In 1880 a local inhabitant, Chief Kowee, revealed to prospectors Joe Juneau and Richard Harris the presence of gold in what is now named Gold Creek in Silver Bow Basin. The city of Juneau was founded there that year. The strike sparked the Juneau gold rush which resulted in the development of many placer and lode mines including the largest gold mines in the world, in their time, the Treadwell complex of lode mines on Douglas Island (across a narrow sea channel from Juneau) and the AJ lode mine, in Juneau itself.
By October of 1880 the Harris Mining District had been established, and the first claims staked by Harris & Juneau. A lot of controversy surrounds the early discovery and establishment of the district, but one fact remains clear: gold was discovered—and it brought an influx of people to this wild land to seek their fortune.
Other mines were quickly discovered and camps sprung up like mushrooms near Mount Roberts, Douglas Island and Gold Creek. The Chilkoot Shaft, seen here at the Gold Creek Salmon Bake, is a remnant of an airshaft that served the Wagner Mine, which was part of the Alaska-Gastineau Mining Company (A-G Mining). The $38 million dollar investment was abandoned in 1930 after running out of profitable ore.