Wesley Earl Dunkle
Alaska's Flying Miner
Wesley Earl Dunkle arrived in Alaska in 1910 equipped with an optimistic belief in the transformative power of technology. A graduate of Yale's prestigious Sheffield Scientific School, Dunkle had managed copper mines for such captains of industry as J. P. Morgan and the Guggenheims. A pioneer in industries that thrust Alaska and the United States into the industrial age—mining and flying—Dunkle also developed the aviation company that would eventually become Alaska Airlines.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, Alaska was as important to the United States for its copper and coal as it is currently for oil and natural gas. Vast, disputed, and controversial, Alaska was also the land Dunkle came to call home. The pages of Hawley's biography of this flying miner paint a vivid picture of the political and legal battles over resource management that were so critical to Alaska's history before and following statehood, and provides insight into the environmental, social, and economic changes wrought by the industrial expansion and development spanned by Dunkle's life.
An obvious choice for anyone interested in the mining industry, Wesley Earl Dunkle is also an important book for readers of Western history and biography, and for Alaskans interested in the engine of Alaska's economic development.
Charles Caldwell Hawley's geological career has spanned more than fifty years, thirty-seven of them in Alaska. Almost everywhere that Hawley worked in Alaska, he found that the geologist and mining engineer Wesley Earl Dunkle had preceded him. In 1967, Hawley began to gather material about Dunkle's career, but soon realized the importance of understanding Dunkle's heritage, education, and personal life in the context of his era. Hawley knew that one day he would bring Dunkle's life story to print.
"[This is] more than a biography of one of the territory's leading citizens. It tells
of the evolution of Alaska from territory to state, 1912—1959, and provides a vehicle
for understanding the region's economic and social history during this little known
but important period."
—Robert Spude, National Park Service
"[Hawley has] confirmed Dunkle's place in mining history."
—Robert Trennert, Arizona State University