The employees of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park were courteous and kind to me, as Artist-in-Residence they let me sit in the front seat of the helicopter during our ride from May Creek to Green Butte. It scenery was spectacular, and the location of the old copper mine was incredible. It was perched precariously on the side of a very steep mountain. Every time I visit one of these historic places I’m overwhelmed by what people were able to build so many years ago, without the transportation, tools, and modern technology of today. These early pioneers of Alaska were a tough, smart and fearsome bunch.
It is amazing how much still remains from this copper mine, the claims were established in 1907 by John E. Barrett, the machine shop with a lot of equipment was still there in 1989 during my visit. I took a lot of photos (slides) the sky was overcast, and it began do drizzle by mid afternoon. I explored each building and climbed all over the hillside. This was an opportunity of a lifetime and I wanted to make the most of every minute.
The location of this mine is on the mountain to the east of McCarthy Creek valley where the lower camp was established. The original name for this claim was the Green Group and was part of the largest copper mining district in Alaska, the Nizina district, which included the principal mines Erie, Jumbo, Bonanza, Mother Lode and Green Butte, all located at Kennicott, Alaska, four miles north of McCarthy.
Next I planned to climb up and explore the ruins at the entrance to the mine tunnel, quite high and very steep….
Gail Niebrugge, Alaska wilderness artist