Fort Yukon

Fort Yukon (Gwichyaa Zheh in Gwich’in, originally, Gwich’in: Gwicyaa Zhee; translation: "house on the Flats") is a city in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. At the 2000 census the population was 595.

Fort Yukon is the hometown of Alaska Congressman Don Young. It is served by Fort Yukon Airport.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Alaska occurred in Fort Yukon on June 27, 1915, when it reached 100 °F (38 °C). Until 1971, Ft. Yukon also held the all-time lowest temperature record at -78°F.


Fort Yukon was first established as Fort Youcon by Alexander Hunter Murray as a Hudson's Bay Company trading post in 1847. Murray drew numerous sketches of fur trade posts and of people and wrote the Journal of the Yukon, 1847–48, which give valuable insight into the culture of local Gwich’in people at the time. While the post was actually in Russian America, the Hudson's Bay Company continued to trade there until expelled by the American traders in 1869, following the Alaska Purchase when the post was taken over by the Alaska Commercial Company. A post office was established on July 12, 1898 with John Hawksly as its first postmaster, but the settlement suffered over the following decades as a result of several epidemics and a 1949 flood.

During the 1950s, the United States Air Force established a base and radar station at Fort Yukon; the town was officially incorporated in 1959. It has recently, in part due to its location north of the Arctic Circle and its proximity to Fairbanks, become a minor tourist destination.

On February 7, 1984 a sounding rocket of Terrier Malemute with a maximum altitude of 500 km was launched.


Fort Yukon is located at 66°34′2″N 145°15′23″W / 66.56722°N 145.25639°W / 66.56722; -145.25639 (66.567586, -145.256327). Fort Yukon is located on the north bank of the Yukon River at its junction with the Porcupine River, about 145 miles (233 km) northeast of Fairbanks.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city in Northeastern Alaska has a total area of 7.4 square miles (19.2 km²), of which, 7.0 square miles (18.1 km²) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.1 km²) of it (5.65%) is water.

It is located 8 miles (13 km) north of the Arctic Circle, at the confluence of the Yukon and Porcupine Rivers and in the middle of the Yukon Flats.


As of the census of 2000, there were 595 people, 225 households, and 137 families residing in the city. The population density was 85.0 people per square mile (32.8/km²). There were 317 housing units at an average density of 45.3 per square mile (17.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 10.76% White, 0.17% Black or African American, 86.05% Native American, 0.17% Asian, 0.17% from other races, and 2.69% from two or more races. 1.34% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 225 households out of which 36.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 25.8% were married couples living together, 23.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.1% were non-families. 34.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.37.

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 33.4% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 6.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 112.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 111.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $29,375, and the median income for a family was $32,083. Males had a median income of $25,000 versus $27,813 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,360. About 18.0% of families and 18.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.3% of those under age 18 and 3.5% of those age 65 or over.