Sunday, May 19, 2013

Wasilla, Alaska - Views from the Train

We road in to the town of Wasilla.  Tina Tour Guide mentioned that the town holds an official "Wasilla Clean-Up Days" so that the entire town can turn out and clean up after the winter.  Does the name Wasilla sound familiar to you?  Sarah Palin was the Mayor.  I took several photos to see if I could see Russia from here.  This photo looks across Wasilla Lake

Wasilla has sign height registrations and even the local McDonald's complies.  Wasilla has about 7,800 residents and 1/3 of them travel to Anchorage for work each day. The area was turned in to a commuter suburb of Anchorage when the George Parks Highway was built.

Wasilla is named after Chief Wasilla, a local Dena'ina chief. "Wasilla" is the anglicized spelling of the chief's Russian-given name, Васи́лий Vasilij, which corresponds to the English name Basil. The Dena'ina are one of the eleven sub-groups comprising the indigenous Athabaskan Indian groups extending down Canada's western coast.

The sign below is a memorial to the historical start of the Iditarod Re Start.  In 2008, suburban growth and dwindling snow forced organizers of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to bypass Wasilla permanently. The race had its start in Wasilla from 1973 to 2002, the year when reduced snow cover forced a "temporary" change to Willow.  Our tour includes a demonstration of the Sled Dog Teams tomorrow, so I'll talk more about that race at that time.  {G: this can be used for directions.  "Go to the place where the Iditarod USED to start..."}

Wasilla began as a transportation logistics and trade center serving natural resource extraction (mining, trapping & timber) followed by small-scale agricultural activity circa 1935; around 1975, construction of the Parks Highway substantially reduced travel time to Anchorage (approximately 43 miles away), encouraging the transition to a satellite bedroom community where workers commute to Anchorage for employment. Local service employment has increased in recent years.

About 35 percent of the Wasilla workforce commutes to Anchorage. The local economy is diverse, and residents are employed in a variety of city, borough, state, federal, retail and professional service positions.  The photos below show some of the diversified businesses.

The train depot and the Wasilla Chamber of Commerce.
The Lake Lucille community is part of Wasilla. Sadly, Lake Lucille is a dead lake and can't support fish. State environmental officials say that leaching sewer lines and fertilizer runoff caused an explosion of plant growth in the lake, which sucked the oxygen out of the water and led to periodic fish kills. (Wikipedia)

Map can be found on along with train schedules and tickets.

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