In the early 1900s, dog team drivers were heroes to the young children of Nome. In 1925, when a diphtheria epidemic hit town, 20 mushers relayed a serum to Nome through dangerous blizzard conditions, making them heroes to everyone. Their spirit of teamwork and gritty determination lives on in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
No matter what place a team finishes, the Iditarod burled arch is a symbol of an arduous journey successfully completed, a job well done, and of a long-awaited rest – for both dogs and mushers –just up ahead. See it above Nome’s Front Street during Iditaord season in March, or near City Hall the rest of the year.
Pilgrim Hot Springs is a green oasis for Nome residents who yearn for trees and the sound of leaves rustling in the wind. Pilgrim has historic value too, first as a gold rush resort and later as a Catholic mission. Then there are the springs themselves. At 178 degrees F, they are a literal hot spot in the Arctic north.
Especially during its early years, Nome had brushes with a surprising number of famous people. Some of them gained fame while in Nome. Others were well known before they got here. You’ll recognize some names. Others have faded with the passage of time, as their exploits fall further and further into the past.
On the left as you head north are remnants of an abandoned reindeer corral that was first constructed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the 1970s for a reindeer herding demonstration project. The local Sitnasuak Native Corporation took over the corral in the early 1980s and ran a herd of about 750 animals for several years. The corral fell into disuse after Sitnasuak got out of the business and distributed the reindeer to other herders.
The town of Solomon has had several names and locations since the Fish River tribe established a fishing and hunting camp called Amutach on a sandbar between the Bonanza and Solomon Rivers. In 1899, when gold was discovered in the gravels of the Solomon River, a mining boomtown sprang up on the site with a post office, several saloons, a railroad terminal, a ferry dock, and over 2,000 residents. Thirteen large dredges worked the Solomon River. In 1913 a ferocious storm destroyed the town and residents relocated upstream to the recently abandoned town of Dickson, which has since been washed away
Nome’s “crown jewel,” Anvil City Square is a large open green space popular for picnics and community celebrations. It's also where you can see Old St. Joe's Hall, the largest gold pan in the world, statues of the “Three Lucky Swedes” and the young Eskimo boys who helped them find gold in 1899.
Anvil Rock perches above Nome, an early landmark for gold miners and an easy hike for those who want to take in spectacular views of Nome, the Bering Sea, and the Kigluaik Mountains. Its resemblance to a blacksmith’s anvil generated names for many nearby landscape features, including Anvil Mountain and Anvil Creek. The hike also promises a good chance to see musk oxen, a variety of birds, and maybe even reindeer or red fox.
The Nome area is one of the few accessible places in the world where you can observe muskoxen in their natural habitat. They are easy to see and photograph in and around town. You can also take a little muskox home with you; garments made from their soft and warm under fur are a luxury souvenir worth finding.
Nome’s Gold Coast Cinema shows films Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with matinees on both Saturday and Sunday. The theatre has first-run movies as well as independent films, and typically offers two titles per week. One quirk? Concessions include a Subway sandwich shop, giving you more options than just popcorn and candy.
Nome’s most famous and historic street runs parallel with the coast, having sprung up close to the city’s original tent city. Although none of its original buildings remain, Front Street continues to make history as the endpoint of the 1,049-mile Iditarod Sled Dog race.
With 18,000 books and a new home, Nome’s public library offers a place to browse and encouragement to pursue reading “at all ages and stages.” Stop by to check your email, read a magazine or make an appointment to review rare books on Alaska and the Seward Peninsula. Closed Sundays and holidays.
The Safety Sound roadhouse still opens in summer to offer travelers shelter from the rain or a cool beverage to wash down the dust. It’s closed the rest of the year except for several weeks in March, when it serves as the final checkpoint for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The Safety Bridge is a good vantage point to watch changing tides and the movement of large and small fish and their predators. Scan for the bobbing heads of seals attracted by the summer fish runs.