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THE ALASKA RAILROAD
(O. F. Ohlson, General Manager)
The program of improvements and rehabilitation, consisting of ditching, bank widening, grade raising, ballasting, filling-in of wooden trestles, replacing wooden culverts with concrete pipe, placing rock to protect roadbed against erosion from rivers and streams, and making line changes to eliminate snowsheds progressed favorably.
INVESTIGATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF MINERAL
The Alaska Railroad continued actively to aid the mining industry by maintaining an office, with a mining geologist, through which, in cooperation with the Alaskan branch of the Geological Survey, prospectors, mine operators, and prospective investors are given what information is available. In connection with this aid a number of investigations of prospects, mines, and mineralized areas were made, and this information is available to the public.
Gold is the chief metal mined in the Railroad belt. With the continued stimulation of a $35-per-ounce price, prospecting, development, and mining has been at its highest point since the World War. Numerous new gold placer mines have been started on properties that could not be worked at the old price of gold, and machinery is being placed on many claims that previously have been mined by hand. The installation of several new dredges is contemplated for the immediate future. Some promising new strikes have been made in districts that heretofore have been neglected. Several new goldquartz mines have been added to the list of already producing mines.
The mining of base metals is at a low ebb, due to the continued low price of these metals, and an immediate prospect of these deposits contributing tonnage for the Railroad cannot be expected.
Early in the fiscal year 1935 the examination of the Eska coal lease, which is the Railroad's emergency coal reserve, was completed. As a result of the examination it was decided to drive a new tunnel to open up coal beds containing a higher-quality coal. The project calls for approximately 1,500 feet of underground work,, and was started about the 1st of August and continued until the middle of October. Work was resumed in June 1935 and will be completed in early December, this year. The new coal development will eliminate the flood hazard of Eska Creek, reduce mining and mine-maintenance costs, and will assure the Railroad of a continued fuel supply in the event of any emergency that may arise at the privately operated mines.
Late in the fiscal year 1935 a topographic and geologic survey of the Matanuska bituminous coal field between Eska and Moose Creeks was started. Ultimately this work will be of great value, not only for the development of the private mines, but will also enable the Railroad to ascertain the available coal reserves in this part of the field.
The Healy River Coal Co., in the Healy River coal field, and the Evan Jones Coal Co., and the New Black Diamond Coal Co., both in the Matanuska coal field, operated almost continuously throughout the year, and entirely supplied the Railroad and the commercial market with coal.
A progressive stride in the colonization of Alaska was made when, during May 1935, 200 colonists with their families were transported to Alaska and installed upon land in the Matanuska Valley. This movement was initiated and sponsored by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration and later turned over to the Alaska Rural Rehabilitation Corporation.
The Railroad continued throughout the year to disseminate information on requests by prospective settlers, which were quite heavy due to press reports covering the Government project at Palmer. However, but few settlers acted upon the information furnished and located in the Railroad belt, due greatly to a lack of capital necessary to undertake such a venture.
Tourist traffic increased over that handled the previous year, notwithstanding many cancelations received during the 1934 tourist year, caused by the Pacific coast longshoremen's strike. The great amount of publicity given to Alaska in recent months has greatly encouraged Alaska travel, and from the volume of business booked for the 1935 tourist season, it is indicative that travel to Alaska is continuing on an upward trend.
Revenue from all sources, including nonoperating income, was $1,476,567.76, an increase of $182,883.46, or 14.14 percent.
The operating ratio of the Railroad decreased from 117.26 percent in 1934 to 105.61 percent in 1935.
Total expenses for rail and water line were $1,557,563.18, an increase of $86,067.12, or 5.85 percent, Total deficit for rail- and river-line operation and including miscellaneous operations was $73,674.66, a decrease of $105,298.67, or 58.83 percent. From this should be deducted the amount of $16,619.18 expended during the fiscal year for investigation of mineral and other resources, reducing the deficit to $57,055.48.
There was an increase of 15,702 tons in amount of rail-line freight tonnage during 1935 over that of the previous year, with a corresponding increase in freight revenue of $126,527.08.
The increase of 15,702 tons in freight tonnage was divided 8,051 tons coal shipments and 7,651 tons miscellaneous merchandise. The increase in freight tonnage is attributed to the expansion of the gold mining industry carried on adjacent to the line of the Alaska Railroad.
The number of rail-line revenue passengers carried increased 7,486 over that carried in 1934; rail-line passenger revenue likewise increased $52,561.29 over the preceding year.
The pay roll for 1935 amounted to $1,338,825.27, an increase of $96,124.87 over the previous year. The increase in pay roll was due mostly to discontinuance of legislative salary deductions, and partly to increased tonnage handled during the fiscal year, requiring increased operating personnel.
GENERAL BUSINESS CONDITIONS AND OUTLOOK FOR TRAFFIC IN FUTURE
The mining industry, having been stimulated during the year by a favorable gold price, may be expected under the current gold price to continue to develop and expand during 1935-36, thereby creating an increase in tonnage for the Alaska Railroad.
The colonization project in the Matanuska Valley, which created a large amount of tonnage for the Railroad during the latter part of the 1935 fiscal year, will resolve to a volume of traffic normally to be expected from a farming community of its size, on completion of the construction and development stages of the project.
There are no apparent indications, other than those mentioned, for any increases in general business in other lines for the coming fiscal year.
THE PERRY'S VICTORY MEMORIAL
(websteb P. Huntington, President)
The Fifteenth Annual Report of the Perry's Victory Memorial Commission to the Secretary of the Interior for the fiscal year ended December 1,1934, noted total receipts from operation of the Memorial during the season of 1934 in the sum of $2,980.95, and total disbursments of $3,062.70, the latter figure including accumulated indebtedness of $1,440.25 carried over from previous seasons since the advent of the general business depression. The actual expenses on account of operation in 1934 were $1,622.45. Receipts indicated an approximate increase of 17 percent over those of 1933, and actual expenses of operation a decrease of approximately 30 percent. This decrease, however, was accomplished at the sacrifice of proper care of the Memorial grounds as compared with previous seasons and reduced consumption of electric current for night lighting, thus affording only the minimum of protection to navigation and aviation within the financial resources of the Commission to provide. The increase in receipts was the first recorded in 5 years, or since the depression began.
At the time of filing this summary (Aug. 29, 1935) indications are that a slight increase of receipts for the present season will be recorded over the season of 1934.
Within the year the Commission has concluded and paid for all contracts for improvements and repairs authorized by the grant of $25,025 by the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works, except two items thereof rescinded and the item of $175 for repairs to the lightning-protection system of the Memorial, the latter still remaining in course of adjustment. The rescinded items were $2,000 for expenses incurred in connection with the contract to change the drainage system of the Memorial and $2,465 for expenses incurred in connection with the contract to install the electric lighting system, the allotted funds for both of which were returned to the United States Treasury. The chief allotment of the P. W. A. grant was $18,400 for a new retaining and sea wall along the north shore of the Memorial grounds. The contract for this work was let for $17,100, and the completed wall justifies the highest expectations in regard to it as a protection against erosion for many years to come.