Sunday, August 1, 2010

Day 77 – Ninilchik AK to Soldotna AK

Today’s Mileage 40
Miles to Date 5918
Miles Remaining to home 4106

Today we turn back towards home. Having travel all this way, we are spending time on the Kenai Peninsula so we only progressed 40 miles today to the town of Soldotna AK. This will be our home for eight days. Originally we only planned to stay here seven days but that would have meant a Sunday departure through Anchorage. We traveled Kenai Peninsula last Sunday and there was a solid line of traffic in the opposite direction. This time of year the local population flocks to the peninsula for a weekend of camping, fishing and clamming. So we decided it prudent to extend our stay here until Monday to avoid being stuck in traffic.

Soldotna is located on the western Kenai Peninsula. In 1947, after World War II, the United States government allowed settling of land on parts of the Kenai Peninsula under the Homestead Act. Veterans of the United States armed services were given a 90-day preference over non-veterans in selecting land and filing for property. Also in that year, the Sterling Highway right-of-way was cleared of trees from Cooper Landing to the Kenai River. The location of present-day Soldotna was selected as the site for the highway's bridge crossing the Kenai River.

The construction of the Sterling Highway provided a link from the Soldotna area to the outside world. More homesteads were taken and visitors came to fish in the area. The Soldotna post office opened in 1949 and other businesses opened in the next few years.

Oil was discovered in the Swanson River region in 1957, bringing some new economic development to the area. In 1960, Soldotna was incorporated as a city with a population of 332.

Sport fishing and tourism are currently the mainstays of the economy in Soldotna. It also receives some economic advantage from being the seat of the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Today Soldotna stretches over a mile along the Sterling Highway and has a population around 4000. It has all the conveniences of a small town, restaurants, stores, hospital, gas stations, etc.

Our home for the next 8 days

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