Coal Cove, Port Graham

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Coal Cove, Port Graham

by | May 25, 2020

Coal Cove is a small bight on the north shore of Port Graham and the southwest end of the Kenai Peninsula, 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide, 7 miles (11 km) southwest of Seldovia and 4 miles (6.5 km) northeast of the village of Port Graham, Alaska. The bight was named “Coal Bay” by Captain Nathaniel Portlock who found coal there July 25, 1786.

The cove was the location of Coal Village, a coal mining operation established by the Russian-American Company in 1855, and was for a time the third largest settlement in Russian Alaska, exceeded only by Kodiak and Sitka. Russian history recorded 20 houses, a church, a warehouse, a sawmill, a blacksmith shop, stables, a small foundry, and mining structures. Some accounts claim Russian convicts worked the mine, while others say Alaska Natives provided the labor. The company used the coal primarily to fuel a steamship, and thousands of tons of coal were mined over a 12-year period from an open-pit. In 1860 a fire destroyed the main steam engine and the company abandoned the village in 1865.

After the Alaska purchase in 1867 the lignite (low-grade coal) was used locally and for steamships until the early 1920s. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and at that time it was overgrown, with remnants of building foundations, the stone dock, a railway, and other artifacts still discernible. Read more here and here. Explore more of Coal Cove here:

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