Wrangell St. Elias National Park Historic Park or Site
Historic Park or Site
This abandoned copper mining camp is a National Historic Landmark District. Established in 1903, Kennecott Mining Corporation operated 5 mines in the area. Kennecott became a bustling mining camp filled with miners and their families. In 1925, a geologist predicted that the area would soon be mined out. By 1938, Kennecott was a ghost town.
At this point in the drive you may need something to talk about.The Athabascan people traveled along the current McCarthy Road corridor to access their summer hunting camps in the Chugach Mountains. Their trails took them to prime mountain sheep country, as well as to some of their favorite spots for harvesting copper. One copper nugget taken from Dan Creek, almost pure and as big as a refrigerator, now sits in a museum at the University of… ...more
Built in the 1920s, this bridge helped prospectors cross the Nizina River and reach the gold camps at Chititu Creek and Dan Creek. The glacier-dammed lake near here caused flooding with some regularity — and as result, would wash out the bridge with some regularity.
Talk about an authentic pioneer town. Time seems to have stood still on McCarthy’s Main Street, which is unpaved, only a few hundred yards long, and lined with classic buildings and memorabilia.Some visitors walk through McCarthy and complain that there’s nothing to do — and that’s exactly why folks like living here. But while you may not find much activity, you will find a lot of history: In the town’s heyday there were several hotels,… ...more
This historical trail through the woods between McCarthy and Kennicott was the walking/wagon road when the railroad was still running. It’s a nice alternative to walking or biking up the 4.5‑mile-long road between McCarthy and Kennicott, where you’ll find more vehicles and dusty conditions.
The Copper River and Northwestern Railway used to serve the miners in this area in the early part of the 20th century, but the trains stopped rolling in 1938, and cargo planes became the only way to get freight in and out. This 14 X 18 mail cabin was built in one day in 1948 by employees of the Chititu mining company. It’s held up pretty well over the decades — it had to be rehabbed in 1998 to replace some rotting logs, but it still functions as… ...more
If you’ve spent the day in Kennicott, on the glacier trail, or in the mountains and still can’t get enough of the outdoors, skip the shuttle ride down the hill to McCarthy and take this nice 1.5‑hour walk. The Wagon Trail cuts off the main road just to the right of the St. Elias Guides office.
Across the street from the museum is a short path leading to the old railroad turntable used to flip the engine around so it could push the train the 4.5 remaining miles up to Kennicott. Look for a wooden sign across the street pointing the way. Two or three people can get it moving again. It’s a great activity for kids looking for a short but unique ride.
Thursday evenings are open mic night in McCarthy. It’s a great chance to rub elbows with some locals and fellow travelers and get a taste for the neighborhood. All are welcome! Bring your guitar, harmonica, and voice – or just your eyes and ears. Occasionally on Fridays and Saturdays there’s a band playing after 8:30 p.m. Be on the lookout for special events that are free and open to the public.
The first two things visitors notice about Kennecott are the spectacular views and the town itself…in that order. The combination of dramatic scenery and strange mining town makes for a unique experience. Give yourself a couple hours to explore and take it in.