Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark

Kennecott Unigrid Brochure crop side 1

Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark (unigrid) brochure and map

(pdf format, 700 KB)

Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark
Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark

NPS / Mike Townsend

In June of 1998, the National Park Service acquired many of the significant buildings and lands of the historic mining town of Kennecott. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and designated as a National Historic Landmark since 1986, Kennecott is considered the best remaining example of early 20th Century copper mining.

Download The Kennecott Story (pdf format, 563 KB) or the Kennecott Site Map & Walking Tour (pdf format, 2 MB).

If you're interested in visiting Kennecott, here are directions on how to get there.

For trip-planning questions, contact the Kennecott Visitor Center.

If you'd like to use the Kennecott Recreation Hall, please contact the Wrangell Mountains Center.

When in Kennecott, please visit the interpretive exhibits at the various structures:

  • The General Store and Post Office has the most extensive collection of exhibits. This is also where you can view the short but informative film, “The Kennecott Mill”, bear safety videos and the park movie, “Crown of the Continent”.
  • Follow the tunnels, tramways and trails of the mining operation on our scale model of Bonanza Ridge, located in the North Sacking Shed. Take a peek into the flotation plant and explore other exhibits also housed in this building.
  • The General Manager’s Office is where it all began, the oldest building in Kennecott and the place where the big bosses worked. Observe the changes to both the mill town and the glacier over the years through the display of panoramic photos hanging on the walls. Catch a glimpse of what life was like for a secretary at Kennecott through the letters and photos of Nell Nicklas.

This is just a sampling of our exhibits. Check out the Blackburn School, Recreation Hall, Refrigeration Plant, Railroad Depot, Power Plant and Residential Cottage as well.

Kennecott- North End of Town
Kennecott Mill Town

NPS / Bryan Petrtyl


A Link To History

The Kennecott mill town and mines are an extraordinary relic from America's past. The impressive structures and artifacts that remain represent an ambitious time of exploration, discovery, and technological innovation. They tell stories of westward expansion, World War I politics and economy, the lives of men, women, and children who lived there, and the rise of a multinational corporation. Each link in the historical chain connects to another until we realize that this remote Alaska mining venture was intricately connected to the world around it.

The Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark includes the land and mining claims that formed the foundation for the Kennecott Copper Corporation, later the Kennecott Minerals Company. The operation had two components: the mines where ore was extracted from the mountains, and the mill town where the ore was processed. From 1911 to 1938, nearly $200 million worth of copper was processed. At the peak of operation, approximately 300 people worked in the mill town and 200-300 in the mines. Kennecott was a self-contained company town that included a hospital, general store, school, skating rink, tennis court, recreation hall, and dairy.

By the late 1920s, the supply of high-grade ore was diminishing, and Kennecott Copper Corporation was diversifying into other North American and Chilean mines. Declining profits and increasing costs of railroad repairs led to the eventual closure of the Kennecott operation by 1938. By that time, the corporation was well on the way to becoming a multinational giant.

Stabilizing a Landmark

Many of the buildings in Kennecott have been abandoned for decades. Some are in need of immediate stabilization to keep them standing, while other structures have deteriorated beyond the point of saving.

The National Park Service, along with the local community and Friends of Kennicott, are engaged in an ongoing planning effort to identify buildings that will be stabilized or rehabilitated, and those that will not receive attention at this time. The goal is to protect the historic integrity of the mill town so that future generations can explore and enjoy Kennecott.

A few buildings have been rehabilitated for modern use, including the Store and Post Office. The Recreation Hall was completed in 2004. It is used for educational programs and community events. The Blackburn School now serves as the park's Kennecott Visitor Center. Several other buildings have received repairs to roofs, foundations, and walls. Throughout the mill town you will observe lots of activity during the summer.

The stabilization work in Kennecott is expected to take many years. Through the hard work of many dedicated individuals, a unique piece of American history has been preserved. NPS is investigating potential cleanup actions at the Kennecott Mill Town site as part of an ongoing environmental investigation.

CLR Kennecott cover
Kennecott Mill Town Cultural Landscape Report

In June 1998, the National Park Service (NPS) acquired the land, mineral rights, and associated holdings of the Kennecott Copper Mines in south-central Alaska. Located in the center of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the area is a designated National Historic Landmark (NHL) District, encompassing 7,700 acres of public and private lands. The 2,839 acres purchased by the NPS includes property and structures in the historic mill town, which was the center of operations between 1901-1938.

After the Kennecott Copper Corporation left the site in 1938, portions of the property were sold to private individuals. Over the years the NPS has provided technical assistance to local organizations and individuals interested in documenting and stabilizing historic structures in the town. With the purchase of Kennecott the NPS has become a partner in the management of Kennecott. Committed to working with the community and private landholders, the NPS is fulfilling agency policies and legal mandates to preserve resources and provide public access.

Prior to the 1998 purchase, the NPS completed several special studies and reports to assist in the clean up of hazardous materials and to assess the requirements for stabilizing historic structures. Although these reports were helpful in understanding individual resources in the mill town, there was no single document addressing the relationship among resources or the landscape as a whole. Without a complete and holistic understanding of Kennecott’s resources, management of the NHL would be fragmented. This Cultural Landscape Report (CLR) was undertaken to consolidate existing research and to document and evaluate significant landscape resources. Based on the resource evaluation, this CLR proposes treatment for stabilization, preservation, and use of the cultural landscape at Kennecott.

Part One: Introduction, Site History, Existing Conditions, Analysis and Evaluation
(157 pages, pdf format, 16 MB)

Part Two: Treatment, Recommendations, Land Use, Bibliography, Appendices
(122 pages, pdf format, 13.8 MB)

Kennecott Aerial Tramways Cultural Landscape Inventory
(119 pages, pdf format, 11 MB)

Kennecott Operations and Management Plan
(web page link)

Additional Resources in Photo Gallery:

Ethel LeCount Photo Album
Personal photos taken by a Kennecott Nurse (1937-38).

Kennecott Engineering Drawings
Documentation of Kennecott was undertaken by the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), a division of the National Park Service, in cooperation with the Great Kennicott Glacier Land Company. Recording was carried out during the summers of 1985 and 1986.

Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark sign
Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark sign

NPS / Mike Townsend


Last updated: January 30, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve
PO Box 439
Mile 106.8 Richardson Highway

Copper Center, AK 99573


907 822-5234

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