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THE BIRTH OF WASILLA, ALASKA

By Coleen Mielke  2014
coleen_mielke@hotmail.com


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In January of 1916, the Alaska Railroad tracks were completed from Anchorage to Peters Creek; two months later, they reached Eklutna and the right-of-way was cleared as far as mile 15 of the Carle Wagon Road where a small railroad construction camp was set up. The construction camp was named Wasilla, after Dena'ina Chief Wasilla (1842-1907).

That fall, the government tried to sell land leases to promote the town site, but no one was interested, as a matter of fact, only one man (Harry Shough) attended the lease sale. Instead, Orville Herning built a small commercial warehouse on the railroad easement and Howard Wilmoth put up a small tent store to "test the waters".

On May 2, 1917, railroad tracks reached Wasilla, and on June 20th, fifty Wasilla town site lots were sold to the public for $25 to $280 each. Herning bought three lots and built a 24' x 80' general store on Main Street. Wilmoth bought one lot and built another general store right across the street from Herning's, the buildings were nearly identical.

On October 1, 1917, the citizens of Wasilla asked the Governor for funds to build a school; two weeks later they got the money ($3,100) and Shorty Herbert was paid $45 to clear a 100' x 200' building site for the school.

O.J.Meehan was hired to build the school and on November 1st, he went to Anchorage and ordered the lumber; on November 2nd the lumber arrived and by November 22 the school was completely done and ready for the kids with five cords of wood stacked out back; Meehan was paid $736 for building the school. On November 26th (less than 2 months after the school funds were requested) the Wasilla School opened with Miss Ora Dee Clark as teacher.


MAIN STREET  WASILLA  6/20/1917
(you can see the RR tracks in the background)

Wasilla, Alaska 1917
  

On 6/20/1917, the first 50 building lots were sold to the public by

the Land and Industrial Department of the Alaska Engineering Commission


BLOCK
LOT
PURCHASER
PRICE
1
1
Orville G. Herning
$50
1
2
Orville G. Herning
$25
1
3
Thomas M. Cavney
$25
1
4
Richard Currier
$25
1
5
Harry C. Shough
$25
1
6
Josephine Ilat
$25
1
7
Clark E. Davis
$25
1
8
Harry R. Brown
$25
1
9
Alfred W. Lueders
$240
1
10
William A. Smith
$130
1
11
Clark E. Davis
$130
1
12
Henry Rohde
$155
1
13
Albert Lee
$160
1
14
Harry C. Shough
$190
1
15
John H. Finley and B. Killie
$190
1
16
Ernest J. Warner
$210
1
17
Ernest E. Hartman
$215
1
18
Orville G. Herning
$280
2
1
Howard W. Wilmoth
$260
2
2
Charles Carlson
$150
2
3
John A. Carmody
$160
2
4
Thomas D. Corlew
$175
2
5
Harry R. Brown
$175
2
6
Ernest J. Warner
$150
2
7
Charles H. Kidd
$125
2
8
Evan W. Edwards
$135
2
9
William A. Smith
$155
2
10
Otto H. Frisk and Iber Nearhouse
$280
2
11
Egbert McDonald
$75
2
12
George Zink
$50
2
13
Fred Nelson
$55
2
14
Louis Lawsen
$50
2
15
James E. Stone
$55
2
16
Joseph C. Brassel
$50
2
17
Lawrence F. Linden
$50
2
18
Oliver W. Evans
$140
3
1
Oscar Tryck
$130
3
2
Gus Swanson
$70
7
1
John Lunstedt
$250
7
2
Eser Wikholm
$140
7
3
Mathew W. Diedrick and Alfred Shyman
$110
7
4
John Hylin
$80
7
5
John McIlroy
$110
7
8
Matt Rooney
$55
7
9
Abe Reising
$60
7
10
Nell Beattie
$105
8
1
Christian Beck
$25
8
6
Edward M. Spaulding
$75
8
7
Eser Wikholm
$90


MAIN STREET   WASILLA, ALASKA 6/20/1917
Main Street Wasilla, Alaska 1917


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coleen_mielke@hotmail.com


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