Galena, Alaska

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Galena is the largest city in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. At the 2000 census the population was 675.



The Koyukon Athabascans had seasonal camps in the area and moved as the wild game migrated. In the summer many families floated on rafts to the Yukon River to fish for salmon. There were 12 summer fish camps located on the Yukon River between the Koyukuk River and the Nowitna River. Galena was established in 1918 near an Athabascan fish camp called Henry's Point. It became a supply and point for nearby lead ore mines that opened in 1918 and 1919.[2]

In 1920, Athabascans living upriver at Louden began moving to Galena to sell wood to steamboats and to work hauling freight for the mines. A school was established in Galena in the mid-1920s.

Military Air Base

In 1941-42 during World War II,[2] a military air field was built adjacent to the civilian airport, and the two facilities shared the runway and flight line facilities. This air field was designated Galena Air Force Station shortly after the split of the United States Air Force from the United States Army, which occurred as a result of the National Security Act of 1947. During the 1950s, the construction of additional military facilities at Galena and the nearby Campion Air Force Station, in support of Galena's mission as a forward operating base under the auspices of the 5072nd Air Base Group, headquartered at Elmendorf Air Force Base, near Anchorage, provided improvements to the airport and the local infrastructure, causing economic growth for the area.

Following the end of the Cold War, in 1993 operation of Galena Air Force Station was turned over to a contractor, and all military personnel were withdrawn.[2] It remains in use effectively as a forward operating location that is used occasionally by the military. This use has recently come under scrutiny by the Base Realignment and Closure Committee [1]. The base was guarded by Gary ( mad dog) Bergeron from November 1963- December 1964. The actress Beatrice Arthur was among the passengers who made an emergency landing there on a private plane in 1963.

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