The Jago River starts at a glacier in the Romanzof Mountains in the Brooks Range and flows north about 90 miles (145 km) through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to Jago Lagoon, about 7 miles (11 km) east of Barter Island.
The river was named by Ernest de Koven Leffingwell in 1919, who modified the local name “Jags” to “Jago” to honor Lieutenant Charles Jago, a member of Sir Richard Collinson’s ship HMS Enterprise that was sent in search of the lost Franklin Expedition in 1851-1853. Jago led several sledding and small boat forays to explore and search for Franklin when Enterprise became locked in sea ice.
Since the 1950s, tens of thousands of steel drums have littered the Arctic Plain and over a thousand were found in the Jago River Delta before a cleanup funded by the Defense Environmental Restoration Program, the agency responsible for environmental contamination released from historic military facilities. Many of the drums at the Jago River site were originally from Manning Point, an island adjacent to Kaktovik on Barter Island that is now the site of a Long-Range Radar Station. From 1953 to 1957, Barter Island was the location of a Distant Early Warning Station and later a White Alice communication station. Locals in Kaktovik referred to Manning Point as “Drum Island” where an estimated 30,000-50,000 drums were abandoned by the military and then redistributed by severe wind storms. Read more here and here. Explore more of the Jago River Delta here: