Alaska Treasure Mine and the ghost town of Gastineau City

The history of the Alaska Treasure Mine begins in 1884, when William Thompson found mineralization on the south end of Douglas Island, in the Nevada Creek area. Unable to find any backers, Thompson didn’t develop it and the area was abandoned.

In 1903, Percy Morgan and Col. Frank Stone purchased the area and created the Alaska Treasure Gold Mining Company. There were 25 employees working the property in the summer of 1904. The next year a wagon road was built from the beach to the mine site; it had an elevation gain of about 800 feet. Under the watchful eye of Mike Hudson, buildings were built, tunnels drilled and, by the end of the year, the Corbus Mill, Hudson adit, Hogback shaft and 700 feet of trenches were completed. In 1906, 1.5 tons of hand-picked ore was sent to a smelter and it came back with an $11,000 return.

Stone was very happy with the work that had been completed. He left the mine to arrange for more drill equipment and a 10-stamp mill, with plans to order another 10, but he had trouble finding parts due to the destruction left by the San Francisco earthquake.

In late October of 1906, a 20 Risdon Iron Works stamp mill arrived. It was built and began crushing ore from the Hudson tunnel on Thanksgiving Day. At this time Nick King, the previous foreman at the 240 mill in Treadwell, was in charge of the Corbus Mill. But shortly after the start up one of the 10-stamp mills developed a broken part and was unable to run. The other continued until freeze-up two weeks later.

Very little work was done in 1907. Mike Hudson, the foreman, was elected as mayor of Douglas in 1908. He told the press that the Alaska Treasure Company was running strong and would start up the mill that summer. However Col. Stone had been ill for some time and died in June. Work was stopped once more due to legal issues.

After Stone’s death, Hudson took over as new management, and began to reorganize and find new backing. In 1909, a boarding house and bunkhouse were built with a telephone line. The Main Working Tunnel was started and extended to 3,400 feet by October 1909, with plans for another 400 feet by the end of the year.

A US census count taken in January 1910 lists 50 people living in the mine area, called Gastineau City by the locals. Hudson staked out lots in the new town, located at the mouth of Nevada Creek, next to the Alaska Treasure Company’s buildings and proposed 200-stamp mill site. Pete Anderson, his wife and two children and Aaron Anderson and his wife also lived in the area. Aaron was from Sweden and Pete was from Norway. Members of their families still live in Juneau today.

On March 30, 1910, at about 4:30 in the morning, a fire broke out in the boarding house, with seven men inside; six made it out but Joe Faber was burned to death.

The workers began to complain about the bad luck and morale began to drop. At the Main Working Tunnel the same year, horses replaced men for hauling the ore out of the now 3,800-foot adit. Once again the mine was shut down due to dissension among the company’s English backers. No work was done in 1911. In 1912 measurements were made for the mill site but nothing else.

In 1913 the Alaska Treasure property was purchased at a foreclosure sale by John Lynch. He claimed that they would start working a newly discovered “60-foot vein” in the Main Working Tunnel. By the next year, only minor work had been done. Then in 1915 and 1916, a crew began drifting along the 60-foot vein for a length of 500 feet. The luck ran out in 1917 and the mine was closed for good; however, the management thought the mine would reopen so the equipment was left intact. In 1921 there was a foreclosure sale. Then in 1935 the workings were sampled, and again in 1968-69 by AlVenCo. After that the property was leased to BP Minerals. Some picnickers on March 4, 1936, left a campfire going in the old powerhouse, and it burned to the ground.

The Alaska Treasure Mine has almost vanished into the forest. The mill has collapsed and fallen down the hill. Much of it has been buried over the years The stamps and the Risdon wheel remain exposed around rotting timbers. The wagon road has been cleared, and makes a nice path up the hill from the beach. Just up from the high tide line, at the mouth of Nevada Creek, are the remains of the twin giant boilers, and compressor. The concrete footings, a wash basin, and other bits of rusted metal are all that remain of Gastineau City. One adit near the beach was blasted shut, the Corbus Adit has caved in over time. The Main Working Tunnel and the Hudson Adit are gated off, the Main Working Tunnel has several partial caved-in sections, but the Hudson remains as clean as the day it was dug. Only the Mill Adit remains open, hidden on the banks of Nevada Creek. It is half water-filled and dangerous due to its hidden shaft. A total of 5,509 feet of workings existed on the property, with three shafts totaling 345 feet.

Currently the property is closed to the public, and is the site of a “Super Fund” like project. If you would like to know more about the cleanup, check out this link: http://watermanmp.com/nevada-creek-restoration-project/

This will be my last article for the Capital City Weekly for a while. If you enjoyed the Juneau’s Hidden History series, please email the Capital City Weekly and let them know, at editor@capweek.com.

As always please remember the miners that came before you. They left a lot of history behind, enjoy it while you can, we will not be here forever.

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