The History of Northway

Northway is located on the east bank of Nabesna Slough, 50 miles southeast of Tok. It lies off the Alaska Highway on a 9-mile spur road, adjacent to the Northway airport. It is 42 miles from the Canadian border in the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. Northway presently consists of three dispersed settlements: Northway Junction, at milepost 1264, Northway, at the airport, and the Native village, 2 miles north. It lies at approximately 62 56' N Latitude, 141 52' W Longitude (Sec. 26, T014N, R018E, Copper River Meridian). The community is located in the Fairbanks Recording District. The area encompasses 18 sq. miles of land and 2 sq. miles of water.

The area around Northway was first utilized by semi-nomadic Athabascans who pursued seasonal subsistence activities in the vicinity of Scottie and Gardiner Creeks and Chisana, Nabesna, and Tanana Rivers. The Native settlement of Northway Village is located 2 miles south of Northway. The Native village was named in 1942 after Chief Walter Northway, who adopted his name from a Tanana and Nabesna riverboat captain. The development and settlement of Northway was due to construction of the airport during World War II. The Northway airport was a link in the Northwest Staging Route, a cooperative project between the U.S. and Canada. A chain of air bases through Canada to Fairbanks were used to supply an Alaska defense during World War II, and during the construction of the Alcan Highway. A post office was first established in 1941.


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