Hatcher Pass is one of my favorite areas for hiking and exploring. High above the Matanuska Valley, the vistas are fabulous. Plus, if you haven’t driven over the top over to Willow, it’s a great adventure. TIP: The road is OPEN!
Visit the Independence Mine State Historical Park at the top of the Willow Creek valley, though. You’ll get a clear look back into the history of the mine, which started when Robert Lee Hatcher discovered gold in 1906. The big mining operations started in the late 1930s.
The Alaska Division of Parks has spearheaded the preservation of some of the mine buildings and artifacts. Visitors are free to wander through a few of the buildings and get a feeling for life in the mining district.
For a more complete picture, take a walking tour with Salmon Berry Tours. You’ll see several buildings which are closed off to the public and learn some great stories about the miners, their bosses and their families.
I made a quick trip out to the mine site yesterday and Kristi Short showed me around. Check out the pictures. Then head for the hills and visit the park yourself!
Hatcher Pass is beautiful. If you have the time, drive over the pass to Willow. You’ll pass a number of working mines and may see some wildlife along the creek!
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