Contractors working for the Chilkoot Indian Association last week removed more than 400 old dock pilings from the Port Chilkoot Dock beach, including ones from a barge ramp where the first car ferries in Lynn Canal landed in the 1950s.

They also harvested about a pick-up truck load of metal scraps from the beach, under a project intended to clean up former military sites.

The dock used by the LCT Chilkoot, a modified military landing craft that ferried cars and people between Haines and Juneau, included a timber deck. Pilings that supported deck stringers were spaced about two feet apart, forming a tight grid, said Port Chilkoot Company president Lee Heinmiller.

Some of the pilings removed likely dated back to the first docks for Fort Seward, built in 1904, Heinmiller said.

The Chilkat, Alaska’s first ferry, was similar in design to the Chilkoot and landed between dolphins located just south of the dock used by the ferry Chilkoot. Heinmiller last week asked contractors to spare two of those piling clusters on Port Chilkoot Co. property that may be of use as a kayak float or other recreational purpose.

Those date only to the 1960s, and compared to others removed last week, are in pretty good shape, Heinmiller said.

Biologist Brad Ryan, who helped oversee the project, estimated about 100,000 pounds of debris were removed. Work started Nov. 8 and was finalized Nov. 12.

Because of the discovery of a live hand grenade on the beach about five years ago, munitions experts from Montana and Texas were on hand for the work, checking in holes and clearing areas ahead of equipment.

“They were there to make sure there was nothing obvious exposed and they were watching as (equipment) was shaking the pilings and pulling them out to make sure they weren’t banging up against anything (explosive),” Ryan said.

Removed pilings were between waist high and 20 feet tall. Many of the exposed ones disintegrated when grabbed with a mechanical claw, while ones buried or underwater came up intact, Ryan said. “They certainly weren’t all from the same era.”

Some residents expressed concern about removing the pilings. “A couple people thought they were nice for the eagles to sit on and one person thought they added to the town’s character. They were polite about it, though,” Ryan said.

Last week’s work was done at low tide.