|a l a s k a j o u r n e y . c o m|
|Anchorage, Matsu & Cook Inlet|
Location/Size: On Hatcher Pass Road between Palmer and Willow in the Talkeetna Mountains, 18 miles from Palmer, 32 miles from Willow. 271 acres.
Main Activities: Mining history, high-country access.
Gateway Towns/Getting There: Palmer/vehicle access via Glenn Highway (AK 1); Willow/vehicle access via Parks Highway.
Park Access: Vehicle access via Hatcher Pass Road to parking lot; foot access through mining ruins.
Facilities, Camping, Lodging: Visitor center, historic buildings, roads and paths. No camping or lodging.
Headquarters and Information: DNR Public Information Center, 3601 C Street, Suite 200, Anchorage, AK 99503, 269-8400; Matanuska-Susitna Area Office, 745-3975; Park Visitor Center, park entrance, 745-2827, www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/units/indmine.htm.
The first gold claim along Willow Creek was staked by Robert Lee Hatcher in 1906. Placer deposits in the creek hinted at lodes in the Talkeetna Mountains and it wasnt long before big companies got involved in hard-rock mining around Hatcher Pass. In the peak year of 1941, the Alaska-Pacific Consolidated Mining Company (largest in the area) had 83 claims and produced almost 35,000 ounces of gold. Profits fell after World War II and, in 1951, the mines closed. In 1974, Independence Mine was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, leading to the creation of the state historic park in 1980.
A number of historic buildings, machinery, shafts, tailings, and ruins are protected within the small park. More are scattered throughout the larger mining district. Make a stop at the visitor center near the park entrance for information and a walking-tour pamphlet. From there, you can explore the 271 acres via roads and footpaths.
The visitor center is open daily in summer, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Guided tours are offered at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. daily, with an additional 4:30 p.m. tour on weekends.