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The Independence Mine Of Hatcher Pass

Gold mining has always been an important part in Alaska's history. When we think about gold in Alaska we seem to think about Nome but as history has shown this is not the case. Gold was actually discovered just outside of Anchorage back in 1886. It was from that area that prospectors moved on throughout Alaska in search of other finds.

In 1905 a prospector named Robert Lee Hatcher made a discovery in the Willow Creek Valley in the southwest part of the Talkeetna Mountains, Alaska. It was a lode claim and was quite rich. Not long afterwards, word got out and other miners were moving into the same area. At first these miners of course tried to placer mine the gravels of the near by streams but this proved unprofitable. Hard rock or underground mining was the only choice they had. Mining like this alone is very hard work so alot of miners teamed up.

There were two mines that got started here. One was the renowned Independance Mine up top Granite mountain and the other mine was the Alaska Free Gold Mine on Skyscraper Mountain. To get a big mine up and running however costs a lot of money and only large companies could afford this. That is when the Alaska-Pacific Consolidated Mining Company moved in a took over both of these mines. It was a big operation back in the day. The company had over 80 mining claims that covered over 34,000 acres. The two mines had several miles of tunnels dug underground. These mines employed over 200 workers alone. Over 20 families lived in a nearby town called Boom Town. Over 500,000 ounces of gold has been mined from the district. The Independance Mine alone produced over 34,000 ounces of gold worth 1.2 million back then which would be around 18 million today.

In 1942 the US government ordered gold mines to close because gold mining was a non essential issue due to the second world war. The Independance Mine however also produced tungsten and tungsten was a metal of that could be used for equipment or manufacturing so the mine stayed running. However the tungsten production was too low so in the 1943 the mine was closed.

Mining started up again the 1970's when gold prices started to go up. For a brief period time gold was once again mined by the Coronado Mining Company. This however was short lived as gold prices started to retreat. Other noteable mines in the same area were the Gold Bullion Mine which was a copper gold mine that produced about 77,000 ounces of gold and the Fern Mine which produced about 44,000 ounces of gold.

Today there is still old buildings and the area of the Independance Mine is a historical state park area.