Kennecott & McCarthy – Alaskan Ghost Towns

From the moment I first saw a photo of the abandoned copper mill in the mining ghost town of Kennecott, while planning our trip to Alaska, I knew it had to go on my Bucket List.

IMG_4012 (stitch)Then I discovered it was in the Wrangell – St Elias National Park, at the end of the McCarthy Road – a former railroad into the heart of the middle of nowhere, now converted into a 63-mile-long, unpaved, dead-end street – and I was even more determined to get there.

IMG_3871IMG_3929We stayed at Ma Johnson’s Historic Hotel in McCarthy, an old boarding house straight out of the Wild West. Our first evening was spent exploring the sparse remnants of this once thriving frontier settlement, which serviced the Kennecott miners during the mine’s heyday.

IMG_4141IMG_4140The next morning we excitedly headed to Kennecott itself, 5 miles further up the valley, beside the Kennicott Glacier. (BTW. the spelling mistake was made when the town was originally named, not by me!)

IMG_4345The whole town was incredible, but the highlight was definitely the old mill. Built against the slope of the mountain behind, at 14 storeys high, it’s reputedly still the tallest wooden structure in North America. Just seeing it gave me a great sense of fulfillment.

IMG_4348IMG_4040Then we discovered that St. Elias Alpine Guides did tours through the inside of the mill! Sign me up!!

We started at the top of the building, and over the next two or three hours worked our way down to the bottom. It was fan-tas-tic! Our guide, Ben, told us all about the history of Kennecott and the various processes that occurred at the different levels within the mill. He also sparked a desire in us to see one of the mines that delve into the surrounding mountains, high above the town.

IMG_4068IMG_4077IMG_4082IMG_4083IMG_4123We told Ben we were considering hiking the 4.5 miles to the Bonanza Mine, over 3,800 feet higher up the mountain. When we admitted that we were unsure if we were biting off more than we could chew, Ben gave us a piece of sound advice.

“Make a commitment,” he said. “Go to the mercantile, get yourself some vittles, and just do it!”

How can you ignore a piece of advice that includes the words ‘mercantile’ and ‘vittles’?

So we made a commitment. We went to the mercantile. We got our vittles. And we hiked to the Bonanza Mine…


IMG_4278IMG_4295IMG_4300IMG_4309IMG_4312It was EPIC! So much so, the trip has become the core for the fourth Jaspa’s Journey novel, The Hermit Of Kennecott.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given by a local while travelling?

IMG_4387IMG_4393This post is inspired by Dawn’s (of The Day After) A Lingering Look at Architecture: May ~ Abandoned Architecture, by Cee’s (of Cee’s Photography) Which Way Challenge and the Daily Post‘s theme this week of On The Move.

Before you rush out to the mercantile to get some vittles for your trip to McCarthy and Kennecott, why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal, or through my websiteFacebook, Twitter and Instagram?

And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!

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About Jaspa

Jaspa's Journey is a series of award-winning, travel-based adventure novels for strong middle grade readers by Rich Meyrick. Join the Adventure! Read the books! Follow Jaspa’s ongoing Journeys at Let's explore this amazing world together! And don’t forget to download the books and see what the buzz is all about!
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27 Responses to Kennecott & McCarthy – Alaskan Ghost Towns

  1. sueslaght says:

    Fabulous photos of what looks like an amazing adventure. Yes advice from locals is the way to go. Our recent trip to Aberdeen saw us in some tiny little pubs at the advice of a local. We never would have found these hole in the wall spots.

    • Jaspa says:

      That’s one of the reasons we like to explore new places by following the geocaches, Sue. The locals know the interesting, off-the-beaten-track spots to hide them, so you often get to see stuff you’d otherwise miss.

  2. Amy says:

    I agree with Sue. What an adventure!

  3. This is awesome. Thanks so much for linking up!

  4. Fantastic experience. Fantastic photos.

  5. Troy Larson says:

    We had a local gas station attendant tell us to go visit Haley, North Dakota, and when we got there, we saw this: Cool near-ghost town.

  6. Why?Matters! says:

    That is fantastic! I would love to see some of this in real. Great

  7. Cee Neuner says:

    You have some great photos here.

  8. mukhamani says:

    Thank you for taking us along:) Lakshmi

  9. simaroseblossom says:

    The photos are beautiful and haunting

  10. Great photos ! I love abandoned places ❤
    Cheers Angela

  11. Pingback: Liebster Award | Jaspa's Journal

  12. You had me at mercantile and vittles! What a fun blog and a fabulous place to visit, take pictures, and hike further. These are the places we love best — history and culture all rolled into one. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jaspa says:

      I still smile at the ‘mercantile and vittles’ story myself. As for McCarthy and Kennecott, they were such special places, they’re going to be the focus of the fourth book in the Jaspa’s Journey series: The Hermit of Kennecott.

  13. I love Alaska!! You made me miss it. I saw a deserted mine like this in South Dakota. Great pics!

  14. Fantastic! What an awesome place and that tall building: wow! I totally understand why you just had to go there!

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