Mining History Association

Annual Conference June 15-19, 2017

Fairbanks, Alaska




The 2017 Annual Conference of the Mining History Association (MHA) will be held at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, June 15-19, 2017. 


Fairbanks, Alaska’s “Golden Heart City,” has a fascinating mining history that started in 1902 with Felix Pedro’s discovery of placer gold in what is now known as Pedro Creek.  A local frontier trading post was renamed Fairbanks in 1903.  Pedro’s discovery started the Fairbanks Gold Rush which drew thousands to the interior of Alaska.  Following the familiar pattern, placer mining led to lode mining in 1911.  Later on, large gold dredges of the Fairbanks Exploration (FE) Company reworked many of the early small placer discoveries.  Mining had its ups and down over the decades, but there is still mining in the Fairbanks area. The Fort Knox Mine, a modern open pit operation north of Fairbanks, is Alaska’s largest gold producer.  Coal is produced at the Usibelli Coal Mine at Healy, south of Fairbanks.  Every summer, a number of placer mines, some still family owned, operate along area streams.


The University of Alaska in Fairbanks (UAF) provides an outstanding venue for the MHA Conference.  It has modern conference facilities, lodging for attendees in affordable University housing, and the UAF Museum of the North right on campus.  UAF’s Department of Mining Engineering annually graduates engineers that design and operate mines not only in Alaska but around the world. 


University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Conference Accommodations 

Accommodations at the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus offer several options ranging from a single bed dorm rooms with a bathroom and shower down the hall to  two-bedroom apartments complete with a lounge room, kitchen (with basic utensils), and bathroom.


SKARLAND HALL: Single bed room, bathroom down hall: $38 per night.


WICKERSHAM HALL: Two bed room, bathroom shared with another room: $65 per night.


CUTLER APARMENTS: Two bedroom apartment (two beds per room): $132 per night.

PLEASE NOTE: Accommodations can only be booked after March 1, 2017.  A block of rooms will be available for the MHA starting the day before the conference through the day after, June 14-20, 2017; however, more extended stays are possible.  CLICK HERE for more information.

All accommodations are simple, with rooms furnished with a chair, desk, and single beds. This is not a full service hotel, which means that they do not have staff to remake your bed. Sheets and towels are provided, and laundry facilities are included (you will have to purchase the detergent and do it yourself). 


Different room options also mean different locations on campus. Skarland Hall and the Cutler Apartments are located next to Reichardt Hall, where conference paper sessions will take place. Wickersham Hall is located farther east in the main campus quad, about 0.4 miles from Reichardt Hall.  CLICK HERE for a campus map.

Downtown Fairbanks is just a short 4 mile drive from the UAF Campus.  It offers additional choices for accommodations and sightseeing.  Because of the summer tourist season, the accommodations on the UAF campus are expected to be the cheapest in the Fairbanks area.  For those that prefer a full service hotel, Fairbanks has several options that include major chains.  Check out the Fairbanks Visitor Guide (link below) for more information.  The Metropolitan Area Commuter System (MACS) provides convenient bus transportation routes around town with Monday-Friday and Saturday schedules (no Sunday service).


An exciting array of social events and field trips are being planned for the Conference (see below).  These will include both heritage sites and modern mining operations.


Fairbanks can arguably be considered the geographic center of Alaska modern mining.  The Greens Creek and Kensington Mines are in the southeast near Juneau.  The Red Dog Mine is to the northwest above Kotzebue.  The huge Pebble copper discovery is southwest of Anchorage.  Prudhoe Bay is to the far north and the Alaska Pipeline Corridor is close to Fairbanks.  Historical mining areas are similarly located in all directions.  The Yukon and the Klondike are to the north and east.  Nome is to the west.  Juneau and Kennecott are to the southeast.  But it is worth remembering that Alaska is a very big state.  If you overlay an Alaska map on one of the “lower 48,” the Panhandle will be located over Florida, The Aleutians will be over Southern California, and Fairbanks will be located in Iowa.

That said, in addition to the organized tours held during the Alaska MHA Conference, the conference provides countless opportunities for independent travel to explore both mining heritage sites and the many incomparable National Parks and Wildlife Refuges in the state.  The Alaska Railroad connects Fairbanks with Denali National Park, and Anchorage, with connecting service to Whittier and Seward.  Major international air carriers serve Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Juneau.  Cruise ships make Alaska a popular summer destination.  Scores of tour companies, large and small, are available to help you accomplish you “Alaska Dream Trip.”  Check out the tourist information websites listed below and start planning today!

The final program and arrangements for field trips are still being organized.  Bookmark this web page and check back as details will be added as they become available.  Registration will be available early in 2017.  The final program and details will also be published in the Spring 2017 issue of the Mining History News.




A monument to Italian immigrant, Felix Pedro (Felice Pedroni), commemorates his 1902 gold discovery north of Fairbanks.

Examining a pan of gold nuggets at Chatanika, not far from Fairbanks c1916.

Fairbanks and Nome (pictured here) were centers of extensive gold dredging in the 20th Century.


Alaska hard rock miners, c1916.


The Independence Mine near Palmer Alaska is preserved as a State Park.


The famous Kennecott Mining complex, a National Historic Landmark, is located near McCarthy in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.



(Photos courtesy Library of Congress)


Conference Facilities at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.








SOCIAL EVENTS Click (Additional details will be added as available)


Opening Reception and Barbeque Dinner, Fairbanks Exploration (FE) Company Dredge #10, June 15, 2017


Awards Banquet, June 16, 2017


Presidential Luncheon, June 17, 2017




(Additional details will be added as available)


Pre-Conference Tour: Ester Mining Area, Thursday, June 15, 2017.  Afternoon visit to a small-scale, family owned underground lode mine.


FE Company Machine Shop Tour, Saturday, June 17, 2017.  Afternoon visit to the Fairbanks Exploration (FE) Company Machine Shop that serviced the company’s fleet of gold dredges.  The site has been in an excellent state of preservation since it closed in the 1960s.  The machinery operates, tools remain, and workers’ clothing is still in the lockers.


Tour of the Kinross Gold Corp., Fort Knox Mine, and US Army Corps of Engineers', Permafrost Tunnel, Sunday, June 18, 2017.  This full-day tour will visit the Fort Knox Mine, Alaska’s largest gold mine.  It is a modern open pit operation with milling and leaching processing plants.  The Permafrost Tunnel, AKA the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), is a unique research installation that allows scientists and visitors to walk into the permafrost.  The tour will also visit a miner’s private collection of Pleistocene fauna that roamed Central Alaska during the Ice Age.


Tour of the Historic Cleary Placer Mining District, Sunday, June 18, 2017.  This full-day driving tour will include a visit to an operating placer mine and, hopefully, see a gold “clean-up.”  This tour will also visit a miner’s private collection of Pleistocene fauna that roamed Central Alaska during the Ice Age.


Post Conference Tour: Sumitomo Mining’s Pogo Mine, Monday, June 19, 2017.  This full-day tour will visit the Pogo Gold Mine located about 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks.  The gold deposit was discovered in 1994.  The underground mine and mill began production in 2006.  This tour is a truly unique opportunity to experience large-scale underground mining in the remote interior of Alaska.



VISITOR INFORMATION (Accessed,  9 October 2016)

Alaska Tourism (and Visitors Guide)


Fairbanks Tourism (and Visitors Guide)


University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF)


Museum of the North, UAF Campus


Alaska Miners Association


Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation


Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys


Kinross Gold Corporation (KGC), Fort Knox Mine


Sumitomo Metal Mining Company, Ltd., Pogo Gold Mine


US Army Corps of Engineers, Permafrost Tunnel


Alaska Railroad







Paul White

Tom Bundtzen

Rolfe Buzzell


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