2017 Mining History Association

 

ON THE WAY TO THE MHA...
A Visit to the
Independence Mine
State Historical Park
Hatcher Pass, Near Palmer, Alaska

Mike and Pat Kaas

PHOTO GALLERY 2 OF 2

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The restored entrance to the Water Tunnel that was the main haulage drift from the Mine to the Mill.

View from above the Water Tunnel toward the Trestle and Ore Bins.  A tower of the tramway from mines higher up on the mountain can be seen at the center of the photo.

View from above the Water Tunnel toward the Mine Shops area.

Heavy snowfall appears to have taken a heavy toll on the Mine Shops buildings.


Parts bins in the Mine Shops Warehouse still contain supplies.

The floors of the Mine Shops are littered with drill steel and a large variety of other artifacts

This Eimco mucking machine was used to load ore in the Independence Mine.

This train of ore cars sits on a siding near the Mine Shops and Water Tunnel entrance.

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This battery powered mine motor was used to pull the ore trains from the mine to the Ore Bins at the Mill.


The fog shrouds the Independence Mine in this view of the Assay House/Museum with the Ore Bins and Mill ruins in the background.

Just as we completed our drizzly walk around the Independence Mine, the fog bank moved in and obscured most of the surroundings.  We were very pleased to see the extent of stabilization and restoration of so many of the park’s buildings and the informative signs throughout the site.  The small park staff was very friendly and helpful, answering our many questions, and offering to open several buildings usually kept closed.  We were indeed fortunate because park had opened for the summer season just two days before our visit.
We continued our drive to Denali National Park and were fortunate to see the entire mountain visible from the Park Road.  Only 30% of park visitors ever see even a portion of the mountain.  The Usibelli Coal Mine no longer offers public tours, but we were able to observe it in the distance on the hill above Healy.  It continues to provide the coal that is essential for electrical power in Fairbanks and the University of Alaska.


View of Denali/Mt. McKinley, elevation 20,310 feet, from the Denali Park Road, about 65 miles from the highest peak.

View of the Usibelli Coal Mine, Healy, AK.  From 2009-2013, mine production averaged 1.9 million tons per year.


References

Robert S. Warfield, “Bituminous Coal Deposits of the Matanuska Coalfield, Alaska: Central and Western Parts, Wishbone Hill,” Report of Investigations 5950, U. S. Bureau of Mines, (Washington, DC: GPO, 1962).

Richard G. Ray, “Geology and Ore Deposits of the Willow Creek Mining District, Alaska,” Bulletin 1004, U. S. Geological Survey, (Washington, DC: GPO, 1954).  Downloaded July 17, 2017, https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/ofr5134 .

McDowell Group, “Statewide Economic Impacts of Usibelli Coal Mine, Inc.,” Usibelli Coal Mine, Inc., 2015.  Downloaded June 30, 2017, http://www.usibelli.com/pdf/McDowell-Report-Statewide-Socioeconomic-Impacts-of-UCM-2015l.pdf .

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