*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.
Ernest N. Patty
1894 - 1976
Dr. Ernest Patty made his mark on the Territory and State of Alaska with his innovative mining techniques and inspirational teaching methods. He was an original faculty member of the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines (now the University of Alaska), and in 1925, he was named Dean of the College and Head of the School of Mines. Ten years later, Patty resigned to manage the McRae Mining interests. Under his leadership, the company spread into the Territories of British Columbia and the Yukon. He served as President of Gold Placers, Inc. and Alluvial Golds in Alaska; General Manager of Clear Creek Placers and Yukon Gold Placers, Ltd., both in the Yukon.
Dr. Patty developed the method of stripping the excess surface ground clear of overburden, then letting the heat of the short summer sun thaw the frozen northland gravel, thus cutting thawing costs. His “solar thawing” method became the universal practice of dredging companies in the North.
Patty returned to the college in 1953 to serve as its 3rd President. He is credited with unique teaching methods that inspired an entire generation of mining engineers and geologists. He initiated Arctic studies that attracted scientists from all over the world; he planted the seeds for Alaska’s first system of community colleges. In 1949, North Country Challenge, his autobiography, was published.