Located at 1,635 feet elevation, Tok has plenty of visitor services, and the Tok Civic Center houses the
Mainstreet Visitor Center (look for our brochures there) and the Alaska Public Lands
Information Center. Tok is a trade center for several Athabascan Native villages and also
has become known as the Sled Dog Capital of Alaska (Tok is one of
the centers of dog breeding, training and mushing), with at least one out of every three
people involved somehow in raising dogs. One of the oldest and
largest dog races in the State of Alaska, the Tok Race of
Champions Sled Dog Race, is held each March.
History of Tok Junction
Tok began as an Alaska Road Commission camp during the
construction of the Alcan (Alaska-Canadian Highway known now as the
Alaska Highway) and Glenn Highways in the 1942. So much money
was spent building and maintaining the camp, that highway
construction crews nicknamed it the "Million Dollar Camp."
In 1944 a branch of the Northern Commercial Company was
opened. Tok was chosen as a "Presidential Townsite" in
1946, the same year the Alcan was open to civilians, and Tok's
first roadhouse opened to the public.
With the completion of the Alaska Highway, a post office and
a road house were built. The first school opened in 1947. The
U.S. Army began construction of the 8" Haines-Fairbanks
fuel pipeline, (locating a pump station in Tok) in 1954, the
same year the Tok Dog Mushers were founded. It closed down in
1979. Tok grew, and in 1958 a larger school was built.
In 1971, customs moved from Tok to their present location at
Mile 1221.8 Alaska Highway, 93 miles SE of Tok. This is where
visitors cross the border from Yukon Territory into Alaska.
Officials at this US border inspection station, Alcan strongly
suggest travelers obtain the pamphlet Know Before You Go
before starting down the Alaska highway. Visitors going in
either direction are required to have enough funds to defray the
cost of their trip for the duration of their visit. If you have
questions, call (907) 774-2252.
The United States Coast Guard built a Long Range Aide to
Navigation station (LORAN) in the fall of 1976. Four 700'
towers, 6 miles east of the junction, transmit radio navigation
signals for air and marine traffic in the Gulf of Alaska.
The following is an account from Bell's Alaska Travel Guide
of the fire which came close to destr0ying Tok in the summer of
"In July of 1990, Tok faced extinction when a
lightning-caused forest fire jumped two rivers and the Alaska
Highway, putting both residents and buildings in peril. The
town was evacuated and even the efforts of over a thousand
firefighters could not stop the fire.
At the last minute a "miracle wind" (so labeled
by Tok's residents) came up, diverting the fire just short of
the first building. The fire continued to burn the remainder
of the summer, eventually burning more than 100,000 acres.
Evidence of the burn can be seen on both sides of the highway
just east of Tok and is a reminder of how truly at the mercy
of Mother Nature we are."
Tok is an unincorporated community with a population of
approximately 1,382 and is the trading center for several Athabascan Native Villages. The town's economy is based on
tourism and for its size, Tok offers more hotel/motel rooms and
campsites than any town in the state. Telephone ahead for
reservations for any services needed, since during the summer
months, hotels, campgrounds, tours and other visitor facilities
may be totally booked.
Tanacross Indian Village
Nearby is the Tanacross Indian village and the Tanacross
Airport. The Eagle Trail crossed the Tanana River where this
village stands. Sternwheelers once sailed on the Tanana.. An
airstrip built during WWII handled aircraft being ferried to
Russia. (See Eielson page for
more on the lend-lease
program.) It remains a base for summer fire fighting crews.
Famous Tok Residents
According to Bell's Alaska, Donna Bernhardt and her family
live in Tok. She is the author of a "Tent in Tok,"
which tells how one family survived a winter in a tent in one of
the harshest climates in the world.