Nome
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Nome, Alaska

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 in 1900. 

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 ice.

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 were living in Nome!

Nome Damaged by not Destroyed

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.

Fire

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. 

War

The other 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).

Today, 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.

Cape Nome

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."

Transportation

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 no buses.

Airlines

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

Car Rentals

All vehicles with: unlimited mileage, insurance and long term rates available.

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 vans/bus
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

A2B Cab
Chauffeur de Anvil City
 (907) 443-2083
Checker Cab
Gold Rush Taxi
Nome Cab
Morgan Enterprises (907) 443-2556
Village Taxi

Facilities

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  hotels 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.

Financial Considerations

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 updated information.

Nome Convention and Visitors Bureau
PO Box 240
Nome, AK 99762
E-mail:  nomeinfo@gci.net
Phone: 907-443-6555

| January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December |

January

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, (907) 443-5717 

February

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.

March

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) 443-2867.

Bering Sea Ice Golf Classic: Third 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)

April

Nome-Council Sled Dog Race: A 200 mile dog team race with a "maximum 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.

Northwest 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).

May

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) 443-5717.

June

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.)

Midnight 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.

July

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) 443-2919.

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. 

Poor 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) 443-2919

September

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) 443-2919.

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.

Things to Do in Nome- Summer

(Late May - Mid September)
bullet Pan for gold on the beaches of Nome
bulletRent a vehicle and explore the 300 mile road system. Drive to the Eskimo village of Teller, the abandoned Council City, or Solomon River Railroad to see the "Last Train to Nowhere." Look for bear, moose, reindeer and musk oxen along the way.
bulletSign up for a tour.
bulletSee the largest Goldpan in the United States (18 ft. high) located Anvil City Park.
bulletGo camping
bulletPick berries 
bulletLook for rare species of birds
bulletTake the self-guided "Historical Walking Tour"
bulletWalk the beach and look for old artifacts, shells and beach glass washed ashore by storms. Cook hot dogs on the beach
bulletIdentify over 200 species of wild flowers
bulletGo fishing or hunting
bulletRide a four-wheeler pulled by a dog team
bulletVisit the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum
bulletFly to Serpentine Hot Springs in the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve
bulletHike anywhere off the road system
bulletTry to find all 44 abandoned gold dredges in the area
bulletDrive or hike to the top of Anvil Mountain for an expansive view of the area
bulletPhotograph the old mining vault of the Pioneer Mining Company, founded by the "Three Lucky Swedes"
bulletVisit Cemetery Hill to see the old graves, look for lost relatives
bulletWatch the crab and fishing fleets unload their catch of the day at the Nome dock.
bulletSee the monthly event list for more ideas.
 

Things to Do - Winter  (December - April)

bulletEnjoy a dog sled ride with a local musher.
bullettake your picture in the "Nome National Forest" which is "planted" on the frozen Bering Seaby Nomeites each year (December - May).
bulletWatch the Nome Kennel Club sled dog races on Sunday afternoons
bulletRent skis, snowshoes or ice skates from the Nome Recreation Center
bulletSee the Iron Dog Snowmobile Race from Wasilla to Nome and return. Held in February, this approximately 2400 mile race is the longest snowmobile race in the world.
bulletHave lunch with the Elders at the Senior Citizen Center (September - May)
bulletLook for wildlife during a flightseeing excursion
bulletLook for Northern Lights on clear nights
bulletWatch weekend snowmobile races sponsored by the Nome Racing Association
bulletSee the finish of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in mid-March . . . activities planned all month long
bulletGolf on the frozen Bering Sea using orange golf balls - occurs on the week-end closest to St. Patrick's Day
bulletAttend the annual Miners and Mushers Ball held the second weekend in March.
bulletWatch the largest invitational basketball tournament in the world . . . over 50 teams in Nome in mid-March
bullet 
bulletSee the monthly event list for more ideas.
 

 

 

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