Treadwell, just south of Douglas, Alaska, has seen better days: the former mining town was a company mining town for the workers and their families for up to four mines from 1883 to 1917. The town boasted five mills, stores, mess halls, bunkhouses, a marching band, and even Alaska’s first indoor swimming pool, known as a natatorium, which housed as well as basketball courts. Treadwell had also its own baseball field and team that competed with four other teams from Alaska and Yukon.
If this wasn’t enough, Treadwell was in its time the largest hard rock gold mine in the world, employing over 2,000 people, and the complex mined roughly $70 million in gold out of the rocks of Douglas Island. At the height of the operation there were five mills with over 960 stamps in continuous operation, closing down only on Christmas and Independence Day, fed by four mines known as the Treadwell, 700-Foot, Mexican and Ready Bullion.
However this all came to a sudden, wet end on March 3, 1910, when questionable mining practices and an extremely high tide led to a cave-in that flooded three of the four mines.
The mines were evacuated quickly, but tons of equipment, horses and mules were lost in the cave in. The blast was so powerful a miner on the died in the accident. The area was designed that in the case of an explosion, the fumes would go up through the shaft and not suffocate the miners but, unfortunately, the men killed and wounded were directly in the way of the blast. Thirty nine men and one horse were killed in total in what is considered the worst disaster in Alaska mining history. The mine that didn’t flood, the Ready Bullion Mine, continued to operate until 1922.
Today, what is left of this town has fallen to ruin with only a few buildings still standing, while rusting equipment, crumbling foundations, and various other remains are scattered around the site. The former town is now a park, managed by the City and Borough of Juneau, with trails and information signs scattered around the area telling of its history.
Source images: Wikipedia