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.[caption id="attachment_18901" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Wikipedia[/caption]
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. [caption id="attachment_18897" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Photo by Ed Plumb, National Weather Service[/caption]
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. [caption id="attachment_18898" align="aligncenter" width="748"] Wikimedia Commons[/caption]
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.[caption id="attachment_18899" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Wikipedia - Prospect Creek Camp 1973[/caption]
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. [caption id="attachment_18900" align="aligncenter" width="632"] Wikipedia[/caption]
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.
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Written by Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Fairbanks and below is the summer time is warm! The sun stays out all day around June /July. Temperatures in the 60-80s sometimes 90.
I live in Alaska.
I have always wanted to visit Alaska but now that Democrats have taken over VA I have to move somewhere safe from BLM and ANTIFA home invasions and fires. Can anyone recommend a place that still has warm summers?
i live in virginia and want to live in alaska.always wanted to move there .going to retire soon and want a new adventure.give me soon advice.
I was at Eielson AFB from Sep 1970 to June 1975. I came up from Tucson AZ. The first winter 1970-1971 was – as best as I can remember – the coldest, deepest, and longest to that date on record. We hit minus 66 in Jan and I clearly remember that we had 19 days in a row where the temp did not go above minus 45 (I remembered because it was the end of WWII – 1945!).
I bet you have amazing stories sir
Prospect creek is above of the arctic circle by 20 miles
I worked on the Trans Alaska Pipeline ( TAP ) back in 1972 , 73. Prospect was my home for that winter. After my stay at Prospect I transfer to a camp called " Old Man " Not to many miles north of prospect. Was still doing work on the Haul road as it was called back then. ( Now called the Dalton Hwy ). Forget how far. Maybe around 30 miles. I work as a construction surveyor . We shut down one day as the temp was -70 and our instrument’s froze up. Eventual I worked my way up to Prudhoe Bay where there were no trees making surveying lots easier. During those years I managed to stay at or visit every pipe line camp from Valdez to Prudhoe. They were some crazy days being a young man in Alaska.
I grew up in Alaska, however, I have never been to Prospect Creek.
During highs school, I grew up in Aniak, Alaska, on the Kuskokwim River. The coldest winter I have ever lived through was during the winter of 1987 (1988?) . For two weeks straight it was 80 below zero. School was cancelled because although the bus was plugged in, it still wouldn’t start. All aircraft were grounded, so there was no mail. Most vehicles could not run due to the cold. Lights at night shot up straight into the air in a solid beam, like Hollywood lights. It was the longest two weeks of winter I ever endured. :)