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Home  >  Know Alaska  >  Alaska Geography  >  Community Profiles
Nome: Alaska's Oldest First-Class City

This community in Northwestern Alaska's Seward Peninsula is the oldest first-class city in the state. Just like Juneau, it started as a Gold Rush town.

Just two years after the big bonanza in the Klondike, miners found gold in the creeks near Nome. Then in 1899, they found it on Nome's beaches, and the rush to Nome was on. At one time, some 20,000 people were living in tents and cabins along the beach.

It was first called Anvil City for the creek where the gold was found. It was incorporated on April 9, 1901. It drew its final name from Cape Nome. When mapmakers were making the final map of the area in the 1850s, someone thought the " ? Name" noted on the draft map actually said C. Nome or Cape Nome. Creeks, rivers and even mountains now bear this mistaken name.

About 3,500 people now call Nome home. In the 1925 diphtheria epidemic, the dog team relay that got life-saving serum to the town just in time not only saved lives but put the town in the spotlight once again. The success of the relay team made headlines as far away as New York City. A statue of the much-loved sled dog Balto was even put in Central Park. Today Nome is most famous as the finish of the legendary Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race each March. In the summer, you can still see people panning for gold on the beaches of Nome.

Go to to find out what the slogan is for this historic Alaskan community.

You can read more about life in Nome today in the Nome Nugget at This locally-owned newspaper is the oldest newspaper still publishing in Alaska.

Gallery of Images

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Aerial Nome

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Children looking for gold on Nome streets

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Children Line Nome Streets for Iditarod

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Drying Fish

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Gold Dredge

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Ice Golf

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Musk Ox

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