There's No Place Like Nome
Nome Travel Blog› entry 19 of 38 › view all entries
Though all but a handful of Nome's original buildings had either burned to the ground in a 1934 fire or were destroyed by violent storms off the Bering Sea, its reconstruction has maintained a rugged frontier charm. Front Street has numerous metal plaques along its dusty sidewalks that point out tidbits of Nome's colorful history.
One of the plaques in front of the City Hall describes that in 1899, one year after the initial gold strike on Anvil Creek, Nome's population swelled to 5,000 people. Popular new businesses included 20 saloons, 16 law offices, 12 general stores, 11 doctors, 6 restaurants, 4 bath houses, and a brewery. Also in front of the City Hall building (which is nicely decorated with colorful dredge scoop flower pots) is a bronze bust of Roald Amundson - the famed Norwegian explorer who made the first flight over the North Pole in 1926.
Wyatt Earp came here to 'mine the miners'. A hand-painted signboard in front of the City Hall refers to 'The Dexter' which was the saloon he built with partner Charlie Hoxie. It was Nome's first 2-story wooden structure and the booming town's largest and most luxurious saloon. By 1901, Wyatt and his wife Josie left Alaska with around $85,000 and headed to the gold strike in Tonopah, Nevada. There too, his mining, gambling, and saloon interests proved very profitable.
Another nearby plaque notes that most of Nome's gold rush saloons lined the north side of Front Street. Gamblers, conmen, and prostitutes thrived.
Other informative plaques along Front Street record brief notes of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race which ends here in Nome and of the discovery of gold on local beaches which spurred another stampede of prospectors to swell Nome's population to more than 40,000. Today, Nome is home to 4,000 of which about half are of Eskimo descent. Only a handful of descendents of the original pioneers still live here.