Silver Bow Basin

The Silver Bow Basin, often written as Silverbow Basin, is a valley located 2.4 miles (3.9 km) northeast of Juneau, Alaska, USA. It is situated on Gold Creek in an area north of Icy Gulch, and approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north of Gastineau Peak. A trail from Juneau leads directly to the mountainside.[1] The basin was the site of the earliest gold discovery in the Juneau area,[2] leading to the establishment of the town called Juneau.[3]

Silver Bow Basin
Perseverance Mill 1908.jpg
Silver Bow Basin, 1908
Silver Bow Basin is located in Alaska
Silver Bow Basin
Silver Bow Basin
Floor elevation1,250 ft (380 m)
Coordinates58°18′40″N 134°20′34″W / 58.31111°N 134.34278°W / 58.31111; -134.34278Coordinates: 58°18′40″N 134°20′34″W / 58.31111°N 134.34278°W / 58.31111; -134.34278
Geologic map of the Silver Bow Basin (center right)


There are opposing theories as to who named the basin. One version states that it was named by Richard Harris after the mine in Silver Bow, Montana.[4] Another theory is that it was named by a party of Montana miners in honor of their last camp in Montana.[5]


Placer was found in the basin's Gold Creek in 1880 by Richard Harris and Joe Juneau.[6][7] This gold discovery led to the creation of the town called Juneau.[3] Over the next nine years, sluicing operations recovered thousands of ounces of gold. Sitka engineer George E. Pilz is closely connected to development in the basin,[8] as well as having grubstaked the prospectors Harris and Juneau.[3] By the end of the decade, large scale hydraulic mining was in operation.[9] The mines were reached by a 3.5 miles (5.6 km) wagon road that zig-zagged across the hill.[5]

Alaska Perserverance Co. mine and buildings at Silverbow Basin, August 1910

Both quartz and placer mines operated in the basin, but because of climatic conditions, it was impossible to carry on milling operations in the basin itself for more than five or six mouths during the year.[10] The largest of the mines was the Perseverance.[11] The Fuller First Mine was the first quartz location in the basin.[12] In 1890, Archie Campbell installed a revolving Dodge mill on the Fuller First.[13] Over fifty placer claims on the basin's level floor were owned by the Silver-Bow Basin Mining Company, of Boston, while the Eastern Alaska Mining and Milling Company's mill was at the extreme end of the basin.[12] In 1890, the Silver Bow Basin Mining Company properties were transferred to the Nowell Gold Mining Company, which worked the placer deposits until 1902.[7]:3 In 1897, the Alaska-Juneau Gold Mining Company incorporated and it purchased over two dozen claims in the basin between the Perseverance and Ebner mines in order to lode mine their low grade gold ore.[14] The Lervey Basin placer claim was opened in 1899 a mile above Silver Bow Basin. In 1915, it was reported that a 2 miles (3.2 km) tunnel was being driven through the ridge between Sheep Creek and Silver Bow Basin, to connect with a crosscut from the shaft on the thirteenth level. The purpose of the tunnel was to transport mined ore to the mills on the Gastineau Channel.[15] Total production estimates exceed 50,000 ounces (1,400,000 g) of gold.[9]

A parish of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Juneau,[16] was created in 1885 for the growing mining community.


Map of the Gold Creek area showing the location of the Perseverance shaft (top right)

A glacier, which formerly extended to the mouth of Gold Creek and built up the moraines, excavated the depression that forms the basin. Subsequently, it was occupied by a lake that was separated from the lower portions of the creek by a solid rock divide. Lurvey Creek forks into North Lurvey Creek and East Lurvey Creek above the basin.[17][18] The basin's lake beds are auriferous. Although the creek was filled with ice, there are patches near the basin which were not subjected to glaciation.[2] The postglacial lake basin is filled with gravels from several creeks including Gold, Icy, Lurvey, Nugget, as well as Quartz Gulches. The basin ores are principally gold with small amounts of silver, zinc, or lead.[19] Granite rocks are located in the northwestern part of the basin.[20]

Silver Bow Basin is approximately 3,000 feet (910 m) long and 1,000 feet (300 m) wide,[9] at an altitude of 1,250 feet (380 m).[12]


  1. ^ Scidmore, Eliza Ruhamah (1885). Alaska: its southern coast and the Sitkan archipelago. D. Lothrop and Company. p. 93. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  2. ^ a b Becker, George Ferdinand (1898). Reconnaissance of the gold fields of southern Alaska: with some notes on general geology. Government Printing Office. pp. 62, 70–. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Chandonnet, Ann. "1880 gold discovery creates town called Juneau". The Juneau Empire. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  4. ^ "Mining operations, Silver Bow Basin, Alaska". University of Washington Libraries. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  5. ^ a b Scidmore, Eliza Ruhamah (1893). Appletons' guide-book to Alaska and the northwest coast: including the shores of Washington, British Columbia, southeastern Alaska, the Aleutian and the Seal islands, the Bering and the Arctic coasts. D. Appleton and Co. pp. 83–84. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  6. ^ Wharton, David (1973). The Alaska gold rush. Bloomington, London: Indiana University Press. p. 3. ISBN 0-253-10061-5.
  7. ^ a b Arthur C. Spencer (1906). The Juneau Gold Belt, Alaska, USGS Bulletin No. 287. United States Government Printing Office. p. 2.
  8. ^ DeArmond, R. N.; Association, Gastineau Channel Centennial (1967). The founding of Juneau. Gastineau Channel Centennial Association. p. 40. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  9. ^ a b c "Silver Bow Basin (Nowell; Silver Bow Hydraulic Mine Mine), Juneau District, Juneau Borough, Alaska, USA". Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  10. ^ Engineering and mining journal. McGraw-Hill Pub. Co. 1914. pp. 314–. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  11. ^ Harrison, Edward Sanford (1909). Alaska almanac. Harrison publishing company. pp. 32–. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  12. ^ a b c United States. Census Office (1893). Report on population and resources of Alaska at the eleventh census, 1890. Government Printing Office. pp. 48, 233. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  13. ^ United States Congressional serial set. 1907. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  14. ^ "Alaska Juneau Gold Mining Company". Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  15. ^ United States. Dept. of the Interior (1915). Annual report of the Department of the Interior. U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1849. p. 459. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  16. ^ "A Brief History of Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary". Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. January 16, 2008. Archived from the original on October 5, 2010. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  17. ^ United States. Courts: Circuit Court of Appeals (1909). Reports containing the cases determined in all the circuits from the organization of the courts: fully reported with numerous annotations ... West Pub. Co. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  18. ^ The Federal reporter: Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit Courts of Appeals and Circuit and District Courts of the United States November 1908 – January 1909. 164. West Publishing Co. 1909. pp. 662–. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  19. ^ The Colliery engineer. 1901. pp. 435–. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  20. ^ Geological Survey (U.S.) (1947). Water-supply paper. G.P.O. p. 84. Retrieved 12 March 2011.