Nome Historic Park or Site

Nome is a paradise for the history lover. Its story is well-documented by artifacts, whether dug from the ground (in the case of ancient Native tools) or slowly sinking into it (in the case of gold rush era buildings and equipment). The people who live here are proud of their collective history and are more than welcome to share it with you.

What happened here, and what continues to happen here, is a blending of history and tradition that continually adds to the story of Nome.

Visiting these historic places, you might try to close your eyes and imagine them as they were in their prime. TheLast Train to Nowhere is rumbling off toward Council City. Russian soldiers are walking around the Satellite T-Hangar, preparing for the flight to World War II’s Eastern Front. And Old St. Joe’s cross is lit, guiding travelers, a warm beacon here on the remote edges of Alaska.

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Historic Park or Site

Nome­henge,” as some of the locals call the four tow­er­ing anten­nas on Anvil Moun­tain above Nome, oper­at­ed dur­ing the height of the Cold War to link remote parts of Alas­ka with the rest of the coun­try. These are the last of 71 White Alice struc­tures, and serve as impor­tant his­toric and geo­graph­ic land­marks in Nome.

Rail­road con­struc­tion began in Nome the sum­mer of 1900. By 1906 the track stretched 80 miles to the Kuz­itrin Riv­er. Like many oth­er res­i­dents, the world famous mush­er Leon­hard Sep­pala ran his dog team along t he tracks using a small rail­road car, called a pup­mo­bile.”

The Kuz­itrin Riv­er Bridge had its ori­gins in Fair­banks. It was orig­i­nal­ly named the Cush­man Street Bridge when it was built across the Chena Riv­er in the heart of down­town Fair­banks in 1917. In the 1950s the bridge was replaced with a con­crete span and the orig­i­nal met­al bridge was dis­as­sem­bled, shipped down the Chena, Tanana, and Yukon rivers and barged up the Bering Sea coast to Nome. It was hauled in sec­tions up the Nome-Tay­lor High­way and  ...more

Three Scan­di­na­vians found gold in Anvil Creek in 1898 and quick­ly staked their claims. The fact that they knew lit­tle about min­ing didn’t impede their quick path toward wealth. Locals call them the Three Lucky Swedes,” and their life-sized bronze stat­ues stand in Anvil City Square, near where their lives were for­ev­er changed. 

Beyond the bridge, a long line of small build­ings hugs the coast where a U.S. Army post once stood dur­ing the ear­ly gold rush. Fort Davis was dis­man­tled in 1923 as Nome’s econ­o­my declined. The build­ings you see today are local­ly-owned hunt­ing and fish­ing sub­sis­tence camps. The Inu­pi­at used this area well before the sol­diers arrived because of diverse and abun­dant birds, fish, and mam­mals. Please do not dis­turb or trespass. 

Russ­ian sol­diers were a com­mon sight around Nome dur­ing World War II. The government’s top secret Lend-Lease pro­gram pro­vid­ed Rus­sia with crit­i­cal war mate­ri­als to aid the fight against Ger­many, and Nome was the last fuel stop for war planes head­ed West. A 1944-era hangar can be seen here today, a rel­ic from this amaz­ing effort. 

Many loca­tions around Nome are named after John Dex­ter, a min­er and busi­ness­man who opened an impor­tant ear­ly trad­ing post/​roadhouse in Golovin. Two oth­er roadhouse/​bars have also car­ried the Dex­ter name, which can get con­fus­ing for vis­i­tors. Read our descrip­tions to help sort them out.

King Moun­tain is the next hill­side on the west side of the val­ley where it is easy to see the mul­ti­ple cuts across its slopes for much of the year. Most cuts are man­made ditch­es that once brought water to Nome’s gold fields for hydraulic min­ing operations. 

His­toric site near Golovin opened by John Dex­ter where min­ers got their sup­plies and trad­ed infor­ma­tion. It’s where the Three Lucky Swedes” stocked up (on sup­plies and help) after their big gold dis­cov­ery on Anvil Creek in 1898. Also where Leon­hard Sep­pala fin­ished his long leg of the 1925 dipthe­ria serum run. This build­ing is still stand­ing in Golovin, and was report­ed­ly board­ed up as is, with all its arti­facts still inside. 

Alas­ka has served an impor­tant role in U.S. mil­i­tary strat­e­gy, espe­cial­ly dur­ing World War II, and the Cold War. But the mil­i­tary his­to­ry in Nome actu­al­ly start­ed even before the city was incor­po­rat­ed, when gold rush deal­ings and a pop­u­la­tion boom required some old fash­ioned law and order brought by U.S. soldiers. 

Nome’s Old St. Joe’s avoid­ed the fate of many oth­er gold rush era build­ings, which were destroyed by fire or flood. Today it is restored and list­ed on the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places. The sto­ry of Old St. Joe’s par­al­lels that of the Alaskan pio­neer spir­it: one of hard work, resource­ful­ness and a deep respect for the past. 

Beyond the Pil­grim Riv­er Bridge, the road con­tin­ues uphill and offers sweep­ing views of a net­work of lakes and the mean­der­ing riv­er val­ley. North of the Pil­grim Riv­er drainage is a large hill topped with a series of gran­ite rock out­crop­pings known as Hen and Chick­ens because of its resem­blance to a small flock at cer­tain angles. A cross was placed at the sum­mit in mem­o­ry of a priest who died in a bliz­zard on his way to the orphanage.

Min­ers worked this dredge up and down the Blue­stone Riv­er and Gold Run Creek in the ear­ly 1900s. Now it serves as a nest­ing and perch­ing site for com­mon raven. 

Just across Bonan­za Bridge, three rusty steam loco­mo­tives and some rolling stock lie sink­ing into the water-logged tun­dra. Dubbed The Last Train to Nowhere,” they are all that remain of a dream to build the most exten­sive and pros­per­ous rail sys­tem on the Seward Penin­su­la. In the ear­ly 1900s, Chica­go investors backed con­struc­tion of the Coun­cil City & Solomon Riv­er Rail­road in an effort to link the region’s major min­ing cen­ters by rail.   ...more

As you round Cape Nome, the Cape Nome Road­house is on the shore-side of the road. Road-hous­es once flour­ished along trails around the state, pro­vid­ing food and shel­ter for win­ter trav­el­ers who often arrived by dog team or horse-drawn sleigh. The Cape Nome Road­house also served as an orphan­age after the dev­as­tat­ing epi­demics of the ear­ly 1900s and as a World War II com­mu­ni­ca­tions base. It is now a pri­vate­ly-owned camp. 

A vis­it to Nome and the Seward Penin­su­la brings you to the ori­gins of the Amer­i­c­as’ indige­nous pop­u­la­tions. It was here that sev­er­al great migra­tions took place from Asia to North Amer­i­ca, across the Bering Land Bridge. The route was made pos­si­ble by low­ered sea lev­els, which exposed a land pas­sage rang­ing up to 1,000 miles wide, link­ing what is now Rus­sia to the Seward Penin­su­la of Alaska.   ...more

Teller Road cross­es Anvil Creek one mile below the site of the 1898 gold dis­cov­ery that trig­gered the Nome gold rush. From here you can view the wind tur­bines that form the start of Nome’s efforts to har­vest wind as an alter­na­tive ener­gy source. 

Begin­ning in the sum­mer of 1899, thou­sands of men, women, and chil­dren worked shoul­der-to-shoul­der to glean trea­sure from these shores after news of Nome’s Gold­en Beach­es” rock­et­ed around the world. To this day, hearty inde­pen­dent min­ers con­tin­ue to work many area beach­es with high bankers and sluice box­es. Most find them­selves brav­ing the cold waters in wet­suits to oper­ate small, mod­ern, float­ing suc­tion dredges essen­tial­ly vacuuming  ...more

In 1904 a tele­phone line ran from Nome to the rail­road ter­mi­nus at Dick­son, to the min­ing camps up Big Hur­rah Creek, and on to Coun­cil. For one brief sum­mer, parcels could be mailed to any point in the U.S. and mon­ey orders sent world­wide. The Coun­cil City & Solomon Riv­er Rail­road also ran past, offer­ing min­ers a one-hour trip to the coast. Griz­zlies, moose, muskox, and rein­deer are fre­quent­ly sight­ed between the creek and East Fork  ...more

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