Yukon River shack in late winter
Circle City was once the largest gold mining town on the Yukon River, earning the nickname 'the biggest log cabin city in the world' after gold was discovered in 1893 in nearby Preacher Creek by two Russian miners outfitted by mining pioneer Jack McQuesten. The town was named Circle City because the early miners thought they were near the Arctic Circle, which in fact lies 50 miles north.
In 1896 Circle City was 'The Paris of Alaska' with a population of 1200 and a gold production that exceeded one million dollars. The town featured eight dance halls, an opera house, a well-stocked library, 28 saloons, a school and a hospital. But before the winter was out it was all over. News of the Klondike gold strike, upriver near Dawson, turned Circle City into a ghost town by the summer of 1897.
Today Circle is a quiet town with a population of around 80, an air strip, a store and a trading post. Visitors come in on the Steese Highway or by riverboat. The old cabins from the gold rush days, the wooden shacks on the channels of the Yukon and the old Pioneer Cemetery with its grave markers under the birch trees make it an interesting place to visit.