Wiseman

There are no virtually no settlements along the Dalton Highway that runs for 666 kilometres to Deadhorse on Prudhoe Bay. Around the middle of the road is the remote settlement of Wiseman. It’s nearest town is Coldfoot (13 miles to the south) but it is only a rough truckers stop and some basic accommodation left over from the construction of the Alaskan Pipeline which carries oil from south across the entire state of Alaska from Prudhoe Bay to the port of Valdez in the south.

Wiseman was once a thriving town during the gold rush of the early 1900’s.. It is situated on the junction of the Koyukuk River and Wiseman Creek on the southern slopes of the Brooks Mountain Range. When the gold ran out in Coldfoot (so named because many miners got cold feet in winter and went south), they moved to Wiseman (then called Slate Creek). Some even brought their buildings on barges. Some large nuggets have been found in the creek but there is no evidence of any recent mining / panning activity.

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To get there, you drive up the Dalton Highway for 195 miles, until you cross the Koyukuk River, then turn left on a dirt road for three miles back to the town??, village?? Ssettlement?? A roughly painted old sign that leans against a tree greets yours you enter the town. Until the nearly 1990’s the town apparently had no connected to the main road. It has a grass strip that serves as an airport and perhaps there was some form of river crossing before the road was connected.

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In summer, the temperature averages about 20 C and in winter it can get as cold as -40C. At this time the sun stays below the horizon and provides a light similar to very bright moonlight. Like other parts of Alaska, summer mosquitoes are a real nuisance, but during our visit, we hardly experience any at all.

The people whom live there are very friendly. I had a 30 minute chat with one lady about her experience in living there. Our hosts, Bernie and Uta HIcker, who operate the Arctic Getaway Cabins were very happy to tell us about the town and its history. They keep a few sled dogs as in winter, a dog sled is the main way of getting around. Another accommodation establishment is the Boreal Lodge.

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I wandered around the two or three streets of the town and tok the following photos to show something of Wiseman’s character.

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2 comments

  1. Rob Neal · ·

    Congrats on reaching one of the key places on your itinerary. The report suggests that it was well worth the trip. Take care on the roads
    I’ve been watching the Ice Highway programs!!!!
    Regards
    Rob

  2. Pamela Saunders · ·

    So pleased that your driving and experiences were apparently without untoward incident. Although climate is totally different I am reminded through your pictures and stories of similar isolation and remoteness and the types of people who can endure harsh lonely conditions that exist in many very remote locations in Australia and where connection to the rest of the world is either non exist ant or very basic. What a special experience for you both.