The power plant in McCarthy was built for the Mother Lode Coalition Mining Company, a small independent organization in the shadow of the Kennecott Copper Corporation. The Mother Lode Mine was the only rich claim on the west side of Bonanza Ridge. The ore was trammed down the mountain, then brought by sled or wagon into McCarthy, where it was shipped on the Copper River and Northwestern Railway.
The power plant was constructed to provide electricity to the tramway and the mine. Built in the townsite of McCarthy, close to the railroad that brought the necessary coal, the 40-foot-by-60-foot heavy timber-framed building was two and a half stories tall with a monitor roof supported by a Howe truss. Inside, a coal-fired boiler powered a steam turbine, and power lines conveyed the electricity the 12 miles to the mine.
In 1919 the tramway and power lines were destroyed by a snow slide, devastating the company, which sold out to Kennecott. The corporation removed the turbine to its plant but had no need for the building. Part of the building has been converted to an inn; the rest is used for storage.