Independence Mine – Palmer, Alaska - Atlas Obscura

Independence Mine

This abandoned mine offers a glimpse at what life was like for those who came to Alaska seeking Gold Rush riches. 

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Nestled within Hatcher Pass in the Talkeetna Mountains lie the ruins of Independence Mine. Active on and off between 1938 and 1951, the gold mining operation at this mine was once the second largest in Alaska.

The Gold Rush came to Alaska in the late 19th century, when gold was discovered southeast of Anchorage in 1886. Hunting for precious metals, prospectors spread into the Susitna and Matanuska river basins. They found gold scattered in quartz veins throughout the granite in the Talkeetna Mountains. The facility now known as Independence Mine was once two separate mines: the Alaska Free Gold Mine on Skyscraper Mountain and Independence Mine on Granite Mountain. In 1938, the two were combined under the Alaska-Pacific Consolidated Mining Company.

Today, the mine is a State Historical Park. The ruins and preserved buildings shed light on what life was like for the miners who worked the isolated camp and their families. Visitors can take self-guided interpretive tours through the camp, enjoying views of the surrounding mountains and alpine tundra, and join informative ranger tours into the historic buildings.

Over the years, harsh winters have led to heavy deterioration of the mining structures, such as the power house, mill complex, and tram, but the mess hall and bunkhouse as well as other original buildings are well-preserved. Machinery displayed on site include an original diesel engine and General Electric AC generator, manufactured in Schenectady, New York. The scenic drive alone makes Independence Mine well worth a visit, and surrounding bike and hiking trails leading to alpine lakes and other breathtaking views that can occupy visitors for an entire day.

Know Before You Go

Easy drive from either Palmer or Wasilla

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