Indian Valley, Turnagain Arm

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Indian Valley, Turnagain Arm

by | Dec 21, 2019

Indian is an Alaska Railroad siding and small community located on the northern shore of Turnagain Arm, on the Seward Highway, 21 miles (34 km) southeast of Anchorage, Alaska. The community is surrounded by Chugach State Park. The name is from Indian Creek that starts at Indian Creek Pass and flows south for 7 miles (11 km) to Turnagain Arm, draining a large watershed in the Chugach Mountains. The name was used by local gold prospectors and first published on maps in 1898 by Captain Edwin Glenn who led a U.S. Army expedition to find an Alaska route to the Klondike goldfields.

In 1910, a quartz vein was discovered by Peter Strong, who had come to Alaska in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush and had previously staked a small gold claim in the area. Strong worked this claim through the 1920s and 1930s, building a cabin and an assay house that are now the oldest known buildings in the Turnagain Arm region. A small community slowly developed around the mine and in 1922 it was a flag stop on the Alaska Railroad. Today, the Alaska Railroad still passes through the southern edge of the community, but there is no regular passenger train stop. In 1989, the Indian Valley Mine was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is now a popular tourist attraction.

On March 7, 1964, the Alaska Earthquake caused severe seismic shaking in Turnagain Arm. At the community of Portage, about 21 miles (34 km) southeast of Indian, ground fissures up to 4 feet (1.2 m) wide opened causing damage to buildings, the highway, and the Alaska Railroad grade. Ground subsidence of more than 5 feet (1.5 m) was the most damaging because this resulted in the entire area being inundated by tidal flooding. Once it became evident to local residents that the town would be continually flooded during high tides, they moved many of the buildings to higher ground and some were moved to Indian and Bird. Read more here and here. Explore more of Indian here:

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