Memory cast in Stone

New museum exhibit honors lifelong Juneauite, historian David Stone

David Stone left behind a legacy in many ways. The former City and Borough of Juneau Assemblyman and deputy mayor’s work remains in Juneau’s ordinances and resolutions. His family still lives in town.

But when Stone passed away unexpectedly in late 2012 at 55, he also left behind a collection of artifacts related to his greatest passion — his hometown’s rich mining history.

A collection of Stone’s mining artifacts were unveiled Sunday as the Last Chance Mining Museum’s first new exhibit in 20 years. Laurel Stone, David Stone’s wife, donated the items in the hope that the new exhibit would “share his love.”

“I wanted his legacy and curiosity and passion to continue to be shared,” she said at the museum event. “He was fascinated by this whole state.”

David Stone was a geologist by training, Laurel Stone said, but became fascinated with Juneau’s mines as a youngster. He interviewed retired miners and co-authored a book on the subject, “Hard Rock Gold.”

“He got into studying the mines and writing about the history of it all,” she said.

Some of the items donated to the museum include old miner’s helmets, carbide lights, glass insulators and history books, among many other things.

One of the most interesting items is a brass bottle, museum co-director Gary Gillette said. Renée Hughes, the other museum director and Gillette’s wife, said, “Wow, this is a pretty big flask,” when they first received the donation, Gillette said with a laugh. They then figured out it was actually an old-fashioned hot water bottle.

David Stone played a part in the museum during his lifetime, too, Gillette said. The geologist was “the guy you could be referred to” if you had a Juneau history question, he said.

“He’s helped us identify artifacts over the years,” Gillette said.

Also on Sunday afternoon, the mining museum was celebrating its 20th summer season in operation, as well as International Museum Day. Visitors snacked on homemade treats while checking out the new exhibit, as well as old favorites.

The addition of David Stone’s collection is a big deal for the museum, located in a century-old building near the Perseverance trailhead. Until now, the collection has remained relatively unchanged, Hughes said.

“Over the years we’ve gotten a couple different things but not an entire exhibit,” she said.

The Last Chance Mining Museum is volunteer-powered, and is always accepting new helpers, Hughes said. For more information, contact the museum at 586-5338.

• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at katherine.moritz@juneauempire.com.

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