Since 2013, Treadwell Historical Society members and volunteers have completed three major preservation projects at the Treadwell Mine site.
The first was the historic Treadwell Pump House which was restored in 2013.
The Treadwell Mine’s saltwater Pump House has stood sentinel on the 80-acre Sandy Beach in Douglas for over 100 years. It has been the subject of paintings, prints and photographs and even serves as the Island Pub’s business logo. The Pump House’s well-known image has been captured at sunrise and sunset, at low tide and high, with dogs and kids in the foreground, and with fishing boats, barges and cruise ships sailing by.
History of Pump House
During the heyday of mining on Douglas, the bustling Treadwell wharf welcomed steamships, freighters, ferries, and fishing boats to what was then the largest and most productive gold mine in the world.
The concrete Pump House was constructed in 1914 at the end of the 600-foot-long wharf. The building’s three centrifugal pumps lifted 2,700 gallons of water a minute from Gastineau Channel. Salt water pumped from Gastineau Channel was used for milling and fire protection during the winter when fresh water from the Treadwell Ditch was frozen in snowpack.
The cave-in of 1917 resulted in the closing of three of the Treadwell’s four mines. The fourth ceased operation in 1922. In October 1926, a huge fire driven by a Taku wind destroyed most of Treadwell’s wooden buildings, boardwalks, and wharf. The Pump House was one of the few surviving structures.
Fast forward to 2013
While the iconic structure and surrounding pilings appeared firmly anchored in the mine tailings of Sandy Beach, the passage of time and pummeling wind, rain and snow had taken a toll on the historic structure. Most of its metal roofing had blown away and the concrete building was deteriorating.
Local contractors working for the Treadwell Historic Preservation and Restoration Society removed the deteriorated roofing and roof structure. They replaced them with new wood trusses and corrugated dark red metal roofing. To secure the structure and prevent further deterioration, black panels were installed in the door and windows.
To fund the preservation of this historic landmark, the Treadwell Society raised approximately $30,000.
In 2017, the Treadwell Historic Preservation and Restoration Society, Inc. began preservation of the “New” Office Building in the Treadwell Mine Historic Park. Work was completed in 2018 and interior interpretive signage and murals were installed in late summer 2019. The perimeter of the building was landscaped in 2020.
The Treadwell Mine’s original office and vaults were located inside the company store. The New Office Building was constructed next to the store in 1914. The building housed mine management offices for engineers, accountants, clerks, and bookkeepers. On October 10, 1926, a fire destroyed nearly every wooden building in Treadwell. Because of its concrete construction, the New Office Building survived.
Derelict no more
Like many historic sites plagued by overgrown vegetation, vandalism and adverse weather, the abandoned Treadwell office had fallen into disrepair. Taku winds regularly roar through the area and over the years, pieces of rusted roofing had torn free from the failing structure, posing a danger to trail users.
In 2014, the Treadwell Society determined it could no longer ignore the safety concerns of a deteriorating metal roof in an area of high winds. A plan was developed to ensure the building’s safety and functionality and give it a new purpose in keeping with the historic area and recreational needs of the community. After preservation efforts were complete, the structure could serve as an open-air educational and recreational shelter for public use.
The original architectural and engineering drawings for the 1914 structure were located in the Alaska State Library Historical Collection and provided our talented local engineers and contractors with historically accurate plans for the stabilization project.
The Treadwell Society’s fundraising for this preservation project began in earnest in 2014 and continued through 2017.
The work begins
First, the perimeter of the building was cleared to allow sunlight in and provide sightlines to where the Mine’s assay office, store, school, and boarding house once stood in the shadow of the office.
In August of 2015, with the invaluable help of the Treadwell Zipline volunteers, the inside of the building was cleaned out. Local contractors began preservation work in 2016. The roof was replaced, and the second floor removed. A new concrete floor was poured, and the building was painted inside and out. Preservation work was completed in 2018.
Interior interpretive educational panels were installed in late summer 2019, and signage was affixed to the exterior entrance. The perimeter of the building was landscaped in 2020. The costs of preserving of the Office Building totaled approximately $450,000.
The Treadwell Mine Office Building now serves as an open-air interpretive shelter and venue for public and private gatherings and the performing arts. It is available for rent through the City and Borough of Juneau’s Parks and Recreation Department.
To augment the power supply for the expanding mining operation, power had to be “imported” from additional sources. When the mines went “all-electric” around 1910, a transformer room was constructed adjacent to the Central Power Plant. This small, concrete structure housed the transformers that converted the incoming supply of electricity from hydro-electric plants at Nugget and Sheep Creeks from 23,000 volts, the transmission voltage, to 2,400 volts. The power could then be distributed to the underground and surface mining, milling and support facilities in the complex.
Like the New Office Building, because of its concrete construction, the transformer room survived the fire of 1926. The roof had deteriorated but evidence of the traditional red paint with dark green trim (Treadwell colors used throughout the complex) was still visible on the structure.
Funding for preservation of the Transformer Room was provided by Ginger Johnson in memory of her late husband, Rick Urion. The work was completed in 2018.