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Galena, Alaska
—  City  —
Location of Galena, Alaska
Coordinates: 64°44′26″N 156°53′8″W / 64.74056°N 156.88556°W / 64.74056; -156.88556
Country United States
State Alaska
Census Area Yukon-Koyukuk
 - Total 24 sq mi (62.1 km2)
 - Land 17.9 sq mi (46.3 km2)
 - Water 6.1 sq mi (15.8 km2)
Elevation 128 ft (39 m)
Population (2007)[1]
 - Total 612
Time zone Alaska (AKST) (UTC-9)
 - Summer (DST) AKDT (UTC-8)
Area code(s) 907
FIPS code 02-27530

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War, in 1993 operation of Galena Air Force Station was turned over to a contractor, and all military personnel were withdrawn.[2] It remains in use effectively as a forward operating location that is used occasionally by the military.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.


There were floods in 1945 and 1971. Because of the floods, a new townsite, called New Town, was chosen at Alexander Lake, about 2 1/2 km (1 1/2 miles) east of the original townsite. The city offices, the health clinic, schools, store, and more than 150 homes were constructed at New Town.

Nuclear Power Station

Galena is inaccessible by road, relying on river cargo in the brief summer for the bulk of its needs. This means the city must store large volumes of fuel oil. In 2004 Galena's City Council tentatively accepted a proposal from Toshiba Corporation to build the Galena Nuclear Power Plant, a small self-contained nuclear power plant. The demonstration plant, the prototype for a line which Toshiba hopes to sell to similar communities in the US and Canada, would (if built) be the first civilian nuclear plant in Alaska; Fort Greely, Alaska, had a small military SM-4 reactor until the early 1970s.

Closure of Air Base

Galena Air Force Base was completely closed on October 1, 2008. All of the equipment and facilities were given to the City of Galena or the Galena Interior Learning Academy. The F-15 hangar was considered as a housing site for aircraft of the Alaska State Troopers, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and possibly a new squadron of the Alaska Wing, Civil Air Patrol. Galena also houses a seasonally-operated base camp on the former Air Force Base for the US Bureau of Land Management, where firefighters stage to fight brush fires throughout Alaska and elsewhere.


Galena is located at 64°44′26″N 156°53′8″W / 64.74056°N 156.88556°W / 64.74056; -156.88556 (64.740643, -156.885462)[3].

Galena is located on the north bank of the Yukon River, 72 km (45 miles) east of Nulato. The Innoko National Wildlife Refuge is southwest of Galena.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.0 square miles (62.1 km²), of which, 17.9 square miles (46.3 km²) of it is land and 6.1 square miles (15.8 km²) of it (25.41%) is water.

The City of Galena, as a first class city, operated a full-time police department and other vital services.


As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 675 people, 216 households, and 149 families residing in the city. The population density was 37.8 people per square mile (14.6/km²). There were 259 housing units at an average density of 14.5/sq mi (5.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 30.22% White, 0.30% Black or African American, 63.41% Native American, 1.04% Asian, 0.30% Pacific Islander, 0.30% from other races, and 4.44% from two or more races. 1.93% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 216 households out of which 49.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.5% were married couples living together, 12.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.0% were non-families. 24.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size was 3.44.

In the city the population was spread out with 37.5% under the age of 18, 7.6% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 4.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 121.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 123.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $61,125, and the median income for a family was $70,250. Males had a median income of $46,563 versus $37,000 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,143. About 1.3% of families and 10.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.4% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.


Galena has three schools. Galena City School is primarily for local K-12 students, and the vocational Galena Interior Learning Academy is a boarding school which draws students from around the state. The Galena boys' and girls' basketball teams were regional champions from 2004 to 2007. The boy's basketball team won the state championship in 2008. Galena's third school is Interior Distance Education of Alaska, a state-wide homeschool support program that serves 3,500 students across the state. It is the biggest school (of any kind) in Alaska.


Galena's Edward Pitka Sr. Airport (Code GAL) is the former Galena AIr Force Base field and with a paved runway of over 8000 feet is the largest public, state-maintained airport in the Interior of Alaska. The control tower was demolished when the Air Force vacated the facility in 2007. The Airport is also the home of the "Yukon Squardon" of the AK Wing, Civil Air Patrol (CAP), which covers much of the Interior region to the Bering Sea for Search and Rescue SAR). A CAP Cessna-172 aircraft stationed at Galena.

There is a public library located in the Sidney C. Huntington School. Galena has a volunteer Rescue Squad composed of Alaska Emergency Trauma Technicians (ETT) and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and a volunteer fire department which recently received new advanced firefighting apparatus from the US Air FOrce upon the closure of Galena Air Force Base. The city also has Nollner Health Clinic operated by Tannana Chiefs Council, a Native Health Clinic that offers 24-hour emergency care and routine health and dental services.

There is an Alaska State Troopers post in Galena with two troopers and a trooper-pilot.

The headquarters for the Innoko National Wildlife Reserve is located in Galena.

The Galena Interior Learning Academy (GILA) is located on the site of the former Galena Air Force Base and is one of three public boarding high schools in Alaska; the second in size behind Mt. Edgecumbe in Sitka. The third is the Nenana Living School in Nenana. GILA uses the former barracks as a dorm, the former PX and headquarters buildings as class rooms and the dining hall as a cafeteria, along with the gym and other facilities. GILA provides educational and vocational training to young men and women from all over ALaska, grades 9-12, with most students coming from remote Native Alaskan villages from the Interior, North Slope and Aleutian Islands. GILA hosts various traiing and regional conferences throughout the year. GILA student enrollment grew from 110 to 180 in the 2009-10 school year.

Trivia: One of the action hero GI Joe's colleagues is an Athabascan Indian from Galena Alaska. The Iditarod annual dogsled race goes through Galena on even years, while the Iron Dog trans-Alaska snowmobile race and the The Yukon 800 annual summer speedboat race on the Yukon River from Fairbanks and back both go through Galena. Galena is home of Sidney C. Huntington (born: 1914), author of "Shadows on the Koyukuk" and after whom Sidney C. Huntington School in Galena is named.

Galena hosted a regional energy conference for the Alaskan Interior in the spring of 2009 and is considering starting a wood-pellet fuel boiler system of heat for the city as a cost-efective method of providing energy to residents.

The City of Galena has a city council and the Mayor is Russ Sweetsir, who has served since 1987. The Louden Tribal Council is elected to represent the local Athabascan Native community and the Tribal Chief is Chris Sommer.


  • In the fictional video game Metal Gear Solid, two F-16's take off from Galena AFB to provide Solid Snake with air support early on in the game. Later on, B2 bombers are also mentioned as leaving Galena AFB.
  • Galena is also mentioned in the film "War Games", as a point from which the US was to launch F-16s.
  • The town features heavily in Guy Grieve's Book Call of the Wild.
  • The town is the nominal subject of a holiday song by San Francisco Bay Area band The Parents, released on netlabel Beat the Indie Drum.


External links


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