McCarthy & Kennecott

AlaskaPosted by Malin Sun, June 13, 2010 23:29:50

The last few days we’ve had a great time driving down the McCarthy Road, built on the old railway, 99 years after the first train. McCarthy and Kennecott came into existence when copper was found there in 1900, but they needed a way to get it out, and a 196 miles railroad was built from Cordova on the coast to the mine at Kennecott. Kennecott mine and McCarthy was abandoned in 1938 when price on copper fell and there was no profit in the mining any longer. The railway was made into a road in the 1960’s.

Today we are able to drive the 60 mile road from Chitina almost to McCarthy even if we were warned that the road was no good, and that old railway spikes will surface every now and then and ruin our tires. Truth is, the road was not bad at all, maybe because we are so used to Norwegian road standards…

The drive in was beautiful!

On our way we stopped along the Chitina River as we saw some strange constructions on the river bed. It turned out to be locals fishing with something called fishing wheels. These are powered by the current in the river, and scoops out fish swimming upstream. We’ll try to post a video of this thing. This was quite an ingenious piece of fishing gear that would take care of the fishing for you, while you are off to other activities.

McCarthy cannot be reach by car. The city (55 residents) is just on the other side of a big glacier river, and the bridge is only wide enough for ATVs. We had heard that it could be possible to drive cross the river if the water level was low, but it wasn’t really. We would not risk drowning the car if we didn’t have to. After a short hike we found our self on the main street of McCarthy.

Some of the buildings were rebuilt, and ran tourist related business; flightseeing, hotel, restaurant, and guide services. The next day we hitched a ride up to Kennecott, the mining city five miles up the hill.

Here we walked along the old mining facilities

and took a zillion pics, before hiking the old carriage road back to McCarthy, and across the bridge to the camp, the Patrol and a dinner before driving back to Chitina.

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