Exploring the ruins of the Treadwell Mine on Douglas Island, Alaska.
The ruins of the Treadwell Mine are located on the southeast corner of Douglas Island, Alaska. In it’s heyday, the Treadwell Mine was the largest gold mine in operation in the world. In 1917 the tunnels that were dug deep below the Gastineau Channel suddenly began to leak, and within hours all but one of the tunnels had collapsed and flooded. By 1922, the last remaining shaft ceased operation.
What remains now is a handful of crumbling wooden and concrete structures scattered on the beach and tucked in the woods. Some of them are old supports for docks that have disappeared long ago, some are abandoned warehouses that only store a few pieces of unrecognizable rusting metal, one is an old reservoir half-filled with soil and a few upstart trees. Many of the structures are covered in graffiti and all of them are slowly being demolished and absorbed by the natural world.
It’s amazing to see the many changes that can be wrought in less than 80 years. Some of the structures have a thick layer of topsoil on the roofs where hardy trees have taken root and prospered. The graffiti ranges from quick and deranged scribbling to intricate and beautiful artwork. Every time I return to Treadwell I find a new ruin that I hadn’t notice before, and every trip is an adventure.
These pictures were all taken one sunny Sunday in February with my friend Dave. We spent the better part of the day wandering the woods and clambering in and out of dilapidated buildings like a couple of kids who just discovered their favorite jungle gym. We only packed it in for the day when the light failed and I ran out of film, with the knowledge that we would be returning in the near future.