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The Interior: Fairbanks & the Yukon Valley

Eagle (city and village)

Location/Climate: On Yukon River at end of Taylor Highway (AK 5). 12"/yr. precip., -60°F–85°F.

Population: 146 (3 percent native).

Travel Attractions: Yukon River access, tours, kayaking and canoeing, Yukon-Charley Rivers National Park headquarters and access, drop-offs, historic town.

Getting There: Vehicle access via Taylor Highway (closed in winter); charter air service.

Information: Eagle Historical Society, P.O. Box 23, Eagle, AK 99738, 547-2325; www.eagleak.org; City Office, P.O. Box 1901, Eagle, AK 99738, 547-2282.

Situated on a historically vital stretch of the Yukon River near the Canadian border, Eagle offers modern travelers that end-of-the-road feel. Just upriver from the main town—officially known as Eagle City—the native settlement of Eagle Village is home to about 30 people. Follow 1st Avenue upstream 2H miles for a look.

Han Athabascan Indians were the original area residents when early trappers, miners, and traders arrived. To secure the Yukon River trade routes, the Hudson Bay Company established Fort Yukon in 1847 and Fort Reliance in 1874. Eagle Village and Johnny’s Village just across the border were settled in the same period. Belle Isle Trading Post was built near Johnny’s Village around 1880, but residents moved across the border, establishing Eagle at its present site in 1898.

Fort Egbert was built in Eagle in 1899 to secure the border during the Klondike Gold Rush, and as a vital link in the WAMCATS system (Washington-Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System). One section of WAMCATS ran from Eagle to the Bering Sea, the other from Eagle to Fort Liscum near Valdez. The fort helped establish Eagle as a vital trade, supply, and customs center, though its importance faded with the easy gold. Today there is renewed gold extraction in the area.

Consider taking the walking tour offered by the Eagle Historical Society (B Street and 1st Avenue daily 10 a.m., $5). It leaves from the Courthouse, which was built (along with the jail) by the famous Judge James Wickersham in 1901. This tour takes in several excellent historic sites, including the Northern Commercial Company store and warehouse on Front Street and the 1899 Custom House—which, like the courthouse, offers local heritage exhibits. Old Fort Egbert is on the tour but can be visited independently. It’s G mile from the river where 4th Avenue meets Eagle’s grass airstrip. The BLM maintains the remaining buildings and exhibits.

Drop in at the field office for the Yukon-Charley National Preserve for information on river trips. It’s located at the lower end of the airstrip (follow 1st Avenue downriver).

Where to Stay and Eat in Eagle

BLM Campground, out 4th, 1 mile west of town. Free. Primitive campground with wooded sites, free firewood, adjacent to historic cemetery, very nice.

Eagle Trading Company, www.eagletrading.com, Front Street (on river), 547-2220, fax 547-2202. $50–$60 rooms. Lodging, cafe, gas, groceries, repair, store, laundry, RV hook-ups. RH

Falcon Inn Bed-and-Breakfast, 220 Front Street, 547-2254, fax 547-2255. $65 and up. Nice and rustic.