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Barrow

Barrow is one of the largest Eskimo settlements and the seat of the 88,000-square-mile North Slope Borough, the world’s largest municipal government. It is also the farthest north frontier settlement in the United States. Traditionally, Barrow is known as Ukpeagvik, “place where owls are hunted.” Barrow takes its name from Point Barrow, named for Sir John Barrow of the British Admiralty by Captain Beechey of the Royal Navy in 1825. Beechey had been assigned the task of plotting the Arctic coastline of North America in the HMS Blossom. Barrow was incorporated as a first-class city in 1959.

Barrow Alaska Fishing and Lodges

The Will Rogers and Wiley Post Monument, dedicated in 1982 to commemorate the 1935 airplane crash of the American humorist and the famous pilot is located across from the airport. The accident happened 15 miles southwest of Barrow where the men had landed seeking directions to Barrow, a planned stop on their trip from Fairbanks to Siberia. Upon takeoff their plane rose to 50 feet, stalled and then plunged into a river below, killing both men. Two monuments, both on the National Register of Historic Places, are located where the men died.

Other sites on the national register are the Cape Smythe Whaling and Trading Station in nearby Browerville and the Birnirk archaeological site approximately 2 miles north of the Barrow airfield. Cape Smythe was built as a whaling station in 1893 and is the oldest frame building in the Arctic. The Birnirk culture, which existed about 500-900 A.D., is represented by a group of 16 dwelling mounds and is considered a key link between the prehistoric cultures of Alaska and Canada.

Visitors also may see the Eskimos heading for whale camps in April and May. Despite the fact that the village is very much in step with modern times, hunting of whales, seals, walrus, caribou and ducks is still important for both traditional and economic reasons. It provides a great portion of the food for the residents. If the whalers are successful, there is a festival called “Nalukataq” when whaling season ends in May. There is also a new Inupiat Heritage Museum.

During the summer months tour operators offer package tours of the area that can include polar bear watching, photographing snowy owls or watching Inupiat Eskimos pull bowhead whales up the beach.

Barrow also boasts 24-hour daylight when the sun rises on May 10 and does not set again until August 2. On the flip side, the sun sets on November 18 and does not rise again until January 24.

Barrow Fishing and Salmon Lodges

Population: 4,351

Location: On the Chukchi Sea coast, the community is located 10 miles southwest of Point Barrow which is the northernmost point of the United States; 725 air miles from Anchorage, 3 hours by jet via Fairbanks.

Access: Scheduled jet service from Anchorage and Fairbanks, air taxi service.

Accommodations: Four hotels (100+ rooms); six restaurants (seating for 370). Food and most supplies, Native arts and crafts.

 

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