I am trying to organize the photos into the general area of the state where they were taken. The first group is from the area of Galena, a village located on the north bank of the Yukon River about 300 miles west of Fairbanks. It was never a traditional Native village but was established by the military an airport to be used by the Lend Lease Program pilots delivering war planes to Russia during World War II. Until a few years ago it was maintained by the USAF as an early warning strike base. It is the transportation center for this part of Alaska. It had a civilian population of about 300 when we lived there, late 60s-early 70s.
Aircraft and boats are the summer means of transportation here in the western Interior of the state, with aircraft and snow machines in the winter. There are some dog teams still being used but snow machines and ATVs have relegated most dog teams to a racing role these days.
(these photos are still being re-organized into the proper locations as of January 2011)
Galena Area Photos
Just about 35 miles on west of Galena is the village of Koyukuk, located on the river by the same name. Koyukuk has been the site of a community since the recording of history. The village is located about a half mile upstream of the confluence of the Koyukuk and Yukon Rivers. It was home to about 90 people when we lived there. We had, at one point in time, 29 running dogs plus pups while living here. This was in addition to our airplanes, snow machines and boats. We would go years at a time without owning a car or if we did have one it was stored in Anchorage.
Tanana is located at the confluence of the Yukon and the Tanana Rivers. Population of about 300. It was an early site for missionaries, a public health hospital and an FAA station as well as a long established Native village.
Nenana has traditionally been the river barge center for the Yukon River. Towboats push barges down the Tanana and on down the Yukon with all sorts of supplies for the villages and military needs. The freight arrives at Nenana by train and by truck to be sent downriver. It is about 65 miles by the Parks Highway to Fairbanks. We lived in Nenana for 13 years. The traditional Native village was located across the river on the north side, a much better building location than the low swampy ground where the town of Nenana was located by the barge lines.
The Kenai area developed as a homesteading area, then the oil industry developed in the area and it has become the playground for Anchorage. For a number of years we owned a river front lot on the Kenai River, just upstream from the town of Soldotna. We ended up leaving our 5th wheel trailer set up on the lot and would run back and forth from Nenana with our pickups/campers or motorhomes. They changed the regulations so that my jet powered boat was no longer legal to use on it and the area just became too crowded for us so we sold the lot and the trailer. The Kenai is one of the most beautiful regions of the state, IMHO, but it has become "loved" to death by the hordes of visitors from Anchorage and the Lower 48.
Camping/traveling in other parts of the state
Anchorage developed as a supply center for the large military buildup of World War II. It took on it's big city persona during the building of the Alaska Oil Pipeline. Approximately half the state's population lives in Anchorage, most working for the federal government in one way or the other. The standard joke in Alaska is that the best thing about Anchorage is that it is only a 30 minute plane flight to Alaska from there. LOL Not far from the truth IMHO.
Fairbanks has managed to maintain some of it's frontier image and attitude over the years. It is the northern supply center for Interior Alaska. It is a major aircraft refueling stop for many over the pole flights to/from Europe and Asia. Fairbanks was our city of "bright lights" for many years. A place for shopping, medical and dental needs, and just a place to go and see how the city folks lived. (and why we never wanted to live in a city) They have excellent musical and theater performances for such a small town. It was/is a fun place to spend time. Not much different in Fairbanks now, 2006 last visit, than it was on my first visit in 1962. Just the additions of some new buildings and the big box stores on the north side of town.
Along the Rivers, Yukon and Koyukuk
There are numerous villages on the two rivers that I visited often, such as Kaltag, Nulato, Huslia, Hughes, Allakaket, Ruby, Minto, Manley Hot Springs, Bettles Field, Alatna, etc. These are places I visited but never lived.
Marshall Alaska Photos taken in 1965-1966
The three photos below were sent to me 12/17/03 by Betty Esmailka, a former student of mine from Galena Alaska. The first photo is of the Edward Pitka Airport in Galena, the old military base is to the top right, new town is at bottom of picture, second photo is of the "new town" and the third is of the new high school complex. New town is just east of town on higher ground. Photos by Paul Apfelbeck of Galena.