Independence Mine vandalized for a second time this week in Hatcher Pass

Independence Mine in Hatcher Pass damaged twice in one week.
Independence Mine in Hatcher Pass damaged twice in one week.(ktuu)
Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 3:31 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Stuart Leidner, superintendent of the State Parks Mat-Su/Copper River Basin Area, said he could hardly believe it. They had barely boarded up the windows at Independence Mine State Historical Park in Hatcher Pass since damage was discovered there Wednesday, when they found another round of damage Friday morning.

“It’s just heartbreaking when you get these types of things happening that continue to set us back,” Leidner said, adding that the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation doesn’t have the budget to restore the buildings to historic levels.

Vandals damage a Mess Hall window at Independence Mine
Vandals damage a Mess Hall window at Independence Mine(ktuu)

“We have to painstakingly go through and rebuild and try to put together enough pieces that we can allow the buildings to reopen,” he said. “But the way it is right now … I don’t see them being open for the foreseeable future.”

Three historic mining buildings were damaged this week. An unknown person or people kicked in doors, smashed widows and sprayed fire extinguishers inside. While Leidner had no estimate on the cost, he called it “significant”. Though these three buildings have been impacted, the rest of the park remains open.

Leidner said efforts to boost security at the site in the past had been unsuccessful, especially because it’s open to the public year-round.

“People are able to walk around here and appreciate the beauty of Hatcher Pass, the significance of this historic area but some people are choosing to just go ahead and damage it, with no thought to anybody else.”

Some evidence was left behind by whoever caused the damage, and Leidner said the case is being investigated.

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