Council Travel Blog› entry 31 of 38 › view all entries
Our camp - about 4 miles before Council - is just off the road in tall willows near Bear Creek. Since the helicopter wouldn't be done flying until sometime after 6:00 p.m., I continued to the end of the Nome-Council Highway. Like last time, the Niukluk River flowed too deep to cross. It would have been nice to get over there to talk to some of the elders - not so much of the area's dynamic history, but of their struggle to survive in the remote wilderness settlement. Only 11 people live in Council year round but during the short summer its population grows to about 50. They rely on hunting and fishing for food. By the number of empty boat trailers it looks like the salmon are running.
Gold was discovered in the Council area - on Ophir Creek - in 1896 and by October of 1897, the town had 50 log houses and 300 people. By the summer of 1899 the population swelled to 15,000 making it one of the largest communities in Alaska. The boom town boasted a hotel, wooden boardwalks, a post office, a 20-bed hospital, and numerous bars. Most of the gold seekers left in 1900 for the discovery on the beaches of Nome, however, nearly 700 remained through 1910. By 1950 only 9 people remained. The post office closed down in 1954. Some of the original buildings stand in ruin next to modern homes or cabins and can be seen across the river.