Iditarod, Alaska


Iditarod, Alaska

Iditarod is an abandoned town in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska.

Geography

It is on horseshoe lake that was once a bend in the Iditarod River, 11 km (7 miles) northwest of Flat.

History

The town of Iditarod was named after the Iditarod River. "Iditarod" comes from the Athabascan word "Haidilatna". [Allan Curtis, "Iditarod's Newspapers: Optimist, Nugget, Pioneer" "Alaska Journal" 6 no.2 (Spring 1976) 78-83.]

On Christmas Day 1908, prospectors John Beaton and W.A. "Bill" Dikeman found gold on Otter Creek, a tributary to the Iditarod River. News of the find spread and in the summer of 1909 miners arrived in the gold fields and built a small camp that was later known as Flat. People and supplies traveled to the gold fields by boat from the Yukon River, up the Innoko River, and up the Iditarod River to the current town site, a short walk from Flat.

More gold was discovered and a massive stampede headed for Flat in 1910. The steamboat "Tanana" arrived June 1, 1910, and the city of Iditarod was founded as a head of navigation for all the surrounding gold fields, including Flat, Discovery, Otter, Dikeman, and Willow Creek. Iditarod quickly became a bustling boomtown, with hotels, cafés, brothels, three newspapers (only one would last the year), a Miners and Merchants Bank, a merchantile store, electricity, telephones, automobiles, and a light railway to Flat.

By 1930 the gold was gone and most of the miners had moved to Flat, taking many of the buildings with them. Iditarod is now a ghost town. Only one cabin and a handful of ruins remain, including the concrete bank vault from the Miners and Merchants Bank. There is no remnant of the bank structure.

The Iditarod Trail winter supply route and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race were named after the Iditarod mining district. Iditarod is considered the halfway point for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on the southern route.

References


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