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Wrangell Garnet Ledge History Published


September 12, 2016
Monday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - After almost 40 years of research, the history of the Wrangell Garnet Ledge was recently released by author, Patricia A. Neal. The famous garnet ledge is located north of Wrangell in Southeast Alaska near the mouth of the Stikine River on the mainland. It is well-known for the children of Wrangell who have sold garnets to visitors to the community for many years. Wrangell is located in the SE Panhandle of the state.

jpg Wrangell Garnet Ledge History Published

“Wrangell Garnet Ledge History and the History of the Alaska Garnet Mining & Manufacturing Co.” By Patricia A. Neal

Wrangell businessman Fred G. Hanford donated the property to the local boy scouts in the 1960s with the provision that children of Wrangell had free access to the property to dig garnets which they sold to tourists. If it ceased to be used for scouting purposes it could not be sold. It was to be turned over to the First Presbyterian Church in Wrangell. Hanford wanted to make sure the property remained in Wrangell. The regional scout council turned the property over to the church several years ago.

The property was once mined by a group of fifteen women from Minnesota beginning in 1906. All that had been known of the corporation were the names of the women. It has taken Neal 37 years to track down the women to find out who they were. She was able to find some of their descendants who contributed to the book. In her research she found another dozen women who also invested in the first all-woman corporation in the United States which added to the research required.

The women ran the mining operation without men involved in the company. They did hire men to work in the mine. They just weren’t going to allow any men in the corporation because they didn’t want a man telling them what to do!

Anna E. Durkee was the majority shareholder who oversaw the corporation. She went on to become a well-known mining woman in her own right. She parlayed the garnet mine profits into purchasing mining property in Arizona.

Neal includes mining claims that were filed on the property from the early 1800s although the majority of the claims were short-lived. A group of insurance brokers from Chicago were the first to attempt to make a profit from the ledge in 1905. That only lasted a year. They exhibited garnets at the 1904 Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon.

It was the group of women who showed everyone how it was done. They participated in the 1909 Alaska-Pacific-Yukon Exposition held in Seattle and the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition held in San Francisco. The women received great press in the newspapers across the country.

The book contains photographs and maps of the mine from the U.S. Geological Survey, photos of the women, and news articles gleaned from old newspapers about the women and their mine. Included is information about Anna’s lawsuit against the Portage Mountain Mining Co. as well as the U.S. Post Office’s case against two men in Los Angeles who attempted to sell Anna her own garnet mine using the U.S. Mail to scam the women.

The book contains a wealth of endnotes to add to the history of the garnet mine as well as resources. The book was indexed to make it of interest to those researching family history or Alaska history.

The book is 214 pages and can be purchased for $19.95 plus shipping online at This is the third book published by the author on local Wrangell history.

Reporting & Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

“Wrangell Garnet Ledge History and the History of the Alaska Garnet Mining & Manufacturing Co.” By Patricia A. Neal



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