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Knik

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North of the Kenai Peninsula, on the other side of Anchorage, is the abandoned settlement of Knik. Located on the northwest side of Knik Arm, Knik was founded in the nineteenth century as an Athabaskan trading post. The most visible reminder of the Athapaskan population here is a Russian Orthodox cemetery, about 100 yards behind the Knik Hall. About two dozen graves are adorned with spirit houses, much like those at Eklutna, where most of the Knik Natives moved.

By 1898, with the discovery of gold in the Interior, Knik became an important transshipment point for supplies to the Interior. As the first port in South-Central Alaska, Knik was also the hub of several trails leading to the Interior and to the south. After gold strikes in the Iditarod region in 1908, Knik also became a stop on the Iditarod Trail; in 1911, the U.S. government established this trail as a mail route. By 1915, Knik had a population of about five hundred, with four general stores, four hotels, a movie house, a pool room, a post office, and a school.

In 1915, however, the Alaska Engineering Commission determined that the Alaska Railroad would bypass Knik. Supplies to the Interior would be unloaded at Seward and brought by rail. Knik's decline was rapid; in 1916 the post office closed and in 1919 the mail to the Iditarod was unloaded at Wasilla, no longer passing through Knik. Today, two buildings remain in Knik.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Alison K. Hoagland

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