Ester Gold Camp
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Ester Gold Camp -
The Malemute Saloon

"A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malemute saloon; The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune..."

--From "The Shooting of Dan McGrew," by Robert Service

Malemute Saloon in Ester Gold CampAt the Malemute Saloon, where poet Robert Service is thought to have written some of his most famous poems, tourists can swig dark Alaska ale, watch comic skits of yesteryear and toss peanut shells right on the sawdust floor (see below). NOTE, WE HAVE BEEN TOLD THE CAMP AND SALOON ARE CLOSED, THOUGH THERE APPEARED TO BE SOME WORK BEING DONE ON IT. IF YOU GO AND THEY ARE OPEN, PLEASE LET US KNOW - WE WOULD LOVE TO UPDATE THIS PAGE. IF IT IS CLOSED FOR GOOD, WE WILL LEAVE THIS PAGE HERE FOR HISTORICAL REFERENCE.

A reader wrote that the original saloon was located in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada. In 1963, the owners at the time stated that they had the original bar and backbar from the original Malamute Saloon in Dawson City (so that is where Robert Service may have written those poems. They brought it from there. "In 1963, they sold peanuts in the shell. The shells stayed on the floor until the place closed for the winter," Mike K. wrote.

[Photo courtesy of Julie Coghill.]

"Service With a Smile," a collection of musical comic sketches (with songs and dances authentic from the era) and Robert Service poetry, played at 9 p.m. daily through the summer season. The show celebrated gold rush lore surrounding the old Ester, Eva and Cripple Creek settlements. Additional shows ran at 7 p.m. on  Wednesdays through Saturdays in July. The cost was $15 for adults and $7.50 for children 3-12 (must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian).

Ester is six miles west of Fairbanks on the Parks Highway. Take the Parks Highway west six miles, turn right on the Old Nenana Highway, right on Village Road, and left at the intersection. A right at the intersection will take you to the Golden Eagle Saloon, a casual locals' bar with photographs of old-time area mining operations and $1 drafts. Central office for this and the Salmon Bake, etc.:(907) 452-7274.

For more on the community of Ester and other things to see there, visit our Ester Community page.


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