Historical Area

Keystone Canyon Tunnels

The Tunnels

Back in the early 1900's when copper was discovered up outside of McCarthy along the Kennicott Glacier there was a race to build the first train tracks from the Kennecott Mine to port where the copper could be deposited on boats. Between 1902 and 1907 there were several conceptual railroads, some had filled right-of-ways, and only four began physical construction.

By 1906 the Copper River and Northwestern Railway had reached the wall 15 miles up track in Keystone Canyon. They had begun hand-drilling the 200 foot long tunnel. At this time the investors of Kennecott Mine who also owned the Copper River and Northwestern Railway were reconsidering Valdez as a route from Cordova appeared to have natural coal deposits along its path. This coal could be used to fuel the trains and assist in mining opperations.

In 1907 a developer by the name of Henry Reynolds rallied Valdezians to continue efforts and build a new railway on existing line. Unable to purchase the right-of-way Reynolds and around 250 of his workers marched out to claim the abonded lands. They were stopped by two U.S. marshalls who fired warning shots wich inadvertently injured several of the men, causing the unarmed workers to disperse. One man died of his injuries.

About a month later Reynolds went broke and efforts were dropped.