Mat-Su Valley Historic Park or Site

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Historic Park or Site

Difficulty: Easy

At its peak, the Inde­pen­dence hard-rock gold mine was home to 206 work­ers and 16 fam­i­lies who lived high above tree line. Dig­ging and blast­ing, these work­ers recov­ered 140,000 ounces of gold before the mine shut down in the wake of World War II. There are 1.5 miles of paved walk­ways through­out the site, with infor­ma­tion­al plac­ards for a self-guid­ed tour. 

Descrip­tion­Lo­cat­ed between the Chugach and Tal­keet­na Moun­tain ranges, The Alpine His­tor­i­cal Park pro­vides com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, as well as vis­i­tors from far or near, a look back in time to under­stand the her­itage and cul­tures of the ear­ly set­tlers of this area. The Park is a place for fam­i­ly and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, often being used for gath­er­ings, par­ties, busi­ness events, com­mu­ni­ty pic­nics and many oth­er events, as there is no com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter in…  ...more

In the 1950s, an Anchor­age fam­i­ly worked tire­less­ly at their dream of build­ing a ski resort here at the base of Gun­sight Moun­tain. They built a small chalet and erect­ed a rope tow. But financ­ing was always a prob­lem. Busi­ness did not boom. Today, the chalet is all that’s left of their efforts.

Difficulty: Difficult

If you have some seri­ous time and seri­ous ener­gy, take an adven­ture: hike the 20 miles out the Chase Trail to see what’s left of a lux­u­ry hotel built as a lay­over for the rail­road jour­ney between Seward and Fairbanks.

Opened in 1923 to accom­mo­date trav­el­ers on the new Alas­ka Rail­road, the small inn found fame (or noto­ri­ety) quick­ly: Pres­i­dent War­ren G. Hard­ing came for lunch, and died just a few days lat­er. Today, the hotel is com­prised of six recent­ly ren­o­vat­ed rooms as well as a bar and live music venue. You’ll hear every­thing from jazz and folk to open mic nights and seri­ous rock-n-roll. At the very least, do a walk-through to enjoy some local col­or and…  ...more

Sur­prise! This bridge over the Susit­na Riv­er appears with­out warn­ing, so if you want to stop and see this huge drainage, slow down and pull off the road at either end. Alaskans call it the Big Su. We fish it, pad­dle it, and snow machine its frozen braids. Bush pilots even nav­i­gate by this riv­er. The Susit­na Riv­er winds its way over 313 miles of South­cen­tral Alas­ka; this old rail­road bridge cross­es the water on the east­ern edge of Denali…  ...more

Palmer may look like it grew organ­i­cal­ly, like any oth­er town. But it was actu­al­ly designed by the gov­ern­ment as a planned agri­cul­tur­al com­mu­ni­ty. In fact, Palmer was part of FDR’s New Deal Reset­tle­ment Projects dur­ing the Great Depres­sion: More than 200 fam­i­lies vol­un­teered to move to Alas­ka to try farm­ing in the Last Frontier!

Don’t miss the old trap­per’s cab­in at Byers Lake. Most Sour­doughs — that means old-time Alaskans — don’t even know it’s there. Hid­den in trees along the lakeshore trail, the old Bee­man cab­in stands as a reminder of sim­pler times. Peek in the win­dows and imag­ine liv­ing there all win­ter. Now part of Denali State Park, it’s an easy 10-minute walk from the main park­ing lot.

His­to­ry, fun, and mas­sive por­tions of food come togeth­er at this insti­tu­tion, which was built over 3 years start­ing in 1914. Aside from stop­ping by for a bite to eat, you can book accom­mo­da­tions at the Tal­keet­na Road­house. Choose from a vari­ety of cozy rooms in the main road­house and wake up the smell of fresh baked goods from the Kitchen in the morn­ing. Or, for a more pri­vate expe­ri­ence, book one of the cab­ins out back or the Muse­um Apartment  ...more

What was it like to be an Alaskan sci­en­tist back in the 1940s? This site, on the south side of Palmer’s down­town, near Gulka­na and E. Fire­weed streets, will give you a pret­ty good idea. Back then, this two-sto­ry cement build­ing, the eight sim­ple cot­tages, and the arbore­tum were built by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Fair­banks and used by researchers study­ing how to increase pro­duc­tiv­i­ty in cold-weath­er crops.

Right next to the Tal­keet­na His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety, this orig­i­nal trap­pers cab­in” gives you an inte­ri­or look at traps, antique tins, a wash­tub, and furs, offer­ing a sense of how these pio­neers lived. And Olé is quite the char­ac­ter: he came to Alas­ka in 1916 and worked as a log­ger, sur­vey­or, and gold min­er. His grand­kids still attend the local schools.

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