The Trail


The Story of the Historic Valdez – Fairbanks Trail that Opened Alaska’s Vast Interior

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The discovery of gold spawned the need for a primitive trail, some 360 miles long, through a completely northern wilderness. The great trail would lead into the very heart of Alaska. It would be built under extreme conditions and would be traveled under these same conditions by tough, hardy people. As “The Trail” continued to be improved, it became the catalyst for helping to develop the great Interior of Alaska, by connecting Valdez on the coast to Fairbanks in the Tanana Valley.

The story of “The Trail” is much more than one of just the historical opening of a new territory and the economic development of a region by a trail. It is really an adventure story of a time and way of life that will never be seen again; a time when Alaska was untamed, and people with a goal or a dream came from a warmer, gentler latitude to traverse its wild, harsh expanse, and survive while doing so. Furthermore, it is the story of the roadhouses, telegraph lines, and the people who built and ran them along “The Trail.” It was these folks who made it possible for the overwhelmed travelers, who ventured either on foot or in open horse-drawn sleds, at 50 degrees below zero, not only to survive, but also to find a little comfort while doing so.

“The Trail” would eventually become the Richardson Highway of today. There will never be a time filled with more adventures and stories than those found along “The Trail.” A few of these adventures, and the historical facts surrounding them, are chronicled in this book.

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Kenneth L. Marsh


Trapper Creek Museum



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