29 November, 2001
When people think of Alaska , two things often come to their mind gold and wilderness. It is true that much of Alaska is centered around these two subjects. Many of the Alaskan towns have a goldrush history. Such is true of Nome Alaska where we arrived today. Nome is located on the Seward Penninsula which is surrounded by the Bering Sea. Nome could often be thought of as the most famous little town in the world due to the goldrush that occurred along its beaches in 1899. The gold was first discovered by "three luck Swedes" at Anvil City. However, it was the discovery of the gold that lies on the beaches the following year that made Anvil City, later named, Nome famous. This gold could be simply scooped off of the beaches. There are remains of the goldrush in Nome lying everywhere. Old dredges and buckets line the streets of Nome. Nome by 1900 became the largest city in Alaska. The famous westerner Wyatt Earp lived here and had a saloon that still stands today.
The origination of the town name "Nome" has a unique and interesting story. It dates back to the 1950's when a British officer wrote "Name" across an unnamed point. A mapmaker later misread it as Nome. Hence it came known as Cape Nome. However, some people believe that it was indeed labeled as Nome first because of the native Alaskan people Inuit's translation.
Today Nome has a population of 4000. Half of the population consists of native Alaskan and the other half from many other groups that have chosen to settle here. It is not connected by roads to other towns, with the exception of Council. It is visited by plane. Life in Nome is a normal American town, just isolated and small. It is most visited for the ending of the annual famous Iditarod dogsled race. We spent the day traveling from Fairbanks to Nome by plane. Tomorrow we will travel out to Council where we will make some snow measurements.
I am going to skip ahead a day and combine two entries. We made our trek to Council today which is 60 miles Northeast of Nome. Council is connected to Nome by a gravel road. The road at this time of the year is usually snowed over and can only be traveled by snowmachine. However, the snow has not completely come yet in Council. It is a late coming for the snow this year. So we were able to reach Council by a four wheeled drive truck. This drive before on snowmachine has taken up to 12 hours! We were able to safely make it in the truck in 2 hours. Council has no people living in the town year round. It is mainly a fishing and hunting camp for people in the summer. The town is a unique town sitting on the Niukluk (Eskimo for 'river from the west ' ) river. The houses have generators which supply them with electricity and heat.
Even though the snow has not arrived, winter temperatures have definitely arrived. The temperatures are warmer than Fairbanks but still cold. The sea and rivers are completely iced over. The Bering Sea had huge massive chunks of ice called "sea ice". Sea Ice is exactly what it sounds like when the sea freezes over even locking in the salt. The Niukluk river is iced over enough for us to drive our truck across.
The road to Council takes you across the snow drifted tundra. It reveals secrets from the past like gold dredges and a unique train. The "Train to Nowhere" as it is known is part of a railroad that was going to go to Council and beyond. Barges were going to take supplies and dump them on the train to be taken to isolated Alaska. A turn in events occurred, the World War started and budget for the railroad stopped. Today the train sets in it's tracks, slowly rusting away so it is known as the "Train to Nowhere".
High in Council: 12 C
Low in Council: -12.5 C
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