The Allen expedition opened the interior of the Copper River region to prospectors such as Clarence Warner and ‘Tarantula’ Jack Smith, who discovered the rich copper deposits of legendary Nicolai’s mine. A young entrepreneur, Stephen Birch acquired options on the claims and, with his backing from J.P. Morgan and Daniel Guggenheim, reorganized to form the “Alaska Syndicate.”
To get the ore out of the remote interior of Alaska, the Syndicate had to build a railroad from the Kennecott mill site to tidewater at Prince William Sound. Railroad promoters had considered Valdez or Katalla as headquarters for routes into the interior. Another player in the development of a railroad was Michael J. Heney. Having just completed the White Pass and Yukon Railway, Heney was ready for a new challenge and knew Eyak was the right choice for a port.
This photo came from the archives and collections of the Cordova Historical Society.