The first major Alaska gold strike came in Juneau in 1880 when prospectors Joseph Juneau and Richard Harris made a find in what is now called “Gold Creek.”
There was a time when the miners of Juneau hiked each day for hours to get to their jobs in the adits high above downtown Juneau. Today, the historic Perseverance Trail gives visitors a taste of what that daily trek was like—albeit without the grueling drudgery faced by most.
The six-mile roundtrip trail winds hikers today up into Silverbow Basin, along Gold Creek, where locals still pan for gold today.
But not everyone has to go the distance. Instead, check out the Last Chance Mining Museum. This relic was once the Alaska Juneau Gold Mining Company’s historic Compressor Building, which was used by the mining company from 1912 until 1944.
These days, it’s maintained by the Gastineau Channel Historical Society, noted on the National Register of Historic Places and can be found at the end of Basin Road.
Visitors can check out one of the world’s largest mining air compressors, a host of industrial mining tools and artifacts associated with hard rock gold mining, as well as electric locomotives and rail cars which hauled men to the mine and ore to the mill.
One thing not to be missed is the opening to an abandoned mineshaft located just above the parking lot. Passage is blocked for safety reasons, but cold air from deep in the mountain still pours out of the black hole 24 hours a day.