Nestled within Talkeetna Mountain peaks surrounding Hatcher’s Pass, Independence Mine represents a different era in Alaska’s History. Gold brought thousands of pioneers to the wilderness of Alaska to mine and pan for this valuable resource. Independence Mine, once a bustling district of activity, has been preserved in order for the public to view the remains of this small mining town. Tours of the mines, houses, and schools are available to see into life in a mining camp.
Gold was discovered in the rivers of the Willow Creek Valley in 1886, but the first claim to mines did not appear until 1906 when Robert Lee Hatcher discovered and claimed the first lode gold mine. Independence Mine was formed when two mines, The Alaska Free Gold Mine on Skyscraper Mountain and Independence Mine on Granite Mountain, were bought by the Alaska-Pacific Consolidated Mining Company (APC) in 1938. APC then became the largest mining manufacturer in the Willow Creek Mining District, holding 83 mining claims spread over a 1,350 acre area. In 1941, Independence Mine was at the height of it operating, but in 1943, a wartime ban ordered the close of the mine. Although the ban was lifted in 1946, gold mining in Independence Mine was never able to fully recover to the state it had once achieved and in 1951 the mine closed after extracting nearly $6 million in gold.
Today, Independence Mine State Historical Park offers a wide variety of activities for you to enjoy. Learn about the life of miners and mining techniques in the museum, take an independent or guided tour of the camp, or pan for gold in one of the many streams and rivers flowing through the area. Hike up to one of the mining shafts and look down upon the Matanuska Valley. Independence Mine is a fun, educational destination and presents an opportunity to take a glimpse into the past.