Numerous unique historic structures represent a rich cultural history within the boundaries of Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.
Although some of the sites are privately owned and are not open to the public, the National Park Service maintains others for your convenience and enjoyment. Please respect and help protect them.
The cabin site is at the upstream base of Nation Bluff and down river from the mouth of the Nation.
In 1934 Christopher "Phonograph" Nelson built Nation Bluff Cabin, one of several along the Nation River he built and used.
A number of stories exist in the local lore about Nelson. Some old-timers suggest he got the nickname Phonograph because he was a non-stop talker. If a pause came in the conversation, he filled it with and-a-and-ah until he could think of something more to say. He did own two phonographs however, one at his Nation Bluff Cabin and one in his cabin in Eagle. Chris seemed to have trouble finding a wife. According to his great-nephew, Christopher once sent for a "mail order" bride only to find that her girth was such that his dogs could not pull her in the sled. In an effort to solve the problem, Christopher offered to reimburse her fare on the sternwheeler only to have the offer refused since she had already found another suitor. Christopher never married but stories abound about his adventures in attempting to find a life partner to share his wilderness life. He is said to have died of a heart attack but others believe he died after drinking turpentine in an effort to cure a malady. The National Park Service restored Nelson's cabin in 1995 for public use. In 1999, a wildfire threatened the structure but successful efforts by firefighters saved this historic site for all to enjoy.
Nation City (Private Land)
Nation City, known to old timers as a "lively spot" between 1908 and 1912, was located on the south bank of the Yukon River below Nation River. Nation City was the longest lived of the four mining camps and supply bases in the area during the height of the mining days.
Dr. Walter LeFevre, an optometrist from Fairbanks, and his longtime friend Chuck Wolkens, constructed this cabin in the mid-1950's for use as a hunting lodge.
Washington Creek Steam Tractor
Dr. Ryan, a San Francisco physician, brought in this steam tractor, which rests on river left, two miles below Washington Creek. He intended to use it to pull rail cars laden with coal from the mines in the area but, the coal was such poor quality that the steamboats would not burn it. Like many items imported into the Alaskan bush, parts have been stripped for uses in other areas along the river. The tractor is located on a high bank, visible from the river and is a remarkable artifact to view.
Biederman's Fish Camp (Private)
Although privately owned, this site is one of the most significant in the preserve as it not only signifies the subsistence lifestyle but also attests to the laborious tasks undertaken by historic mail carriers. As a mail carrier, Ed Biederman made the round trip between Eagle and Circle 13 times each winter. In the summer, Ed boarded dogs for trappers and miners who could not care for them during the warm weather. He spent summer months fishing for more than 40 dogs using two fish wheels.
The former Han Athabascan settlement, Charley's Village, was near the mouth of the Kandik River. Kandik is a Han Athabascan word meaning Willow Creek and originally Kandik was the name of the village. Later visitors recorded various names for the village and it was renamed after the chief of the settlement. The remains of the village has long since returned into the earth but, the people themselves retain a rich history.
Slaven's Roadhouse is just down river from the mouth of Coal Creek on the left bank of the Yukon River. Frank Slaven, a miner, first staked a claim on Coal Creek in 1905 and later built the roadhouse with the assistance of Sandy Johnson, an excellent axeman, and several friends. The roadhouse was used until the 1950's and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987 and has been restored for use as a visitor contact area and public use facility. The complex is also an official "dog drop" along the 1,000 mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race route.
The Coal Creek Dredge may be visited by walking a mile up a moderate path from Slaven's Roadhouse. This 4 cubic-foot bucket machine was constructed by the Walter W. Johnson Company of Oakland, CA in 1935 for use in the Coal Creek area. The dredge worked seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, for the entire mining season with a crew of about ten men. During its lifetime, the dredge recovered more than three tons of gold. It last ran in the summer of 1977 and is a remarkable example of the technology of the era.
Did You Know?
The Yukon River freezes to an average depth of 52" in interior Alaska. Freeze-up generally occurs in mid-November and break-up is usually in mid-May.