Creek…The intersection of a rich future with a true Alaskan
legacy from the past.
near the crossing of two roads, one old and one newer, Trapper Creek
has a history that matches these roads. Without these roads there
is little doubt that the community of Trapper Creek would not have
either a history or a future.
old road, known now as the Petersville Road, was started back in
1917. The newer road, known as the Parks Highway was opened to traffic
as far as the Petersville Road in the late 1960’s. Together
these roads have formed the Trapper Creek we know today.
to 1917 the land across the Susitna River from the mouth of where
the Chulitna River and Talkeetna River joined the Susitna knew only
the footsteps of the Dena’ina native people. They had hunted
and fished along the streams such as the one now referred to as
Trapper Creek for centuries. No evidence shows that they had any
long term settlements within the area of present day Trapper Creek.
But, without a doubt they knew the make up of the region and where
to find the abundant fish and game for their subsistence.
the first white explorers arrived. Men like W.A. Dickey in 1896,
who named Mt. McKinley, and Lt. Learnard in 1898, of the U. S. Army,
traveled up the mighty Susitna passing the area now encompassing
Trapper Creek. They left only small foot prints on the land not
staying long in the region below the great mountain known as Denali
to the Dena’ina peoples.
first semi-permanent inhabitants appear to be the trapping brothers
Oliver and Noah Rabidoux. Sometime after 1909 Oliver built a cabin
on the headwaters of the creek bearing his name very near the heart
of modern Trapper Creek. They and other trappers found the land
rich in fur. The Rabidoux cabin ruins remain to this day as a monument
to this hearty breed of local pioneers.
it was gold and the building of a rough wagon road that finally
brought larger numbers of people through the region of Trapper Creek.
Gold had been discovered in 1905 in the Cache Creek mining district
some 45 miles west of the Susitna River. The route from the south,
to these mines, was a long and difficult one. Miles of river travel
and an imposing trip overland made the trip a hardship for the miners.
was the construction of the Alaska Railroad and the establishment
of Talkeetna on the Susitna River that led an early day miner, Henry
Bahrenburg, to lay out a new short trail leading east from the Cache
Creek mines to Talkeetna in 1917. Soon the Alaska Road Commission
improved this trail into a wagon road. This old wagon road now bears
the name of the Petersville Road. With the building of the road
the future of Trapper Creek became a possibility as it passed directly
through the heart of the land comprising present day Trapper Creek.
land along the start of this road was found to be fertile and good
for homesteading. Plus it was close to a supply point, Talkeetna
that lay just across the Susitna River from “The Landing”
where the Petersville Road started out to the west towards the Cache
Creek mining district. Shorty Bradley became the first to settle
long-term in about 1939. He staked a homestead along the Petersville
Road a few miles west of “The Landing” and is looked
upon to this day as the “father” of Trapper Creek. In
the years to follow other homesteading pioneers would join him in
staking and proving up on the good farm land near his.
old road continued to lure folks to the area with a fresh influx
coming in 1959 when a group from Michigan, known as the Michigan
59’ers came across the ice from Talkeetna and staked more
land along and near the Petersville Road to the west of Shorty’s
original homestead. Some stayed and some left but their influence
continues to this day in the form of road and place names.
the final step that formed Trapper Creek as a true community occurred.
The new Parks Highway stretching from Anchorage to Fairbanks was
completed as far as Trapper Creek in about 1968 with a bridge finally
being built over the imposing Susitna River. The point that it crossed
the old Petersville Road was in the same area that Shorty and the
other homesteader’s had settled over the years. The intersection
of the two roads, old and new, made for a natural spot for the community
to continue to grow. With the discovery of the great recreational
opportunities abounding in the local area growth for Trapper Creek,
now and in the future, was assured.