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The History of Circle, Alaska


    Circle is located on the south bank of the Yukon River at the edge of the Yukon Flats, 160 miles northeast of Fairbanks. It is at the eastern end of the Steese Highway. It lies at approximately 65 49' N Latitude, 144 03' W Longitude (Sec. 31, T012N, R018E, Fairbanks Meridian). The community is located in the Fairbanks Recording District. The area encompasses 5 sq. miles of land and 1 sq. miles of water.

    Circle (also known as Circle City) was established in 1893 as a supply point for goods shipped up the Yukon River and then overland to the gold mining camps. Early miners believed the town was located on the Arctic Circle, and named it Circle. By 1896, before the Klondike gold rush, Circle was the largest mining town on the Yukon, with a population of 700. It boasted an Alaska Commercial Company store, eight or ten dance halls, an opera house, a library, a school, a hospital, and an Episcopal Church. It had its own newspaper, the Yukon Press, and a number of residential U.S. government officials, including a commissioner, marshal, customs inspector, tax collector and postmaster. The town was virtually emptied after gold discoveries in the Klondike (1897) and Nome (1899). A few hearty miners stayed on in the Birch Creek area, and Circle became a small, stable community that supplied miners in the nearby Mastodon, Mammoth, Deadwood and Circle Creeks. Mining activity continues to this day.

    The population of Circle is predominantly Athabascan, but there are several non-Native families. The Circle Civic Community Association was formed in 1967. It cooperates with the traditional council in maintaining the sign area and public boat launch and in preserving historic sites.


To Community Histories Index

To the main Department of Community and Economic Development Alaska Community Database Online


History and map graphic used with permission from the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development