Kennecott Copper Mines – Alaska

There are many ghosts roaming our world from the old pioneer days and the northern state of Alaska is no exception to this.  Alaska is littered with countless abandoned Russian settlements, these deserted sites are scattered with the artifacts of doomed explorations into the cold and mysterious tundra.  Old spirits are said to be trapped within the animals roaming the cold white northern land.   Legends say that the animals are carrying the spirits of those crossed over from this realm and into the next.

Alaskan Miners - Copper Mines
Alaskan Miners – Copper Mines

The lore of many spirits and haunts wondering the forest, haunting the old cabins, sliding through the mountain passes and dwelling around old broken ships is quite abundant, however there is only one story that claims to have scared away the Alaskan state government.

It is no surprise that the majority of ghost stories in Alaska’s vast land have been reported near the site of the world’s richest copper and gold mines.  The old railroad that once serviced the Kennecott copper mines in the Valdez and Chitina mining districts is said to be so haunted, so scary, that to this day (73 years later, since it’s last production) the phantom spirits plague repetitive attempts by even Alaskan government to re-develop the area.

Kennecott Tourist on Rails
Kennecott Tourist on Rails

The old railroad is an abandoned, 200 mile long stretch of railroad tracks winding from Kennicott Glacier south to Cordova on Prince William Sound. Copper was shipped south to smelters in Tacoma, Washington after being processed there.  The railroad, built by the J.P. Morgan-financed Kennecott Copper Corp. around 1909, completed in 1911, was built over many unstable areas. One of those areas included a massive glacier, which required that the tracks had to be moved continuously, as the glacier shifted around , day by day.  The track bridged gaping canyons and clung to rugged rock walls above the wild Copper River. While the railroad was being constructed, thousands of laborers had to dig through the deep snow and even avalanches.  Others had to blast their way through miles of rock. With these horrendous conditions it is not a surprise that many of the workers were reported to have met their maker during construction of the railroad.

Copper Railways Bridge
Copper Railways Bridge

The rail line was no cheap endeavor and ended up costing Kennecott Corp. around $20 million to build.  That would be comparable to around .5 billion dollars in our time.  The investment did ultimately pay off and eventually produced millions of tons of copper ore that passed south over the Chitina River Bridge, and many other unstable bridges.  The acronym for the CR & NW railroad came to mean something different for the workers, their claim is that it humorously mean’t “Can’t Run and Never Will.”

Chitina is where most Alasakan ghost stories came from, and many spread through out the large area where the railway ran.  For many years, tourists and passer-bys have claimed they’ve seen tombstones just off the old dirt path where in places it parallels with the tracks of the Old Copper Railroad.

Kennecott Historic Mill
Kennecott Historic Mill

The same travelers have consistently reported that the grave markers disappear, virtually vanish into thin air when they look for them on their way back.

Near end of the twentieth century, the state of Alaska began developing government housing along the once marked ‘CR & NW’ trail.  During the housing’s construction, many workers regularly saw phantom visions and heard disembodied voices of both children and adults along the “Old Copper Railroad” which made continuing the work there completely impossible.

Abandoned Railways of  Copper River and Northwest Rails
Abandoned Railways of Copper River and Northwest Rails

Things became even worse after that.

Construction workers had already seen the grave stones and often heard the wailing of dead miners from earlier times.  The spooked construction workers started losing their tools, sometimes right off of their belts and boxes.  The stories and sitings were enough to scare away even the bravest public servants.  The whole construction project is rumored to have been canceled due to the ghosts of the mines.

Kennecott Historic Mill
Kennecott Historic Mill

If you’re looking to venture out to see the old ghost mines, getting out to the abandoned track will not be easy, as most any other place in Alaska.  There are very few haunted places that have as many spirits deterring resettlement as the abandoned ghost towns and railways of the Kennecott Copper Mines.

Video featuring the ghost mines:

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