Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Operates Museum in Fairbanks
On July 18th, 2013, the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation opened a museum at 825 1st Avenue in downtown Fairbanks. The 2,000 square foot facility, formerly known as the Rebecca or Odd Fellows Hall, was built in 1908 and is on the National Historic Register. It is situated just down the street from the Bridgewater Hotel, and has easy access to downtown Fairbanks. The AMHF is currently leasing the facility from Fairbanks historian Candy Waugaman.
This year (2016), the museum was open from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM from May 20th to September 20th. An estimated 1,501 visitors from 40 U. S. states and 15 foreign countries visited the facility. Prior to the May opening, we hosted Fanano Italy Mayor Stephano Muzzeralli during February, at the Museum. Fanano is the birth place of AMHF pioneer and Fairbanks founder Felix Pedro. Later during June, Adriano Pedroni, Felix Pedro's grand nephew, visited the museum with Fairbanks city officials. During 2016, we continued our evening lecture series. Fourteen (14) presentations were made by local experts and from the general public. As in previous years, volunteers from Santa's Senior s (North Pole), staffed the museum. The AMHF wishes to express its sincere gratitude to the more than ten (10) individuals who pitched in to help this year, which included the Alaska Women in Mining. We especially appreciate others, especially Joan Skilbred from the Pioneers of Alaska, Patrick Druckenmiller from the University of Alaska Museum of the North, retired teacher and historian Don Gray, and George Lounsbury for their excellent presentations. Joan Skilbred was responsible for nearly half of the lectures. Like many museums in Fairbanks, we closed the doors on September 20th. Although now closed to the public, the museum remains 'warm' during the winter months and will be open for use during the off season.
The museum is designed to honor the 108 pioneers that have been inducted since 1997. The inductees are arranged through time, which feature different events in Alaska's rich mining history. These include: pre-Gold Rush activities, pioneers of the Juneau Gold Belt; and pioneers of the Alaska-Yukon gold rush, and then moving into other categories such as pioneers associated with copper and coal mining, pioneers associated with strategic mineral developments, and pioneering families and individuals of modern placer mining. Considerable space is devoted to pioneer educators, geologists, engineers, and finally, those in the legal profession. During the summer, historic mining videos from several sources were shown. The Chuck Herbert family donated an enormous commercial-grade gold scale from the 40-Mile district, which now sits in the front office of the museum.
One important function of the AMHF Museum will be the establishment of an archive. We have already accepted records from the Earl Beistline, Chuck Hawley, Don Cook, Don Grybeck, and the Doug Colp families. Paystreak Newsletters are for sale, and we sell thirty five (35) mining history books and informational videos that specifically feature AMHF pioneers. We now have AMHF Coffee mugs and tea shirts for sale.
Scenes from the Alaska Mining Hall of Fame 2016 activities:
Christmas party in December that honored volunteers from Santa's Seniors and Alaska Women in Mining; it featured live music performed by local artists
A mother and her kids check out the museum for clues to win prizes during 'Museum Day,' an annual event in the Fairbanks area.
Adriano Pedroni, the grand nephew of Felix Pedro, and his family attended the AMHF Museum Wednesday evening lecture series during June, 2016.
Phil Baker, CEO of Hecla Mining Company, the operator of the Greens Creek silver-polymetallic mine in Southeast Alaska, with University of Alaska Engineering and Mines students that have received scholarships provided by AMHF Inductee Patrick H. O'Neill; during the April, 2016 induction of O'Neill. Patrick, who is 101 years old, was Skyped in for the event from his home in Connecticut. He appears on the screen in the background.
The Alaska Mining Hall of Fame Foundation Museum is at 825 1st Avenue in downtown Fairbanks; the building is on the national historic register. Note a healthy rhubarb plant, which was harvested several times during the late summer by museum fans.