Carle .
.
.
.
.
INDIAN TRAILS and
FORGOTTEN LANDMARKS
ON TURNAGAIN ARM,
UPPER COOK INLET,
KNIK ARM and
MATANUSKA and SUSITNA RIVERS


PRE-1915

Protected by Copyscape

by Coleen Mielke
2015


Many south central Alaska landmarks mentioned in early gold miners journals, no longer exist. This web page will list what I know about some of those old haunts.


  ~~~

The first group comes right off of the 1880 U.S. Census for Alaska (actually completed in 1884). The census taker, Ivan Petroff, reported the following villages (using his spellings):


SETTLEMENT (spelling that was 1880 census)
ACTUAL LOCATION
TOTAL POPULATION
WHITE
CREOLE
ATHABASCAN

KNAKATNUK
INDIAN VILLAGE GOOSE BAY--FISH CREEK AREA
57
1
1
55

ZDLUIAT
INDIAN VILLAGE EAST SIDE OF INLET NEAR PRESENT DAY ANCHORAGE
16
0
0
16

NITAKH
INDIAN VILLAGE NEAR PRESENT DAY EKLUTNA
15
0
0
15

KINIK
INDIAN VILLAGE SHORT DISTANCE UP KNIK RIVER
46
0
0
46

SUSHETNO
1ST VILLAGE
INDIAN VILLAGE EAST BANK OF SUSITNA RIVER
44
0
0
44

SUSHETNO
2ND VILLAGE

TOYONOK STATION
(and village)
INDIAN VILLAGE SUSITNA RIVER



INDIAN VILLAGE
NORTH WEST SHORE OF COOK INLET

46



117
0



2
0



6
46



109





* Petroff used the word "creole" to denote people who had Russian
fathers and Alaska Native mothers.

~~~


Petroff's 1880 Census Map  for the above chart





TYONEK

There were very few non-Native people in south central Alaska before 1880, however that changed when gold was discovered. By 1898, thousands of get rich hopefuls poured into Cook Inlet. Their northward journey, from Seattle, brought them through the Inside Passage, west across the Gulf of Alaska, around the southern end of the Kenai Peninsula and finally landed them at (old) Tyonek which (in 1895) was at the mouth of Tyonek Creek.


Large ocean vessels anchored at Tyonek (the last deep water port on Cook Inlet) to pick up and drop off gold miners, entrepreneurs and U.S. Army exploration teams. The voyage from Seattle to Tyonek took about 6 to 8 days, depending on weather and cost each man $45 plus extra (per ton) for his freight. Tyonek is one of the few villages, in this report, that still exists, although the village moved to its present day location at the mouth of Indian Creek, in about 1930 due to flooding.

From Tyonek, shallow draft boats ferried passengers and freight to the towns of Hope, Sunrise and Knik. Boats ran at high tide so they could get farther up the rivers and dock closer to shore. These smaller boats, traveling from Tyonek to Knik, often had to layover at Fire Island in order to catch the next high  tide or wait out a storm. Today, Tyonek has a population of about 200.

~~~

In 1898, there were NO
detailed
maps of Cook Inlet, so an early prospector, named O.G.Herning, created the next best thing, a "distance" list:


FROM
TO
MILES
TYONEK
KNIK
70   MILES
TYONEK
SUSITNA   STATION
75   MILES
TYONEK
SUSITNA   RIVER   FORKS
107  MILES
TYONEK
SUSITNA   RIVER   FALLS
153   MILES
TYONEK
INDIAN   CREEK
145  MILES
TYONEK
KNIK   RIVER
90   MILES
TYONEK
MATANUSKA   RIVER
90   MILES
TYONEK
CRESCENT  BAY    (Eagle Bay)
55   MILES
TYONEK
GOOSE   BAY
60   MILES
TYONEK
LADD's   STATION
5   MILES
TYONEK
BELUGA   RIVER
15   MILES
TYONEK
FIRE   ISLAND
30   MILES
TYONEK
SEATTLE
1,425   MILES
MOUTH  OF  SUSITNA  RIVER
MOUTH  OF  SUSITNA  RIVER
MOUTH OF SUSITNA    RIVER
MOUTH  OF  SUSITNA  RIVER
MOUTH  OF  SUSITNA  RIVER
KNIK
KNIK
KNIK
KNIK
KNIK
KNIK
KNIK
SUSITNA    RIVER   FORKS
INDIAN   CREEK
SUSITNA   RIVER    FALLS
TALKEETNA
WILLOW   CREEK
BIG  SUSITNA  RIVER
SKWENTNA   CROSSING
HAPPY   RIVER
RAINY   PASS
RHONE   RIVER
McGRATH
IDITAROD
82   MILES
120  MILES
128  MILES
65   MILES
70   MILES
28   MILES
68   MILES
89   MILES
119   MILES
147   MILES
243   MILES
408   MILES


Gold was discovered on Turnagain Arm about 1888, but the first official claims weren't staked on until 1893 by a man named Charles Miller on Resurrection Creek. After that, thousands of prospectors poured into the area and two small towns, Hope City and Sunrise City quickly sprung up.

HOPE   CITY

Hope City was at the mouth of Resurrection Creek. Rumor has it that it was named after Percy Lee Hope, a turn of the century placer miner. Hope boasted 2 stores, 2 saloons, a brewery, pool hall, restaurant, hotel, assay office, recorders office, post office, school and sawmill. It basically served the Bear Creek Mines, Palmer Creek Mines and the Resurrection River Mines in 1897. By 1905, the population of Hope City shifted to the new town of Seward. Today, Hope has a residential population of about 200 people.

SUNRISE   CITY

Sunrise City was at the mouth of Six Mile Creek and 8 miles east of Hope City. Established in about 1895 by prospectors, it had 3 stores, 3 saloons, a pool hall, restaurant, hotel, post office and ferry service. It catered to mining outfits such as the U.S. Mining Company; Williamson Hydraulic Mine at Crow Creek; Smith Hydraulic Mine at Lynx Creek; Hoover Hydraulic Mine at Mills Creek; Six Mile Quartz Mine; Consolidated Gold Mining at Crow Creek; Herron's Dredger, and O.H. Sleeper Company (a copper mine) at Lynx Creek. In its prime (1898), Sunrise boasted a population between 200 full time residents and 3,000 seasonal residents. Today, about 20 people live in Sunrise.


KNIK

The largest settlement on Knik Arm was the town site of Knik. It was the main supply point on Upper Cook Inlet for many years. The Alaska Commercial Company had a trading post there before 1885 and a post office there by 1904.

Knik boomed much later than Hope and Sunrise, but  by 1910, it had an assay office, tin shop, a church, pool hall, a jail and the following other businesses:


Andrews Barber Shop          Brown and McDonalds Movie House          Bush Cigar and Candy Store
Brown & Hawkins Store        Farrington & Jenks Saw Mill              Knik Turkish Baths
Hershey & Fulton Pool Room   Knik Trading Company                     Mary Morrison's Bake Shop
George Palmer Store          McClarty & Frasier Soft Drinks           Stewart and Larson
Brown's Eating House         Pilger & Hertel General Merchandise      The Chop House
Duffy's Hotel                Davis & Brown Kitchen                    Knik House
Miller's Saloon              Hick's Roadhouse & Restaurant            Morrison Road House
Names Brothers Saloon        Palmer's Saloon                          Watson's Saloon
Yentna Restaurant            McNeil & Whitney Hash House              Anna Simmons Lunch Room
Pioneer Roadhouse

The business owners of  Knik had long been under the impression that the proposed railroad tracks would come right through town. However, in 1916, when railroad right-of-way crews began clearing land 15 miles from Knik, all hopes were dashed.

In 1917, the railroad tracks intersected the new Carle Wagon Road at mile 15. A railroad construction camp was built at the intersection and it was named Wasilla.

People deserted Knik (nearly) overnight. Businesses shut down and the buildings were dismantled and shipped by boat, to either the new town of Anchorage, or the new railroad town of Wasilla. One large trading post, owned by George W. Palmer stayed in Knik, however, it burned to the ground a year later.

COTTONWOOD

Close to Knik, was a landmark called Cottonwood which was on the east bank of Cottonwood Creek, one mile inland from Knik Arm. Several old walking trails (originating in Knik) came through Cottonwood. It was also where Captain Edwin F. Glenn of the 1898 U.S. Army exploration team, built his winter cabin. Only a hand full of people (Indian and white) lived at Cottonwood. One was a man named "Lee"
  who operated a horse pack train business and had a small dance hall.

Cottonwood was deserted by about 1902 and the vacant buildings were slowly dismantled and the materials used at Knik.



1910  SLEEM  MAP






GOOSE    BAY

A town site called Goose Bay was staked at the mouth of Goose Creek (west side of Knik Arm) in 1898, but no one really lived there full time. In spite of that, it was an important early freight and passenger drop off site for ships that couldn't get to Knik due to bad weather or tide issues. Freight was simply unloaded onto the muddy shore and later picked up by the owners.



PALMER SLOUGH

Palmer Slough was named after George W. Palmer before 1898. It was Palmer's staging area for transporting merchandise to his tiny un-manned trading post in Palmer Canyon (see map). The trading post was on the east side of the Matanuska River near the present day town of Palmer. It operated on the honor system, serving mostly Copper River Ahtna people who accessed it by coming down the Matanuska River. Palmer left his merchandise (packed into tins so animals couldn't get to it) and customers took what they needed and left payment (or an IOU) in a cash box.  

Palmer stocked his little store with goods that he transported, by boat from Knik. Depending on the tide, he often stockpiled the goods at Palmer Slough until he could get them up to Palmer Canyon. Other people also used this slough for the same purpose, but for some reason it was nicknamed after George Palmer.




Palmer Slough was a very important spot for several other reasons as well. First, it was prime fishing territory. It was also covered with wild hay which was harvested by both the Native population as well as the gold miners. It was also at the mouth of Wasilla Creek, which led to many Athabascan walking trails.


LADD's   STATION

Ladd's Station is mentioned often in old journals. It was a trading post and salmon saltery built by Charles D. Ladd in 1893, at the mouth of the Chuitna River (6 miles above old Tyonek). It was also an important storm shelter for boats traveling between Tyonek and Knik.

In 1898, the Chuitna River flooded its banks and washed away Ladd's buildings. He rebuilt and then sold the business to the Alaska Salmon Association in 1900. The new company added a full service cannery, but abandoned it in 1902.




1910  Sleem Map




CHURCHILL

The town site of Churchill is shown on old maps as being on the north side of Cook Inlet between the mouth of the Little Susitna River and the Big Susitna River. It was basically a trading post built about 1907, but last very long.

SUSITNA   STATION

The village of Susitna Station, 30 miles up the Big Susitna River, was the last supply stop for prospectors heading north into the Broad Pass District. In 1880, the U.S. Census reported 147 people and 27 buildings (including the Alaska Commercial Co. trading post, a sawmill, a roadhouse and post office) at Susitna Station. It was a thriving re-supply stop in the summers because sternwheel river steamers could dock right at the Station (at high tide) and save gold miners weeks of travel by foot.

A thriving Athabascan village was located about a mile south of Susitna Station, however all but a handful died due to the whooping cough, small pox, influenza and tuberculosis epidemics near the turn of the century.


INDIAN WALKING   TRAILS

In 1899, Orville G. Herning drew a map showing Indian walking routes:


1. A winter trail from the head of Turnagain Arm, over the glacier to Portage Bay on Prince William Sound.

2. A winter trail from Old Knik, up the Knik River, then north east to the Copper River.

3. A summer trail from Old Knik, up the Matanuska River, passing "Palmer's Upper House" (a store) and King's House, to Millich Creek and Hicks Creek, Trail Lake and Nulchuck Tyon Village to Copper River (general route of today's Glenn Highway).

4. A summer trail from Grubstake Gulch on Willow Creek, over Hatcher Pass and down to Palmer's Upper House with a branch leading to Vacilla's and to Mellish House.

5. From Knik to Vacilla's Place, then north and east, crossing the upper reaches of the Talkeetna River and passing the head of Hanmore Creek to near Old Tyon's Place and Lake Millich.







By 1912, other trails (headed north from Seward) were in use:

1. Seward Trail from the Indian village at Eklutna over Peters Creek through the mountains, down Crow Creek, Glacier Creek, passed Kern Creek, Twenty Mile Creek Portage Creek and up Placer River to the end of the Alaska Central Railway at Mile 49.

2. Watson Coal Trail along the beach from Knik to Cottonwood, then northeast to Moose Creek coal mines.

3. The Blakely Trail (also known as the Goodwin Trail) which became the first part of the Iditarod Trail from Knik to Susitna Station.

4. Klondike and Boston Gold Mining Co. Trail, along the beach from Knik to Cottonwood, then toward the mountains, passing between Lake Lucille and Wasilla, to Grubstake Gulch.

5. Carle Wagon Road (today it is called Wasilla Fishhook Road) built about 1910 from Knik, between Lake Lucille and Wasilla Lake to Hatcher Pass.

6. Dalton Trail branched off Carle Wagon Road as it entered the Little Susitna Canyon and then ran east to the coal mines.

7. Iditarod Trail was surveyed and cleared in 1908 by the U.S. Army's Alaska Road Commission. It was the official route from Seward into the gold rush town of Iditarod. Two years later, the trail was extended and in 1911 Congress named it the Seward to Nome Mail Trail. It's original route was as follows: Seward > Moose Pass > Portage > Girdwood > Ship Creek > Eagle River > Knik > Susitna > Skwentna > Rainy Pass > Rohn River Roadhouse > Nikolai > McGrath > Flat > Iditarod > Dikeman > Dishkakat > Kaltag > Unalakleet > Ungalik > Bald Head > Moses Point > Walla Walla > Golovin > Solomon > Nome.






Protected by Copyscape


CLICK HERE TO GO BACK TO MY MAIN ALASKA RESEARCH PAGE



coleen_mielke@hotmail.com