Wrangell St. Elias National Park Historic Park or Site

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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.

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.

Old rail­road build­ing along­side the road. 

Difficulty: Moderate

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.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 4 miles

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.

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

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 1418 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

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.

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