Location / Coordinates: Nome, Alaska, famous for the rush after the Klondike Gold Rush, and famous for being the finish line for the Iditarod. Nome is built on the shores of Norton Sound on the Bering Sea on the southern edge of the Seward peninsula. Nome is 102 miles south of the Arctic Circle and 161 miles east of Siberia, Russia.
Coordinates: Latitude N64.30 & Longitude W165.25
Population / Elevation: A little over 3,500 “Nomites” call Nome, Alaska “home.” More than half of these people, the Inuits, are descendants of the original peoples (the Kauweramiut, Malemiut, and Unalikmiut) that first walked across the land bridge between what is now Alaska and Russia. One of three culturally distinct groups of Inuit people, the Inupiat live on the Seward Peninsula, many of them in Nome today. Nome, Alaska is situated on the coast at sea level.
Description: Nome, Alaska is a big city by Alaskan standards. A collection of historic buildings from the gold rush era and more modern storefronts share street space. Nome looks out over the Bering Sea and is treated to spectacular sunsets in the winter season. Nome is the transportation and commerce hub for Northwestern Alaska. Gold mining is still plays a major role for Nome, as does oil exploration. Alaska’s Reindeer Industry is very much a part of Nome’s economy.
Incorporated as a city in 1901, it is now within the Sitnasuak Native Corporation lands.
What to do there: Nome, Alaska offers the history buff some very enticing gold mining history. The Historical Walking Tour of Nome is a good place to begin. Bring your camera and photograph the old mining vault of the Pioneer Mining Company, then move on to Cemetery Hill—some of those old miners’ graves may be some of your lost relatives. Have your picture taken in front of the largest gold pan in the U.S. then head down to the restored Old St. Joseph’s Church, then end the day checking out the old mining equipment at the East End Park. There are over 40 abandoned gold dredges in and around Nome. You may want to try your hand at gold panning, there are still nuggets to be found in Nome.
Native Arts & Crafts can be found all over Nome. Beautifully crafted Eskimo dolls, carved Ivory, and Sealskin slippers are very popular with visitors to Nome. Don’t forget to buy your gold nugget jewelry here—Nome is famous for gold!
Fishing is big in Nome, as is wildlife viewing both on the Bering Sea and on the Arctic Tundra. Nome and this part of the world is home to over 2,000 species of wild flowers. Arctic wildlife includes some big animals—bear, moose, reindeer, and musk oxen. Ducks and Loons can be seen here. Even bigger animals, whales, can be seen in the Bering Sea. Hire a guide to show you these magnificent creatures.
Of course, Nome is best known for hosting the finish of the Last Great Race, the Iditarod, every March.
The winter season in Nome is an Arctic Experience. Watch as the Nome National forest is planted. Every year, after Christmas, Nomites plant their Christmas trees and other yard ornaments in the snow across the way from the “Nome Nugget” (Alaska’s oldest newspaper). The Nome National Forest remains in place until the ice goes back into the Bering Sea sometime in the spring.
The Northern Lights on a clear night in Nome is an experience you’ll never forget.
History: Nome was named due to a spelling error. In the 1850s a British Officer sailing off the coast noted that a prominent land feature he was looking at didn’t have a name on his map. He mad the notation “name ?” in his notes. Whe the notes were being recopied, the map-maker wrote Cape Nome.
Fifty some odd years later “Three Lucky Swedes,” Jafet Lindberg, Erik Lindblom and John Brynteston discovered gold on Anvil Creek (aka Cape Nome). The rush was on. The Klondike was quickly playing out, and many gold seekers stampeded west to Nome. A year later, gold was discovered in the sands on Nome’s beaches. By 1900, thousands of gold seekers arrived in Nome by steamship, including the famous Wyatt Earp. Tents were pitched on the water’s edge from Cape Rodney to Cape Nome.
Merchants, keen on making their fortunes from the gold rush, soon arrived bringing everything a miner would need including lumber for building a new town. Nome briefly became the largest city in Alaska with a population of over 20,000 at the turn of the century.
In the winter of 1925, disease put Nome back on the map. Diphtheria swept across the little city of Nome. The serum needed to cure the disease was delivered by dogsled from Nenana to Nome. In fierce blizzard conditions, a sled dog team, with musher, Gunnar Kaasen, and his lead dog, Balto, completed the final of this heroic relay and saved many lives. That historic race is commemorated every March with the sled dog race, the Iditarod, the Last Great Race.
Nome was home to an airfield during World War II. Thousands of aircraft headed for the Western Front, landed in Nome where U.S. Aviators handed over the planes to Russian pilots to fly them through Siberia to fight the Nazis for the Lend-Lease Program.
Fires and violent storms have ravished Nome and much of its gold rush architecture has been lost. What remains has just a touch of Victorian flair to give visitors a hint of life during the gold rush.
How to get there: Nome, Alaska is about 540 air miles, or about three hours, northwest of Anchorage. Driving to Nome, Alaska isn’t possible—there are no roads to Nome other than a few from neighboring towns on the tip of the Seward Peninsula.
Facilities: Nome, Alaska is pretty self-sufficient with 24-hour emergency medical service, hospital, dental clinics, pharmacy, and other community health services. Nome animals also have a veterinarian hospital. “Nomites” also are able to attend one of 12 churches, or use one of two libraries. There is a museum, a bank and a credit union, an indoor swimming pool, and a convention center.
RV info: There are no RV facilities available in Nome, Alaska.