Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Inger Jensen Ricci

Inger Ricci was interviewed by David Krupa on July 20, 1993 at her home in Anchorage, Alaska. Her husband Charles was also present. The Ricci's interests in backcountry hiking and Alaska history have converged in the hobby of using metal detectors to search for historical artifacts, and their enthusiasm for the "hunt" was contagious. A recent journey along the old Valdez Trail, used by the stampeders in 1898, produced a number of interesting artifacts discarded or lost by the early pioneers. The Ricci's generally donate the materials they find to local museums. In this interview, Inger fondly recalled her experiences as a child, and growing up as the daughter of the master carpenter at Kennecott during its heyday in the 1920s. Her memories help form a picture of an isolated, yet very happy, community that was a children's paradise. She talks about the fullness of her life there, a feeling shared by other "Kennecott Kids" who, in the summer of 1991, gathered again at McCarthy and Kennecott to reminisce about their life at this unique mining community. Inger talks about the love for the area that people felt, and of her grief when the mine closed in 1938, shortly after she and her husband had returned in hopes of raising a family there. She also talks about the joys of seeing her childhood friends at the reunion, which was remarkably well-attended given the fact that many had not been back to Alaska - let alone Kennecott - in over one half century.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 95-71-06

Project: Wrangell-St.Elias National Park
Date of Interview: Jul 20, 1993
Narrator(s): Inger Jensen Ricci
Interviewer(s): David Krupa
People Present: Charles Ricci
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.

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1) Inger's parents

2) Inger's background

3) First recollections of Kennecott

4) Childhood recreation and playing at Kennecott

5) The tramway and education at Kennecott

6) Religious services, ethnicity, and class distinctions

7) McCarthy, and appreciating Kennecott

8) Illnesses and the hospital

9) Domestic animal use

10) Supplies and transportation methods

11) Accidents, subsistence, chores, and hobbies

12) Local politics, and McCarthy

13) Guides in McCarthy

14) Holidays and special friends

15) High school education in Seattle

16) Nationality and holidays

17) Miners, residential life, and demographics

18) Wildlife, and alcohol

19) Law enforcement

20) Personal background and the closing of Kennecott Mine

21) Returning to Kennecott

22) Entertainment at Kennecott

23) Life after the mine closed and transportation between McCarthy and Kennecott

24) Kennecott Kids Reunion

27) The National Park Service at Kennecott

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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


Section 1: parents -- from Denmark\ Seattle -- where father "jumped ship"\ father -- freighting\ parents -- meeting and marriage\ Chilkat

Section 2: Kennecott -- Inger and brother born here\ brother -- died in Denmark for a visit

Section 3: school -- 1st thru 8th grade\ teachers -- new one each year\ Kennecott marriage policy

Section 4: facilities -- skating rink\ facilities -- community hall\ skiing\ hiking\ family\ children\ groups -- "the Yard Gang"

Section 5: tram -- women rarely allowed to ride\ education -- children in Kennecott

Section 6: Cordova\ church -- Sunday school\ ethnic diversity\ Scandinavians\ Germans\ people -- class distinction\ social -- dances\ Kennecott -- Silk Stocking Row (named in 1950's)

Section 7: McCarthy\ ice cream\ alcohol

Section 8: Seattle -- for hospital\ California\ illness\ Kennecott -- hospital treated anyone in area; reasonable prices

Section 9: animals -- work dogs\ McCarthy\ animals -- horses

Section 10: Kennecott -- order supplies from store\ Cross, John -- pilot from King Salmon\ Gillam\ Smith, "Mud Hole"\ Christensen, Chris\ transportation -- train\ transportation -- one automobile in Kennecott

Section 11: accidents\ subsistence\ father\ mother\ garden\ childhood -- tomboy; chores\ library

Section 12: local politics\ McCarthy -- few families\ railroad\ trapping\ guides

Section 13: guides\ Boyden, Harry\ Maloy, Joe\ Slimpert, Billy

Section 14: holidays -- Christmas\ Kennecott Mine -- provided extras for workers\ Duggan, Mary Ellen and Peggy\ Vickery, Deborah and Jane\ Konnerups -- 3 children

Section 15: education -- high school in Seattle

Section 16: holidays -- July 4th and Christmas\ holidays -- games and dances

Section 17: bunkhouse\ gambling -- poker\ population -- approximately 300 people in Kennecott (camp -- 1000 workers at mines)

Section 18: wildlife -- bears\ wildlife -- grouse\ food -- berries\ alcohol -- home brewed wine and beer during Prohibition

Section 19: law -- law enforcement\ McCarthy -- red light district

Section 20: Seattle\ education -- business college\ marriage\ Watsjold, Oscar -- husband\ Kennecott Mine -- closing of

Section 21: Kennecott -- returning to\ McCarthy\ transportation -- trains

Section 22: entertainment -- movies\ entertainment -- ball game\ entertainment -- dating

Section 23: Cordova, AK\ Seward, AK\ Spiderro, Frank\ McCarthy\ transportation -- little "speeder"

Section 24: Kirkwood, Richard\ organization -- contacted each other to inform of reunion\ reunion -- (occurs every four years '94, '98, and '02) occurred 1990 summer in Kennecott\ Kennecott Mine -- "Mother Lode" mine\ Donahoe Peak\ tours -- glacier walks\ Bean -- family\ reunion -- unique quality of\ reunion -- demography of participants\ Alaska\ Anchorage\ Lower 48

Section 27: National Park Service -- cable car and no bridge\ buildings -- preservation of