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Pilgrim Hot Springs

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c. 1908, c. 1919. Mile 7 of road at Mile 53 of Nome-Taylor Rd.

An unlikely collection of buildings in a remote location, Pilgrim Hot Springs also has an unlikely history. Hot springs here create a favorable location for agriculture, and the land was homesteaded at the turn of the century. The springs also attracted miners and their ladies in search of recreation, and a roadhouse was built to accommodate them.

By 1918, the property was owned by the Catholic church, which established an orphanage for Native children at the height of the influenza epidemic. Father Bellarmine Lafortune directed the construction, as well as the orphanage. Local timber was supplemented with sawn lumber, floated in on the Pilgrim River. The hot springs heated some buildings, including the greenhouse, as agricultural production continued. For twenty years, Pilgrim Hot Springs served as an orphanage, with about one hundred children and twenty staff members, until closing in 1941. During World War II, the site was used by U.S. military forces as a rest and recreation center. The Catholic church still owns the complex but has leased it long-term to private interests. The farm continues to flourish today.

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland


What's Nearby


Alison K. Hoagland, "Pilgrim Hot Springs", [, Alaska], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Alaska, Alison K. Hoagland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 271-271.

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