National Park Service historians conduct research and prepare studies, assist with environmental compliance review and planning, write nominations for the National Register of Historic Places, and assist Alaska Native village partners. At Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, historians have gathered an unparalleled collection of historic photos and produced several books available to the public. This research has gradually revealed the stories of old-time Lake Clark.
The Early American Years
In 1903, the first permanent white resident arrived in Lake Clark. Like many who would follow him, Brown Carlson was a trapper and jack-of-all-trades who built a cabin and cultivated an impressive garden. Soon after, the Alaska gold rush reached Lake Clark. Miner, prospectors, and the U.S. Geological Survey explored the Chigmit and Neacola mountains and the Bonanza Hills. Local Dena’ina Athabascan people began panning for gold, and supplemented that income by selling furs.
Explorers, trappers, and miners entering the Lake Clark area brought introduced diseases. Already weakened by epidemics of smallpox, measles, and tuberculosis, Dena’ina people in the Lake Clark area were devastated by a measles and flu epidemic in 1902. The depopulation brought about changes in settlements. Many remaining Dena’ina people settled in Old Nondalton or Lime Village. A few families moved to Tanalian Point, on the southeast shore of Lake Clark. During the first half of the twentieth century, people in the Lake Clark area continued to live on subsistence, mining, and trapping.
The Age of Air Travel
Last updated: April 14, 2015