Once an important gold rush town, Nome is still the largest town on Alaska's
west coast with approximately 4,500 people (3,615 in 1999).
It is less than 200 miles from Russia,
across the Bering Straight.
|History | Damage | Fire | War | Naming Nome |Cape Nome | Transportation | Facilities
| Financial Considerations
| Events | Summer
| Winter |
Located in northwestern Alaska on the Seward Peninsula (near the Arctic Circle,
not Seward), Nome is the center of commerce, transportation, and government for
northwestern Alaska. It is a port on Norton Sound (an arm of the
Bering Sea) It is also the supply center for nearby
mining operations and Eskimo villages. Nome boasts 4,021
residents, with 54% of those Alaska Native Eskimo. Its main
industries are gold mining and tourism. It is accessible by
daily flights from Anchorage and Fairbanks. The city was incorporated
Nome is host to the Bering Sea Ice Classic, a six hole golf
tournament played on the ice, the Polar Bear Swim, and the Midnight Sun Festival in June. It is a popular stop for tourists, and in the winter
(March) it is
the endpoint for the Iditarod Sled Dog Trail Race, which starts in Anchorage.
Nome is at sea level, surrounded by rolling hills
(1500-4700 ft.) of Arctic tundra, dotted with a
variety of miniature plants, berries and wildflowers. Due
to an underlying frozen layer called permafrost, the
landscape is primarily treeless.
History of Nome
The "Three Lucky Swedes, " Jafet Lindberg, Erik
Lindblom and John Brynteson, discovered gold on Anvil Creek in
1898. News reached the gold fields of the Klondike that winter
and by 1899 Anvil City, as the new camp was called, had a
population of 10,000. It was not until gold was discovered in
the beach sands in 1899 and news reached the outside world, that the
real stampede was on. Thousands poured into Nome during the
spring of 1900, as soon as steamships from the ports of
Seattle and San Francisco could reach the north through the
In this treeless area, tents soon filled the landscape to the water's edge, and
extended most of the 30 miles
between Cape Rodney and Cape Nome. Finished board buildings began going up as early as 1899, as soon as ships
reached Nome from the states with supplies.
At one point Nome was the largest city in Alaska, the population
is estimated to have reached as high as 20,000, but the highest
recorded population in 1900 was 12,488. The U.S. Census of
1900 shows that one-third of all whites recorded in Alaska
living in Nome!
Nome Damaged by not
Because of fires (1905 & 1934) and violent storms (1900,
1913, 1945 & 1974), very little of Nome's gold rush
architecture remains. Although most of the remaining examples
are not grand, they show bits of the Victorian detail
popular during the gold rush period.
Two major events altered
the physical appearance of present-day Nome to a great degree.
The fire of 1934 completely destroyed the business section on
Front Street and portions of residential area surrounding it,
changing the character of the commercial district.
event was World War II. Nome was the last stop on the ferry
system for planes flying to the U.S.S.R. for the Lend/Lease program. The airstrip
was built and troops stationed. Signs of military presence include the
numerous Quonset huts and knock-down buildings (usually long
narrow buildings put together from five foot sections).
the airplane is the main method of travel to Nome, rather than the steam ship, and
fewer residents make their living from the gold pan and rocker.
But the legacy from the
gold rush remains.
A Name for Nome
In February 1899, a group of 42 men who had staked property
and mining claims on the Snake River near Nome City,
officially agreed to change the name of the new mining camp to
Anvil City, because of the confusion with the Nome River,
which was located four miles to the southeast, and with Cape
Nome, the point of land located twelve miles from the city.
The name change only made the situation even more
confusing. The town was locally known as Anvil City for much
of 1899, but the United States Post Office Department insisted
on calling the community "Nome," apparently because
it was thought that a town called Anvil City would be easily
confused with the village of Anvik on the lower Yukon. A
competing town site had been established at the mouth of the
Nome River and it was also called Nome City. The Anvil City
merchants feared that the Post Office might decide to move the
"Nome" Post Office from Anvil City on the Snake
River to Nome City on the Nome River. After a vote was held
the merchants reluctantly agreed to change the name of Anvil
City back to Nome. In that
year it had some 20,000 inhabitants, but the population
decreased drastically in the following years.
Against it's wishes the city was stuck with the unusual
name of Nome. Unlike other towns which are named for
explorers, heroes or politicians, Nome was named as a result of
a 50 year-old spelling error. In the 1850's an officer on a
British ship off the coast of Alaska noted on a manuscript map
that a nearby prominent point was not identified. He wrote
"? Name" next to the point. When the map was
recopied, another draftsman thought that the ? was a C and
that the a in "Name" was an o, and thus a map-maker
in the British Admiralty christened "Cape Nome."
No road system connects Nome to any major city; the following are
the closest highways. Nome-Teller: 72 miles west, Nome-Council: 73 miles
east and Nome-Taylor: 87 miles north. There is no rail connection, and
Alaska Airlines (907)
443-2288, Fax: (907) 443-5520 Reservations: 800-426-0333
Arctic Transportation Serv. (907)
443-5482 (freight only)
Baker Aviation (907) 443-3081,
Fax: (907) 443-3664
Bering Air (907)
443-5464/5620, Fax: (907) 443-5919
Cape Smythe Air (907) 443-2414,
Fax: (907) 443-2548
Evergreen Helicopters (907)
443-5334, Fax: (907) 443-5418
Frontier Flying Service
Grant Aviation (907) 443-4650
Hageland Aviation (907)
443-7595, Fax: (907) 443-7660
Lynden Air Cargo
Northern Air Cargo
All vehicles with: unlimited mileage, insurance and long term
Alaska Cab Garage (907)
443-2939 Fax: (907) 443-2739 $75.00/day 2wd trucks 85.00/day
4wd trucks 85.00/day suburbans 110.00/day 15 passenger
Aurora/Stampede Vehicle Rentals (907)
443-3838 1-800-354-4606, Fax: (907) 443-6380, $75 to $125 / day.
Vans (12 & 15 passenger), Broncos 4WD pickups,
Explorers, mini vans, crew cab pickups
Taxi & Limo Rentals
Chauffeur de Anvil City (907) 443-2083
Gold Rush Taxi
Morgan Enterprises (907)
Nome has 12 churches, 2 libraries, a museum, a bank, a credit union, visitors center, recreation center,
a veterinarian hospital, several radio stations (including public radio), and a volunteer fire department.
There is public televisdion, a cable system (49 channels) and three
video rental businesses. There are over 40 clubs & organizations and 200 small
businesses. The community also has an indoor swimming pool, two meeting/convention facilities,
and a 21-bed hospital as well as an outpatient clinic, 2 dental clinics,
an eye clinic, a pharmacy, and several doctor's offices. There are
and bed & breakfasts supplying 180 units. The Nome Nugget is a
local weekly paper and Nome also receives Anchorage daily papers by
plane with a half-day delay.
Nome is the commercial, transportation, and tourist center of a mining
region noted for its gold production. The city's Eskimo inhabitants produce a variety of
handicrafts for sale. Gold mining in the region was revived in the late 1970s.
The Alaska Gold Company is the major gold mining agency still in
operation today. Nome is also the center for Alaska's reindeer industry.
While many businesses accept credit cards, there are still some businesses that accept only cash. Nome has a sales tax of 4%, and a bed
tax of 8% (which includes the 4% sales tax).
Festivals & Events
The following events calendars are from the
Nome Visitors Bureau in 2000, and are presented here only to help you
plan your trip to Nome. You will need to contact them directly to get
Convention and Visitors Bureau
PO Box 240
Nome, AK 99762
| January | February |
March | April | May |
June | July | August | September | October | November |
Iditaswim: January 1- March 31. Participants have three
months to swim 1049 laps (one for each mile of the Iditarod
Trail). Every finisher receives a commemorative t-shirt and
certificate. Nome Swimming Pool, Box 131, Nome, AK 99762,
Iron Dog Gold Rush
Classic Snowmachine Race: Late-February. Longest
snowmobile race in the world. Racers go from Wasilla to Nome to Fairbanks,
Alaska, a total of 2,274 miles, which usually takes 3 days. Iron Dog
Headquarters, 7100 Old Seward Highway Unit "C", Anchorage, AK
99515. (907) 563-4414 Fax: (907) 336-5052.
lditarod Sled Dog Race:
Starts first Saturday of March in Anchorage ... teams begin to
arrive in Nome in around 9 days. Distance: 1049
miles. Activities in Nome include three awards banquets, dart
tournament, golf on the Bering Sea, art & craft shows,
reindeer potluck, movies, slide shows and more.
Miners and Mushers Ball: Second Saturday in March.
Locals and visitors dress up in old time Nome attire to dance
and mingle at a local establishment. Prizes are awarded for
the best costumes. Jana Varratti, (907) 443-3961.
lditarod Basketball Tournament: Week-long tournament,
begins the second Sunday in March. The largest basketball
tournament in the world with over 50 teams in one location.
Nome Basketball Association, Box 420, Nome, AK. 99762 (907)
Bering Sea Ice Golf Classic:
Saturday of March. Six hole course played on the frozen Bering
Sea with bright orange golf balls. Par is 41. Cash prizes for
best scores. $50 entry fee includes a t-shirt, hat, golf
balls, tees (old shotgun shells), snake bite remedies (small
bottles of vodka) and a certificate of completion. This is a fund-raiser
for the Bering Sea Lions Club, Box 326, Nome, AK.
Businessman's Dog Team Race: Third Saturday of March.
Three-dog teams are provided. Wanna-be mushers pay $50 (usually
sponsored by business) to race 3 miles. No experience is necessary. Nome Kennel Club, Linnea Burmeister, Box 1103,
Nome, AK 99762, (907) 443-2958.
Nome-Golovin Snowmachine Race: Held the second Saturday in
March. Participants race 200 miles between Nome and the
village of Golovin. John Bahnke, (907) 443-5519.
Other Iditarod Events in March:
Snowshoe softball, art exhibits, contests, racquetball tournaments,
Eskimo dancing, movies, volleyball tournaments, dog sled rides, bowling
tournaments, slide shows, reindeer potluck, Eskimo craft sales, etc. A
calendar of events is available in early March from the Nome Convention
& Visitor's Bureau (see above)
Nome-Council Sled Dog Race: A 200 mile dog team race with a
of 12 dogs" limit. All start in Nome and have a six hour lay over in
Council. Prize is a $10,000 purse. Visitors are welcome. Sponsored by
the Nome Kennel Club,
Linnea Burmeister, Box 1103, Nome AK. 99762, (907) 443-2958.
Cannonball Run: Held annually the third
Saturday in April. A 120-150 mile snowmachine race which
begins on the frozen Bering Sea in front of the Nome Causeway.
This is one of the largest local snowmachine races with a
total purse exceeding $15,000. Co-sponsored by the Bering Sea Lions Club
& Norton Sound Race Association. Pat Johanson (907} 443-7157.
Arctic Games: These are the same games seen in the World
Eskimo-Indian Olympics, used by indigenous hunters to prepare themselves
for the rigors of harvesting game in the Arctic. There are three days of
traditional games of skill and strength, as well as a dance competition.
Athletes as young as 12 compete in the games. For more information contact
the visitor's bureau (above).
Stroke & Croak Mini Triathlon: Held annually on the Sunday
closest to Mother's Day. One mile swim in an indoor pool, 3.5
mile run outdoors and a 7.5 mile bike ride. Enter as a single
or as a team for an entry fee of $5. Those who finish win a
t-shirt. Nome Swimming Pool, Box 131, Nome, AK. 99762, (907)
Midnight Sun Festival: Held the weekend closest to the summer
solstice (June 21). Celebrate 22 hrs. of direct sunlight with
a parade, mock bank hold-up, street dance, BBQ chicken feed,
softball tournament and booths on Front Street.
Polar Bear Midnight
Sun Swim in
Bering Sea: In its early years, the swim occurred on Memorial
Day regardless of ice conditions.
Water temps 35 ░ F or less were common. Submersion of the entire body
entitles participants to a commemorative certificate. Typically, a
hundred or more Nomeites plunge into the frigid water each year. Whether
this is a test of endurance or intelligence is for the
observer to decide. Sponsored by Nome Rotary
Club since 1990. Box 275,
Nome, AK 99762, (907) 443-5549.
Nome River Raft Race: (Sunday closest to June 21) Homemade
rafts compete on a 2-3 mile course down the Nome River. Open
to the public. Certain craft restrictions apply. First place
team becomes the proud owners of the perpetual trophy... a
fur- lined honeybucket! Bering Sea Lion's Club, Box 326, Nome,
AK 99762 (907) 443-6624 (msg.)
Sun Folk Fest: A one day musical event beginning after
the Midnight Sun Festival parade at Anvil City Square, with music, food,
arts, and crafts.
Anvil Mountain Run: (July 4) A 17K run to the top of Anvil
Mountain (elevation 1100 ft.) and back down again. The course
must be completed within five hours with the return path being
down the face of the mountain. Finishers receive a
certificate. Trophies are given to the overall winner, first
woman and winner in the "50 years and older"
category. Leo Rasmussen, PO Box 2, Nome, AK 99762 (907)
July 4th Games: Street games for all
ages, foot races,
bicycle competitions, gunny sack races, shoe scrambles, egg
races, etc. Winners receive prize money provided by the Nome
City Council. Free ice cream and a parade. Nome City Clerk,
Box 281, Nome, AK. 99762 (907) 443-6611.
Man's Paradise - 20th of July Nome Centennial Event. Old-fashioned
gold mining skills featured in this gold panning contest sponsored by
Gold Prospectors of America and Rasmussen's Music Mart. Each
contestant receives pay-dirt containing the same amount of gold. The
winner pans all the gold in the shortest time. Contest held on
East Beach. Leo Rasmussen, PO Box 2, Nome, AK 99762, (907)
Bathtub Race: (Labor Day) Bathtubs mounted on wheels race down
Front Street. Each team must have five members, one in the tub
with bubbles in sight. Suspenders & hats are mandatory
apparel. Each team crossing the finish line must have a bar of
soap, towel, bath mat and at least 10 gallons of water in the
tub. Winner receives possession of the "Miss Piggy &
Kermit taking a bath" trophy until the next year's
competition. Leo Rasmussen, Box 2, Nome, AK. 99762 (907)
Rubber Duck Race: (Labor Day) Hundreds of numbered ducks
are tossed into the river. Tickets are sold for $5 per duck.
First three ducks to cross the finish line win cash prizes for ticket owners. Nome Rotary Club,
Ric Schmidt, Box 275,
Nome, AK 99762, (907) 443-5221.
Anvil Mountain 59 Minute 37 Second Challenge:
Second Thursday in September. Starting gun sounds at 7 pm. The
course begins at the base of Anvil Mountain, goes uphill then back down
via a gravel road. Open to all. Leo Rasmussen, PO Box 2, Nome, AK
99762 (907) 443-2919.
November / December
Community Craft Bazaars: On the first Saturday following
Thanksgiving is the largest Christmas bazaar in Nome. Many
homemade arts and crafts are available from the local
residents. There are several other craft bazaars in December.
Annual Fireman's Carnival: Always held the first Saturday
in December, the huge community event is a fundraiser for the
Volunteer Fire Dept. Activities include games of chance,
concession stands, bingo, cake walks and a chance to win a new
snowmachine or ATV. Nome Volunteer Fire
Dept, Box 82, Nome, AK 99762 (907) 443-2310.