Photo Credit: Anchorage Museum

Anchorage Historic Parks & Sites

Why did Alaska’s pioneers leave their families, homes, and jobs and journey to the “last frontier?” Was it the possibility of gold and untold riches, a chance to create something great, or simply the desire for a new beginning? Visitors to the Anchorage area have several opportunities to explore these questions in a variety of hands-on learning experiences as varied and diverse as any you’ll find in Alaska.

One place to start is the Kenai Mountains National Heritage Area, south of Anchorage along the Seward Highway National Scenic Byway. At the Potter Section House Railroad Museum and rest area, you’ll find a restored house originally built by the Alaska Engineering Commission for the section foreman and his family. Enjoy the views and maybe see a moose while you’re there!

You can also explore Alaska’s Gold Rush, which brought men, women, children, fortune seekers, vagabonds, and runaways here from all over the world. For an introduction to Turnagain Arm gold country, visit the Bird Creek Wayside and enjoy the mountain views and surfers in the Bore Tide. Our mining heritage also includes the Indian Valley Mine at Milepost 41. Or drive a little farther for a chance at your own strike while panning for gold at the Crow Creek Mine in historic Girdwood.

One of the most significant events in state history was North America’s biggest and most damaging earthquake—a 9.2 on the Richter scale—on March 27, 1964. See some of the damage and imagine the devastation in the hearts of those who lived through it. As you view the Ghost Forest near the Girdwood turnoff, or Old Portage across from the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, imagine the upheaval and loss as nature reclaims and renews these hallowed grounds.

Anchorage’s Four Original Neighborhoods were also heavily affected by the ’64 earthquake—so much so that this area probably felt like the epicenter. Today you’ll find visible scars on Government Hill at Sunset Park, and in South Addition along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. The Historic Downtown Anchorage Walking Tour includes this historic event, as well as the colorful history of this first settlement. You’ll learn about both through stories and photos that tie Anchorage’s unique history to present day. And no Anchorage history tour is complete without a visit to the Oscar Anderson House Museum in Elderberry Park.

These historic elements tell us that we’ve done a lot of living since the “Boomers” arrived in Tent City!

Show Map

North of Anchorage

Site Sum­mit, locat­ed in Arc­tic Val­ley at near­ly 4,000 feet atop Mt. Gor­don Lyon, was once home to a Nike Her­cules mis­sile bat­tery, part of the Rings of Steel’ mis­sile defense sys­tem that sur­round­ed major U.S. cities from pos­si­ble Sovi­et mis­sile attacks dur­ing the Cold War.

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Downtown Anchorage

What was it like for a fam­i­ly liv­ing in Anchor­age in 1915? The Oscar Ander­son House Muse­um, locat­ed in Elder­ber­ry Park at 5th Avenue and M Street, is the per­fect way to find out. 

What ele­ments make a great city? When Anchorage’s fore­fa­thers land­ed at Ship Creek in 1915, those ele­ments were peo­ple, edu­ca­tion, jobs, cul­ture, cap­i­tal invest­ments, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and growth, food pro­duc­tion and sub­sis­tence, wildlife and nat­ur­al beau­ty. So these pio­neers set out to make them all a real­i­ty. Four dis­tinct neigh­bor­hoods arose to meet the call for hous­ing and land man­age­ment offices, as well as school, library, and muse­um facilities.  ...more

So don’t just stroll through town — take the offi­cial tour, brought to you by long­time res­i­dent experts: Alas​ka​.org and the Anchor­age Con­ven­tion & Vis­i­tors Bureau.

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South of Anchorage

Season: May 15 to Sep 15 $10+

Crow Creek Mine has been in oper­a­tion since 1896, and gold is still found in its claims today! Your guides will be mem­bers of the min­ing fam­i­ly that keeps Crow Creek oper­a­tional. This is their home, so tour groups are kept small, cre­at­ing a more inti­mate envi­ron­ment and allow­ing more time for ques­tions. Try your luck at pan­ning, and keep what you find. 

This mine played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the ear­ly set­tling of the Tur­na­gain Arm. The build­ing here are on the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of his­toric places and the mine is unique because of its asso­ci­a­tion with load min­ing. Indi­an Val­ley Mine was found­ed in 1910 by a vagabond who ran away from home at the age of 12, joined the cir­cus and then final­ly trav­eled to Alas­ka dur­ing the gold rush. The Cowles fam­i­ly will tell you all about the his­to­ry of this…  ...more

Quick: what’s the longest com­bined rail and high­way tun­nel in North Amer­i­ca? It’s the Ander­son Memo­r­i­al Tun­nel, and you’ll dri­ve through it on the scenic and his­toric dri­ve to Whit­ti­er. The Kenai Moun­tains-Tur­na­gain Arm Nation­al Her­itage Area is a place whose val­leys and moun­tains, com­mu­ni­ties and peo­ple tell the larg­er sto­ry of a wild place and a rugged fron­tier. This audio guide gives you the inside scoop on its fas­ci­nat­ing his­to­ry. You’ll…  ...more

This rest area is the site of a rail­road sec­tion house. The restored house and its out­build­ings were built by the Alas­ka Rail­road to house the sec­tion fore­man and his fam­i­ly. The fore­man was respon­si­ble for main­tain­ing a 10-mile stretch of rail­road track. You’ll find an old train car and rotary plow that used by the sec­tion fore­man to clear snow off the tracks in win­ter. This is a fun stop for kids to take a look at rail­road his­to­ry and…  ...more

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