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Dry Creek

1902 to 1913

Name of Ski Area: Dry Creek, Anvil Mountain
Location: Nome, at the Base of Anvil Mountain
Type of Area: Ski Jump, Ski Hill, Ski Trails
Dates of Operation: 1902 to ~1913
Who Built It?: Jump: Nome Ski Club (including the Seppala brothers: Asle, Sigurd and Leonhard)
Base/ Vertical Drop:

Base: ~250' (for the jump) / Vertical: ~1000' (to top of Anvil Mountain or Newton Peak)

Lifts: None
Facilities: A ski club tent, followed later by a ski club cabin.
History: Jumping

[Excerpt from 1960 The Alaska Sportsman magazine]  [In Nome] "skiing was probably stimulated by the three young Seppala brothers from Norway - Asle, Sigurd and Leonhard, the latter to become known in both hemispheres as the greatest dog musher of them all.

Nome's first ski club, almost certainly the first in Alaska, was organized in 1901.  As in dog racing, there was strenuous competition.  The ski area was the slope of Anvil Mountain, which offered a natural ski jump on the course of Dry Creek.  On this jump in 1906 both Asle and Leonhard Seppala accomplished 103 foot jumps.  That year Leonhard Seppala won first prize in Nome ski competition - a gold-encrusted medal in the shape of skis and ski poles."

Downhill skiing

[Except from Nome News, date unknown] "Doctor Hansen performed a thrilling feat.  He came down on skis from the top of the mountain [probably Anvil Mountain], a distance of nearly a mile, in 42 seconds.  This is pretty fast traveling and it takes an expert on skis to travel at this rate of speed."

[Excerpt from Nome Semi-Weekly News, February 23, 1904]  "That the sport of skiing is taking fast hold on the people of Nome is evidenced by a glance at the surrounding hillsides on Sunday, or in fact any afternoon during the week.  Men and women, children as well, enjoy the sport, an many a cheek bears the bloom of health from the invigorating outdoor sport.

All day Sunday the hillsides near Nome were dotted with skiers and not until darkness closed in did they abandon the  sport.  Out on the mountain sides were many parties, and like the wind they flew down the smooth slopes to the valleys below.  The sport is just commencing for the season and the number of skiers will be greatly augmented as the warm weather and lengthening days add zeal to the sport.

Cross country skiing

[Excerpt from Nome News, April 21, 1903]  "The ski race on Anvil Creek last Sunday was attended by a large number of people.  The day was beautiful, and many people went for the ride as much as to see the ski race.  But the race was nonetheless interesting.  It was a contest between women and a man dressed as a Lap (Sami) woman.  She (he) [Asle Seppala] caused consternation in the ranks of the fair contestants by outdistancing all competitors.  But he was barred from the prizes which were won by Mrs. Kjelsberg and Mrs. F. Lehamn, who resides on the Sandspit.  Mrs Kjelsberg won the first prize, a medal, by running two miles in 17 minutes and 55 seconds."

[Excerpt from Nome Semi-Weekly News, April 18, 1905]

All Made Fast Time

20 Miles in 2 Hours 37 Minutes

Ole Rapp Wins Ski Race

"A large crowd turned out on Saturday afternoon to witness the ski racing contests inaugurated by the Nome Ski Club.  The weather was delightful, but not all that co7ld be desired by the contestants in the race, and owing to the thawing conditions of the snow, the race could not be started until after 7 PM.  The course was from the club's ski jump on Dry Creek to Hastings Creek and return, and ten expert skiers faced the starter when the gun was fired.  Ole Rapp established a strong lead early in the race which he maintained to the finish, covering the distance of over twenty miles in two hours and 37 minutes and finishing 4 minutes and 19 seconds in front of his brother Albert Rapp, who gained second prize and 5 minutes 41 seconds ahead of John Winger, who earned third prize, then came Asle Sappala, Harold Berg, C.O. Peterson, J. Greemeyer and Paul Hale last.  The last man finished 33 minutes behind the winner.

Considering the condition of the trail, the run was a remarkably fast one.  Many deviations had to be made on account of parts of the tundra being bare of snow and considerable time was lost a Nome River, owing to the overflow on that stream.  Two hours and 37 minutes would be considered very fast for the distance under the most favorable circumstances, and the fact the ten competitors finished within 33 minutes of each other shows that they must all have been in perfect physical condition."

Ski sailing, Skijoring, Ski manufacturing

[Source - Nome Gold Digger, date unknown]  "Along with ski racing and jumping, Leonhard Seppala, C.O. Peterson and others might be seen maneuvering a large sail to take advantage of the frequent custy winds in the area.  The Nome Gold Digger reported Seppala making a trip using his ski sail from Dry Creek to town in a time of only thirteen minutes.


1906 postcard image, likely of C.O. Peterson

As Seppala became more interested in dog mushing, it was not unusual to see him being towed on skis by a team of racing dogs."

"After the first few [cross country ski] races the interest in the sport increased greatly, enough so that Asle Seppala and a friend started a small ski manufacturing business."

Sources of Information:

Old Nome newspaper articles, 1960 Alaska Sportsman article

~  PHOTOS  ~

(1906) Carl Albertsen of Norway takes flight off the Nome Ski Club's jump at Dry Creek.

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[Photo Credit: Anchorage Museum of History and Art]

AMHA_Nome_1906_AlbertsenJump.jpg (195344 bytes)

(1906) Ski jumping at the Dry Creek jump near Nome.

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[Photo Credits: left - Alaska State Library, right - Alaska State Library]

ASL_Nome_1906_NomeJump1.jpg (213353 bytes)

ASL_Nome_1906_NomeJump2.jpg (106571 bytes)

 
University of Alaska Fairbanks Leonhard Sepalla Collection - Photos of ski jumpers at Dry Creek
[Photo Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Leonhard Sepalla Collection] [Photo Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Leonhard Sepalla Collection] [Photo Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Leonhard Sepalla Collection] [Photo Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Leonhard Sepalla Collection]

 

The start of a cross country ski race in 1903.  Competitors: 8 Albert Rapp, 7 George Kaasen, 11 Leonhard Seppala, 4 Mr Beldo, 6 Asle Seppala, 2 John Kaasen, 5 Sigurd Seppala, 12 Ole Rapp, 9 Peter Burg

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[Photo Credits: The Alaska Sportsman magazine, Leonhard Seppala Collection]
 

nome_1903_xcracers.jpg (118493 bytes)

University of Alaska Fairbanks Leonhard Sepalla Collection - Photos of the Nome Ski Club clubhouse, start of a men's cross country ski race and competitors in a women's cross country ski race
[Photo Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Leonhard Sepalla Collection] [Photo Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Leonhard Sepalla Collection] [Photo Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Leonhard Sepalla Collection] [Photo Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Leonhard Sepalla Collection]
[Photo Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Leonhard Sepalla Collection] [Photo Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Leonhard Sepalla Collection] [Photo Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Leonhard Sepalla Collection] [Photo Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Leonhard Sepalla Collection]

 

Charles S. Hamlin took many panoramic pictures in the Nome area during 1894 to 1904.  Here are two skiing shots he took.  The picture on the left is likely the 1903 race also pictured above.

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[Photo Credits: Alaska and Polar Regions Collection, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Charles S. Hamlin - left, right]
 

University of Alaska Fairbanks Leonhard Sepalla Collection - Photos of skiers on top of Anvil Mountain in 1902
[Photo Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Leonhard  Sepalla Collection] [Photo Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Leonhard  Sepalla Collection] [Photo Credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks, Leonhard Sepalla Collection]

 

The skiing and outdoor recreation was not all jumping and cross country racing.  Here are group poses on an iceberg in Norton Sound near Nome.  This photo was taken in 1901.  Notice the skis proudly displayed on the right.

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[Photo Credits: University of Washington Digital Collection, Eric A. Hegg]

UW_Nome_1901_iceberg.jpg (67666 bytes)

UW_Nome_Early1900s_arcticgarb.jpg (136639 bytes)

The University of Washington does not have a record of who the people in traditional garb are in the picture to the left.  I [TK] say the man is likely Leonhard Seppala.  Why?  Compare the eyes in the picture to the left with the 1927 picture of Seppala on the right.  Not many folks with eyes like those.

[Photo Credits - Left:  University of WashingtonSpecial Collections, Right: Washington Museum of History and Industry]

UW_Seppala_1927_seattle.jpg (212491 bytes)

Is Dry Creek truly a lost ski area?  Yes and no.  The jump is gone.  But people still ski and snowboard on Anvil Mountain and Newton Peak by taking a snowmachine ride to the top.  And as of lately, cross country ski races have been held from the Nome High School to Dry Creek and back - as evidenced by the March 2003 photo below.  Cheers to Nome skiers for keeping the 100 year heritage of Dry Creek ski racing alive !  Alaska's oldest cross country ski racing venue !

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[Photo Credit: Diana Haecker, The Nome Nugget]

[Tim Kelley] On a recent trip to Nome (July 2004) I noticed this old ski in a hotel lobby.  Perhaps this ski was made by Asle Seppala and company ?

NomeSkis.jpg (82844 bytes)

~  MAPS  ~

This map shows where the jump site is estimated to have been located - at the base of Anvil Mountain in the Dry Creek drainage.  Anvil Creek is also identified.  One of the stories above mentions are cross country ski race here.

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topo_drycreek.jpg (159670 bytes)

A zoomed in topo map view shows the estimated location of the Nome Ski Club's Dry Creek jump.

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topo_zoom_drycreek.jpg (129972 bytes)

The route on this map is an estimate (a guess!) as to the route of the Nome Ski Club's 1905 20 mile cross country ski race from the Dry Creek jump to Hastings Creek and back.

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topo_hastings.jpg (156625 bytes)

Research Correspondence 

 

 

Do you have further information, stories or pictures that you would like to contribute about this ski area?