The History of Fort Yukon

Fort Yukon is located at the confluence of the Yukon River and the Porcupine River, about 145 air miles northeast of Fairbanks. It lies at approximately 66 34' N Latitude, 145 16' W Longitude (Sec. 18, T020N, R012E, Fairbanks Meridian). The community is located in the Fairbanks Recording District. The area encompasses 7 sq. miles of land and 0 sq. miles of water.

Fort Yukon was founded in 1847 by Alexander Murray as a Canadian outpost in Russian Territory. It became an important trade center for the Gwich'in Indians, who inhabited the vast lowlands of the Yukon Flats and River valleys. The Hudson Bay Company, a British trading company, operated at Fort Yukon from 1846 until 1869. In 1862, a mission school was established. In 1867, Alaska was purchased by the U.S., and two years later it was determined that Fort Yukon was on American soil. Moses Mercier, a trader with the Alaska Commercial Company, took over operation of the Fort Yukon Trading Post. A post office was established in 1898. The fur trade of the 1800s, the whaling boom on the Arctic coast (1889-1904), and the Klondike gold rush spurred economic activity and provided some economic opportunities for the Natives. However, major epidemics of introduced diseases struck the Fort Yukon population from the 1860s until the 1920s. In 1949, a flood damaged or destroyed many homes in Fort Yukon. During the 1950s, a White Alice radar site and an Air Force station were established. Fort Yukon incorporated as a city in 1959.


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