The Hank Snow song, "I've been everywhere" constantly plays in my head when I talk to people about my adventures in and out of Alaska. As a matter of fact, you may want to Hit Play now while I recount the tale of my last journey... it begins years ago...
I started my job teaching about mining (among other things) and I loved being able to tell people I had been lucky enough to tour every large scale mine and project in the state of Alaska. Every now and then someone would ask me if I had been out to Kennecott Mine and I would hang my head in shame and whisper a sheepish No. For some reason, Kennecott had evaded me and my constant travels throughout Alaska. The reason could have been one of many things:
-Length of time it takes to get out there (7 hours)?
-Who really needs to see a dilapidated mine?
-Who would I want to spend that much time in a car with?
-Would I camp?
-Where would I camp?
The trip would come up every year when my friend Greg and I would discuss our backpacking/camping trips and we would always get excited about the idea of going out there. Then one day this summer, Greg calls to inform me his boss has property in McCarthy along with a converted bus that we can stay in. The property also had a wood-fired hot tub, four wheelers, and acres of woods to explore. It sounded like McCarthy/Kennecott just might happen... but it didn't.
FINALLY, the stars aligned and the trip was planned for mid-September. Greg's friend Jeff was up from Denver and we were ready to make the trip. Unfortunately, I had just returned from another vacation and only had about 4 hours to plan, pack and cook food (unless I wanted to eat hotdogs the whole time). We were heading out on Sunday and coming back late Tuesday and I was ecstatic to finally be making the journey.
Hours.. and hours.. and hours... later we arrived to see Gladys the Bus waiting for us. A fire was made, beers were cracked, and our exploring began!
The next day we drove to the footbridge outside of town and made the mile-long walk into McCarthy. We explored the quaint little town, bought our tickets for the shuttle up to the mine and waited while taking in the local scenery (sights and people).
Once we got to the mine we had lunch at the lodge and were amazed by the view of the glacial moraine. It seems unimaginable that the valley could have been filled by a glacier just over 100 years ago. We walked along the abandoned buildings and hiked up and behind the mine for a better view.
The trip was absolutely amazing, the weather was perfect, the company entertaining. Nights were filled with sitting around the fire being astounded by the stars, and days were consumed by taking in the beautiful fall colors and blue skies. Fall was the perfect time to go because of the colors, the lack of tourists and mosquitoes and the brisk chill in the air. Overall, a perfect trip.
To see more pictures click HERE and use the password: pictures1
-Named after Robert Kennicott, a naturalist who explored Alaska in the mid 1800's. The name of the mine was misspelled on documents which is why you will see Kennecott and Kennicott throughout the town and mine.
-The mine was open from 1908-1938 with a two year closure. During that time 4.6 million tons of ore was mined.
-The Copper River and Northwestern Railway (see pics) took the 1st load of ore from Kennecott to Cordova in 1911.
-The glacial moraine that runs in front of the mine comes from the Kennicott Glacier.
-You reach the mine by taking the Edgerton Highway to Chitina where you take the 60 mile long dirt McCarthy Rd to a footbridge. There, you must walk (or shuttle every hour) into McCarthy where you can reach the mine 5 miles away by foot or by the shuttle.
-Kennecott had five mines: Bonanza, Jumbo, Mother Lode, Erie and Glacier.