In September 1906, Robert Lee Hatcher discovered and staked the first lode gold claim in the Willow Creek Valley, an expensive task for an individual operator which led to The Alaska Free Gold Mine on Skyscraper Mountain to be coupled and bought together with Independence Mine on Granite Mountain under one company in 1938, the Alaska-Pacific Consolidated Mining Company.
With a staggering 83 mining claims, APC became the largest producer in the Willow Creek Mining District. Employing 204 men, blasting nearly a dozen miles of tunnels, producing 34,416 ounces of gold worth an estimated $17,200,000 today in it’s prime year 1941.
During World War II the mine continued to operate because of the presence of Sheelite, a strategic metal which occurs in some of the quartz veins along with gold. However the exemption was short-lived and by 1943 Independence Mine was ordered to close.
Post-war inflation raged with gold mining becoming an unprofitable venture. Consequently leading to Independence Mine being closed by APC, January of 1951.
23 years later, The Mine was entered into the National Register of Historic Places and towards the late 1970’s, 271 acres of land were donated to the Alaska Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation for establishment of Independence Mine State Historical Park. Title to the acreage was transferred to the State of Alaska on January 16, 1980.
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