June 25 – Chitina, Alaska


We hated to leave our present site – in fact the manager had said we would stay a week or two longer – almost – but I resisted and continued on with our journey.

Trip to Chitina wasn’t too bad (only 47 miles), roads were in good shape until the last 10 miles and then the frost heaves took over.DSC_0040

Chitina was a railroad town that sprang up in 1910 and even though the railroad is gone the town hosts a lot of fisherman. It is a preserved Ghost Town.

Arrived at Wrangell View RV Park early and couldn’t find our reservation on the post. Went into town (4 miles away) to the owner of the park and she said the guy probably hadn’t done it yet but pick a site and enjoy. Only 10 sites with full hook ups (needed to do laundry) and we picked the primo site – on the edge with a view of the mountains.

Back into town after lunch and down by the Copper River to watch Salmon fishing – you have to remember that is all they do in this area – fish or talk about fishing.

Did stop at the NP office in Chitina.

The drive from the campground into town was just something else – I could drive it over and over!

The drive from the town to the bridge took us through an old railroad track passage that was one lane wide.

Fishwheels were introduced in 1912 to fish the Copper River and only residents can use them and are limited to the number of salmon they can capture and they cannot sell the fish – for personal use only.

We parked by the bridge and walked the dogs across it. Saw guys dipnet fishing – chest high in the water – they would sweep that net through the water and gather two or three salmons and bring them to shore and beat them over the head.

Walked out on the delta and came upon a couple of guys cleaning fish – and they had a cooler filled with 40-50 salmons all filleted. I guess residents can get a 100 per person – it’s one of their main food sustenance.

The braided rivers along the delta was impressive.

Stopped in town and used my phone (finally got LTE signal) as a hotspot and updated the laptop with recent information – it’s been days since we have seen TV or perused the internet –what is happening out there?– so less stressful not knowing.

Monday is our off-road trip to McCarthy and Kennecott – I say off-road because there isn’t much of a road to those locations. Horror stories have been published of the 60 mile old train track bed (railroad constructed around 1910 to transport copper from the mine – nicknamed “Can’t Run and Never Will”) and (later abandoned and converted to a road or you could say a trail). They say DO NOT travel this road without a jack and spare tire as you WILL get a flat tire – the railroad spikes still lie in the gravel and you probably will hit one.

This whole area is a part of the Wrangell St. Elias NP.

We ventured out with the dogs and began the treacherous journey. Gravel, chip and seal, gravel, dirt, more dirt, gravel and on and on. Lots of curves and hills – needed to be aware of others coming the opposite direction speeding and driving the center line.

Scenery was spectacular as usual and we did make it the distance without a flat tire.DSC_0037

To get to McCarthy you need to cross two pedestrian bridges – over the Kennicott River (no personal vehicles into town) and then catch a shuttle the rest of the way (1/4 mile).

McCarthy – I don’t know what to say except – this is a typical rural Alaska town with all its remoteness – dogs run loose (sign to prove) and few buildings – they do have a saloon, store and a few homes.

McCarthy was the town for the Kennecott mine – had saloons, brothels, hotels stores at its prime. Had lunch there and an Alaskan beer.

Then we shuttled it ($5 one way – 4 miles) to Kennecott Mill Town. Kennecott was a copper mine, with the world’s richest concentration of high grade copper ore and it was abandoned (emptied) in 1938. It had produced up to $300 million in copper and silver.

And the buildings are still there. It was impressive to see such large structures and what they were able to do way out in the boondocks. Kennecott is National Historic Landmark and one of the best remaining examples of 20th Century copper mining.

My setting on the camera was on the wrong setting and I missed a lot of pics.DSC_0104
The National park system took over the mine and has been trying to restore the buildings and keep them from falling totally apart – though some have.

The area has developed into a town with hotels, stores and a few restaurants. And people live here.

We explored the mining buildings as we could – did not get to take a tour.

We then hiked to the Root Glacier which was about two miles from town – unfortunately it began to drizzle and you could feel the cold air coming from the air blowing over the glacier. We made it to the glacier but didn’t get on it as the trail was muddy and dangerous for our dogs to go.

People hiking on the glacier.

We then returned and caught the shuttle back to the pedestrian bridge.

Now for the trip home – 2-1/2 hours and no flats. I have never been on a road with so many washboards – 10 mph but no broken parts.

We did stop in Chitina and ate (Mac and Cheese and reindeer sausage) and caught up with Wi-Fi.

Tuesday is our off day.

Wednesday is off to Valdez, Alaska.

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