The Historical Walking Tour of Nome, Alaska
Nome Travel Blog› entry 24 of 38 › view all entries
I did the Historical Walking Tour of Nome with the rented Dodge Nitro. Rains had seemed to finally taper down but the side-streets remain wet and muddy. Most of the buildings from the gold rush days have been destroyed by fires in 1905 and 1934, and by violent storms in 1900, 1913, 1945, and 1974. The few original structures that remain are scattered in and around Nome.
The Discovery Saloon was built in 1899 by Jafet Lindeberg who was one of the 'Three Lucky Swedes' that discovered gold on Anvil Creek in 1898. That discovery sparked the gold rush which eventually led to the founding of Nome. Today, the building is the oldest remaining gold rush structure. The Discovery Saloon operated from 1900 to 1916, housed a pool and billiards table, and was known as a saloon where women other than 'ladies of the night' could enjoy a drink.
Another interesting well-preserved structure is 'Old St. Joseph's on Anvil City Square'. Originally a Catholic Church, the building was relocated to its present site in 1996, restored by the City of Nome, and is the only remaining example of large churches from the gold rush days. It was built in 1901 and its electrically lit cross was used as a beacon for travelers approaching Nome from the country. St. Joseph's was closed in 1945 due to high heating costs and a declining population. It was used as a storage building by the Alaska Gold Company until its restoration in 1996. Today it is used as a multipurpose public building.
I drove out to Swanberg's Dredge which is about a mile east of town. By 1912, there were 39 dredges operating on the Seward Peninsula. Swanberg's is smaller than most but easily accessible and well-preserved. A boardwalk leads up to the dredge and informative signboards nicely explain its operation which ceased in the 1950s. Two other huge dredges in the Nome area - Alaska Gold Company's #5 and #6 - operated until the mid-1990s. They were two of the world's largest operating gold dredges.
The Nome Convention & Visitors Bureau on Front Street has a nice map and flyer for the Historical Walking Tour which includes far more than I've shown here. Their office offers a wealth of other information about Nome, the Gold Rush, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race which ends here in Nome, and the area's history, culture, and heritage.