Wiseman

Old log cabin in Wiseman. Courtesy of the National Park Service.

Old log cabin in Wiseman. Courtesy of the National Park Service.

Wiseman is located in the Brooks Range, on the middle fork of the Koyukuk River at the junction of Wiseman Creek. It is about 260 miles northwest of Fairbanks off the Dalton Highway, and 75 miles north of the Arctic Circle. In the early 1900s, miners began to abandon the Slate Creek settlement (now Coldfoot), 13 miles to the south of Wiseman, in response to increased mining on Nolan Creek and Hammond River. Supplies for these new mining operations were brought by horse-drawn barge, up the Koyukuk River to Wiseman Creek, where a new town developed in 1907.

Group from Wiseman at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, March 28, 2012.

Group from Wiseman at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, March 28, 2012.



It was first called Wrights, then Nolan, and finally Wiseman in 1923. Wiseman is three miles from the Dalton Highway, which was constructed in 1974, but the community was only connected to the road in the early 1990s. Wiseman is currently a mostly non-Native community, although historically it has been a mixture of cultures thanks to its role in the region’s mining, trading, and trapping activities. The 2011 year round population of Wiseman was estimated at 13. Trapping, tourism, and mining continue to sustain the community.

L-R:  Clutch Lounsbury, Syd Stealey, and Bill English look at historic photographs at the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives, March 27, 2012.

L-R: Clutch Lounsbury, Syd Stealey, and Bill English look at historic photographs at the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives, March 27, 2012.

Elders from Wiseman visited the University of Alaska Fairbanks on March 26-28, 2012 to look at collections and decide what they most wanted to have accessible online. June Reakoff, Jack Reakoff, James “Clutch” and Lorna Lounsbury, George Lounsbury, Bill English, Syd Stealey, and Tom “Eight-Ball” Hobrie looked at photos in the Ross Brockman, Woodrow Johansen, Hazel Lindberg, and Donald E. Young Collections in the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections and Archives, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library.

Jack Reakoff (back, right) talks about some of the material seen at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, March 28, 2012.

Jack Reakoff (back, right) talks about some of the material seen at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, March 28, 2012.

They watched film of mining, dog mushing, and interviews with Wiseman pioneers from the Alaska Film Archives. And they looked at historic mining artifacts and fur clothing at the University of Alaska Museum of the North. Several of these collections are now available online and accessible through this portal.

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