Coppermount, Prince of Wales Island

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Coppermount, Prince of Wales Island

by | Sep 13, 2019

Coppermount is an abandoned mining community on the southwest coast of Prince of Wales Island, at the head of Copper Harbor, about 8.6 miles (14 km) east-northeast of Hydaburg, Alaska. The Coppermount post office was established here in 1900 and by 1905 the town had over 200 people.

Two of the largest copper producing mines in Alaska were at Hetta Inlet on the west side of Prince of Wales and Kasaan on the east side. Alaska’s first copper smelter was built in 1905 at Coppermount in Hetta Inlet by the Alaska Copper Company. Five months later a second smelter was built at Hadley on the Kasaan Peninsula. The copper produced by these smelters was shipped elsewhere and profits were dependent on fluctuations in the worldwide market. Prices rose from 12 cents a pound in 1904 to 24 cents a pound in 1906 and the local industry boomed. Several new mines opened up to take advantage of the market. Communities such as Hadley and Coppermount grew rapidly, adding stores, and hotels but the main supplier and shipping point for these mining towns was still Ketchikan.

In 1907, the copper prices dropped back to pre 1904 levels. The Prince of Wales copper had never been as high grade as the copper in other areas and too much effort was required to process the ore. Coppermount closed and Hadley struggled on for a few more years. When the high-grade Kennicott Mine opened up in 1911, it was the end of most efforts to extract high-grade copper from Southeast Alaska. In 1921, the Hetta Packing Company built a salmon cannery at Coppermount, but it was closed in 1930. Read more here and here. Explore more of Coppermount here:

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