Historic Mining Towns
Alaska has always attracted fortune-seekers and frontiersmen, as it did a century ago when thousands of prospectors stampeded north to Alaska in search of their fortunes. These adventurous pioneers left a trail of history in the form of abandoned mining towns, trails and larger-than-life legends. In just one year, 1897-98, over 60,000 adventurers made their way north to the rich gold fields of the Klondike. Today you can hike the famous Chilkoot trail, or visit the towns of Skagway or Dawson City and travel back in time.
The Klondike was not the only gold strike luring fortune seekers north. Juneau, Nome, Fairbanks, Sitka and many other communities have remnants of a gold mining past. Panning for gold is a popular activity when visiting these communities. The vast resources of Alaska have lured entrepreneurs to Alaska for its deposits of minerals and ores.
Early in the century one of the world's largest copper discoveries was made along the Chitina River in what is now Wrangell-St.Elias National Park. Now the largest ghost town in the world, Kennecott was once home to over 500 workers and their families. When the mine closed in 1938, everyone walked away, leaving behind a large-scale mining operation and dozens of supporting buildings and homes.
Highlights, Relics & Historic Buildings
Coldfoot – See the old cemetery. The visitor center has exhibits on mining in the area.
Nome – A few Gold Rush era buildings remain, including the Discovery Saloon and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. See mining equipment around town and at the city museum. The discovery sites on Anvil and Snow Creeks are just outside of town.
Wiseman – Many charming log cabins remain, the Wiseman Trading Company has photographs and mining artifacts.
Dyea – Dock pilings and the cemetery for victims of an avalanche at Chilkoot Pass are among the remains of the town that was at the base of the Chilkoot Trail.
Haines – Visitors can stay in buildings of Fort Seward, the last of the six posts established by the army to maintain order during the Gold Rush.
Juneau – Many Gold Rush homes, businesses and mine buildings remain, including the remnants of the Alaska-Juneau Mining Company and the great Treadwell Mines.
Ketchikan – See Gold Rush exhibits at the museum, visit Creek Street, the old town’s infamous red light district.
Sitka – The seat of government until 1906. Gold was discovered here in 1871. The museum has Gold Rush exhibits.
Skagway – Visitors can ride the White Pass & Yukon narrow gauge railway to the summit of White Pass. Many buildings from the Gold Rush era, some restored, remain in this National Historical Park.
Wrangell – Gold was discovered here in 1861. Supply town for prospectors heading to Cassiar, museum has Gold Rush exhibit.
Central – See the area’s only surviving roadhouse and a mining museum.
Chicken – Log cabins and the schoolhouse featured in the book “Tisha” still stand.
Circle Hot Springs – Many miners went to the hot springs to relax.
Delta Junction – Rika’s Roadhouse is part of Big Delta State Historical Park.
Eagle – A number of buildings remain, including Fort Egbert, the courthouse and water house. The historical society has tours and many exhibits.
Fairbanks – Mining relics include the Chena Pump House, Ester Camp, Chatanika Camp, Gold Dredge No. 8, and the Davidson Ditch. The University of Alaska Museum has mining exhibits, including a spectacular gold case.
Kantishna – Gold mining in the area started in 1905 and continues today. Stay at a roadhouse and explore the remains of cabins, equipment and mines in the area.
Livengood – Some buildings remain in this ghost town.
Manley Hot Springs – The Gold Rush era lodge and hot springs are still in operation today.
Ruby – This Gold Rush town continues to serve gold miners today. Stay at the historic roadhouse and view displays of mining artifacts and photographs.
Stevens Village – Visit the wood yard, where wood was cut to supply the Gold Rush steamboat traffic on the Yukon River.
Tolovana – Stay at the restored roadhouse between Fairbanks and Manley Hot Springs.
Anchorage – The Anchorage Museum of History and Art and the Alaska Public Lands Information Center have exhibits on mining. The museum also has a collection of Gold Rush paintings
Chitina – Living ghost town, several mining era buildings remain. Learn about mining at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Visitor Center.
Girdwood – Tour mine buildings and pan for gold at Crow Creek Mine. Indian Valley Mine, west of Girdwood, is open for visitors.
Hope – Gold Rush buildings include the log community hall; there is a mining history museum.
Independence Mine – State Historical Park, tour mine building, study exhibits in the Manager’s House and Assay Office, hike to the underground mine entrances.
Kennicott – Stay at a lodge and see the buildings of the Kennecott Copper Mine and company town.
McCarthy – Copper miners came to McCarthy for recreation. There are historic buildings, lodging and a small museum.
Nabesna – Almost all the buildings still stand at the mine established in 1929.
Seward – This was the southern end of Iditarod Trail, the museum has mining exhibits and a park with Iditarod trail display.
Talkeetna – Visitors can see log cabins, stores, Talkeetna Roadhouse, Fairview Inn and a museum with mining memorabilia.
Valdez – Learn about the Valdez Glacier Trail, Trans-Alaska Military Road and mining in the area at the city museum.
Flat – Gold Rush relics include mining equipment, buildings and houses.
Iditarod – A ghost town, it was a supply center on the Iditarod Trail.