. The name of the colliery was an apparent reference to the Alaska Gold Rush of the 1890s. The mine worked the Fire Creek coal seam which was called the "Red Ash" seam from the 1880s through the early-1900s.

State mine records indicate the Alaska mine was operated by the Alaska Coal & Coke Company from 1890-1914, with one additional year of production shown during 1948.

As was typical of collieries in the New River Gorge, the tipple was located on a siding near the C&O, with the mine opening located several hundred feet higher on the hillside. The 1913 USGS map shows the headhouse of the Alaska operation being located some distance (approx. one mile) from the mine opening located on the hillside near Buffalo Creek. One could speculate that gravity was used to move the loaded mine cars along the tracks to the headhouse, with mule being used to pull the empty cars back to the mine portal. The 1901 survey mapped by the USGS and published in 1913 shows 17 structures collected in the mine area.

A circa-1896 list of mines in the Third Mining District of West Virginia listed the Alaska Coal & Coke. Co. as operating the Alaska mine, a drift mine working the Fire Creek seam, of 3 feet thickness. The company employed 190 workers and Geo. Lawton was superintendent. The company's post office address was Stone Cliff.

A 1906 C&O publication listed the Alaska Coal & Coke Co. as operating one mine, showing the company's post office as Claremont. An advertisement in the same publication listed the operation's daily capacity as 450 tons, stated the company operated a company store and cited H. S. Robins as Pres. and W. A. Brown as Vice Pres. of the company. The USGS 1913 topo map shows the mine opening as being located high upon the hillside near Buffalo Creek and a single row of houses or and other structures located at the bottom of the gorge.

Only a handful of crumbling foundations remain at Alaska today.

Rafter's Reference: The Alaska ruins are located on river-right, downstream of Silo Rapids.