Roadtrippin' to historic community of Chitina

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CHITINA, AK. (KTUU) - Chitina is best known as a gateway to dipnetting on the Copper River, but the town has over a hundred of years of industrial history that can make it worth a stop.

Hank Davis explores historic buildings in Chitina, on the banks of the Copper River.

Hank Davis of the KTUU Roadtrippin’ team says it’s a “ghost town in every sense of the word.”

The town was founded next to the rich copper deposits that homesteaders found attractive, but it was soon overshadowed by the Kennecott Mine to the East in McCarthy. When the railroad was built to Kennecott, Chitina became just another stopover on the train ride.

In fact, Athabaskans used the area for over five millennia--perhaps more--and a thriving community lived there before white settlement of the area. The word ‘Chitina,’ in fact, is derived from the Athabaskan words that mean “Copper River.”

Today, you can find local handmade art at Spirit Mountain Artworks, or stop in for a hearty meal at Chitina Grubstake. And you can stay at the Chitina Hotel, which is over a hundred years old.

“There’s something about the ambiance of 100-year-old wood that just makes you feel comfortable,” says Susan Gilpatrick, who runs the hotel.

The hotel is completed with a beer garden decorated with Gilpatrick’s lovely hanging flower baskets.

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