To get to Valdez by the Richardson Highway, one must cross Thompson Pass. At 2,678 feet high in the Chugach (CHOO-gach) Mountains, it is the snowiest place in Alaska. It averages 551 inches of snow annually! I wouldn't want to be a snowplow driver for it! Although, in the winter you do have job security.
|Panoramic View from Thompson Pass|
|Worthington Glacier From a Distance|
|Blue Ice at the Glacier|
|Another View of the Glacier Up Closer|
Coming down off of Thompson Pass, you pass through Keystone Canyon. There are several waterfalls cascading down the canyon walls.
|Bridal Veil Falls|
Then it was on to Valdez. The "new" one. On March 27, 1964, a 9.2 magnitude earthquake struck 40 miles west of Valdez and the resulting underwater landslide killed 30 people and did major damage to the town. It was deemed the ground under the townsite was too unstable to rebuild so Valdez was moved to a new site about four miles away. We visited two local museums about Valdez and enjoyed them both.
|Sewing Room Exhibit at the Museum|
We also visited the Valdez Eagle Aerie while there. It was one of the buildings moved from the original location. It's not what I would call an attractive building, but the fact they moved one of this size is impressive.
|Valdez Eagles Aerie 1971|
Valdez is also the terminus of the Trans Alaska Pipeline. One of the museums had a large display about the Exxon Valdez. What a mess that made. Did you know that ship (since sold and renamed) is not allowed by law to return to Valdez? The marine terminal used to give tours, but since 9/11, it is off limits. You can only view it from a distance.
|Marine Terminal with Ship|
On Sunday, we made the journey out to the end of the road at McCarthy. Whew! What an experience! McCarthy is about 90 miles from the campground, but it took 2.5 hours to reach. Once you reach the McCarthy Road in Chitina, it is 59 miles of mostly gravel road. Max speed of 35 mph. You start by going through a narrow cut through the rock and then over the famous Copper River. It is dipnetting season and people were camped everywhere along the road. Plus there were several fish wheels in the river near the shoreline.
|Start of the McCarthy Road|
|Bridge Along the McCarthy Road|
|Driving Across Said Bridge|
When you get to the end of the road, you park your car and either walk or ride your bicycle across the footbridge over the Kennecott River. From there it is about a 15 minute walk to McCarthy itself, but we caught a shuttle ride to Kennecott.
|Footbridge at the End of the Road|
The abandoned Kennecott Mill Town now is mostly part of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Some buildings and land still remain in private ownership. The town is located beside the Kennicott Glacier. When the copper mines were finally depleted, the mines closed in 1939. The town was abandoned, leaving everything, including dishes and hospital records, where they were. Some buildings are undergoing restoration by the National Park Service. The 14-story mill building looms over the town and must be seen to fully appreciate the gigantic size. The Power Plant is also quite impressive. It was able to produce enough steam-generated electricity to power the mines up in the mountains as well as the entire town.
|The Concentration Mill Building in the Background|
|Looking Up At The Mill|
|Another View of the Mill|
|Abandoned Buildings (whitewashed one was the hospital)|
|View from the Train Station|
|Power Plant Builiding|
|Inside the Power Plant|
|More Rusty Abandoned Equipment|
On the drive back to Kenny Lake, we spotted another cow moose. It is becoming a joke that if I have the wrong lens (the shorter telephoto) on my camera, we see animals. If I have my longer lens on, then the animals never appear.
Who knows when we will have good internet service again so stay tuned!