Chitina cowboy wrangles cattle on main street. Photo courtesy of the Cordova Historical Society

That’s not Texas! This is our neighboring community of Chitina up the Copper River, and

the photograph was likely taken in the early 1900s. Chitina was a railroad junction town,

even though the railroad was never extended to Fairbanks. The Copper River and

Northwest Railway remained until the Alaska Railroad was completed in 1923, the only

route to the interior other than the government wagon road out of Valdez.

Chitina was reached by rail in October of 1910 and immediately sprang to life as a small


and bustling Alaskan city. Then in November, the Chitina -Tonsina road was completed and

the Orr Stage Lines soon inaugurated wagon service. Matched teams of six white

horses met the northbound trains from Cordova, and carried passengers and freight on

into the Interior. Mail contracts were let the same month. The Hotel Chitina was one of

the finest hostelries in early Alaska, was finished in November and was advertised as

ready to serve interior travelers.