The Kennecott Mill is one of the most famous attractions in the Wrangell-St Elias National Park and I must say it won’t disappoint!
To see this large 13 story building with modern amenities like electricity and running water in a very remote part of Alaska is such a strange contradiction. But to think it was built almost 100 years ago makes it even harder to comprehend. Even today, only a handful of buildings in Anchorage exceed the size of Kennecott.
These buildings are often mistakenly referred to as the Kennecott Mine. This is actually where the copper was milled, the mines are all much higher up in the mountains. If you look closely you can still see some of the buildings and remnants of the tramways. With a little extra effort you can still hike to some of these mine buildings, although they are starting to deteriorate. The mine shafts themselves have been blocked off by the Park Service. I have friends who used to be able to get into the mine tunnels and they have described some interesting sites, including large dinning rooms where the tables still had plates on them, and recreation rooms with pool tables still intact.
When I was young, you could explore all over in the mill building, and the other surrounding buildings. Since this property was abandoned suddenly due to a strike, most everything was left behind including medical records, old invoices, pay stubs – you name it. You may still take a guided tour of the mill building, but today the buildings have all been secured by the Park Service – probably for good reason.