The Coldest Alaska Town In U.S. History – Prospect Creek
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Do you know where the coldest Alaska town is located? Did you know it’s also home to the coldest and most extreme weather ever recorded in North American history? Chances are high that you’ve never even heard of this place before. Permafrost that is thousands of years old covers most of interior and arctic Alaska, and it just so happens that this rare little hidden gem of a ghost town is located just below the Arctic Circle. While there is immense history hiding here, the greatest claim to fame of Prospect Creek, Alaska is being home to the United States record low temperature of −79.8 °F (−62.1 °C) which happened on January 23, 1971. The area has a subarctic climate and has consistently been known for having the coldest winters in U.S. history.
Today Prospect Creek, Alaska is basically just a ghost town. Although it was once a thriving little community home to multiple mining expeditions. It was also used as a base camp where workers building the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) were housed – roughly 1500 people to be exact. This was in 1974, but then by 1977 when the TAPS was completed Prospect Creek, Alaska turned into a “ghost town” almost overnight as the camp was broken down and the area was abandoned. Pump Station 5 otherwise known as Jim River Station of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System now calls this area home today.
This tiny town is located off the James Dalton Highway at mile 135, roughly 643-feet above sea level. The closest major city to Prospect Creek, Alaska is Fairbanks which is located about 180-miles south of the tiny town. The other closest town about 25-miles southeast of Prospect Creek is Bettles, Alaska (home to about 12 year-round residents). Then you have Coldfoot, Alaska about 31-miles northeast of Prospect Creek, which is home to only 10 annual residents.
The last time Prospect Creek, Alaska was used as a camp was back in 1992 when construction workers (along with their families) occupied the area after being contracted to work on replacement bridges along the Dalton Highway.
Nearby to Prospect Creek, Alaska you’ll find two National Wildlife Reserves, the Kanuti and Yukon Flats. Southeast is the Gates of the Arctic National Park, America’s Least Visited National Park and the true definition of a hidden-gem.
Have you even Prospect Creek, Alaska? What is the coldest weather you’ve ever experienced and where were you?
Looking for another great read? Check out these 10 Things That’ll Make you have a Love/Hate Relationship with Alaska. If you love Alaska’s idyllic charm, check out these 11 charming Alaska small towns that’ll leave you wanting more. Buckle up and prepare to enjoy: Road-Trippin’ Alaska; Your perfect way to escape the crowds in 2020.