Day 42-43 – Palmer, Alaska   1 comment

Arriving in Palmer, we had a dessert party. S’mores and doughboys! I know everyone knows what a s’more is, but do you know what a doughboy is?

It’s a biscuit wrapped around a wooden dowel rod and cooked over the open campfire.

THEN you take the biscuit off the rod and fill it with goodies, like chocolate, pudding, cherries, whipped cream, pizza sauce, cheese, whatever your little heart desires.

There’s a lot of history in Palmer. It’s where the government chose farmers from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, between the ages of 25 and 40, with Scandinavian backgrounds to settle in this area of Alaska. For $3,000 on a 30 year loan, they received 40 acres of land (picking numbers out of a box for their tract of land) and a government built house, barn, a well, and an outbuilding. Approximately 204 families were chosen. The Matanuska Valley was selected in 1934 for this colony.

The relocation became a success for many as the depression hit Americans hard and Alaska had good agricultural potential. These families didn’t have much time to think about relocation. Some had just hours the decide and just a few days to pack up.

Transient workers from California were sent ahead to start the construction for the colony, however, coordination and supply problems delayed construction so that many facilities were not ready for these new colonists. They arrived in Palmer to find that their house was a tent! When the second group arrived, their tents weren’t ready so many had to double up!

The colonists eventually began building their own homes, against the government regulations, and were finished by Oct. 30, 1935, a feat believed impossible.

More than 60% of the colonists left within a few years….

We visited the Palmer Visitor Center and Museum. Next to the visitor center is a garden, flowers and vegetables, much like the original colonists grew.

Even though the winters are very cold, the summers are beautiful with almost 24 hours of sunlight. Check out these cabbages below.

Palmer holds the world record on cabbage at 80 lbs in 1970.

Pictured below is one of the houses constructed in 1935 and relocated in 1995 for viewing.

Two of the ladies that showed us around are descendants of the original colonists.

Outside of town we visited the Musk Ox Farm. The Musk Ox once roamed Alaska 600,000 years ago, but by 1865 they were extinct in Alaska. Canada and Greenland protected the musk ox. In 1930, Congress spent $40,000 to purchase and transport musk ox to Alaska. There is approximately 5,300 musk ox in Alaska today.

Thanks to John Teal, who domesticated musk ox, we now have beautiful knitted items from the musk ox fibers, called qiviut – one of the rarest fibers in the world, at a very dear price!

Qiviut is 8 times warmer by weight than sheep’s wool and it is SOFT. It DOES NOT shrink or felt. It dries in about10 minutes. The yarn is sold at approximately $95 per oz.

On the way back to the RV park, we stopped at Hatcher’s Pass for some photos.

Looking straight down

This is all glacier silt, which is like quicksand.


Posted August 5, 2013 by carolnbill in Adventure Caravans, RV, Travel, Uncategorized

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One response to “Day 42-43 – Palmer, Alaska

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  1. I love perusing your site. Thanks a lot!

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