The Historian for Gates of the Arctic conducts research to rediscover stories of human activities in the Central Brooks Range - from the first Euro-American explorers to the more recent past. Listed below are just a few of the intriguing tales that help to illuminate the historic past of Gates of the Arctic.
Dog team mushing on North Slope in winter

Of Dogs & Wilderness

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, rangers and sled dogs ventured into the arctic winter to improve the wilderness character of a northern section of Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve by removing decades old fuel barrels left from military exploration.

Historic photo of the riverfront store and saloon at Bergman, Alaska in the winter of 1899.

Anchorage Museum

Gordon Bettles: Koyukuk Pioneer

A brief history of one of the more notable Koyukuk goldrush pioneers.


On the trail

Jasper N. Wyman Collection

Stampede to the Koyukuk Gold Country

During the great Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 many stampeders arrived too late and turned instead to Alaskan rivers like the Koyukuk and Alatna. This is the story of the photographer Jasper Wyman and a group from Illinois that traveled to the Brooks Range foothills in search of gold. Read More...


Cantwell Report, 1885

Military Exploration of the Brooks Range

During the 1880s, explorers representing various branches of the US military became the first outsiders to study the geography and people of the Brooks Range. Read More...

Hickel Highway cat train

McCutcheon Collection

Hickel Highway: An Early Road Across Arctic Alaska (pdf) 2012

A brief history of the first road through the Brooks Range to the Arctic Slope oilfields. Read More...


University of Calgary

Government Geologists Cross the Central Brooks Range

The story of a 1924 USGS expedition through the Brooks Range to Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 4. Read More...

Mining on the Alatna

Anchorage Museum

Gold in the Brooks Range

In 1898 gold seekers too late to stake claims in the Klondike spilled over the border into Alaska. Many of them tried placer mining along the wild rivers of the Brooks Range. Read More...

Anaktuvuk dog team

Ward Wells Collection

Is That a Village in a Wilderness Park?

In the late 1940s bands of nomadic Nunamiut Eskimos settled in Anaktuvuk Pass. Today their village represents a combination of modern and traditional lifeways. Read More...

USGS surveyor

USGS Photo Library

Early USGS Investigation of the Brooks Range

The U.S. Geological Survey played a key role in locating mineral deposits and mapping northern Alaska in the aftermath of the Klondike-Alaska gold rush. Read More...


Creation of Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve

Inspired by wilderness advocate Bob Marshall, NPS planners pushed for a national park that protected the natural splendor of the central Brooks Range. Read more. . .


If some of these stories have piqued your interest, check out our Suggested Reading List.

Last updated: December 2, 2021

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