2017 Mining History Association


A Visit to the
Kennecott Mines
National Historic Landmark,
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
And Preserve, McCarthy, Alaska
June 10-14, 2017


Johnny and Dawn Johnsson
Dick And Elna Hauck


After Narrative continues from Gallery 1…

We had paid $28 per person (plus tip) on-line for a guided tour of the Kennecott Mill on the next day.  This is the only way you can see the interior spaces.  The morning or afternoon tours are 2+ hours starting at the St. Elias Alpine Guides building down the main street from Glacier Lodge.  Everything at Kennecott is within walking distance, so one has plenty of opportunities to wander around and explore a bit.  The guide was a young lady, new to the St. Elias.  You could tell she had received a fair amount of history training on what to tell the guests and how to conduct a tour.  She was not really strong in the technical areas considering how much a couple of us mining historians already knew, but you cannot fault them for that.

Our tour group of maybe 15-20 people started in the town and covered many of the support facilities for the mining and mill town.  We saw the School, the Company Store and Post Office, the Recreation Hall, West Bunkhouse, and the Ammonia Refrigeration Plant which kept food cold for the town.  The NPS manages this National Historic Site, selecting the best structures for stabilization, preservation, and/or restoration.  Some structures are too far gone due to time and the ravages of heavy winter snows and periodic flooding.  Once the roof goes, the walls and interior don’t last long, so usually they get a roof installed first to buy time for a structure while they wait for funding for further efforts.  The guides explain and interpret not only the standing structures, but some that are now gone and what happened to them (such as the Saw Mill).  There are historic photos the guides refer to and exhibits in some of the buildings showing how things used to look.  National Creek bisects the town close to the mill, and it has had several devastating floods over the years which have taken out some historic structures like the Assay Office.  The East Bunkhouse and Staff Quarters survived these floods, but the Hospital is not going to make it.

We headed up the hill towards the top of the Kennecott Mill and spent some time at the well-preserved General Manager’s Office.  Then the moderate trail went past a mid-20th Century temporary copper remilling site, until we reached the level of the top of the mill, 14 stories up. 

Narrative continues in Gallery 3…


The Kennecott townsite is dominated by the massive Concentration Mill. The photos in these galleries generally follow the main road through town from south to north toward the Mill. CLICK HERE to download a National Park Service map of the Kennecott Mill Town and follow the tour route. For more information about life in the Kennecott CLICK HERE to download another National Park Service publication.

Kennecott’s remote location made the transport of fresh dairy products nearly impossible. The Dairy Barn (ca1910) was the solution to the transportation problem.  It is one of the many structures that have been preserved and restored.

View of the inside Kennecott Recreation Hall (ca1916), site of any dances, sporting events, and town activities.

The town’s children attended the Kennecott School (ca1916-1918). Steam pipes under wooden walkways kept things thawed out during the winter months.

A tour leader explains the use of the West Bunkhouse (ca1917) to Elna Hauck and Dawn Johnsson.

Rather than use the plentiful glacier ice, the Kennecott Company was proud to show off the latest improvements in technology such as the Refrigeration Plant (ca1912) in the foreground next to the West Bunkhouse.

The Kennecott Company Store and Warehouse building (ca1917) also served as the Post Office. Ruins of Saw Mill (ca1908) are seen at the right.

A group of park visitors on the NPS Ranger tour pauses in front of the Post Office.  The building now houses displays and a movie about the history of Kennecott.

Dick Hauck inspects National Creek which divides the town.  Its frequent floods have destroyed several Kennecott buildings.

East Bunkhouse (ca1910) and Staff Quarters (ca1908) are located on the east side of National Creek.

The Kennecott General Manager's Office was originally built in 1907 (note the center log portion) and remodeled in 1912.  Today it houses historic photos and displays.
Photos by Johnny and Dawn Johnsson



The Kennecott Mill Town and many of its historic buildings have been well documented as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER).  The reports and dozens of photographs can be downloaded from the Library of Congress.  The links below were accessed on 3 August 2017.


Kennecott Copper Mine, Alaska HABS (19 pages of drawings)

Maps of the Kennecott Mill Town, ca 1908, 1915, and 1938.


Kennecott Copper Concentration Mill and Ammonia Leach Plant Isometric View


Kennecott Copper Concentration Mill Flowsheet



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