City and Borough of Juneau
Historic Preservation in Juneau
Rumors of the gold discoveries in the Gastineau Channel area reached San Francisco, and a group of mining investors sent John Treadwell to investigate in August of 1881. He staked some claims in Silver Bow Basin and purchased Erussard's claims on Douglas Island. Treadwell returned to San Francisco with some ore samples that showed promise of good returns when tested. The Alaska Mill and Mining Company was soon organized with Treadwell appointed as superintendent of mining operations. He returned to Douglas in May of 1882 with a 5-stamp gold concentrating mill to test the ore on the Paris Lode claim and purchased additional adjoining claims. By 1884 a 120-stamp mill was completed, and the Treadwell mines were on their way to fame. The success of the first development drew hundreds of prospectors to the area. In 1889 the recently incorporated Alaska Treadwell Gold Mining Company bought out all investors, including John Treadwell, for $4,000,000.
In the early 1890's two mining companies initially financed by the Treadwell Company were incorporated, the Alaska Mexican Gold Mining Company and the Alaska United Gold Mining Company. Each of the three companies was financially separate, but the Treadwell Company managed all of them. The Treadwell mines pioneered in the field of low cost mining and the use of hydroelectric power. The power was used to convert all of the steam-run hoists and mills into economical electrically driven machines. Under the guidance of Frederick .W. Bradley, world famous mining engineer, the Treadwell complex reached peak capacity in 1915. Over 2,000 men worked above and below the ground and supplied the mills with 5,000 tons of ore daily, which was a world record at that time. The mills and mines ran 24 hours a day seven days a week, except for the Fourth of July and Christmas. The Treadwell complex which included four major mines consisting of the Treadwell, 700-Foot, Mexican, and Ready Bullion, was a first class, innovative mining and milling operation that spanned 36 years until 1917 when a disastrous cave-in flooded all but the Ready Bullion mine which ran until 1922. Fortunately no lives were lost, but one man was reported missing. From a simple beginning of the discovery of placer gold in a creek, grew a world famous mining and milling complex commonly referred to as "Treadwell."
The Treadwell neighborhood is immediately south of the original Douglas Townsite and includes the area historically known as the Treadwell Mine and Town sites. The neighborhood is composed of residential buildings as well as a ruins of mining structures and buildings. Most buildings are wood frame construction reflecting the available materials and historic building technology. The few reinforced concrete structures included in the survey are located within the Treadwell Mining Complex and were influenced by the higher technology brought to Juneau by the mining engineers. Although many buildings in the neighborhood reference the period architectural style they are predominately modest in detailing.