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April 1946, expressed his approval of the proposed improvement to Skagway River project, Alaska, and states that the Department of Interior feels that the project, when completed, will contribute to the further development of natural resources in Alaska.
(The report of the Board Engineers for Rivers nad Harbors and of the Chief of Engineers together with the views and comments of the Secretary of the Interior and the Governor of Alaska are as follows:)
Washington, April 19, 1946. The CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE ON FLOOD CONTROL,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DER MR. CHAIRMAN: 1. The Committee on Flood Control of the House of Representatives, by resolution adopted January 21, 1944, requested the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors to review the prior reports on Skagway River and Harbor, Alaska, with a view to determining whether any modifications of the recommendations contained therein should be made at this time for flood control and navigation. I enclose the report of the Board in response thereto. It is also in review of the reports of the district and division engineers on pre liminary examination and survey of Skagway Harbor, Alaska, authorized by the River and Harbor Act approved March 2, 1915.
2. After full consideration of the reports secured from the district and division engineers, the Board recommends that the existing project for Skagway Harbor, Alaska, be modified to provide for (1) restoration of the existing breakwater to the original project cross-section and construction of a 300-foot extension thereto and of two groins on its riverside; (2) reconstruction and extension of the dike adjacent to the city; and (3) reconstruction of the existing dike at the sanatorium, all in general accordance with the plans of the district engineer and with such changes therein as in the discretion of the Secretary of War and the Chief of Engineers may be advisable, at an estimated cost to the United States of $438,000 for new work and $10,000 annually for maintenance in addition to that now required; subject to the condition that responsible local agencies furnish assurances satisfactory to the Secretary of War that they will (a) provide without cost to the United States all necessary lands, easements, rightsof-way, and quarry rights; (b) hold and save the United States free from damages due to the improvements; and (c) in lieu of maintenance of the project dike and breakwater extension theerof, will contribute $500 annually toward maintenance of the reconstructed and extended city dike and harbor breakwater.
3. After due consideration of these reports, I concur in the views and recommendations of the Board. Very truly yours,
R. A. WHEELER,
Chief of Engineers.
Washington, February 18, 1946.
1. This report is in response to the following resolution adopted January 21, 1914:
“Resolved by the Committee on Flood Control, House of Representatives, That the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors created under section 3 of the River and Harbor Act approved June 13, 1902, be, and is hereby requested to review the prior reports on Skagway River and Harbor, Alaska, with a view to determining whether any modifications of the recommendations contained therein should be made at this time for flood control and navigation." It is also in review of the reports of the district and division engineers on preliminary examination and survey of Skagway Harbor, Alaska, authorized by the River and Harbor Act approved March 2, 1945.
2. Skagway Harbor, Alaska, is in a small indentation on Taiya Inlet at the mouth of Skagway River 953 nautical miles from Seattle, Wash. At the harbor, material carried by the river has formed a tidal shelf extending from the line of mean higher high water seaward about 2,000 feet. A rock breakwater on the east side of the river, constructed to confine the future deposit of river-borne material to the west side of the indentation, extends nearly across the tidal shelf. The harbor is east of the breakwater. On the east side of the harbor is the terminal wharf of the railroad serving the area which has depths along its outer 1,450 feet ranging from over 40 to 21 feet. Beyond is an oil-tanker berth and in the shelf area are two barge landings and two smallboat moorings. The diurnal range of tide is 16.6 feet.
3. Skagway River drains 126 square miles of mountainous area, flows in a narrow canyon and is not navigable. The lower 4 miles of the canyon floor, 800 feet wide at the upper end and 3,000 feet wide at the mouth, is a delta formed of silt, sand, slate particles, and boulders. Most of the lower half of the delta consists of about 280 acres on the east river bank occupied by the city of Skagway including an airport and at its upper limits the railroad shops. Upstream, the delta land is mostly west of the river and occupied by a gasoline storage tank farm, a mission farm of about 10 acres mainly pasture and brush, and 1.5 miles abore Skagway by a former Army hospital which has been recently transferred to the Alaska Native Service of the Department of the Interior and is now used as a tuberculosis sanatorium. From the Twenty-third Avenue Bridge at Skagway, about 1.5 miles above the river mouth, a graded road extends to the sanatorium.
4. Skagway had a population in 1940 of about 630 and is the only settlement within the basin. The port serves an extensive area in Alaska and Canada in which the principal resources are furs, minerals, and oil deposits. Gold mining has been the chief normal-time .occupation. There are no large industries. Skagway is the northerly terminus of the inside passage ship route to Alaska, the ocean terminus of the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad which extends 111 miles to Whitehorse at the head of navigation on Yukon River in Canada and the terminus of the pipe line through which gasoline can be pumped in either direction between Skagway and Whitehorse. It is essentially a transfer point between water and land transportation. Short highways connect the city with scenic and historic points and the area attracts many tourists. Seaplanes use the harbor. During the 7 years immediately preceding the war, the port commerce averaged about 30,000 tons and 21,000 passengers annually and in the war year of 1943 increased to about 276,000 tons. In 1941, vessels drawing up to 28 feet used the harbor for 222 round trips and the locally-owned small boats numbered about 40. The commerce includes a variety of items, but the principal peacetime commodities are petroleum products, coal, vegetablefood products, lumber and ores, metals, and manufactures thereof.
5. In view of the gradual building up of the river bed, which has now reached an elevation approximating that of the adjacent city area, and filling of the harbor area by river-borne'material. Congress in 1938 authorized construction of a training dike on the east bank of the river extending 6,700 feet downstream from Twenty-third Avenue and 1,800 feet of stone breakwater in prolongation thereof, at an estimated cost of $105,000, provided local interests, furnish rights-of-way including quarry rights, save the United States free from resulting damages and agree to maintain the structures after completion. This work for preservation of the port was completed in 1940 at a cost, all for new work, of $62,173. The project was modified in 1945 to provide for dredging at the face of the railway wharf to a depth of 30 feet for 700 feet and 20 feet for 100 feet and dredging a small-boat basin 8 feet deep over an area of 1 acre provided local interests provide mooring floats and a protective breakwater 200 feet long and save the United States free from claims for damages. No work has been accomplished under this modification. Sections of the training dike and breakwater were either wholly or partially destroyed by floods in 1943 and 1944. They were partially repaired by Army personnel with civilian aid and by expenditure of $48,000 under provisions of the act of July 12, 1943. In addition flood control under supervision of the Northwest Service Command has included construction of gravel fill rock faced dikes 4,200 feet long at the sanatorium, 1,800 feet long at the tank farm, 400 feet at the west abutment of the Twenty-third Avenue Bridge, and 1,400 feet long at the railroad shops upstream from Twenty-third Avenue. The latter with a rock-filled crib constructed by the railroad many years ago and the project-training dike provides a continuous line of protection for the city. Other flood-control work by local
interests has been minor. The crest of the existing project dike is only about one-half foot above the flood stage reached in 1943. To afford secure protection it needs to be increased in height and strengthened particularly against undermining. This need for increased height and strengthening applies generally to the existing flood dikes in other locations and the railroad timber crib dike is insecure in view of its age and has objectionable alinement.
6. Floods at Skagway occur principally in October, and September, and in the spring and result from heavy rains accompanied by snow melt. Unless the river discharge reaches about 15,000 cubic feet per second very little flood damage results. The district engineer estimates that peak discharges of that amount or greater may be expected on an average of once in 7 years and floods of 30,000 cubic feet per second or greater once in 15 years. The worst floods of record at Skagway were those of 1943 and 1944 with estimated discharges of 35,000 and 30,000 cubic feet per second respectively. In addition to damaging the project dike and breakwater permitting debris to reach the harbor area, the flood of 1943 damaged the hospital buildings, undermined two petroleum tanks. destroyed buildings and washed away or deposited debris on lands at the mission from, caused railroad track wash-outs at several points, damaged the Twentythird Avenue Bridge, and destroyed a footbridge, resulting in estimated damages totaling $235.000. Emergency dike work prevented flooding the city and a verted much greater damages. Average annual flood damages are estimated by the district engineer at $14,800 at the city, $4,100 at the sanatorium and $6,340 in other areas, a total of $25,240.
7. Local interests desire restoration and extension of the existing breakwater, strengthening of the existing project dike and its extension upstream so as to protect the railroad-shop area and replace the existing log-crib dike and claim that these improvements are necessary to preserve the city and harbor. They offer to furnish rights-of-way including quarry rights and to pay $500 annually toward maintenance of the entire improvement after completion if modified as desired. The existing project requires that they maintain the existing works, but the city states that it is financially unable to restore the improvements. Local interests also renew their request for the authorized dredging at the wharf and for the small-boat basin with protective breakwater. However, they offer no local cooperation for this work, advise that local funds are not available for construction of the breakwater as required under the existing project, and express the view that since the harbor is in federally controlled territory local interests should not be expected to bear any of the construction or maintenance cost. The Alaska Native Service requests more adequate flood protection for the sanatorium and local interests advocate flood protection by adequate dike construction for the west-bank area extending from the Twenty-third Avenue Bridge to the canyon wall above the sanatorium. No offers of local cooperation for work west of the river have been received.
8. The district engineer finds no sufficient reason for any reduction in the requirements of local cooperation for the authorized small-boat basin and insufficient benefits to justify providing additional protective works for the mission farm and tank farm. He presents a plan providing for (a) restoring the project breakwater to its original cross-section, adding two wedge-shaped rock groins thereto to protect and strengthen it, and extending the breakwater 300 feet seaward; (b) increasing the height of the existing project dike to provide a freeboard of 3 feet above the 1943 flood, lowering and reinforcing the toe to protect it from undermining and extending it from Twenty-third Avenue to connect with the railroad track fill above the city so as to provide a continuous welllocated line of protection for the city and to supersede the insecure existing rock cribs above the railroad shops; and (c) strengthening with armor rock and raising the sanatorium dike to a height of 3.5 feet above the flood of 1943. The district engineer estimates the construction cost for the work described in (a) and (b) to protect the city and harbor at $305,000, and for the sanatorium dike at $73,000 a total of $438,000. He estimates the average annual cost for the city and harbor work at $29,450 of which $8,500 is for maintenance including a contribution of $500 annually by the city which he believes is the maximum that local interests will be able to contribute for some time. He estimates the annual cost for the sanatorium dike at $6,190 including $2,000 for Federal maintenance. In his opinion the described work for the harbor, city, and sanatorium should also be provisional upon local interests furnishing free of cost to the United States all necessary quarry rights and rights-of-way and assurances that they will hold the United States free from claims for any damages attributable thereto. He estimates the average annual flood damages which would be prevented in the city area at $14,800, and at the sanatorium at $4,100, which amounts are less than the estimated average annual costs. However, he considers that improvement of the east-bank dike and breakwater as described is necessary to protect the city and harbor, regards the community, which is an international gateway to a largely undeveloped area, as of sufficient importance to justify the expenditure required and considers preservation of the port to be a national obligation. In view of the public need for the sanatorium he believes that it also merits further protection as provided for in his plan. Accordingly the district and division engineers concur'in recommending modification of the existing project to provide for further improvement at the harbor, city, and sanatorium as described subject to the stated conditions of local cooperation.
9. Local interests were advised of the nature of the report of the division engineer and invited to present additional information to the Board. Careful consideration has been given the communications received.
VIEWS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE BOARD OF ENGINEERS FOR BIVERS AND HARBORS
10. The Board concurs in general in the views of the reporting officers. No change in the project requirements for local cooperation in the small-boat basin is warranted. In the opinion of the Board, the estimated expenditures required for flood protection for the city of Skagway and for preservation of the harbor for deep-draft commerce are fully justified especially in view of the importance of the port in encouragement of the future development of the area. It believes that the proposed contribution by local interests of $500 annually in lieu of maintenance of the city dike and breakwater in prolongation thereof is appro. priate under the circumstances. In view of the public need for the sanatorium and the tangible and intangible benefits which will result from its protection, the expenditure of the necessary funds for that purpose is considered justified.
11. The Board recommends that the existing project for Skagway Harbor, Alaska, be modified to provide for (1) restoration of the existing breakwater to the original project cross-section and construction of a 300-foot extension thereto and of two groins on its riverside, (2) reconstruction and extension of the dike adjacent to the city, and (3) reconstruction of the existing dike at the sanitorium, all in general accordance with the plans of the district engineer and with such changes therein as in the discretion of the Secretary of War and the Chief of Engineers may be advisable, at an estimated cost to the United States of $438,000 for new work and $10,000 annually for maintenance in addition to that now required; subject to the condition that responsible local agencies furnish assurances satisfactory to the Secretary of War that they will (a) provide without cost to the United States all necessary lands, easements, rights-of-way and quarry rights, (b) hold and save the United States free from damages due to the improvements, and (c) in lieu of maintenance of the project dike and breakwater extension thereof, will contribute $500 annually toward maintenance of the reconstructed and extended city dike and harbor breakwater. For the Board :
R. O. CRAWFORD, Brigadier General, Senior Member.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington 25, D. C., April 12, 1946. Lt. Gen. RAYMOND A. WHEELER,
Chief of Engineers, War Department. MY DEAR GENERAL WHEELER: I have received your report on improvement of Skagway River and Harbor, Alaska, which you transmitted to me on March 15, 1946.
The purpose of the proposed works is to improve the existing project at Skagway Harbor, Alaska, for flood control and navigation purposes.
You find that the estimated expenditures required for flood protection for the city of Skagway and for preservation of the harbor for deep-draft commerce are fully justified, especially in view of the importance of the port in encouragement of the future development of the area. Also, you find that the proposed improvement will benefit recreational developments of the area.
This Department's program includes the encouragement of coordinated development of water power, municipal and industrial water supplies, wildlife facilities and other related matters in Alaska. This D.partment favors the project since it will contribute to the sound development of the natural resources in Alaska. Sincerely yours,
WARNER W. GARDNER, Acting Secretary of the Interior.
From: Ernest Gruening, Governor, Juneau, Alaska.
Am completely in accord with your report on Skagway River and Harbor improvements as outlined urgently needed.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much for your statement.
Mr. Bartlett, you have heard the statement from the engineers on behalf of the Skagway River and Harbor project, Alaska. As the delegate from Alaska, we would be pleased to have your views with reference to the recommendation.
STATEMENT OF HON. E. L. BARTLETT, A DELEGATE IN CONGRESS
FROM THE TERRITORY OF ALASKA · Mr. BARTLETT. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, as has been stated, Skagway is the northernmost part of southeastern Alaska and the community has importance altogether disproportionate to its size. Through Skagway, as the port of entrance, flowed the rush of people in the gold rush stampede of 1898 and subsequent years,
During the war it was a very important point of shipment to Alaska. The Army used the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad and the port of Skagway for the transportation of supplies for the building of the Alaska Highway and for the delivery of planes for the Army and for our Russian ally, to Fairbanks, Alaska.
The floods in 1943 did extremely serious damage at Skagway. In the best judgment of those who have examined the situation, unless .there is a remedy provided soon the entire town may be destroyed.
This, of course, has a serious effect on the harbor likewise because of the silt from the flood waters in the river and the deposits in the harbor will cause a barrier to ocean-going commerce.
I regret that the Board of Engineers did not see fit to include this small boat-basin and the Mission Farm, that is, did not recommend that the Mission Farm be included, which is the support of the cows which furnish dairy products to the community, and which is very essential. However, I can concur 100 percent with the recommendation of the Board for the Skagway River and Harbor project.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Bartlett. If you have any additional statement in support of the project you may furnish it for inclusion in the record. . Mr. BARTLETT. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. General Crawford, as in the case of the Dillon Dam, you will in the revision and correction of your remarks make the proper explanations as desired by you and the reasons for the project, with any suggestions in response to the matters brought to the attention of this committee. And you will in both of these, as well as in