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Fort Davis

1900 to 1923

Name of Ski Area: Fort Davis
Location: Near Nome, 4 miles southeast of Nome at the mouth of the Nome River as it enters Norton Sound.
Type of Area: Ski Trails
Dates of Operation: 1900 to 1923
Who Built It?: U.S. Army


Facilities: Fort Davis, a U.S. Army outpost that supported over 100 troops.  And Nome, a booming gold rush town, was just 4 miles away.
History: As the gold rush to Alaska gained momentum at the tail end of the 1890's, the U.S. Army arrived to help maintain order.   Posts were established at Fort Seward (Haines), Fort Liscum (Valdez), Fort Egbert (Eagle), Fort Gibbon (Tanana), Fort St. Michael (St. Michael), and Fort Davis (Nome).

Soldiers at these posts used skis for drills, patrols, recreation and for hunting for food.

Fort Davis was a U.S. Army post that was established in 1900 and named after General Jefferson Columbus Davis, commander of the military district of Alaska in 1867.  At the outset of the Nome gold rush in 1899 and 1900 there was much unrest that resulted from claim jumping, filing errors and lack of authority.  This post was established to maintain order.

From: Duty Station Northwest, The U.S. Army in Alaska and Western Canada, 1867-1987, Volume One 1867-1917, Lyman L. Woodman, Lt. Colonel, USAF-Retired.

"General Orders 2 and 4, Headquarters Fort Davis 7 and 19 February 1913, established a series of Field Days for the command.

Captain Welsh directed that Field Days be held several times during the year, the object being to develop proficiency in athletic exercises and events of a military nature, and not the development of a few super-experts.  An interesting feature in the winter ski races was the rule that no contestant may use more than one ski pole.  And the skis used must be Quartermaster issue type."

Sources of Information:

University of Washington Libraries - Special Collections, Dave Brann

~  PHOTOS  ~

This photo from 1912 shows Company "E" of the 16th U.S. Infantry Regiment all on skis at Fort Davis.

(click on this image to expand it)

[Photo credit: Alaska Museum of History and Art]

AMHA_FortDavis_1912_CoE16Inf.jpg (109313 bytes)

A panoramic shot of Nome from November 5, 1908 is shown on the right.  Fort Davis would be way to the right of this picture, down the coast from Nome.

(click on this image to expand it)

[Photo credit: Library of Congress, Frank H. Nowell]

LOC_Nome_1908_pano.jpg (100621 bytes)

Soldiers weren't the only ones that skied at Fort Davis.  Here a child on skis cruises the deep snow-banks in front of troop barracks.

[Photo credit: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections]

Man at Fort Davis at right has skis on.

[Photo credit: University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections]



~  MAPS  ~

A topo view shows the location of Nome and Fort Davis on the north shore of Norton Sound.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_fortdavis.jpg (155288 bytes)

A zoomed in topo view shows the area around the Fort Davis.  This outpost was 4 miles southeast down the coast from Nome, at the mouth of the Nome River.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_zoom_fortdavis.jpg (161352 bytes)

Research Correspondence 




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