Independence Mine: Hatcher Pass Alaska
Independence Mine was a beautiful mountain meadow with gold as it’s theme. Even before gold was discovered farther North, Hatcher Pass did not disappoint. Robert Lee Hatcher discovered gold in the Willow Creek Valley in 1906. Robert Lee Hatcher staked the first lode gold claim in the Willow Creek Valley. Gold was in the air! Soon after, many joined him in the search for this valuable ore. Gold fever was contagious! Gold was the magic word that drew thousands to the area to seek their fortune. They lived for Gold. They endured the long winters in poor quarters. They gave it their all! Gold became their life!
Lode mining was extremely expensive for an individual operator. It required special equipment to dig the tunnels. There was a need for a lot of heavy equipment that they did not have. Soon, companies were established to pool resources and share expenses. Equipment was bought and shared. Mining co-ops flourished and grew. This was the beginning of what is today, Independence Mine.
Independence Mine was originally two mines. The Alaska Free Gold Mine was on Skyscraper Mountain. What a beautiful area for a mine. The view from the mountain is fantastic. The valley is filled with wildflowers in the spring. Independence Mine was on Granite Mountain. It was another beautiful site. In 1938 these two mines became one. The new company was called the Alaska Pacific Consolidated Mining Company. The new company now had 83 mining claims and became the largest producer in the Willow Creek Valley. They pooled their resources and the mountain produced the product. Gold fever was alive in Hatcher Pass.
Today, the two sites are just known as Independence Mine. The Mountain Park location is home to a small gold mining museum. There is also a self guided tour that you can take. This interpretive tour allows you to discover a mining camp for yourself. Breath the air! Can you smell the gold? History comes alive at Independence Mine. Hatcher Pass is rich in living history! Gold, is the magic word.
Find out what it is like to live and work in one of Alaska’s largest mining camps. Try your hand at panning for gold. Can you see it? Many find it today. Gold is in the air! Enjoy the brisk fresh air! Skip through the meadows as you go from site to site. Hike the trail and discover the thrill of gold mining. Immerse yourself in the visitors center and museum. Re-live the gold experience. Make history come alive. Join us in Hatcher Pass and experience gold fever. It was the fever, that kept it all going.