Susitna Station sits on the bank of the Susitna River about 20 miles upriver from its’ mouth at the Cook Inlet. Although you wouldn’t know it now by looking at it, for a number of years in the early 1900’s, Susitna Station was a bustling town with a constant influx of people. Originally it was an Athabasan Indian village but as white men came into the area they built it up to accommodate miners heading into the gold fields. You could find food, shelter, supplies, a church, a school, a post office, even a lumber mill. H W Nagley, who was a famous Alaskan merchantile, built his first store at Susitna Station in the early 1900’s. It’s the same Nagley’s store that now sits in the town of Talkeetna, having been moved there after the demise of Susitna Station. Alaska Commercial Company also had a store there. There was also a warehouse which still stands at Susitna Station today. There was a nice church and a large school. There were hundreds of people at Susitna at one time.
Then, after the arrival of white men, Susitna Station, along with other historic Indian settlements in the area were decimated by epidemics of whooping cough, measles, smallpox and influenza that the white men brought with them. By 1930 much of the Denai’ina population in the area had been wiped out and what was left of them moved. At the same time the Alaska Railroad was built and once it was completed there was no need any longer for people to use the Susitna River to get into the Interior and the area became a ghost town almost overnight. What used to be a thriving town became home to only a few hearty Indians and white men who stayed on after everyone else left. Most of the buildings were either moved or after decades fell into the river or were torn down for firewood. These days only two of the original buildings from the early 1900’s remain at Susitna Station.
You would never know by looking at it today that a whole vibrant town once stood there. Still every decade a few new people moved in and built cabins where the old ones used to stand and these people continued to carry on the traditions of the people before them. There are many stories to tell about the people who chose to spend time at Susitna Station. My sweetheart, Jeff, is one of them. He has had many adventures on the river and if you come back I will tell a few of his stories as well as a few stories of other people’s adventures at Su Station. Stay tuned!