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The History of Talkeetna

Published On: Nov 15 2013 02:08:20 PM AKST

Less than one mile from downtown Talkeetna, thousands of tourists become speechless at a Denali look-out point. The mountain can be seen from many places in Alaska, but the town of Talkeetna is one of the best.

The town sits at the confluence of the Talkeetna, Chulitna and Little Susitna rivers. The Dena'ina Athabascans were the first inhabitants of the area who found both food and natural resources in abundance.

"They were able to get all different types of food," said Jayme Spires with Talkeetna Historical Society. "They were able to go from the Anchorage area all the way up to Talkeetna and not many people could do that."

It has been a hundred years since the first summit of Denali. Walter Harper, an Alaska Native, was the first to conquer the mountain on June 7, 1913. Since then, many hikers have done the same, but some have lost their lives trying.

The mountain has long been a major draw to the Talkeetna area. It has served as a support community for food, flights and lodging, but without its golden moment, it wouldn't be a quintessential Alaskan town.

"People from the lower-48 learned about a gold strike and thought they could do it and Talkeetna just exploded," said Spires.

Not many people came to Talkeetna during the early gold rush, but one form of transportation, the train, definitely made it easier. In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson selected Talkeetna as the engineering commission headquarters. The town boomed and so did business.

"With the railroad coming through it just helped people so much," said Spires. "The tent city went up and people just went out and started finding gold. It was a huge boom for the economy."

These days, hundreds of tourists flood the street and appreciate Talkeetna's historic landmarks. There have been many changes since the beginning of the town of Talkeetna, but there is one landmark likely to never change -- the constant watchful eye of Denali. 

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