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The Rise and Fall of Kennecott

Alaska, known for its beautiful landscapes and rich natural resources, is also home to several abandoned mining towns.​ These towns, once bustling with activity and full of life, now stand as eerie reminders of a bygone era.​ Among these ghost towns, one of the most intriguing is Kennecott, an abandoned copper mining town located in the Copper River Census Area.​

Kennecott, also spelled as Kennicott, was once the center of activity for several copper mines in Alaska.​ The town emerged in the early 20th century following the discovery of abundant copper deposits in the area.​ In 1903, the Kennecott Mining Corporation was established, and over the years, five mines were operated in the region.​

During its prime, the population of Kennecott swelled, with miners and their families making it their home; The town boasted a self-contained community, complete with amenities like a hospital, general store, school, skating rink, tennis court, recreation hall, and even a dairy.​

From 1911 to 1938, Kennecott produced nearly $200 million worth of copper.​ However, the mine’s fortunes began to decline, and by 1938, Kennecott was abandoned by its residents.​ The dwindling copper reserves and the discovery of new, more accessible mines led to the downfall of this once-prosperous town.​

The Historic Significance of Kennecott

Today, Kennecott is recognized as a National Historic Landmark District, preserving its rich mining history for future generations.​ The abandoned mining structures and buildings in Kennecott provide a glimpse into the past and are a popular attraction for history enthusiasts and adventurers.​

Exploring the remnants of Kennecott allows visitors to appreciate the ingenuity and hard work of the miners who worked in these harsh conditions.​ The iconic concentration mill, which processed the copper ore, stands tall as a testament to the town’s industrial past.​

Visiting Kennecott

Reaching Kennecott is an adventure in itself.​ The town is located beside the Kennicott Glacier, northeast of Valdez, inside Wrangell-St.​ Elias National Park and Preserve.​ Access to Kennecott involves a scenic drive along rugged roads or a thrilling flightseeing tour.​

Once in Kennecott, visitors can take guided tours of the abandoned buildings and delve into the history of the mining operations.​ Some of the key attractions include the concentration mill, the powerhouse, and the old mill town area.​ The surrounding natural beauty, with the glacier and mountains as the backdrop, adds to the allure of the place.​

Preserving Alaska’s Abandoned Mining Towns

Kennecott is just one example of the many abandoned mining towns scattered across the vast Alaskan wilderness.​ These ghost towns serve as reminders of the region’s rich mining heritage and the challenges faced by those who sought their fortunes in these remote areas.​

Preservation and conservation efforts are ongoing to protect these historical sites and their structures.​ By maintaining and safeguarding these abandoned mining towns, future generations can appreciate and learn from the stories they tell about Alaska’s mining past.​