Located on the southern side of the Seward Peninsula along the Bering Sea coast, Nome is an interesting place that combines Alaska’s gold rush history with rich Inupiat Eskimo culture, great fishing and plentiful wildlife.
About Nome (Iñupiaq: Sitŋasuaq / Sitnasuaq)
Inupiat peoples have lived on the Seward Peninsula and the area surrounding Nome for centuries before gold was discovered at Anvil Creek in 1898. The city of Nome was established soon after, in 1901. The city is perhaps best known today as the finish line for the 1,049-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The race begins the first Saturday in March in Anchorage and the first dog teams begin arriving in Nome as soon as nine days later. Nome's Iditarod Festival begins a week after the start and continues as the mushers trickle in.
Things to do
Nome may only be accessible by air or sea, but once there you can explore 350 miles of roads that connect to other communities on the Seward Peninsula and wind through tundra, mountains and coastal plains along the way. You will see artifacts of the gold rush everywhere, including abandoned dredges, turn-of-the-century steam engines, old mining claims, and old railroad track and decaying trestles. Abundant wild flowers and tundra plants blanket the landscape while herds of musk oxen and reindeer graze within sight of the road. Other resident critters include bears, moose, fox, beaver, wolves, wolverine, lemmings, voles and shrews. The road system passes through a variety of habitats from beach to boreal forest, each boasting its own bird populations. Summer provides great fishing in one of the many streams and rivers or in the Bering Sea.
A stop off at the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum is worthwhile. Daughter of a prospector, Carrie McLain arrived in Nome when she was eight and grew to become the town historian and one of Nome's leading citizens. The museum showcases the lives of the gold prospectors and presents the art and lifestyle of the Bering Strait Eskimos with rare artifacts and photos.
Nome Convention & Visitors Bureau (907-443-6555) offers local visitor information.
Carrie M McLain Memorial Museum
Located on the ground floor of the Nome Public Library, the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum offers a wide variety of displays and historic pictures that allow visitors to enjoy Nome's fascinating history. Nome's only museum showcases the history of the Nome Gold rush from the discovery of gold by the Three Lucky Swedes in 1898 to the rush of more than 20,000 people to Nome in 1900. Visitors will also discover the lifestyles and art of the Bering Strait Eskimo and learn about the 1925 serum run that became the basis of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
In March, one of the toughest sled dog races in the world finishes in Nome hosts the finish of. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is a 1,049-mile run from Anchorage that sees the winner pulling into Nome some nine days later with the rest of the field trickling in for days afterwards. During the finish of the race Nome's population grows by approximately 1,000 people and turns Nome into what people everywhere warmly refer to as the "Mardi Gras of the North". Hundreds of events are staged during Nome's Iditarod Festival and range from the Nome-Golovin Snowmachine Race and dart tournaments to opportunities to meet the mushers and the Bering Sea Ice Golf Classic.