Hope Alaska Ghost Town
Okay, not totally a ghost town. Many buildings from the Gold rush still charm downtown Hope. Some of the stores have been serving customers since 1896. The log Social Hall, built in 1902, still hosts community meetings, dances, and weddings and the 1938 red schoolhouse serves Hope as a library. If you are so inclined you can dip a gold pan into Resurrection Creek and glean gold from the black sand. A visit to the Hope Museum and the people will gladly inform you of the local landmarks.
Hope was one of Alaska’s first gold rush towns. In 1889, before gold was found in Dawson or Nome, a man named King discovered gold in Resurrection Creek. More prospectors rushed to stake claims. On a lark, the community of tents and cabins that grew at the mouth of the creek chose to name themselves after the youngest rusher to step off the next boat. His name was Percy Hope. Miners discovered gold nearby in Sixmile Creek and a new tent community was christened Sunrise City. Hope City, Sunrise City, and the surrounding area swelled to 3,000 people long before Anchorage existed. Gold was plentiful. Robert Mathison claimed to have panned 385 ounces in less than 2 months. However, the boom faded as quickly as it started. The population dropped to a mere 23. Hope claims close to 200 today.
Photos courtesy of Mike and Joan Sinnwell June 2010
The first claim on Resurrection Creek was about two miles above today's townsite and it was recorded in 1888. By 1895, Hope consisted of about a dozen cabins occupied by miners seeking pay dirt. One particular company brought in equipment and at summer's end, its claims had yielded $40,000, a near fortune in those days. News of this and other strikes spread and eager gold seekers inundated the district the following spring.
Nearby Sunrise grew simultaneously. Some estimate that up to 3,000 men and a few women came to the combined areas the summer of 1896. The population decreased dramatically in the winter, then peaked again in the spring. Many were disappointed, however, and left for good. The gold strikes in Dawson and Nome attracted many of the stampeders away to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Mining continued in earnest until the 1940s. Today, small scale mining and logging are the community's only industries.
The 1964 earthquake caused a 7 foot subsidence and what was once part of the original town in now tidal flats. Alaska Commercial had stores in both Hope and Sunrise. The one at Hope, constructed about 1896-7, houses the present Hope store which now stands at water's edge at high tide. Nothing remains at Sunrise.
A viewer writes - Wednesday, June 08, 2011 -- This is sourdough Dru from Hope Alaska. Born in Fairbanks look where I ended up! My poor neighbors! Just waitin' fer me ta kick the bucket so's they can git my gold! Come and see me on a lark! 1st place on the left on main street. As my long gone whiskery neighbor one eye-d Jack would say "come on in and I'll tell ya a long windy story!"
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