Photo Credit: Juneau-Douglas City Museum

Alaska Museums & Cultural Centers

Why Go

Alaska is made up of a fascinating—and wide—array of cultures, and its history is long and colorful. Walk into a museum and you can learn about ancient civilizations, the fervent gold rush of the late 1800s, or the pioneer spirit that built the state we know today. Plenty of Alaska's museums also illustrate Native cultures still thriving today, or the marine and animal life that make Alaska what it is. While some people may save museums for rainy days, walking through museums or cultural institutions is an excellent way to gain a deeper appreciation for Alaska's entire landscape.

Price Range

Admissions range from free to $25, with discounts common for kids, seniors and military.

Best Time to Go

Year-round, though many museums and heritage centers have more limited hours during the winter.

Where to Go

Here are the most notable museums in Alaska, from popular destinations like Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks, to those found off the beaten path.

Sitka View All

Once the headquarters for the Russian settlement here in the 1800s, this Southeastern town offers, through museums and its iconic church, the chance to step back into a very different Alaska. Sitka's also home to the Sheldon Jackson Museum, one of the best collections of Native arts and crafts you'll see anywhere.

Dr. Shel­don Jack­son, muse­um founder, had the dis­tinc­tion of serv­ing in three pio­neer fields dur­ing the late 1800s, found­ing Protes­tant mis­sions and schools, estab­lish­ing the pub­lic school sys­tem, and intro­duc­ing domes­tic rein­deer. In his trav­els he reached many sec­tions of Alas­ka, as well as the coast of Siberia, gath­er­ing the major­i­ty of the arti­facts now seen in the muse­um. Locat­ed on the cam­pus of Shel­don Jack­son Col­lege, the muse­um was…  ...more

Explore a large, scale mod­el of Sit­ka from 1867, the year the Rus­sians trans­ferred the Ter­ri­to­ry to the Unit­ed States. View exhibits on tra­di­tion­al Tlin­git lifestyles and see a col­lec­tion of tight­ly woven cedar and spruce root bas­kets. Or learn about the town black­outs and a large-scale mil­i­tary buildup in Sit­ka dur­ing World War II. The muse­um is the only place in Sit­ka that includes all three ele­ments of the town’s his­to­ry – Tlin­git, Russian…  ...more

This is a fun lit­tle trea­sure hunt for kids. The mon­ey tree isn’t marked, but it’s near the start of the Totem Trail. Look for a tree stump, about a foot and half tall, that’s filled with coins. Where the branch­es have bro­ken off, there are coins in the lit­tle holes. Peo­ple have been putting coins in this tree for over 50 years; if you can find the tree, join the tradition!

Walk­ing the streets of Sit­ka, you may find it hard to believe that this qui­et coastal com­mu­ni­ty was once the hub of the West Coast: a cen­ter for trade, diplo­ma­cy, and the arts. When San Fran­cis­co had less than 10 res­i­dents, Sit­ka was home to 800 Rus­sians, Euro­peans, Tlin­gits, and Aleuts. The old­est town on the West Coast, it was the cap­i­tal of Russ­ian Amer­i­ca — called New Archangel — and was boom­ing from the ear­ly 1800s through the Unit­ed States’…  ...more



The Eagle Historical Society is made up of six restored buildings from the late 19th century, which allow you to walk back in time to the gold rush and pioneering days here.

Exhibits in six restored his­toric build­ings dat­ing from the end of the 19th cen­tu­ry: James Wick­er­sham’s first Cour­t­house, U.S. Cus­tom House, the Improved Order of Red Men Lodge and three Fort Egbert build­ings, all with peri­od fur­nish­ings. Dis­plays with pho­tographs on the Gold Rush town, mil­i­tary fort and com­mer­cial cen­ter with judi­cial, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, trans­porta­tion, con­struc­tion, agri­cul­ture, min­ing, pio­neer activ­i­ties and social…  ...more


Seward & Kenai Fjords View All

The Alaska SeaLife Center is a huge, interactive look at marine life and marine research, while The Seward Museum recounts the town’s history using photos, artifacts and documents, housing an impressive collection of Native baskets and ivory carvings.

The muse­um presents the chief events of Seward’s his­to­ry through pho­tographs, arti­facts and doc­u­ments. There is also a fine col­lec­tion of Native bas­kets and ivory carv­ings on dis­play. Dur­ing the sum­mer there are evening pro­grams con­sist­ing of two slide shows: The His­to­ry of Seward and The His­to­ry of the Idi­tar­od Trail. A spe­cial open house is held every August 28 in hon­or of the found­ing of Seward in 1903. Muse­um shop car­ries books by local  ...more

The local his­to­ry muse­um, oper­at­ed in part­ner­ship with the Res­ur­rec­tion Bay His­tor­i­cal Soci­ety, is sit­u­at­ed on the first floor. The library, locat­ed on the sec­ond floor, offers com­put­er with inter­net access, youth pro­grams, and preschool sto­ry time for no cost. 

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Nome View All

This remote town is the ideal launching pad for exploring the villages of the Bering Straits. It's also where you'll find Alaska’s best native ivory carvings, baskets and skin sewing. The Carrie McLain Memorial Museum is Nome's only museum, which details the remote town’s gold rush days, the arrival of Wyatt Earp and its sled dog heritage.

Dis­cov­er gold nuggets from Nome’s rich his­to­ry at the Car­rie M. McLain Memo­r­i­al Muse­um, open Tues­day – Sat­ur­day in the Richard Fos­ter Build­ing. Inter­ac­tive exhibits fea­ture the nat­ur­al land­scape, Alas­ka Native art­work, and the town of Nome from its Tent City begin­nings to its present-day role as a region­al hub.

Go back to Beringia, way back, to a time when wool­ly mam­moths and scim­i­tar cats roamed the land. To a time when a 1,000-mile-wide migra­tion cor­ri­dor linked Alas­ka and Rus­sia. (That’s how indige­nous peo­ple got to North Amer­i­ca.) Learn all about it at the Bering Land Bridge Nation­al Pre­serve Vis­i­tor Center.

Open­ing in Octo­ber 2016! Kaw­er­ak Katirvik Cul­tur­al Cen­ter is a meet­ing place for shar­ing, cel­e­brat­ing and under­stand­ing the cul­tur­al tra­di­tions and lan­guage of the Cen­tral Yup’ik, St. Lawrence Island Yupik and Inu­pi­aq peo­ples of the area. Call ahead for events, which can include Elder sto­ries and danc­ing. Or stop by to check out the inter­ac­tive edu­ca­tion­al displays.

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Ketchikan View All

This small town in the Southeast has, in a handful of parks— the Totem Heritage Center, the Saxman Totem Park and the Totem Bight Park—more totem poles than anywhere in the world. You’ll see both century-old relics, as well as poles being carved by emerging artists today.

Expe­ri­ence world-class exhibits and audio­vi­su­al pro­grams. Dis­cov­er Tsimshi­an, Hai­da and Tlin­git totem poles, the rain­for­est room, a Native fish camp scene, and exhibits on South­east Alaska’s ecosys­tems, fish­ing, min­ing, tim­ber and tourism. Locat­ed one block from the cruise ship dock in down­town Ketchikan. Accepts Amer­i­ca-the-Beau­ti­ful passes.

The art of totem pole carv­ing was a lux­u­ry that expe­ri­enced its hey­day in the mid-1700s to the late 1800s. The fur trade had pro­vid­ed the Tlin­git, Hai­da and Tsimshi­an peo­ples a new­found sense of wealth – and time to focus on the artistry of the totem

As part of the New Deal dur­ing the 1930s, the Civil­ian Con­ser­va­tion Corps came to this area and hired skilled Native artists who could recre­ate old crum­bling poles and train appren­tices, to keep the art form alive. You can wan­der the grounds at this state park, and learn about how to inter­pret the sym­bols on poles, or check out the large, carved trib­al house. Was named to the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places in 1970. 10 miles out of town on  ...more

Built on the old fish­ing grounds of Tlin­git Natives, the park hosts some of the finest native art in the world!

List­ed on the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places, this col­lec­tion of 19th cen­tu­ry totem poles is the biggest in the world. Sal­vaged from aban­doned Hai­da and Tlin­git vil­lages, some are as old as 160 years — no small feat, since totem poles usu­al­ly dete­ri­o­rate in less than a cen­tu­ry. You can take a quick, free tour, or check out the cur­rent exhibits of con­tem­po­rary Tlin­git art.

If you want a chance to sit back and enjoy an icon­ic view of Alas­ka, catch up on your work, or peruse a large col­lec­tion of Alaskana, there’s no more per­fect place than the new Ketchikan library.

In the muse­um are artifacts,text and pho­tos telling of Alaska’s spir­it­ed First City as a Native fish camp, min­ing hub, salmon can­ning cap­i­tal, fish­ing port and tim­ber town. The Cen­ten­ni­al Build­ing com­mem­o­rates the pur­chase of Alas­ka from Rus­sia in 1867. In front is the Raven Steal­ing the Sun pole, carved by Dempsey Bob and raised in 1983.

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Homer View All

This artists-and-anglers town has an excellent repository at The Pratt Museum, a look at the art, culture and science in Kachemak Bay, while the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center is a 60-acre marine wildlife center with great nature trails.

Season: Year Round $10 adult, $5 child

Homer’s Pratt Muse­um pre­serves the sto­ries of the Kachemak Bay region and pro­vides a gath­er­ing place for peo­ple to learn and to be inspired by this region and its place in the world. The museum’s exten­sive col­lec­tion offers an excel­lent way to learn more about the land­scape, com­mu­ni­ties and ecosys­tems of the area.

While you’re explor­ing Homer and it’s eco­log­i­cal-rich envi­rons, a stop at the Cen­ter for Alaskan Coastal Stud­ies adds to your appre­ci­a­tion of the his­to­ry and wildlife of the area.

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McCarthy-Kennicott View All

The ghost town of Kennicott has been taken over by the National Park Service, and you can explore this site that has become a museum unto itself.

You can’t escape the town’s his­tor­i­cal dynam­ic, and this muse­um is the best place to get the inside scoop on its past, includ­ing the cop­per rush that hap­pened between 1900 and 1938. The muse­um build­ing itself is a piece of his­to­ry, hav­ing once been the railw¬ay depot. Check out the pic­tures of rail­way con­struc­tion — 196 miles of track from Cor­do­va — which are alone worth the vis­it. You’ll also find pho­tos and arti­facts that give you an idea what…  ...more

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Utqiagvik (Barrow)

You'll find a living museum of sorts in this extreme village, the northernmost town in the U.S., but don't miss the Inupiat Heritage Center, which covers both traditional crafts done here as well as the commercial whaling industry.

Hous­es exhibits, arti­fact col­lec­tions, library, gift shop, and a tra­di­tion­al room where peo­ple can demon­strate and teach tra­di­tion­al crafts in Elders-in-Res­i­dence and Artists-in-Res­i­dence pro­grams. As an affli­at­ed Nation­al Park, the North Slope Bor­ough owns and man­ages the Inu­pi­at Her­itage Center.

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Skagway View All

This gold rush town is almost a museum in itself—with 23 blocks of 19th-century buildings preserved to tell the story of the crazed pursuit of gold more than a century ago.

A good place to start any tour of Skag­way is the for­mer White Pass and Yukon Rail­road Depot. This mas­sive, col­or­ful struc­ture, built in 1898, was a dom­i­nant part of Skag­way life until 1969, when rail­road oper­a­tions moved to the WP&YR’s new build­ing two doors east. The old depot is now the Nation­al Park Ser­vice Vis­i­tor Cen­ter, where vis­i­tors can enjoy movies, walk­ing tours and oth­er activ­i­ties dur­ing the sum­mer. Although the tracks are now…  ...more

Housed in the cir­ca 1898 White Pass & Yukon Route Rail­road Depot, the his­toric Moore house and the Mas­cot Saloon. Col­lec­tions con­sist of over 200,000 archae­ol­o­gy arti­facts asso­ci­at­ed with the Klondike gold rush and 3,000 copies of his­toric pho­tographs of the gold rush peri­od. Library and 100-seat audi­to­ri­um. Guid­ed tours, inter­pre­tive pro­grams, films and per­ma­nent exhi­bi­tions. Hours May-Sep: Dai­ly 8am-6pm Admis­sion No admis­sion fee,…  ...more

Skag­way’s unique his­to­ry as a vital trans­porta­tion cor­ri­dor and gate­way to inte­ri­or Alas­ka and the Yukon is por­trayed in the arti­facts, pho­tographs and his­tor­i­cal records of the past cen­tu­ry. The Muse­um is locat­ed in the town’s mag­nif­i­cent City Hall, this is the first stone build­ing in Alas­ka, built with gran­ite from Cana­da that was trans­port­ed on the WP&YR Rail­road. On dis­play are items such as a Tlin­git canoe, a Port­land Cut­ter sleigh,…  ...more

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Fairbanks View All

This northern city has an interesting mix, from the Museum of the North—once voted the best in Alaska—to the Supercomputing Center, where you can learn about predicting tsunamis. Fairbanks is also a popular launching pad for visiting Arctic villages, where you can experience the culture firsthand.

Expe­ri­ence the inte­ri­or of Alas­ka 100 years ago! Pio­neer Park is a his­toric vil­lage that fea­tures orig­i­nal build­ings moved from down­town Fair­banks, as well as muse­ums, and the Gold Rush. Come enjoy the carousel and train that runs the perime­ter of the park, an array of local shops, and rus­tic cab­in restau­rants. Stay for a cou­ple of hours or spend a full day; Pio­neer Park offers fun for the whole family.

Season: Year Round $18

Alaska’s road to mod­ern­iza­tion a cen­tu­ry ago was a dra­mat­ic jour­ney, and the Foun­tain­head Antique Auto Muse­um explores that jour­ney in fun, vivid detail. On the grounds of Wedge­wood Resort — a mem­ber of the city’s pre­mier, local­ly owned hotel group — the muse­um show­cas­es dozens of his­tor­i­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant pre-World War II auto­mo­biles, and offers vis­i­tors a trip back to Alaska’s rugged and excit­ing for­ma­tive years.

The Mor­ris Thomp­son Cul­tur­al and Vis­i­tors Cen­ter in down­town Fair­banks has brochures, maps, free WiFi and tele­phone, dai­ly lodg­ing avail­abil­i­ty, and local walk­ing and dri­ving tours. Serv­ing as the region­al vis­i­tor facil­i­ty, the friend­ly and knowl­edge­able staff have answers to all your questions.

Devot­ed to all things ice, this muse­um will put you in a win­ter mood no mat­ter what the sum­mer tem­per­a­tures are like. You’ll see sev­er­al large ice dis­plays, a freez­er you can go in to feel like it’s 20 degrees below zero, a huge-screen slide show with the annu­al World Ice Art cham­pi­onships, and freez­ers with huge ice tableaux.

From Alas­ka native art to polar dinosaurs, you’ll find some­thing inter­est­ing on exhib­it here. Head to the cen­ter­piece of this muse­um, the Rose Berry Alas­ka Art Gallery, to see the full spec­trum of Alaskan art, from ancient Eski­mo ivory carv­ings to con­tem­po­rary paint­ings and sculptures.

The gold rush that start­ed Fair­banks relied heav­i­ly on an ear­ly rail­road to quick­ly and effi­cient­ly move peo­ple and valu­able goods along a string of mines and sup­port­ing com­mu­ni­ties. The Tanana Val­ley Rail­road Muse­um illus­trates the role of this rail­road in Fair­banks’ first indus­try through his­tor­i­cal exhibits, inter­pre­tive train rides, and on-site restoration.

The mis­sion of the Pio­neer Air Muse­um is to col­lect, pro­tect, and pre­serve for edu­ca­tion­al pur­pos­es objects that reflect the his­to­ry of inte­ri­or and arc­tic Alaskan avi­a­tion through acquir­ing, restor­ing, inter­pret­ing, and dis­play­ing his­tor­i­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant objects. View log­books, cloth­ing, maps, ear­ly flight instru­ments, and air­craft sport­ing skis and floats adapt­ed to rugged Alaskan runways.

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Talkeetna View All

The Talkeetna Historical Society looks at the town’s history of mining, flying and the railroad. The centerpiece: a 12-foot-by-12-foot display of Mt McKinley.

Learn about this rur­al town’s native, gold min­ing, and avi­a­tion his­to­ry in this muse­um housed in a lit­tle red school house, as well as a num­ber of small­er, old rail­road build­ings. You’ll find out about ice roads and hors­es wear­ing snow shoes, how air­planes took over from trac­tors, as well as infor­ma­tion about bear traps, native arti­facts, and how folks sur­vived the harsh win­ters of the Susit­na Val­ley. Also, see some of the orig­i­nal trappers’…  ...more

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Juneau View All

The state capital is home to the Alaska State Museum—a huge collection of Native artifacts, as well as Russia-American memorabilia—and the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, which chronicles the city's gold-panning past.

Season: Museum: Year-Round, Walking Tours: May - September $7 admission only | $31.50 walking tours (includes admission)

This muse­um sits on the site where Alas­ka offi­cial­ly became a state. View the exhibits and watch an award-win­ning doc­u­men­tary about the city. Plus, the City Muse­um doesn’t end at the building’s walls. From May to Sep­tem­ber, you can take walk­ing tours of his­toric down­town Juneau and the Alas­ka State Capitol.

New­ly ren­o­vat­ed in 2016. Estab­lished in 1900, the Muse­um col­lects, exhibits, and inter­prets the human and nat­ur­al his­to­ry of Alas­ka. The Muse­um fea­tures a full-size bald eagle nest­ing tree and exten­sive ethno­graph­ic exhibits on the cul­tures of Alaska’s Native peo­ple. Two gal­leries offer chang­ing exhibits.

Hours Fri­day: 11am-5pm Sat­ur­day: noon-4pm or by appoint­ment Admis­sion Free 

Locat­ed in the his­toric com­pres­sor build­ing asso­ci­at­ed with the for­mer Alas­ka Juneau Gold Min­ing Com­pa­ny which oper­at­ed in Juneau from 1912 until 1944. The muse­um fea­tures one of the world’s largest air com­pres­sors and oth­er indus­tri­al arti­facts asso­ci­at­ed with hard rock gold min­ing. The site also includes elec­tric loco­mo­tives and rail cars which hauled men to the mine and ore to the mill. Access to the muse­um is via a short hike up the hill…  ...more

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Anchorage View All

Many visitors start their Alaskan trips here, and there’s no better way to get a grasp of Alaska's stories through places such as the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center —a comprehensive looks at Native and state history, accented with a lot of art—the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Alaska Aviation Museum or, if you're with kids, the hands-on science museum the Imaginarium.

Season: May - September 30+ mins

An aug­ment­ed real­i­ty expe­ri­ence in down­town Anchor­age inspired by the famed north­ern lights. This merg­ing of art and tech­nol­o­gy offers vis­i­tors of all ages a tru­ly unique way to feel the essence and mag­ic of the auro­ra bore­alis any time of year! 

Season: Year Round $25

There’s no bet­ter place to get a grasp on Alaska’s his­to­ry — real­ly, its many his­to­ries— than by vis­it­ing the Anchor­age Muse­um at Ras­mu­son Cen­ter. The state’s largest muse­um is tru­ly a world-class expe­ri­ence, offer­ing a com­pelling overview of Alaskan his­to­ry, art, cul­ture, and science.

Season: Year Round $29 1 - 3 hrs

This Anchor­age Cul­tur­al Cen­ter offers an in-depth look at Alaskan Native life — with a big focus on Alas­ka Natives. Watch danc­ing, lis­ten to sto­ries, meet carvers, and hear from artists. The set­ting is so small and inti­mate that vis­i­tors are some­times even invit­ed to join the dancers on stage.

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.

Home­stead­ers. Entre­pre­neurs. Pho­tog­ra­phers. This petite, but very well-done muse­um in mid­town Anchor­age offers engag­ing proof of how the state of Alas­ka has been shaped — and is still being shaped — by a diverse com­mu­ni­ty. It’s open 1pm — 6pm Sun­day through Thurs­day year-round (closed Fri­day and Sat­ur­day for the Jew­ish Sab­bath). It takes only 15 min­utes to see the exhibits, but you can also watch a 90-minute video about War­ren Met­zk­er, a legend  ...more

This Anchor­age library is much more than a spot for locals to check out books — it’s one of the most spec­tac­u­lar build­ings in Anchor­age and a true des­ti­na­tion for vis­i­tors. With a large sec­tion of Alaskana, gor­geous art­work, and numer­ous events, it’s a great place for trav­el­ers to get a bet­ter sense of the state. Free wi-fi, pub­lic com­put­ers, and lap­tops for rent offer are oth­er resources you can find here.

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Haines View All

The Bald Eagle Foundation pays tribute the iconic creatures that flock to this small town, through displays, dioramas and videos, while the Hammer Museum is dedicated to—yes—hammers, with 1,500 on display.

Dis­cov­er Haines! The Shel­don Muse­um is the muse­um of the Chilkat Val­ley. Expe­ri­ence the art and cul­ture of the Tlin­git peo­ple. Re-live pio­neer days, explore the gold rush, the Dal­ton Trail and life at Fort William H. Seward. The muse­um store has a large selec­tion of local and Alaskan books and art. Accred­it­ed by the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of Muse­ums. Hours Sum­mer Mon-Fri: 10am-5pm Sat-Sun: 1pm-4pm Extended…  ...more

A col­lec­tion of approx­i­mate­ly 1400 types of ham­mers, rep­re­sent­ing many dif­fer­ent trades and uses, housed in a cot­tage-style house. The Ham­mer Muse­um pro­vides a jour­ney into the past through the use of man’s first tool. From ancient times to the present, the ham­mer tells the sto­ry of man’s progress and inge­nu­ity. A unique adven­ture for the whole family.

The dream of the famed Chilkat tribe of Tlin­git Indi­ans, this work­ing muse­um hon­ors the great lega­cy of North­west Coast art as prac­ticed by a proud and wealthy peo­ple. It hous­es the famed Whale House arti­facts while serv­ing as a work­shop for con­tem­po­rary carvers and weavers.

Built like a cathe­dral but with two sto­ries of win­dows to let the out­doors in, the Haines Library is a gath­er­ing spot for vis­i­tors and res­i­dents alike. Three easy chairs at the end of its great hall are a priv­i­leged nook for patrons who get there first. When opened in 2002, Library Jour­nal ranked this as the nation’s finest small library. Find a book or mag­a­zine, sink into the rock­ing chair or an easy chair and soak in the view. You’ll feel like  ...more

The Amer­i­can Bald Eagle Foun­da­tion and Live Rap­tor Cen­ter is a non-prof­it edu­ca­tion cen­ter locat­ed near the post office, a few blocks from down­town Haines. And in the sum­mer, the cen­ter hosts live rap­tor pro­grams fea­tur­ing bald eagles, owls, hawks, and oth­er birds of prey. The muse­um has an enor­mous room filled with real­is­tic taxi­dermy dis­plays of a wide vari­ety of Alaskan crit­ters. You’ll also find a vari­ety of habi­tats and species  ...more

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Hope View All

The Hope-Sunrise Historical and Mining Museum houses photos and artifacts from the Turnagain Arm gold rush in 1896—complete with a mine bunkhouse, rock crushers and dog sleds.

The Hope-Sun­rise His­tor­i­cal and Min­ing Muse­um exhibits pho­tographs and arti­facts of the Tur­na­gain Arm Gold Rush of 1896 and the years since.

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