Kennecott Mine

Useful Information

Location: Kennecott (Kennicott), Alaska.
Open: 17-MAY to 07-SEP daily 9:30, 13:30, 15:30.
Limited to 14 participants.
Additional tours depending on demand.
Fee: Adults USD 25.
Classification: MineCopper Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=130,000m
Guided tours: D=2.5 h.
Address: Kennecott Mine, St Elias Alpine Guides, LLC, PO Box 92129, Anchorage, AK 99509, Free: 888-933-5427, Tel: +1-907-554-4445. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1899 limestone-greenstone contact first reported by early geologists surveying the area.
1900 copper discovered by two prospectors.
1911 railroad completed, first ore shipped.
1915 mining company renamed renamed Kennecott Copper Corporation.
1938 mine closed.


The copper in the area of Kennecott was among the richest deposits ever found. It is found at the contact between Chitistone Limestone and Nikolai Greenstone. The contact is easily visible at the mountains northeast of the present mine site, as the limestone is bright and the greenstone is dark.


Kennecott Mine is a copper mine located at a place also named Kennecott in Alaska. It is located at a rather exceptional location, at the rim of the Kennicott Glacier. If you think we have mispelled the name of the glacier: Kennicott is the correct spelling for the glacier and Kennecott the correct spelling for the mining company and mill site. It seems long ago a mispelling has happened and today both spellings are used. However, the mining company which started here and is now world famous, mining the biggest open cast copper mines on Earth, is spelled with e so we will use this spelling throughout.

The copper ore at Kennecott has a very high grade, and so it was already mined by the indigneous Athabascan Indians. This valley was inhabited by the Ahtna tribe. The Russians never reached the Copper River valley, but after Alaska had been purchased by the U.S.A. and the gold rush had started the copper was also discovered by the white man. In the summer of 1900, the prospectors Clarence Warner and "Tarantula Jack" Smith discovered the oxidized copper. Stephen Birch purchased the claim, funded by a group of venture capitalists, the "industrial baron" families of the time, the Morgans and Guggenheims. The mining copmany was first named Alaska Syndicate, later it was renamed Kennecott Copper Corporation. This company constructed the impressive wooden mill where crushing, sorting and shipment occurred, and built a 315 kilometre long railroad line from, the Copper River & Northwestern Railroad from Kennecott to Cordova. From there the ore was transported to Tacoma, Washington, where it was processed. The mine was connected with the mill by a tram system. Some 130 kilometers of tunnels were dug while the mine was working.

Kennecott Copper Corporation employed over 600 people, 300 at the mill site and another 300 lived in the mines and bunkhouses up the mountain. Kennecott was a company town, owned by the mining company. It had all necessary infrastructure, like a power plant, a modern hospital, gymnasium, schoolhouse, recreation facilities, and a dairy. But the general store was also owned by the mine and the miners had to buy anything they needed there.

Today the 14 story Mill Building of the Kennecott Copper Corporation is managed by the National Park Service. It is still the tallest wooden structure in America. And it still holds all its old equipment, from rock crushers to shaker tables. There are tours into the building offered by St. Elias Alpine Guides.