Juneau was built on mining, so it made sense to walk up and visit the Last Chance Mining Museum. The walk to the north end of Juneau is very steep and winding. Basin Road follows Gold Creek for over a mile; Gold Creek is where Joe Juneau and Richard Harris found gold in about 1880.

The museum is housed in what used to be the compressor building for the Jualpa mining camp. There was a lady operating the museum that day who was on the Board of Directors of the Alaska State Museum, and not only was she babysitting the museum, but she also was babysitting an actual baby upstairs, along with a white cat and a very large white dog.

Giant Air Compressor

The museum itself was not as impressive as we had hoped. But for $4 per person we were able to look at the enormous air compressor (the world's largest at the time of its use), look at a three dimensional glass map of the mine, walk through a dark tunnel with no lights so we could not see the exhibits inside, and look at other really old unlabeled equipment that had been used in the mine.

After poking around the nooks and crannies for a while, we decided to go back down to Gold Creek. Katherine had debated buying a pan to go panning for gold in the creek, but they were $8, and she doubted that she could recoup her investment by finding $8 worth of gold while we were there. Instead, she decided to pan for gold in the least efficient manner possible: scooping up mud, putting it in a depression on a rock, and pouring water over it by hand.

Searching for Gold

Despite the primitive technique, we were able to find several flakes of gold--or mica--or other shiny rock. We carefully preserved these in a folded-up timetable for the express city bus. It's class all of the way when you travel with us.

Gold Creek

Chris dipped one foot into the icy waters for about 15 seconds and wisely pulled it out before frostbite set in. After determining that we would not be able to pay for our vacation with our findings, we decided to walk the almost two miles back to town so we could find some lunch.

Gold Street, Juneau, Alaska