In 1886, gold was discovered on Resurrection Creek. History indicates that the Russians mined the area before that while Alaska was a Russian possession. Part of the lure of mining in the area today is the frequent discovery of Russian(and other) artifacts that are unearthed as part of various mining activities, not to mention the rich gold deposits that remain despite early mining efforts.
Mining in Hope and the Sunrise area was the precursor to the famous gold rush in Alaska’s interior and the Yukon. Mining in Hope and Sunrise drew miners from across the globe and set vibrant and sometimes wild stage that still brings people north.
By the end of the 1800’s, thousands of people lived in the Hope Mining District. In 1895, Sunrise City was the largest city in Alaska. Both Hope and Sunrise had thriving communities with numbered and lettered streets, mercantiles and many of the niceties that punctuated and colored a tough life back then. Gold fever drew people north to these small communities, and the lure of mining and “gold fever” remains a draw in the area.
Hope Mining Company began when Adolph Kunzelman established the Bonanza Claim on Resurrection Creek on June 10, 1895. In 1898, the Cottonwood Claim was established by Ole Veruck in the same area. These two claims were connected. On January 1, 1901, the Little Nell Claim and Bob Matheson Claims were established by L.R. Matheson.
The conveyance of the Bonanza, Cottonwood, Little Nell and Bob Matheson Claims to George Roll on September 17, 1928.
The Matheson brothers followed their father Bob Matheson and came north from Texas to chase gold somewhere around 1912. The Matheson Brothers got a grubstake from George Roll in 1922. In 1928, the Matheson’s failed to pay their bills and had to put the claims up for collateral to satisfy their debt to Roll.
On September 20, 1938, George Roll conveyed his full rights and interests to Carl Clark. Clark had actually started mining in 1930, but it’s unclear what the legal circumstances of Clark’s mining operations were at that time.
In 1967, Clark sold the claims to C&M Mining Company that consisted of Cox and Mydett.
To make money for mining, Cox would lease a fishing boat out of Homer and take miners out to harvest the ocean’s bounty when it was too stormy for other commercial fishermen to brave the sea. In 1973, these desperate measures cost him his life when he was lost at sea.
In 1973, Hope Mining Company began to evolve into what it is today when Cox’s estate sold the buildings and mining claims to Al Johnson and Christopher Mather, long time Alaska business partners.
Johnson and Mather went to Hope, found the buildings and started exploring for gold. With a number of false starts and the development of a partnership called Northern Minerals Johnson, Mather and Hugh Moore started mining in August of 1976.
The operation didn’t last long and the original trommel was sold. Northern Minerals dissolved. In 1977, Clover Corporation was formed with Johnson, Mather and a couple from Seattle. That lasted until 1979 when Johnson realized that Hope Mining Company was better suited to lease mining claims to interested parties and share his knowledge of the land, the mining processes and his experiences to help others catch a little gold fever, experience mining in Alaska and become a part of the rich history Hope Mining Company has contributed to the area.
In March of 1993, Al Johnson conveyed his sole proprietor interests to Hope Mining Company, an Alaska Corporation. The Corporation remains in good standing today. At the same time HMC filed a patent application with the BLM. During this process an entire chain of title was established and an approved mineral survey was submitted. A patent number was provided to HMC. With the patent application on file, somewhere around 1995 the Federal government stopped funding the patent section of BLM, halting the patenting process. HMC remains an active applicant and is still listed with the BLM.
In July 2015, the U.S. Forest Service submitted a Record of Decision that connected many of the previously discontinuous claims within the Resurrection Creek Drainage area and ultimately approved 274 acres for mining operations including prospecting, small “hand” operations, small, large scale and commercial mining.
Today – 122 years later – Hope Mining Company is as old as the town of Hope and still holds the same claims held in the earliest days by history makers including Matheson, Clark and Johnson, and qualifies for inclusion on the National Historical Register. Your own mining experiences within the Hope Mining Company holdings will have your feet carving history over the same footfalls that 18th Century Russian prospectors and those that helped start Alaska’s famous gold rush, and continue to contribute to Alaska’s mining history today have trod.