Nome, Alaska


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Nome Business Signs

Nome is located on the far western coast of the northernmost U.S. state of Alaska.  Prior to United States meddling, this area was inhabited by the Inupiat.  The Inupiat have inhabited this future U.S. state since prehistoric times.  In fact, Nome was probably the Inupiat settlement known as Sitnasuak.  Soon, though, this area would become swept up in the frantic times known as the “Nome Gold Rush.”

During the summer of 1898, the “Three Lucky Swedes”: “Norwegian-American Jafet Lindeberg, and two naturalized American citizens of Swedish birth, Erik Lindblom and John Brynteson, discovered gold on Anvil Creek.”  Within one year, Nome suddenly had a population of 10,000 and the area officially became the Nome mining district.

As for the name ‘Nome’ itself, there are three competing theories as to its origins.  The first argues ‘Nome’ is a mistranslation of the local Inupiaq word for “where at?”, Naami.  The second is Jafet Lindeberg named it after the Nome (or ‘Nomedalen’) Valley in Norway, which is within walking distance of his childhood home, Kvaenangen.  The last theory concerning the origin of Nome, Alaska’s name is it was given due to a different error, unrelated to the supposed Inupiaq mistranslation.  According to the Nome Convention and Visitor Bureau, “a British cartographer copied an ambiguous annotation made by a British officer on a nautical chart, while on a voyage up the Bering Strait.”  Apparently, the officer had written “? Name” beside the unnamed cape.  Predictably, “the mapmaker misread the annotation as C. Nome, or Cape Nome.”  And thus, Nome became Nome.  Nome, Alaska was officially incorporated on April 12th, 1901.

At one time, Nome was the most populous city in Alaska.  This is no longer the case.  According to a 2014 estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau, today Nome has a total population of 3,788 people.  However, Nome’s census area, according to that same report, has a total population of 9,492 people.

One of Nome, Alaska’s most prominent landmarks is Marks Air Force Base, or as it is known today, Nome Airport.  Marks Air Force Base was heavily active during WWII, serving as a runway for the 404th Bombardment Squadron of the 28th Bombardment Group and the 56th Fighter Squadron of the 54th Fighter Group.  The base was even home to the Arctic Indoctrination Survival School, locally known as “Cool School.”  However, the base closed in 1950.

Undoubtedly, however, Nome, Alaska is world famous for being the site for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which occurs every year in early March, between Settler’s Bay and Nome.  As reported by the Alaska Dispatch News, Dallas Seavey set the fastest winning time record in 2016 with a time of “8 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes, and 16 seconds.”  Dallas Seavey was the youngest musher “to win the race at the age of 25 (in 2012), while…at the age of 53, Dallas’ father Mitch Seavey was the oldest person to ever win the race.”

The Iditarod Race is named after the Iditarod Trail, “which was designated as one of the first four U.S. National Historic Trails in 1978.”  The trail is named after Iditarod, an Athabaskan village.  “Haiditarod” means “far distant place” in Athabaskan.  In fact, portions of the Iditarod Trail were used by Inupiaq and Athabaskan peoples for hundreds of years before the U.S. took over the area.

Of course, the most famous event in Alaskan mushing was the 1925 serum run to Nome, which became known as the “Great Race of Mercy.”  A large diphtheria outbreak had been ravaging the town, and all the antitoxin in Nome had run out.  The nearest supply of antitoxin was in Anchorage – but that’s nearly half a thousand miles away!  Sled dogs were a necessity.  In fact, when a sled dog team mushed by Norwegian Gunnar Kaasen and his lead dog Balto arrived in Nome only five and a half days after the mercy race had begun, they became international celebrities.  (Balto even got a statue of him made to sit in Central Park in New York – and an animated movie!)  However, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “most mushers consider Leonhard Seppala and his lead dog Togo to be the true [unsung] heroes of the run.  Together they covered the most hazardous stretch of the route, and carried the serum 91 miles, the single farthest of any team.”

Own a small business in the Nome, Alaska area?  Thinking about it?  These resources could help you:

Apply for a Business License in Nome, Alaska

Business in Nome, Alaska

Visit Nome, Alaska (Nome, Alaska Chamber of Commerce)

Searching for Nome business signs?

Get the word out there about your small business!  Contact one of our authorized member sign shops:

Lasertech Alaska
Anchorage, AK
Neal Schlee