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Roadtrippin’ 2022: Visiting the Alpine Historical Park in Sutton

Roadtrippin’ 2022: Alpine Historical Park
Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 9:43 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Parks in Alaska can be tucked away in some of the most beautiful parts of the state. The Last Frontier shows us they’re not only beautiful, but rich with history too.

Just over an hour from Anchorage sits Alpine Historical Park in the small community of Sutton, Alaska. There are no guides at the park so visitors can craft their experience with self-guided tours through time to learn about the cultures of the early settlers of the Sutton and Chickaloon area.

From a distance, the park looks like a quiet space with a few benches in the cool shade of birch trees. But those visitors who take the time to pull off the Glenn Highway for a closer look will stumble upon the history of a fascinating world of hardworking coal miners and a flourishing Sutton.

From anywhere within the six-acre park, the view is stunning. But it is within the buildings and historical ruins that people will discover the best the park has to offer. The main structure was originally the Chickaloon bunkhouse, built around 1917 by the U.S. Navy to facilitate coal mining in the area.

Inside the over 100-year-old structure, visitors will find photographs and plaques documenting the rich history of the area, including that of coal miners, the Athabascan people, and workers building the Glenn Highway.

Coal history can be seen in other areas of the park as well, including numerous pieces of machinery on display outdoors. Driving by the Alpine Historical Park, it’s likely the ruins of the old coal wash plant will catch your eye. It looks a little bit like a cemetery, but the concrete tombstones are actually the foundation for the coal wash plant, built in 1922.

Entry to the park is free. Managed by the private, nonprofit Alpine Historical Society. The park itself is not staffed, but caretakers do live on the grounds.

So if exploring pristine hidden gems with a vast history is on your bucket list, you’ve found your next Alaskan road trip.

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