The area's Koyukon Athabascans had spring, summer, fall, and winter camps, and moved as the wild game migrated. In the summer many families would float on rafts to the Yukon to fish for salmon. There were 12 summer fish camps located on the Yukon River between the Koyukuk River and the Nowitna River. Galena was established in 1918 near an old Athabascan fish camp called Henry's Point. It became a supply and trans-shipment point for nearby lead ore mines.
In 1920, Athabascans living 14 miles upriver at Louden began moving to Galena to sell wood to steamboats and to work hauling freight for the mines. A school was established in the mid-1920s, and a post office opened in 1932. The Galena Air Field was constructed in World War II. In 1945, the community suffered a major flood. During the 1950s, military facilities at the Galena and Campion Air Force Stations, airport and road developments, sparked growth in the community.
Due to another severe flood in 1971, a new community site was developed at Alexander Lake, about 1 1/2 miles east of the original townsite. City offices, the health clinic, schools, washeteria, store, and more than 150 homes were constructed at "New Town."
In 1993, the Air Force Station went into a caretaker status. It is being maintained and operated under contract for the Air Force by the Chugach Development Corporation, and supports daily military activities, including Air Force, Army and Marine training missions, North American Air Defense (NORAD) missions and US Coast Guard law enforcement and search and rescue missions. As well, the Galena Charter School is using several buildings on the base.
Thanks to Richard Homan for correcting the information on the current status of the base.
To Community Histories Index Alaska DCCED Community Database Online
History and map graphic used with permission from the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development