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History of Valdez Creek Mining District

The Valdez Creek Mining District (VCMD) has been inhabited by natives since prehistoric times. Archeologists have found evidence that the area was a prime hunting ground. However no permanent settlement was established because of the migrating game and the harsh winters of the Alaskan interior. It was not until the late 1800's that the first "non-natives' entered the VCMD. The Russians fur traders were only interested in fur, leaving the vast natural resources unexplored. That would soon change.

The Klondike Gold Rush of 1896-97 brought many prospectors into the Yukon, as well as Alaska. In the summer of 1897, W.G. Jack became the first white man to reach the headwaters of the upper Susitna River. They made many good finds, and the mining was difficult. The miners faces were so swollen from mosquito bites, that they named the creek "Swollen Creek." By 1903, word had spread about Jack's discoveries of gold, and a group from Valdez founded "Swollen Creek" and also made some significant finds, and renamed it Valdez Creek. Canadian customs required "rushers" to carry a years worth of supplies, and also charged a duty on them. This frustrated the early miners, and discouraged many from entering via the Yukon. In the early 1900's Congress passed legislation to develop the interior. This in turn instigated the Alaskan Rail Road, and lead to mapping/exploratory missions by the Army and the U.S. Geological Survey. Which eventually lead to another influx of miners. There were some successful mining operations throughout the 1920's and 1930's, however many had staked claims but never prospected them.

At the start of World War II, congress forced the closure of all precious metals mines, in order to concentrate production on war materials. When the miners returned after the war, they found all their equipment damaged beyond repair from the Alaskan winters. The post-war economy did not help the mining industry either. The prices on mining equipment was steadily rising, new government regulations, and paperwork confused many miners. The VCMD was sporadically mined throughout The 50's and 60's. Later on in 1980 the huge Denali mine was opened. This was the first large scale mining operation within the VCMD.

What makes the Valdez Creek Mining District especially attractive today is the fact that it historically has not been fully explored. There are several reasons for this. First, nearly all of the miners that came to VCMD were amateurs in search of great wealth, many of whom had no mining experience at all. Secondly, the tough terrain made the transportation of heavy mining equipment impossible. Also, the prospectors did not want to spend the winter with little supplies; as a result they mined where they knew there was gold and got out before winter, leaving no time to go prospecting other streams. Even as late as the seventies only the mouths of the tributaries had been prospected, and nearly none of White Creek, where Trans Alas-Can Gold has it's claims. The pay dirt around White Creek is relatively deep, well below the water table. The water must be constantly pumped out, another reason why early miners were technically incapable of mining here.

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