Nome, Alaska, probably isn’t the first place you’d think of to visit or set a book, but it is one of the most fascinating. With a rich history of gold rushes, a diphtheria epidemic and dogsled races, Nome made an amazing place to set a book series.
Located on the southern coast of the Seward Peninsula, Nome hasn’t always been the easiest place to get to. In the early 1900s a person basically had two choices: dog sled or ship. Today, however, you can get flights in and out of Nome—when the weather cooperates.
The gold rush of 1898 brought in more than 20,000 people to a place that before had hardly known more than a few dozen. The gold rush saw the town overflowing with tents on the beach and anywhere else a person could stake a claim and call it home. In our series Treasures of Nome, Kim and I wanted to share a view of life in 1904. We researched by speaking to people, reading books and going to visit the location. We weren’t disappointed.
Nome sits on the edge of the Bering Sea and has been home to the Malemiut, Kauweramiut and Unalikmiut Native Alaskans for centuries. Today there are nearly 4,000 people of all races who call it home. I enjoyed getting to explore the area and see where the yearly Iditarod dog sled race concludes, as well as getting to know about the history of these hearty people. They welcomed us with open arms and told their stories of life in this isolated part of Alaska. While there we saw the salmon returning to spawn, as well as picked blueberries and sampled native-made dried meats. All of it made for great information for our books, but maybe none was quite so exciting as getting caught out in the wilds when the fog rolled in. We went from being able to see for miles to not being able to even see a foot in front of us. Alaska can be such a beautiful place to visit, but it reminded us that it was also deadly.
We hope you get a chance to explore Nome one day. It remains one of our favorite places.