"Not Far But Out of the Way" Hope by AlbuqRay

Hope Travel Guide: 8 reviews and 29 photos

Rural Alaska and Gold Rush History

Based on PA2AKgirl's recommendation and since Hope was voted "Alaska's Most Friendly Town" by Alaska Magazine in August 2001, I decided to visit Alaska's first gold rush town. It is 85 miles from Anchorage and ~17 miles off the Seward Highway at Mile 56. Hope Highway is a paved road. However, it is surprising how quiet Hope is. I guess most tourists are in a hurry to get to Seward or Homer, other Alaskans go other places, and there are only ~200 locals. There were several people fishing in Resurrection Creek when I was there, but really not that many considering that the pink salmon were running. Hope is a good place to see rural Alaska and some of its gold rush history. It is relatively close to Anchorage but more than "20 minutes."

Resurrection Creek Gold Rush

Hope has an interesting history. Alexander King had the first claim on Resurrection Creek. It was located about two miles above today's townsite of Hope and was recorded in 1888. By 1895, the settlement consisted of about a dozen cabins occupied by miners seeking pay dirt.

They named the mining camp on Resurrection Creek, "Hope City." It was not named that because they hoped to find gold, but on a lark, the community of tents and cabins that grew at the mouth of the creek chose to name themselves after the youngest rusher to step off the next boat. His name was Percy Hope and he was 17 years old. Miners also discovered gold nearby in Sixmile Creek and a new tent community was established near the mouth of the creek and named "Sunrise City" after the way the morning sun disappeared behind the mountains and made a second and third "sunrise."

Five mining partners on Sixmile Creek brought in equipment and at summer's end, its claims had yielded $40,000, a near fortune in those days. News of this and other strikes spread and eager gold seekers inundated the district the next spring in 1896. It is estimated that up to 3000 men and a few women came to the combined areas that summer in 1896. This was before Anchorage even existed. The population decreased dramatically in the winter, then peaked again in the spring. Many went to the Klondike in 1897 (the year the Hope post office began operating), or were disappointed and left for good. Because it was easier to get to than the Klondike, there was a second gold rush to Sunrise in 1898. Briefly that year, Sunrise was the largest city in Alaska. Eventually Hope City had a population of 3000 and Sunrise City 5000 before the gold supply began to run out. Mining continued in earnest until the 1940's.

Hope's Main Street

These days, the school and local retail businesses provide most of the employment in Hope. Recreational gold prospecting is available, including gold panning, metal detecting, and dredging. Some commercial mining activities still continue today. A small sawmill is used by the community. Two residents hold a commercial fishing permit.

Fire destroyed Sunrise in 1907 and 1908, and again in the late 1930's. It was rebuilt each time but the remaining historical buildings were washed away when the earth subsided and tidal actions occurred after the 1964 earthquake. Sunrise is no longer a town, but a collection of permanent homes and seasonal cabins along the Hope Highway (milepost 6 to 9) and on Sixmile Creek adjacent to the original town site.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Gold, pink salmon and friendly people
  • Cons:A little out of the way
  • In a nutshell:Maybe the friendliest town in Alaska
  • Last visit to Hope: Aug 2007
  • Intro Updated Oct 1, 2007
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AlbuqRay

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