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|The Town of Wasilla, Alaska
Located in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the town of Wasilla has a total area of about 11 miles across. The Dena'ina (Tanaina) Indians called the area Benteh - meaning 'among the lakes' - which is apt as Wasilla is surrounded by many lakes, including Lake Lucille and Wasilla Lake. Legend has it that the town was named after a respected local Dena'ina Indian, Chief Wasilla. In the Dena'ina language, "Wasilla" is said to mean 'breath of air'. Other sources claim the chief derived his name from the Russian language and that 'Vasili' is a variation of the Russian name 'William'. Wasilla backwards spells out "All I Saw", which some fallaciously believe is the reason for the name.
The current town site was established in 1917 at the intersection of the Knik-Willow mining trail and the newly constructed Alaska Railroad. Wasilla’s proximity to the gold fields and railroad service lured residents from other parts of the state and country to relocate to the new town. It was a supply base for gold, most notably at Hatcher Pass, and coal mining in the region through World War II.
Today the local economy here is as diverse as the people. Many residents are employed in a variety of city, borough, state, federal, retail and professional service positions – with about 30% commuting to Anchorage or other regional cities. Tourism, agriculture, wood products, steel, and concrete products are also part of the economy.
Wasilla sits between two river valleys carved by prehistoric glaciers. The city is sheltered from extreme weather by the Talkeetna Mountains and nestled between two beautiful lakes—Wasilla and Lucille. This unique locale appeals to those who seek an Alaskan lifestyle while raising a family, taking advantage of economic prospects, or retiring in comfort.
The George Parks Highway, Glenn Highway, and other roads connect the city to Anchorage, the remainder of the state and Canada. A town airport, featuring a paved 3,700-foot airstrip, provides scheduled commuter and air taxi services. The Alaska Railroad serves Wasilla and floatplanes land at Wasilla Lake, Jacobsen Lake, and Lake Lucille.
Wasilla is the commercial and retail center for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in South-central Alaska. Large enough to have the metropolitan amenities we’ve all come rely on, with a blossoming growth center for business, yet small enough to preserve the charm, security, and familiarity of small-town living that we love. The people of Wasilla enjoy affordable land and housing, unparalleled recreation, and a thriving economy.
Wasilla is the home of the world renowned Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and the Tesoro Iron-Dog 2000, the world’s longest snowmobile race. Fishing, swimming, boating, biking, and hiking are popular activities during summer’s long daylight hours. Mountains, lakes, streams, wetlands, tundra, and boreal forests are within easy reach, making the Wasilla area a great place for recreation regardless of season.
Big Lake is the name for both a beautiful lake and a community with 2,000 year-round residents. Located at the west end of the Mat-Su Valley, 15 miles north of Wasilla, there are numerous winter and summer recreational opportunities including fishing, boating, snow mobiling, cross country skiing, wildlife viewing, and sled dog racing. It’s easy to understand why the larger percentage of the housing in the Big Lake area is recreational.
Independence Mine State Historical Park is set in scenic Hatcher Pass, high in the rugged Talkeetna Mountains. About 17 miles from Wasilla, the park contains the abandoned buildings and machinery of a hard rock gold mining operation. In summer, the park is a popular area for hiking, berry picking, and recreational gold panning. Heavy snowfall in the winter also makes the park a popular snowboarding, cross country skiing, and snow-mobile destination.
Nancy Lake State Recreation Area, with its network of 130 lakes and ponds is a prime area for hiking, canoeing, camping, skiing, and snow mobiling, just 25 miles north of Wasilla.
Wasilla is home to the Iditarod headquarters and is the official starting point for the race. The Iditarod Days Festival runs for ten days before the start of the race. Mushers from around the world compete in "The Last Great Race on Earth," also known as Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and Iditarod Days Festival. Covering more than 1,150 miles of rugged terrain with teams of 12 to 16 dogs, the race is a contest of animal and human endurance and a link to Alaska’s past, when dog sleds were the primary mode of transportation. The present-day race is the result of efforts by two well-known and widely-recognized past Wasilla residents: Dorothy Page and Joe Redington, Sr.
Mat-Su King Salmon Derby
The Greater Wasilla Chamber of Commerce offers more than $20,000 in prizes. The winning fish may be caught anywhere in the Susitna drainages and the Little Susitna River. A challenge awaits even the most seasoned angler!
Tesoro Iron Dog 2000
In the world’s longest, most challenging snowmobile race, two-racer teams travel almost 2,000 miles to Nome from the starting point at Wasilla and finish at Fairbanks. Drivers face subzero temperatures, blinding snowstorms, and treacherous terrain in a test of both athletic endurance and mechanical skill.
|Health & Education
Matanuska-Susitna College has its main campus on a 950-acre site halfway between Wasilla and Palmer. An extension college of the University of Alaska Anchorage serves approximately 1,650 students each semester in a modern 102,676 square foot facility. The school offers Associate of Applied Science degrees in Accounting, Architectural and Engineering Technology, Human Services, Fire Service Administration, Office Management and Technology, Refrigeration and Heating Technology, Small Business Administration, Telecommunications, Electronics and computer Technology, as well as a Microcomputer Support Specialist Program through the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Mat-Su Regional Medical Center is a brand new facility that opened in January 2006 offering state-of-the-art medical care. The $101 million 200,000 square foot hospital is located on 30 acres right off the Parks Highway. The hospital includes 74 beds in private rooms, five operating rooms, an enlarged emergency department including special bays for trauma, cardiac and orthopedic needs, a full complement of diagnostic imaging equipment, an expanded medical and surgical wing, and a cardiovascular department with cardiac catheterization lab.
Wasilla Library serves residents of the greater Wasilla area with funding from the City of Wasilla and the Mat-Su Borough. The Wasilla Library is the fourth busiest library in the state and participates in the state interlibrary loan system.