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 reassembled in its current location in 1958. Just upriver from the bridge at the confluence with the Kougarok River are the remains of sod houses, a seasonal camp where local Inupiat caught and preserved broad whitefish. Some local people still seine or set nets through the ice for these fish, and huge runs may be visible from the bridge shortly before freeze-up in October. Northern pike and burbot also feed upon whitefish, as well as many gulls and common raven staying well into October. During the gold rush, the Seward Peninsula Railway ended upriver at Bunker Hill where an aerial tramway carried people and equipment across the river. A road at the end of the tram went on to Taylor and other gold mining areas, but the first half has since been reclaimed by the tundra. The remainder of the road is a rough ATV trail that heads north from the Kougarok bridge. The bridge crossing is a good place to find multiple swallow species flying in the same area. Cliff swallow typically build gourd-shaped mud nests under the bridge, tree swallow nest in the nearby cottonwoods or nest boxes at camps, and bank swallow nest in mud cut banks along t he river’s edge. Look for Say’s phoebe close to the small cabins near the bridge and rusty blackbird, northern waterthrush, and blackpoll warbler in the tall vegetation that flanks the river. Moose depend on the Kuzitrin drainage for winter habitat.
- Nome, AK Driving Directions