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Nome, Alaska

After spending the night in Kotzebue and a tundra tour in the morning, we flew south across the Seward Peninsula to Nome. "Nome" is a strange name for a city, and I was curious to know how it came about. The short answer is no one knows for sure. The popular theory is an English explorer (perhaps Norton, the Norton Sound's namesake, the body of water Nome is on) sailing around the Seward Peninsula drew a map and labeled the site where Nome stands today "Name," as in "this place needs a name." When the town formed after the gold strike, the word on the map was misread as "Nome," and the name stuck.

If it hadn't been for the discovery of gold and the ensuing Alaskan Gold Rush, there wouldn't be a Nome. It's solely a gold rush town. Most towns and villages in northern Alaska were originally native settlements, but Nome is the exception. Several people we talked to in Nome alluded to the "Three Lucky Swedes," the men who first discovered gold on the banks of the Nome River and, unlike others who discovered gold strikes, kept their find secret for as long as possible to maximize their take.

 

The side of the airport building in Nome, Alaska, just to prove we were really there.

 

The Nome welcome sign on the shore of the Bering Sea (technically, the Norton Sound). Again, just to prove we were really there.

 

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