The Historical Walking Tour of Nome, Alaska

Nome Travel Blog

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The Discovery Saloon building - oldest in Nome.

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.

'Old St. Joseph's on Anvil City Square'
A prominent Nome merchant converted the saloon into a private residence in 1916 which it has remained since. The nicely restored building is on Lomen Avenue and shows the Victorian style that once dominated the city.


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.

Signboards describe Swanberg's Dredge operation.
Anvil City Square is surrounded by old dredge buckets used as flower pots and claims the world's largest gold pan which welcomes visitors into Nome.


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.

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The Discovery Saloon building - ol…
The Discovery Saloon building - o…
Old St. Josephs on Anvil City Sq…
'Old St. Joseph's on Anvil City S…
Signboards describe Swanbergs Dre…
Signboards describe Swanberg's Dr…
Swanbergs Dredge
Swanberg's Dredge
The worlds largest gold pan
The world's largest gold pan
photo by: rotorhead85