Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 58 – Chicken AK Road Trip



Today we did a road trip to the well known metropolis of Chicken, Alaska; population 21 in the summer and six in the winter.

Chicken was named by miners who wanted to name their camp Ptarmigan, but were unable to spell it and so they named the camp Chicken. Chicken is the common name in North America for ptarmigan. Ptarmigan are common to the area.

There is no city water, sewer or electric service in Chicken. Wells generators and outhouses are used. Residents provide their own water and generators. Phone service is via satellite phone or internet with satellite. The only transportation to Chicken is a small local airstrip, as well as Alaska Route 5, the Taylor Highway. The highway is not maintained from mid-October through mid-March.


Downtown Chicken – That’s it the whole town

Downtown Chicken has a Saloon and Café that are some of the last remnants of the old frontier Alaska. The Café had fresh baked cinnamon rolls with icing. I will let you know if Downtown Chicken takes the lead in cinnamon rolls after breakfast tomorrow. They also had home baked pies but at $24.00 a pie, I decided to pass and wait for Karen’s Huckleberry pie when we get back to Montana.


Inside of Bar


Entrance to bar


Mik checking out Chicken’s Guard Chickens

Chicken even has its own post office. Mail service to Chicken is twice weekly, Tuesday and Friday. Mail, including Priority, from the lower 48 takes about 10 days to arrive in Chicken.

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The post office located across the highway on a hill

Chicken was and still is a gold mining community; however the town is best known as the home of the late Anne Hobbs Purdy. Now you might ask who the hell Anne is. Well Anne wrote the book Tisha. The book is about her experiences as a young school teacher in the Bush. She also wrote Dark Boundaries.

Chicken is the outpost for the 40 Mile mining district. There are still active gold mines in this area. Enough gold was mined here to make it worthwhile to haul huge gold dredges to this remote location. There are still several inactive gold dredges in the Chicken area.

The Pedro Dredge No. 4 is located at Chicken Gold Camp and Outpost on Airport Road. This dredgeIMG_0464 operated on Chicken Creek between 1959 and 1967 after mining Pedro Creek outside of Fairbanks from 1938 until 1959. Mining dredges were used in Alaska and the Yukon from the turn of the century to the 1950’s. The dredges were land locked floating machines, digging ponds that allowed them to float along the area to be mined. They have a large bucket digging boom on the front and a conveyor belt to expel the dirt and mud out the back. The interior housed a large screening drum and sluices for separating the gold. The dredges were either steam or electric powered.




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