Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Old Kennecott Copper Railroad - Chitina, Alaska

Winding along the Copper River from Chitina to Kennicott, the Copper River and Northwestern Railway was built in 1908.  For 30 years the trains toiled along the trek from Cordova through Chitina and McCarthy to the nearby Kennecott copper mines. The area along the railway became home to many of the copper miners, mechanics, their families, and all of those it took to keep the mines running.  After the copper was depleted in 1938, the Copper River and Northwestern Railway railway closed as well and the tracks covered over with dirt.

The old copper mine railroad from Chitina, AK to Kennecott is now known as McCarthy road
The abandoned copper mines at Kennecott, Alaska

Over the years as people walked along the dirt path they have sworn to have seen tombstones in the woods along the trail that did not look familiar.  On return trips however, their investigation would take a startling turn as the graves seem to have disappeared.  Many have claimed to hear the voices of children laughing and playing in the woods in the evenings as well as adults talking, only to find no one around.

Some portions of the abandoned Copper River and Northwestern Railway where the tracks buckled from the extreme conditions

In the 1990's a public housing project was underway along the Kennecott trail.  However, it had to be closed down for a period because the construction workers refused to report to work.  They claimed to hear the disembodied voices that so many before them had heard.  Tools would turn up missing and many strange happenings would take place.  So they refused to set foot on the site.

Some portions of the old copper railroad are very narrow

The road is now paved over and is known as McCarthy Road. It is the main passageway into the Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park which happens to be the largest park in the United States.  The copper mines, long since abandoned, still stand as a monument to past mining culture of the area.  However, you still may get a glimpse of the phantom gravestones and hear the children laughing along the old copper railroad.


  1. McCarthy Road from Chitna to McCarthy is not paved and there is still remnants of the original tracks at various points along the 60 mile stretch of road.

    1. False. I used mine there in my heyday. I can attest that its actually 53 miles long.