In 1906, Robert Hatcher discovered gold and staked the first claim in the Willow Creek valley, prompting the first lode mill to built in 1908 with mining continuing until 1951.
Now known as Independence Mine (Boomtown), this complex was once two mines: The Alaska Free Gold Mine on Skyscraper Mountain, and Independence Mine on Granite Mountain. The two mines were combined in 1938 the Alaska-Pacific Consolidated Mining Company.
Here you’ll find photographs from my project to capture the history, ruggedness, and remains of the Independence Mine Complex, nestled 3,000 feet above tree line in the Talkeetna Mountains, 60 miles northeast of Anchorage.
Mine Buildings From left to right, the Engineering Office & Warehouse, Bunkhouse No. 1, and the Framing Shop.
Ore Sorting Plant Today the sorting plant lay in waste.
Gardner Denver Diesel Engine A Diesel engine, used to move ore and supplies. now rests idle.
Old Mill The Apartment Building (left), which housed the four families of the mine supervisors, and the Cookhouse & Mess Hall viewed from above the old mill.
Mine Manager’s House Built in 1939 for mine general manager William Stoll’s family. The manager’s house was located apart from the rest of the complex, and had the most modern conveniences, like refrigeration, hot water, an electric range and washing machine.
Rail Car A lone rail car sits idle on the rails.
Mountain View The Talkeetna Mountains as viewed from atop the tramway.
Assay Office Testing of ore samples and retorting of amalgam was conducted in this building.
Tramway Portion of the tramway still stands above the old mill.
Atlas Imperial – The Powerhouse wing of Independence Mine’s mill complex housed the diesel generators and air compressors required to maintain the mill, mine, and camp operations. The Atlas Imperial diesel (135hp) drove the shaft-and-drive belt system powering the two ball mills. These diesel engines used almost 1,000 gallons of fuel a day to keep the operation running. The fuel, then about 15 cent a gallon, was delivered to the nearby town of Wasilla by train. In 1941, the fuel storage capacity was 178,000 gallons at the mine and 46,000 gallons in Wasilla.
Mill Remnants Burlap sacks used to ship gold concentrates to a smelter in Tacoma, Washington.
Tram What remains of the tramway.
Miners Creek Streams flow freely from the Talkeetna Mountains.
Ore Sorting Plant What remains of the sorting plant.
Fuel Drums Old diesel drums used to provide fuel to vehicles and machinery lie outside the old mine office & commissary.
Bunkhouse No. 2 As the complex began to grow during the late 1930s and early 1940s, a second bunkhouse was built to house an additional 50 men.
Mega Gear An old gear finds a resting place on a nearby hillside.
Boomtown Overview A view of “Boomtown” from atop the tramway.
Wagons Remnants of old wagons used in and around the complex.
Tramway and Old Mill View of the tramway winding around the old mill. The coarse ore bin at left, had a 330 ton capacity.
Rail Cars Used to move ore from the mine to the mill.