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Roadtrippin’: Rich history of Independence Mine

Updated: Jun. 13, 2021 at 8:30 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Winding through the mountainside along Fishhook-Willow Road, with the powerful roar of the Little Susitna River, one begins to sense the adventure that awaits.

On that final bend into Hatcher Pass, nestled about a mile away, is Independence Mine State Historical Park.

Alaska’s mining history runs deep, and like the water that carves through the side of the mountains along the deteriorating mill, a new rich history is brought to the surface for those wanting to take a step back in time.

“We’re going to show you one of the bunkhouses,” said Mandy Garcia, a co-owner of Salmon Berry Travel and Tours. “We’re going to focus on bunkhouse number two. That’s one of the buildings that are open this summer.”

For more than 50 years, the mine has stood frozen in time. The state continues preservation efforts on buildings surrounding what was once the second most productive mining operation in Alaska.

Although it is now a ghost town, visitors get a true taste of that history through the artifacts, buildings, and tools in the area.

“Our main highlight here at Independence Mine is to preserve the history and tell the history from 1936 to about 1951 when the mine was officially shut down,” Garcia said.

At its peak, the mine employed more than 200 people before World War II forced it to close down. Today, all that remains are the buildings and the tools in the shadows of history so rich that one has to let imagination take hold as they pass sights and ghostly sounds of days gone.

Those who would like a tour of Independence Mine State Historical Park can read more information online.

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