Most hiking groups lead outings to the tops of mountains; Juneau’s Hidden History takes trips under them. Many of the group’s trips, which are orchestrated mainly through its Facebook group, are spent exploring abandoned mines and other relics from Alaska’s past. Brian Weed and several friends founded the group in 2014 when they were considering putting together a guidebook. “Juneau’s Hidden History kind of came about so people could get together and hang out,” Weed says. The guidebook never happened, but the group blossomed into a thriving community.
The Facebook group now has about 14,000 members. And because Weed’s adventures since 2014 have taken him beyond Southeast he also launched a website—full of waypoints for his journeys—a YouTube channel, and an Instagram page all under the name Alaska’s Hidden History. Joe McCabe, one of the group’s original founders, says it’s been thrilling to watch the community grow. “It’s kind of crazy, man,” he says.
Adam DiPietro, a transplant from the Midwest who spent his college years at Michigan Tech exploring copper mines, moved to Juneau in 2016 and started joining Juneau’s Hidden History expeditions.
“This group was kind of instrumental in me finding my niche,” he says. Now DiPietro organizes and leads outings. For a recent trip, he and a friend spent several days scouting a route into a mine, down several levels of tunnels, and out a separate opening.
Once all the wooden bridges and ladders along the route were deemed safe, DiPietro led Juneauites who wanted to join on an hours-long journey underground.
Greg Taylor, the fifth generation in his family to live in southeast Alaska, met his wife while going on Juneau’s Hidden History hikes. The couple bonded on the outings and when they decided to get married, they took a helicopter onto Mendenhall Glacier and Brian Weed performed the ceremony.
Follow along on Facebook and at alaskashiddenhistory.com to stay abreast of the next adventure. When Weed explores underground, he takes along a Nikon camera to document the hidden history and several remote flashes to light up big rooms. Anyone who follows the group will be treated to some enticing adventure photography. “We have some of the largest abandoned mines in the world here in Alaska,” Weed says.