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Chitina buildings added to national historic register

Posted: Sunday, December 29, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Two 92-year-old buildings in Chitina once used by workers for the Copper River and Northwestern Railway have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The bunkhouse and messhouse in Chitina were part of the 196-mile track from the deep-water port of Cordova to the Kennecott copper mines in the Wrangell Mountains.

The railroad, completed in 1911 at a cost of $23.5 million, hugged the west bank of the Copper River until it reached Chitina at Mile 131. There it turned east to the mines.

Copper ore from the mines contributed mightily to Alaska's economy from 1911 to 1938.

The railroad employed 200 maintenance workers on the line in summer, 150 in winter. Buildings to accommodate the crews were spaced along the way about every 20 miles, according to the state Office of History and Archeology.

Chitina, however, was one of the railroad's major stations. It included a depot, bunkhouse, messhouse, water tower, maintenance facilities and a siding that circled Town Lake. The bunkhouse and messhouse were finished in 1910.



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