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  • Ken Ilgunas

A tour of Coldfoot

After spending a week and a half in Ferry, I hitchhiked up to Fairbanks and guided a van tour up to Coldfoot. I’ve been here since. Because I’ll be leaving Alaska in a couple days, I thought I’d do a picture tour.

Coldfoot, in 1898, was first a “boom town” during the Alaskan gold rush. It was soon after deserted, but became home to several hundred workers in the mid-70s, during the construction of the pipeline. It was deserted again until Dick Mackey, a famous dog musher, came up here to serve burgers out of a blue school bus. The truckers–desiring something more–dropped off their empty packing crates and built this cafe.

Coldfoot serves truckers and travelers who travel up the Dalton Highway–a 416-mile half-gravel, half-asphalt road that’s become popular on the reality TV show “Ice Road Truckers.” Coldfoot is in the middle of the Central Brooks Range, and the mountains we see in the pictures are between 3,000 and 4,500 feet tall.

Here’s the “Truckers Only” table. Fox News on the telly as usual.

The “Frozen Foot” saloon.

Here’s Sassy, who lives in and around the cafe.

Here’s the 52-room, Slate Creek Inn, also owned by the people who run the cafe. This building was refurbished from one of the original pipeline dormitories.

There are about 20 or so dogs in camp (outnumbering the winter population of people). They’re mostly Alaskan Huskies. They’ll be mushed throughout the winter.


There are lots of old equipment, vehicles and buildings behind Coldfoot.

The Diesel generator, plus some ravens hanging out by the dump. Most of the garbage is shipped to a dump in Fairbanks.

The “Tire Shop.” There are lots of blown tires on the Dalton Highway.


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