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Alpine Heritage and Cultural Center

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Mile 61.5, Glenn Hwy.

The coalfields around Sutton were initially developed by the U.S. government, which hoped to find a source of coal for the navy. The Alaska Railroad was constructed with the intention of tapping the coalfields, and a spur line to Chickaloon was constructed in 1917. By 1922, however, the navy decided that the Alaska coal was of inferior quality and shut down its coal mine. Privately run coal mines in the area continued to provide coal for the government's use. The Evan Jones mine became the largest producer, employing as many as 250 men. In 1958 the underground workings were closed, but Evan Jones continued to strip-mine until 1967, when military bases in Anchorage switched to natural gas for fuel.

Although the landscape has been irrevocably altered, few buildings remain to remind visitors of the life that went on at these mines. The Alpine Heritage and Cultural Center is built around the enormous concrete foundations for the coal washing plant, built by the Alaska Engineering Commission and the Navy Alaskan Coal Commission in 1921–1922. The original buildings consisted of an 86-foot-by-132-foot washer and a 70-foot-by-80-foot power plant; they operated for only two weeks before the navy closed them down. Also at the center are several pieces of coalmining equipment, including boilers, hoists. steam engines, tramcars, a washer, and a dryer. There are two one-room buildings at the center, both moved from other sites.

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland


What's Nearby


Alison K. Hoagland, "Alpine Heritage and Cultural Center", [Sutton-Alpine, Alaska], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Alaska, Alison K. Hoagland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 135-136.

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