Page images





the construction of a railroad, which is This could be converted into electricity the essential modern means of transpor at the mouth of the mines and widely tation. (2) There can be no assurance distributed for lighting, heat, and power that without surre

rrendering our resources Toward the southern coast of the peninin Alaska private railroads will be built. sula there are two well-known fields of (3) The opening of this new country de a high-grade bituminous coal and some mands that the highways of travel and anthracite. These are the fields which commerce should be made wholly sub have given rise to the troubles with which servient not to private interest, but to the all are familiar. upbuilding of this territory, that they These coal fields should be opened not inay be the real servants of the national

to speculators, but to operators. Those purpose.

should have these lands who will use If it is thought wise to recoup the them. None should be opened as a basis government for its original outlay, it can for a gamble in future values. If these be done, at least in part, by following a premises express a sound public policy, plan not unknown our people—by there appears to me but one conclusion giving a land subsidy to the owners of that can be reached as to the manner in the road. Retain in the government one which they may safely be turned over to half of the land on each side of the the public—under a leasing and royalty railroad until it has appreciated in value system similar to that under which the by the growth of the lands given to the State of Minnesota leases its ore lands public. Thus the government would sub and the States of Montana and Colorado sidize itself and reap some of the benefits their coal lands. accruing to its land from the construction The tracts opened should be disposed of the road. Judging by the increase in of to those who within a certain time land values in the newly opened sections would develop mines and make their of Canada, who could say but that long product commercially available. This before the bonds were due the govern means that where a railroad is necessary ment would thus have an asset sufficient to the operation of a mine the applicant to meet the original debt ?

should take a lease so conditioned for a There seems to me no necessity for limited period. Sufficient land should be barring the way to minor privately owned leased as a body to justify long-continued roads because of the presence of longer and economical operation. Is the aversystems of publicly owned roads. The age of all operations in the United States two exist together in other countries. I is 2,600 acres, including many small holdwould not even apply the principle of the ings, this might be taken as a maximum commodities clause of the act to regulate wit. commerce to such roads. They should There has been much dispute between be built, however, under governmental su those who favor making a lease for an pervision, capitalized and operated under indeterminate period, dependent alone the strictest regulation, and be at any upon continued operation, and those who time subject to purchase by the govern believe it wisest to fix a term for the ment at their cost, minus depreciation. lease, 20, 30, or more years.

This dis

pute seems to me of much more academic THE VALUE OF ALASKIN COAL

than practical interest. There should be It is not necessary to set forth here the

no disposition to change the lessee. If a extent or character of the coal fields of fixed term of lease is decided upon, the Alaska. Neither could I add to your original lease should have an 'assured knowledge or that of Congress as to the preferential right to a renewal until the need for this coal both by the navy and

mine is worked out. So that in the end by the industries and the people of the the fixed term is a reservation of the Pacific coast generally. There are almost right on the part of the government to unlimited quantities of a high grade of

make new terms at the end of a number lignite in the interior which may not

of years, a reservation which could be stand extended storage or transportation. fixed in an indeterminate lease.



Ploto from 1.1. Kleinschmidt This glacier, one of the largest in the world, has a frontage of seven miles along the sea. During the summer il affords a wonderful spectacle

to tourists, for great masses of ice, often larger than an average house, break off and plunge into the water




SOME COAL LANDS SHOULD BE HELD FOR It might be well at this point to

consider the coal land situation in the A fixed minimum annual royalty would Western States. For the policy I have conduce to operation and prevent the suggested as advisable to apply in Alaska holding of lands out of use.

These are

I think the sensible policy to adopt matters, however, of regulation upon throughout the rest of the country. We which much thought should be expended, have tried two experiments in the United and the experience of other lands will be States as to coal lands. We allowed our found helpful. If the principle of the coal lands to slip from us under the old homestead law is adopted, and one lease land-is-land policy until we came into the only permitted to any one person or presence of a coal monopoly or a series group of persons, and all leases made

of such monopolies in various parts of non-transferable, excepting with the con

the country. If this is questioned we sent of a designated authority, it would

may at least


with exactness, that seem that monopoly could be prevented. we realized that we had been putting I would, however, add one other pre- priceless assets into the hands of a caution—that in each field a large body comparatively few far-sighted men for of the coal land be reserved, so that the an inconsiderable consideration. public and the navy might be rendered Then we tried the other plan of apindependent of private supplies if that praising such properties on a scientific should become necessary.

estimate of contents upon which the land The attraction of a leasing system is is sold. This is the present plan, and that it enables an operator to put all of it is really nothing more than a demand his capital into the promotion of his for a full but discounted royalty in adenterprise, no investment being needed

Ti bas against it, in my opinion, for the purchase of the land. This makes at least two objections. Our coal land it possible for the man of comparatively is not being used under this plan save small means to become a coal mine

under exceptional conditions of local and operator. The lessee is pleased to pay immediate demand, and the purchaser, the

government a royalty in lieu of tying when there is one, is speculating on the up a large amount of capital in the land best guess that an honest geologist can itself.

make as to the amount of coal in the There is this further consideration, ground.* which those interested in Alaska's future It is certainly not for the public interest might well consider. The royalties aris that our coal deposits shall be opened ing from these mines (as well as from rapidly and ruthlessly. We may reforoil) would for a long time be a source est lands that have been devastated, or of revenue to the governent.

To stim feed again into fruitfulness a soil that is ulate the opening of runes, all royalty starved, but ire cannot replace the carmight well be waived for a brief period; later, however, these royalties would be

*The outstanding withdrawals of public lands

valuable for mineral fuels and fertilizers or a not inconsiderable addition to the re in connection with the water resources of the sources available for Alaskan develop- public domain now aggregate 66 million acres. ment, for I would think it the wisest The coal-land withdrawals awaiting classificapolicy to give to this new land the full

tion constitute the larger part of this acreage,

being 56.316,410 acres on December 4, 1913. not return from her properties to be used in including the blanket withdrawal of coal lands her improvement, at least for many years. in Alaska. It is noteworthy that a larger area

than this has been restored within the past five WESTERN COAL

vears, and nearly 20 million acres have been

classified as coal lands and are open to entry are many isolated places in Alaska where small mines may be opened

at appraised prices. The lands classified and

restored by executive order to appropriate to supply a local and small need. A entry since March 4 last total 10 million acres, license to mine a small acreage without

every restoration being based upon careful conany charge whatever on the part of the

sideration within the Department of the Ingovernment would meet this need.

terior. About 100.000 acres of mineral lands in the same nine months have been withdrawn.



[graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

"The one constructive thing done by this government on behalf of Alaska in nearly half a century was the importation of reindeer for the benefit of the Eskimo on the border of the Arctic Ocean. For the white man we have done nothing; so litte, in fact, that to mention what we have done is matter for chagrin and humiliation” (see text, page 186).

« PreviousContinue »