Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tanacross, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church thrive 100 years later

From Alaska-

This year marks the 100th anniversary of St. Timothy’s Church in Tanacross. The church was one of a string of missions the Episcopal Church established along the Tanana River in the early 1900s to serve the area’s Athabascan Indians.

Tanacross is located in Eastern Interior Alaska, about 13 miles west of Tok. When the Episcopal Church decided to start a mission there, Tanacross — then called Tanana Crossing — didn’t amount to much. Located along an existing Native trail, which the Eagle-Valdez Trail (blazed in 1899) followed, it was simply a place along the Tanana River shallow enough for horses to ford, and consequently the place where the Eagle-Valdez Trail crossed the river.

A telegraph station, part of the Washington-Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System, was built there a few years later, as well as a trading post. The telegraph station and trading post were abandoned by 1911. (This is the site where E.T. Barnette wanted to set up his trading post. It seems fortuitous for Barnette that he was forced to disembark at the Chena River instead.)

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