This was once the site of the most productive gold mines in the United States—$70 million in gold was removed by 2,000 workers. Of the 144 structures that stood in Treadwell in 1910, only a few foundations still exist, and the New Office Building is the only remaining structure. The trail starts from the south end of St. Ann’s Avenue in Douglas. Keep right on the trail and you’ll come to Treadwell Glory Hole, once the entrance to a network of shafts under Gastineau Channel. A waterfall drops into this hole. Return to the fork in the trail and continue down to the shore to see remains of buildings and old mining machinery. Just to the south is a pit where the mine collapsed during torrential rains in 1917. There are remnants of old docks at the shoreline.
This walking guide was put together by the Juneau-Douglas City Museum.
Walking Tour Points
At this site in 1881 Henry Borein, a prospector, ran into a number of bears in the underbrush, giving the mine it’s name. This claim adjoined the rich Paris lode but turned out to be nearly barren rock. Later owners, however, combined this close proximity with careful gold salting and succeeded in selling $8,000,00.00 in stock to English investors – at the time, it was the biggest mine swindle in history. A 1400 foot tunnel was driven and an… ...more
These cylinders, over which there was a rubber belt, rolled and shook the 300 Stamp Mill’s crushed rock in a constant flow of water, causing the waste rock to go over the top and the gold-bearing rock to remain at the bottom – a very efficient system. A total of 120 Frue Vanners, arranged in four rows of 30, were housed in a 340 foot by 85 foot single story wooden structure just below the 300 stamp mill building.
In 1899 the Alaska Treadwell Gold Mining Company erected a 300 stamp mill at this site. This is the largest number of stamps ever installed under one roof, anywhere in the world. After the ore from the mine tunnels arrived in the stamp mill for crushing, each 1,020 pound stamp, dropping 8 ½ inches 98 times per minute, crushed six tons of ore daily to fineness that would allow the ore to pass, with a stream of water, through a wire screen… ...more
Starting in 1910, electricity transmitted from plants at Nugget Creek (near Mendenhall Glacier) and Sheep Creek (near Thane) was converted from 23,000 volts to 2300 volts. The electricity was then distributed throughout the surface and underground facilities.
The edifice on the right in this photo, taken from the hill above, was destined for only a brief useful life span because of the disastrous 1917 cave-in. The older company store, a wood structure attached to the north side or to the left, in this photo, of the office building, was destroyed by fire in the 1920s, but the cement structure of the office building survives.
The concrete structures next to the office building that had been in the store before it burned, were the vaults in which gold, company books, records, and engineering maps were stored. The two large safe doors that covered the vaults were saved and now belong to Alaska Electric Light and Power Company.
At 10:57 p.m. on April 21, 1917, a hole 30 feet deep and 15 feet wide was found under the Fire Hall with water running in from the hillside. Five minutes later water from Gastineau Channel began running into the hole. The three mines that flooded had a working depth of 2800 feet and some 10 million tons of ore had been removed. The mines were not actually under the channel, but caved in from the side. An estimated three million tons of… ...more
Natatorium housed a large gymnasium and swimming pool. The wife of the hoist operator (whose name is not known) wrote the following account: “One Friday (the day before the cave-in) when the ladies were enjoying their day in the swimming tank (I’ve always been thankful I was not there), all of sudden the water left the tank in one big gulp.” Then the final early Sunday morning, April 22, account by Chief Geologist Livingston Wernecke: “The… ...more
All Treadwell miners and their families were members of the Treadwell Club, which stood on piles still visible in the sand near the cave-in. Club facilities included a 15,000 volume library, reading room providing 150 leading magazines and newspapers, auditorium with seating for 500 people, Turkish bath, bowling alley, darkroom, billiard and pool room.
These piles supported pipes through which waste sand was pumped out into Gastineau Channel after the gold had been removed. Some of the old photos show milky colored water most of the way across Gastineau Channel. We do not know the effect on sea life as there were not the environmental laws that we have today.
The memorial is located 50 feet toward the channel from the post. Mr. Frederick W. Bradley, President of Alaska-Juneau and Treadwell Mines, was held in high regard. He came from California to all 4th of July celebrations. One year he was late so they delayed the celebration until he could get to Treadwell. Bradley became world famous because of his success with these low-grade, high-volume, hard- rock-gold mines.
In 1914, this small concrete pump house was built on the 600 foot Treadwell Wharf. Two 2,700 gallon per minute centrifugal pumps supplied salt water for milling operations and fire protection during the winter months. The pump house and surrounding pilings are all that remain of the wharf, where supplies for the Treadwell mines were landed and from which the gold bullion was shipped south. Warehouses, coal bunkers, and a machine shop stood… ...more
The Treadwell Mill was the first big stamp mill in Alaska. In 1883 the Mill, located in the valley to the left of the hill road leading to the “Glory Hole”, started crushing ore bearing rocks with 120 stamps. The number of stamps was increased to 240 and more men were employed here than in any other one Alaska place. On the hill leading up to the Glory Hole, look down in the valley to the left to see these cement structures that were once… ...more