Travel Route: Chitina – McCarthy – Kennecott Glacier – Kennecott Copper Mill

Aerial Photography

The RV rental company prohibited me from driving to McCarthy because of the road conditions but “where there is a will, there is away.”  I found that a small outfitter offers 30-minute flights to McCarthy, which is at Wrangell-St’s heart. Elias National Park.  It has been a long time since I flew on this kind of airplane, so my excitement was very high.  The most significant discovery of this experience was Aerial Photography; the photos are like a magical abstract painting.  I am hooked!

A Glacier is a River of Ice

I learned something about glaciers, each winter, more snow is dropped in the mountains than can be melted in the short summer.  When the next winter’s storms arrive, some of the last winter’s snow remains, and more snow accumulates each year.  The older buried snow is gradually compressed until it becomes solid ice.  And, the whole mass of ice and snow begins to move downhill under its own weight. Therefore, a glacier is a river of ice.

A glacier flows down the valley following the contours of the land but also carves them, carrying immense quantities of mixed rocks known as till. At the edge of the glacier, where warm temperatures of lower elevations melt the ice, the till is deposited in huge piles called moraines.

Kennecott Copper Mill

Kennecott Copper Mill is a massive 14-story mill building where copper ores were processed. Some of the images inside the mill reminded me of a few art installations I saw in some of the best museums about decay and state of decrepitude. The story of Kennecott Copper Mill is an excellent example of the American system in action and some of its values: discovery, ingenuity, and capitalism.