In the year 1898 more than 4,000 prospectors crossed the Valdez Glacier at the head of Port Valdez. Their destinations varied from the Klondike gold fields in the Yukon Territory to rumored mineral deposits in the Copper River area of Alaska. They came via Valdez to utilize the “All-American Route” to the gold fields.
Much to the first arrivals’ surprise, Valdez consisted of only a few tents staked out above the high tide line. The rest of the trail over the Valdez Glacier to the interior was about as finished as the town. There were no previous towns or camps so the miners established a series of temporary camps where they stopped for meals and necessary shelter during their arduous trek. Once in the interior, the miners formed a few small villages, the largest being Copper Center. Most of the prospectors chose to return to Valdez by the same route in the fall rather than wintering in the Interior, due to the bitter cold temperatures there.