A Little Juneau History
The birth of our town and the cultures that preserve its history today
Harrisburg. That was Juneau's name before Richard Harris fell out of favor with the locals, who turned their allegiance to his co-founder, Joe Juneau. In 1880, prospectors Harris and Juneau relied on Tlingit Chief Kowee to guide them to the mouth of Gold Creek, where they discovered gold. The state's first major gold strike was on (starting the Alaska Gold Rush), and the timeline for modern Juneau history began.
A first rush of about 40 miners brought trading posts, saloons and missionaries. Within a year, the tent camp became a small town and was the first one founded here after Alaska's purchase from Russia.
Across Gastineau Channel in the community of Douglas, the Treadwell and Ready Bullion mines operated from 1882 to 1917. Before a cave-in and flood closed the mine, the Treadwell produced $66 million in gold in its 35 years of operation. In 1916, the Alaska-Juneau gold mine was built on the mainland and became the largest operation of its kind in the world. Fishing, canneries, transportation services, and a sawmill contributed to Juneau's growth through the early 1900s.
Before the Alaska-Juneau (A-J) mine closed in 1944, when mining was declared a non-essential wartime activity, it produced more than $80 million in gold. Mining was replaced by the expansion of government during the war and afterwards, when Alaska became the 49th state in January 1959.
Juneau's prospector heritage and incredible scenery began drawing visitors in the early 1900s. As a popular cruise ship port and a favorite destination among adventure travelers, Alaska's capital continues to draw visitors from around the world today.
Read more about Juneau's history.
Patsy Ann was designated as Juneau's official canine greeter in 1934.