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“MCCARTHY, Alaska – I am writing this column surrounded by mountains rising almost 20,000 feet (6.096 m.) and glaciers more than five miles (8 km.) thick. I’m at the edge of the world, in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park – the nation’s largest – in a tiny community with 30 year-round residents.
Once a mining town producing the world’s purest copper, McCarthy is now a place of refuge for those seeking a respite from the noise of civilization. As such, it has become a symbol of how places that were once used to exploit the riches of nature have now become the guardians of its splendor and purity.
We are staying at a historic inn called Ma Johnson’s that evokes the spirit and atmosphere of the time. If you can imagine a Wild West ghost town transported to Alaska and reborn, then you can imagine glorious McCarthy.
I’ve been in a wonderful RV with my family that we slipped into right at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, and since then we’ve been exposed to a world that we city folk rarely encounter.
True, Alaska is the 49th state and just celebrated its 60th anniversary. Also true, Alaska has some large towns, like Juneau and Fairbanks, with most of the perks of big-city living. But for all that, most of Alaska remains an untouched wilderness, accessible only by boat, small plane or, like McCarthy, a forbidding unpaved road.”
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