History: Photo Archive
Emil Usibelli, seen here at age 16, when he emigrated from Italy to America by ship. He arrived at Ellis Island with his family & then emigrated by train to Renton, Washington to meet his father who had preceded the family & raised enough to bring them all over.
(07-038 UCM Archive, Usibelli Family Collection)
c. 1910 - 1930's
Emil worked as a miner, logger & rail car manufacturer in WA & BC. He started the Renton Fuel Co. & is seen here in his delivery truck prior to leaving for Alaska to seek work during the depression.
(07-029 UCM Archive, Usibelli Family Collection)
Emil Usibelli came to Alaska in 1935 to work as an underground coal miner at the Evan Jones Coal Mine in the Matanuska Coal Field. He had recently married Rose Perretti, (later Rose Berry), who arrived later that winter.
(26-001 UCM Archive, Usibelli Family Collection)
Emil & Rose Usibelli (later Rose Berry) moved to Suntrana in 1936, where Emil went to work for the Healy River Coal Corp. as an underground miner & later as a contractor to supply mine timbers.
(01-001 UCM Archive, Usibelli Family Collection)
Austin E. 'Cap' Lathrop, (seated second from left), President of Healy River Coal Corp., with some of his Crew at Suntrana in the '30's.
(26-002 UCM Archive, Candy Waugaman Collection)
1930's - '40's
Healy River Coal Corporation miners in the underground
(20-023 UCM Archive)
An early view of Suntrana in winter, with the camp on the left & the mining site on the right, separated by the Healy River.
(01-010 UCM Archive, Usibelli Family Collection)
1930'sRose Usibelli (later Rose Berry) on the pedestrian suspension bridge over the Healy River, which connected the Suntrana mine site to the Suntrana camp site.
(8-010 UCM Archives, Usibelli Family Collection)
Healy River Coal Corp. in Suntrana, seen here in the '30's, grew to one of the top two coal producers in the state, the other being the Evan Jones Mine.
(20-087 UCM Archive)
The Healy River Coal Corp.
Tipple at Suntrana with the ARR railroad tracks of the Healy Spur. Coal was loaded into rail cars via the tipple and transported to market via the ARR.
(10-007 UCM Archive)
Emil, (left), started a logging operation with his truck to supply underground timbers for Healy River Coal. He is seen here working with Thorella, (center), & his brother, John Usibelli, (waving on right).
(02-032 UCM Archive, Usibelli Family Collection)
Thorella with John Usibelli & his family; wife Norma & children Cookie & Rollie, along with his brother Emil, & his family; wife Rose & baby son, Joe.
(01-021 UCM Archive, Usibelli Family Collection)
Emil, with son Joe, on his first Dozer in Suntrana around 1942. This used dozer, along with his logging truck, became the mining equipment utilized for surface mining - a first for coal in Alaska.
(02-043 UCM Archive, Usibelli Family Collection)
Emil & partner T.E. Sandford opened a surface mine in 1943 east of Suntrana, to fulfill a one-year Army contract to supply Ladd Field (later Fort Wainwright) in Fairbanks with coal. This early mining scene shows a creative method of loading a Truck with a Dozer.
(02-054 UCM Archive, Usibelli Family Collection)
The first Usibelli & Sandford (U&S) Crew in the pit with the truck & dozers.
(20-001 UCM Archive, Sandford Family Collection)
Innovation was a necessary ingredient to operational success, such as this creative solution for dumping coal from the truck into the tipple.
(20-006 - UCM Archive, Sandford Family Collection)
The first U&S Tipple wasn't more than a gravity feed chute at Suntrana to load ARR coal cars. This loading method would occasionally knock the railroad cars over.
(02-058 UCM Archive, Usibelli Family Collection)
Emil, (seated on stove in center), with his Crew, purchases his partner Sandfords's share & Usibelli Coal Mine, Inc. (UCM) is incorporated in the Territory of Alaska.
(02-045 UCM Archive, Usibelli Family Collection)
Usibelli Camp, (seen here under construction), was built in 1950, just 2.5 miles east of Suntrana.
(05-038 UCM Archive, Ray Muellner Collection)
Usibelli Camp, (in background), was built adjacent to the UCM surface mining operation, (in foreground).
(02-075 UCM Archive)
UCM Crew at Usibelli Camp in front of the Mess Hall in the 1950's.
(02-063 UCM Archive)
A new UCM Tipple, with crushers & screens, was built at Suntrana, seen here looking up at the coal car load-out.
(08-012 UCM Archive, Ralph & Ann Carter Collection)
Cap Lathrop was killed at Suntrana in 1950, & the Healy River Coal Corp. was later sold to Suntrana Mining Co. in 1952.
(11-001 UCM Archive)
Fire closed the Healy River Coal Underground Mine briefly during WWII, causing a supply interruption of coal to the military. The Suntrana Mining Co. also had a fire in the 1950's, burning the old Healy River Coal Corp. Tipple to the ground.
(08-052 UCM Archive, Ralph & Ann Carter Collection)
Suntrana Camp houses in the 1950's, with the new Suntrana Mining Co. Tipple in background, left.
(21-053 UCM Archive)
An upper camp was built at Usibelli Camp in 1951 to house year-round, married employees.
(12-014 UCM Archive, Ed & Helen Poor Collection)
A two-story bunk house was built at Usibelli Camp to house seasonal employees. The old bunk house next to the mess hall was converted to a schoolhouse for the children of employees.
(11-077 UCM Archive)
A coal washing plant, (seen here during construction), was built in 1954 above Usibelli Camp to remove rock found in No. 2 coal seam.
(12-001 UCM Archive, Anthony & Verna Mattielli Collection)
Tony Mattielli came to Usibelli in 1954 from Cle Elum, WA for the construction of the Wash Plant and seasonally for several years for its summertime operation.
(14-006 UCM Archive, Anthony & Verna Mattielli Collection)
A UCM Lorain 77 shovel loads a truck, (T38), with coal.
(12-100 UCM Archive, Anthony & Verna Mattielli Collection)
UCM trucks, (T29 seen here), hauled coal from the pit to the wash plant for cleaning.
(14-033 UCM Archive, Anthony & Verna Mattielli Collection)
UCM purchased the Suntrana Mining Co. in 1961, (whose Doodlebug is seen here), which was later converted to a man haul.
(15-009 UCM Archive)
UCM closed underground mining operations at Suntrana, but the Tipple complex, (seen here), continued to be used to crush & load coal into ARR coal trains.
(15-007 UCM Archive)
Emil unloads a new UCM International Harvester TD25 dozer from a railcar at Suntrana in the early 1960's.
(03-099 UCM Archive, Thorella Usibelli Collection)
One of the 35 ton Mac Trucks loaded with coal at Usibelli Camp.
(06-066 UCM Archive)
A Usibelli Camp view from the air in the 1960's, with the shop complex & bunk house in lower camp, family houses in upper camp & the Wash Plant in the background.
(07-047 UCM Archive, UCM Collection)
Emil Usibelli was killed in a mining accident in 1964 and his son Joe took over as President of UCM.
(07-041 UCM Archive, Usibelli Family Collection)
UCM established the Emil Usibelli Memorial Laboratory at University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in 1964 to support education & research.
(03-096 UCM Archive)
Joe Usibelli was born in Suntrana, graduated from UAF in engineering, & was a graduate student in engineering at Stanford University when he took the helm as President of UCM.
(05-097 UCM Archive, Usibelli Family Collection)
1960's - 80's /p>
Joe Usibelli modernized UCM operations with upgraded equipment & physical plants. He also developed & implemented state-of-the-art communication & computer systems.
(26-014 UCM Archive, Usibelli Family Collection)
UCM constructed a new modern Tipple at Suntrana in 1967.
(16-041 UCM Archive, Anthony & Verna Mattielli Collection)
The completed UCM Tipple at Suntrana sat on the same site as the original Healy River Coal Tipple.
(16-044 UCM Archive, Anthony & Verna Mattielli Collection)
Golden Valley Electric Assoc. (GVEA) started construction of a mine-mouth power plant in Healy in 1966.
(16-071 UCM Archive, Anthony & Verna Mattielli Collection)
GVEA completed construction of the 25 megawatt coal-fired Healy Power Plant No. 1 in 1967, with fuel supplied by UCM via truck hauls.
(16-095 UCM Archive, Anthony & Verna Mattielli Collection)
Left to right, Ed Poor, Superintendent, Warren Mattielli, Production Foreman (later VP of Operations) & Joe Usibelli, President of UCM.
(26-016 UCM Archive, Ed Poor Collection)
UCM purchased the Vitro Mineral Mine, (whose Vitro Camp seen here), was several miles east of Usibelli Camp.
(17-089 UCM Archive)
UCM became the only remaining commercial coal mine operating in Alaska. Usibelli Camp is seen here in 1970 from a hilltop above.
(17-087 UCM Archives)
A UCM coal mining pit with exposed coal face on the right.
(17-069 UCM Archive)
UCM began a Land Reclamation Program in 1971. The program was very successful, as evidenced by the grass grown on this test plot.
(26-013 UCM Archive)
A herd of Alaskan Dall Sheep is seen here grazing on grass at a reclaimed mine site. This became a regular sighting & UCM led the effort to close the area to hunting.
(17-093 UCM Archive)
Hough front-end loaders loaded International Harvester (IH) 45 ton Trucks in a UCM pit in the 1970's.
(26-023 UCM Archive)
UCM Trucks hauled coal from the pit to the tipple at Suntrana.
(26-025 UCM Archive)
The UCM Tipple being loaded ARR coal trains at Suntrana for delivery to customers in Fairbanks.
(26-028 UCM Archive)
Joe Usibelli, (seen here with the Dragline), handed off daily operations to his oldest son, Joe Usibelli Jr., who succeeds him as President in 1987.
(10-089 UCM Archive, Robert Usibelli Collection)
Joe, UCM Chairman & Joe Jr., UCM President are seen here with a 75 ton Wabco Truck in the background.
(0-088 UCM Archive, Robert Usibelli Collection)