Talkeetna, Alaska Talkeetna is a small, rural community in Alaska with a relaxed atmosphere where risk seeking mountain climbers looking to scale North Americas tallest peak, Denali (formerly Mount McKinley), gather. It is also a town for those a bit less risk seeking who wants to go flight seeing, fishing, rafting, dog mushing etc. Adventurers have gathered in Talkeetna for over 100 years.
Off course it started with the discovery of gold in the area in 1906. It didn’t take long for miners and trappers to frequent the area and when the Alaska Railroad decided to locate their district headquarters here in 1916 around 80 people officially settled in Talkeetna.
Downtown Talkeetna is designated a National Historic Site and while walking down Main Street you can still get a feeling of how this small community of miners and trappers must have been back in 1920’s and 1930’s. Many of the old log buildings are preserved and in use today. We stopped by on our way back to Anchorage from our amazing trip to Denali. Talkeetna is not on the Parks Highway, it’s about a 30 km drive from the Parkway.
The three most noticeable historical buildings in downtown Talkeetna is Nagley’s General Store (1921), The Talkeetna Roadhouse (1917) and Fairview Inn (1923).
It was however one of the smaller, log homes that caught my attention – the Ole Dahl Cabin from 1918. Ole Dahl was a railroad surveyor, miner, and trapper and one of the first settlers of Talkeetna. The name is Norwegian so I got curios and had to do some investigation. Turns out Ole immigrated from Norway to the States in 1906, most likely together with his brother Robert. He married one of the local Dena’ina women and they got 5 children. Interesting to think about how it must have been on the long journey and the challenges of settling in a new country back in the beginning of the 1900’s.
In the period 1820 – 1930 around 900.000 Norwegians left the country and many of them immigrated to North America. Population in Norway was growing and there was lack of farmland. Combined with poverty, oppression, a strong class society the promise of adventure and cheap farmland overseas was to good to turn down for many. But it must have been a challenge spending the winter in Alaska in one of these small cabins as well!
If you look at the original National Historic Site application for Talkeetna there is a map identifying the 13 buildings of importance justifying the historical value of the community – the document also has some history around the buildings and their owners.
Courtesy: Historic Downtown Talkeetna – National Register of Historic Places
Unfortunately it was a rainy day when we visited, but we enjoyed this artsy little community anyways. We strolled through the many art and craft galleries and enjoyed great coffee in one of the local coffee shops before we had to hit the road to get to Anchorage before dark. We had a 2.5 hour drive ahead of us, but that is nothing compared to the 19 hours the train from Talkeetna to Anchorage used in 1921!
Thanks for following our mini series ‘Our Alaska Adventure – Denali to Kenai’