Aurora Dora and Nagley's
~Thursday, August 25, 2022~
Day 66 of Alaska Trip
On this day, 106 years ago, the National Park Service was implemented by President Woodrow Wilson, a bold step in growing and protecting the world’s largest park system. Happy Birthday 🌲🎈NPS (National Park Service) and thank you for the many worthwhile adventures we have been privileged to experience.
With the rain not arriving until late afternoon, we decided to spend a day getting familiar with the small town of Talkeetna. The roads are unpaved which requires more careful driving when trying to find a parking place in this pot-hole laden town. But it’s all good. Even for late August on a Thursday afternoon, the town had a lot of energy with tourists and locals. A section of downtown Talkeetna has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1993, so we decided with brochure in hand to check out the many historical buildings. We’d end up only seeing half of it for today. The town of Talkeetna
has a tiny village vibe, known for its fishing and hunting over the years. It was the Alaska Railroad construction that originally brought people here in 1916, eventually becoming the headquarters for the build. Within two years, its population boomed to almost 1,000. After the railroad was completed, many people left, taking decades for growth to occur once again. Completion of the Village airstrip, the Parks Highway, the Talkeetna Spur Road, the discovery of the West Buttress route on Denali and the 1970 era “Open-to-Entry'' land sales(homesteading in a way), all made significant contributions to what Talkeetna is today. And it's back to its town of 1,000.
Some of the historical buildings that we saw were the Ole Dahl Cabin, the Fairview Inn, and the Nagley’s Store.
The Nagley’s Store was originally built in 1916 on the Talkeetna River but was later moved to its present day location-an arduous 3-day process. It served many miners and trappers back in the day. Today it serves as a spot for pricey groceries, ice-cream and coffee plus a well-stocked beer and spirit shop.
If you’re ever in Talkeetna, make sure to stop in to Aurora Dora’s Gallery. We met the photographer herself, complimenting her on her gorgeous photos. Originally from Brazil, she came to Alaska in 2001, and became enthralled with her first sighting of the Aurora Borealis. She has been chasing and photographing the Northern Lights ever since, sharing it with the world. Her work is simply INCREDIBLE!! When she is not photographing the night sky, she is at her gallery or teaching workshops. We both found a favorite piece that we’ll keep in mind for our future home. Now wouldn’t that be special? You can check out her work at www.auroradora.com or a short clip of one of her videos at www.vimeo.com/ondemand/auroras.
From there, we headed toward the Denali View Walking Trail which has a revetment near the confluence of 3 rivers…..the Susitna, the
Talkeetna and the Chulitna Rivers, all merging together at the Talkeetna site known as “Linghasdlent”, which means “Where streams join”. As we continued along the trail we came across Belle’s Barn Historic Site which was the location of Belle MacDonald's house, horse barn and gardens. Belle was famous for her horse freighting/supply business and for being the first businesswoman in Talkeetna.
On the way back into town, we were curious about one particular building with its beautifully maintained planter boxes out front. The sign on the building was of a bearded guy and the words “High Expedition” across the top of it. Thinking it was a mountaineering company, we wanted to check it out but as we got closer, we realized it wasn’t quite as it appeared. It was a cannabis store and appeared busy. We definitely got a chuckle out of that one.
I also scored on another pair of earrings from jewelry designer Jessie Snyder, the one whose earrings I purchased in Denali. This little shop, the Denali Brewing Mercantile in Talkeetna also carried her jewelry. And they had the earrings I had my eye on for some time. But this set is slightly different, filled with Chrysocolla sand from Talkeetna and Mother of Pearl. I just love them and so does my hubby. I also found a really neat cowl-neck sweatshirt that was tagged at $35. In my search I found a bigger size of the same at $65 so asked the store manager which price was the correct one? She thanked me over and over for catching the mistake. The correct price was $65….a little more than I wanted to spend. Plus I didn’t need a sweatshirt that badly. Plus, I already got my little keepsake from Talkeetna. Jeff has his eye on a few t-shirts, so we’ll definitely be back before we leave this adorable town.
Next door was the Denali Brewpub which called us to come in and check out the beer list. But we were starved too, so we found a covered outdoor spot looking onto Main Street to enjoy our early dinner and a few libations. Jeff found a great beer, Maya’s Spruce Tip IPA (he gave it a 9 out of 10….one of his highest rankings) and I had their Blueberry Mojito. The food was delicious too with Jeff’s pulled pork sandwich and my veggie burger. Their sweet potato fries were some of the best we’d ever had. As we enjoyed our dinner, the crowds on the streets were thinning out as the hard rain came. Luckily, as we were leaving, we had a gap in the downpour to head back to the car. We’ll definitely be back to finish up our Historic Walking Tour and pop in for another visit to the Denali Brewpub with an anticipated sunny day.