Stone prepares for Thursday mining talk at Centennial Hall

Posted: Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Author and historian David Stone has been lecturing about Juneau's three hard-rock mines - the Treadwell Complex, the Alaska Gastineau and the Alaska-Juneau - since 1979.

Usually, Stone puts on a presentation at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum in late April or early May, right before the tourist season starts. This time, the two-hour talk has been moved to Centennial Hall.

Stone will lecture from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for children and seniors, and available at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum and Hearthside Books.

"People that are involved in the tourist industry know I have facts and quotes they can talk about when they're driving around Juneau," Stone said.

"It will go into the beginning of Juneau's mining technology, all the way through to the end," he said. "It will cover hydroelectric power development and talk about mining technology, the personalities of some of the miners, the social aspects of life in the mining era, why these mines were unique, what made them stand out as opposed to other mines around the world, and what they left behind."

Stone will show about 150 of his 4,000 slides, including a few of the early mining photographs that Jim Geraghty uncovered on eBay late last year and acquired for the City Museum. The photographs are on display at the museum.

"I'm going to show one of the Sheep Creek powerhouse, a view of which I've never seen before," Stone said. "It was the first hydroelectric project they built."

Stone has been enchanted with the mines since he was a young boy. He began interviewing old-timers as a teenager, studied geology and returned to town to write "Hard Rock Gold," one of the seminal books on Juneau's mining past. He was then hired by Alaska Electric Light & Power, which allowed him access to many of the town's mining records. Stone also serves on the Juneau Assembly.

His talk will touch on the devastation of the Douglas fire, as it spread through Treadwell; the A-J mill fire of 1965; gold production in Juneau compared to other places in Alaska; the underground workings and layout of the large mines; and the remnants.

"These people were innovative," Stone said. "Salmon Creek Dam, first of its kind. Annex Creek, first lake tap in the world. Stock options, eight-hour working days, highest wages paid anywhere in the world, workmen's comp before it became law. Socially they were very advanced, as well as technologically advanced."

• Korry Keeker can be reached at

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