*Editor's Note: This biography was presented by the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville, Colorado. All inductees into the National Mining Hall of Fame who worked in Alaska or contributed to the development of mining in Alaska automatically become members of the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame.
Alfred Hulse Brooks
(1871 - 1924)
Dr. Brooks made numerous significant contributions to Alaska, the United States, the American Expeditionary Force in World War I, the mining industry, the field of science, and his parent organization for many years, the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
In northern Alaska, the major east-west mountain range is named the Brooks Range in his honor.
Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he early on gained inspiration from his father, an eminent mining engineer and geologist whose work on certain iron ore deposits in upper Michigan was prominent in American geology. Alfred completed his early education in Newburgh, New York and gained the Bachelor of Science from Harvard University in 1894. He also studied at the Polytechnik at Stuttgart and Munich in Germany and at the Sorbonne in France. In 1920 he was awarded the honorary degree, Doctor of Science, by Colgate University.
Appointed to the USGS in 1894, he served as Chief Alaskan Geologist for all of the Survey’s work in the then-Territory from 1902 to 1924, other than two years of military duty as Chief Geologist of the American Expeditionary Force in France. He subsequently served as Chief of the Mining and Metallurgy Section of the American Peace Commission in Paris.
Dr. Brooks pioneered geologic reconnaissance work in Alaska and concentrated his efforts on activities important to the mining industry in obtaining information that was indicative of mineral resources. He made a point of visiting the mining camps in areas he was working and emphasizing the need to assess mineral potential in terms of immediate and practical value to the miner and prospector.
His book, Blazing Alaska’s Trails, written prior to his death but not published until 1953 shows his broad vision of Alaska’s history and mineral development. During the period he served in Alaska, the Geological Survey published over 380 reports and 420 maps. He stated the probability of ancient gold bearing sea beaches at Nome and in 1922 predicted the oil potential of Alaska.
In 1952 the Brooks Memorial Mines Building on the Fairbanks campus of the University of Alaska was dedicated in his memory.