• pond surrounded by green brush, reflecting a distant range of snow-covered mountains that are dominated by one massive mountain

    Denali

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

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  • Road Open to: Mile 30 (Teklanika River)

    The Denali Park Road is currently open to Mile 30, Teklanika River. If wintry conditions occur, the road may close at some point closer to the park entrance. More »

Who Were Riley and Hines?

Historic photo of the Riley Creek area
H.G. Kaiser, Alaska Railroad Collection; Anchorage Museum, AEC.G1681.1682PAN
 
Trail Stop 5

You are now standing on the south bank of Hines Creek. In the 1920s your view would have been of a wide, treeless and rocky flat, with two streams converging nearby. The creeks, Hines and Riley, flow together almost directly below the railroad trestle. Both streams were important to pioneer residents. Riley Creek provided access to the mountains for hunters and wood gatherers. A trail on Hines Creek led west toward the park.

Hines Creek was originally called Maurice, or Morris, Creek, after Maurice Morino. Because the first government use of an alternative name appears in park service communication, we can assume that the park’s first Superintendent Harry Karstens changed it. He may have named it for an old friend, Frank J. Hines, who had died recently. Both Karstens and Hines had been dog team mail carriers in the early 1900s, and had connecting routes. The two likely had met earlier in Dawson City during the Klondike gold rush of 1897-98. In late May 1922, Frank Hines and his partner drowned when their canoe capsized on Birch Creek in Interior Alaska. Almost three weeks passed before searchers found Hines’ body. His partner’s remains were never found.

The source of the name Riley Creek, a significant park landmark, also remains speculative. Maurice Morino was a long-time business associate of miner and entrepreneur J.E. Riley, of Fairbanks, whose nickname was "George." Riley was tough, smart, and capable, exploiting almost every gold strike in Interior Alaska, and one of the few to profit from such ventures. It appears that Riley refinanced Morino after a catastrophic bankruptcy. The next year, during the 1914 Broad Pass stampede, Morino built his first cabin on the stream that was soon named Riley Creek.

• Federal law forbids the removal, disturbance, or destruction of historic artifacts of any kind. Any disturbance, no matter how slight, might affect future research and understanding. Enjoy your exploration of this pioneer community but please take only pictures and leave only footprints.

 
Historic image of train trestle over Riley Creek
Henry P. Karstens Collection, 0293, Karstens Library
 
 
 

Did You Know?

a green hillside and a brown scar denoting where a landslide occurred

Warmer temperatures have led to dramatic thawing of permafrost. Thaw releases carbon, as once-frozen materials decompose, but allows increased plant growth. Researchers in Denali are studying whether thawing permafrost will increase or decrease world-wide carbon emissions.