Hollis, Prince of Wales Island

Hollis, Prince of Wales Island

by | Aug 11, 2021

Hollis is a small community on Twelvemile Arm of Kasaan Bay, north of Cat Island, near the center of Prince of Wales Island in the Alexander Archipelago of Southeast Alaska, about 41 miles (66 km) west-northwest of Ketchikan and 20 miles (32 km) east of Craig, Alaska. Prince of Wales Island is the traditional territory of the Tlingit people, and the Tlingit name for the island is Taan, meaning ‘sea lion’. The Haida people migrated into the area in the late 18th century and the island is now the homeland of the Kaigani Haida. In 1741, Aleksei Chirikov, on Vitus Bering‘s Second Kamchatka Expedition, made the first recorded European landfall on the northwest coast of North America at Baker Island on the west coast of Prince of Wales Island. In 1779, a British expedition under Captain James Cook passed Prince of Wales Island, followed in 1786 by Comte de La Perouse leading a French expedition to the area. The Russian American colony was based at Sitka from 1799 until the Alaska Purchase in 1867. In 1902, the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve was established by President Theodore Roosevelt and in 1907, the Tongass National Forest was established. In 1908, the two forests were joined, and the combined forest area encompassed most of Southeast Alaska. The village of Hollis was founded in the 1890s as a mining town named after Hollis Anchorage, a protected embayment on the northern shore of Twelvemile Arm. The local name was first reported in 1904 by Harry C. Fassett of the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. During most of the 20th century, the logging industry and the U.S. Forest Service developed an extensive road network on Prince of Wales Island that today facilitates tourism. In 2002, the Alaska Marine Highway stopped scheduled service to Hollis in lieu of the new Inter-Island Ferry Authority that operates the M/V Prince of Wales which makes daily runs between Hollis and Ketchikan.

Near Hollis are several historical mining claims, including on the north side of Twelvemile Arm, the Crackerjack, Puyallup, Flora and Nellie, Dew Drop, and Julia mining claims. The first claims on Harris River were staked in 1899 but were soon allowed to lapse. In 1901, the mining camp had a population of about 1,000 and warranted a post office. In 1905, the mining claims on Harris River were restaked and become the Harris River Mine that was operated by the Kasaan Gold Mining Company until about 1929. In 1930, the company was reorganized as the Kasaan Mining Company, and claims north of the Harris River were leased to Wendell Dawson. The Dawson Mine was developed by 2 short crosscut tunnels and at least 150 feet (46 m) of underground workings, and a stamp mill on the Harris River. The mine operated from the 1930s to 1938 and then intermittently until 1952, with a total production of nearly 10,000 ounces (284 kg) of gold, 7,000 ounces (198 kg) of silver, and minor production of lead and copper. In 1942, most of the mines were closed and the community of Hollis was essentially abandoned. The Dawson mine was restaked in 1976, and from 1979 to 1981, MAPCO, Inc. drilled several exploratory holes. Discovery Gold Explorations, Inc. drilled five holes in 1984 and several more holes in 1985. The drilling defined a resource of 43,800 tons of ore averaging about 1 ounce (28 g) of gold per ton. In 2008, the Dawson Mine was being explored under an agreement between Full Metals Minerals and Altair Ventures Inc.. They drilled three holes on the veins at the Dawson Mine as well as two holes at the Hollis tunnel near the Crackerjack mine and three holes at the Crackerjack mine itself to test the mineralization along a belt several miles long. These exploration efforts found some of the mineralizations at the Dawson mine included a vein of 6.7 feet (2.05 m) that contained 0.34 ounces (9.56 g) of gold per ton and 2.7 ounces (76.7 g) of silver per ton.

Clearcutting has been the primary timber management practice in forests of southeastern Alaska since commercial timber harvesting began in the 1950s. In 1953, the Maybeso Creek watershed, on the north side of Twelvemile Arm and adjacent to Hollis, experienced the first large-scale industrial clearcut logging in Southeast Alaska. Hollis was the site of a floating logging camp for the Ketchikan Pulp Company and served as the base for timber operations until 1962 when the camp was moved 45 miles (72 km) north to Thorne Bay. In 1956, 11,000 acres (4,452 ha) of the Maybeso Creek watershed was chosen as an experimental forest to investigate the effects of timber harvesting on salmon streams, forest regeneration, and tree growth. Logging in Maybeso Valley continued through 1963, with nearly all commercial timber removed for 4.5 miles (7 km) along both sides of Maybeso Creek, and up the valley walls, comprising one-fifth of the experimental forest. Studies of natural regeneration after harvest were begun, as well as research on silviculture, or the science, art, and practice of caring for forests of even-aged stands of Sitka spruce and western hemlock. Landslides were frequent on the steep, clearcut slopes, leading to the start of research on soil mass movement. Scientists studied the relations of root strength, soil saturation, soil depth, and slope steepness to hillslope stability. Over the years, research on the watershed has evolved from studies of salmonid spawning habitat to a broader study of stream and riparian habitats since these environments move through successional stages following removal of large trees along the stream, and subsequent regrowth of conifers and alders. Scientists have worked to understand the effect these changes have on juvenile salmon. Results of these studies suggest that conifer forests in Southeast Alaska have no trouble regenerating after extensive clearing and rarely need artificial planting. Although the amount of water limits the regeneration and proliferation of life in other areas, Southeast Alaska has abundant rainfall. However, the dense, uniform, even-aged conifer stands that develop after clearcutting can shade out other understory species that might provide browse or cover for wildlife, and as a result, biodiversity can be limited in these stands. See a short video on logging in Southeast Alaska here. Read more here and here. Explore more of Hollis and Prince of Wales Island here:

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