Independence Mine vandalized days before opening for the season

View of Independence Mine from atop the Mill Loop.
View of Independence Mine from atop the Mill Loop.(KTUU)
Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 4:12 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The state’s Department of Natural Resources has reported someone, or a group of people, vandalized the Independence Mine State Historical Park ahead of the park opening for the season.

According to a press release from DNR, park officials and concessionaires discovered smashed windows, emptied fire extinguishers and other damage on Wednesday, thought to have been done the night before.

The park is still set to open Friday despite the destruction.

Salmon Berry Travel and Tours co-owner Mandy Garcia said in the press release that she’s still looking forward to welcoming visitors. The travel company was contracted last year to operate the Independence Mine site and offer educational tours to visitors.

“When I came up yesterday to finish getting things ready and saw this, I was devastated,” Garcia said in the press release.

It’s not clear how much the damage will cost to fix, according to Stuart Leidner, superintendent of Alaska State Parks’ Mat-Su/Copper River Basin Region. In the press release, Leidner said tight budgets will make completing the repairs a challenge.

“It is tremendously discouraging and disappointing to see such destructive behavior directed at a site that’s an important part of our heritage,” Leidner said in the release. “Wasilla was born as a stop on the Alaska Railroad that supplied the state’s second-largest gold mine. It’s really sad to see a local culture grounded in the rugged self-reliance of miners give way to a reputation for mindless vandalism.”

The mine was recently featured in a Roadtrippin’ segment where Meteorologist Aaron Morrison toured the mine. It’s a popular seasonal destination for tourists and locals alike.

“Independence Mine is a special place, and the more people come and experience it for themselves, the more they will appreciate its value, which we hope will reduce the risk of any future vandalism,” Leidner said.

An investigation is underway by park officials. Anyone with information about the damage to the mine should contact the Alaska State Parks’ Mat-Su/Copper River Basin Regional office at (907) 745-8935.

Copyright 2021 KTUU. All rights reserved.