Each morning a different van group went up the Dalton Highway a twenty minute drive to Wiseman to visit Jack Reakoff in his
cabin at Wiseman.
Wiseman is a small mining community in the Brooks Range. It was founded by gold miners who abandoned the Slate Creek
(Coldfoot) settlement around 1919. Robert Marshall wrote the book, Arctic Village, about his stay in this town around the year
1930. Marshall called Wiseman and the Koyukuk River area surrounding it, "the happiest civilization of which I have
knowledge." The community is only 3 miles from the Dalton Highway, but the community was not connected to the road until
the early 1990s. As of the census of 2000, there were 21 people, 7 households, and 3 families residing in the Wiseman.
Jack Reakoff represents himself as a subsistence trapper. His parents raised him in Wiseman when it was a remote location.
Members of our group liked to point out that he was not what they expected. He is clean shaven with short hair, not like
another member of the group. Jack's sister and family live in Wiseman as does his mother.
Today Jack lives a life far removed from that of the traditional subsistence trapper. His house has solar panels and a
generator which he uses as little as possible with the current price of oil. He has Internet access and a digital camera which he
uses to take pictures of the aurora. He uses a snow mobile to set his traps. His "subsistence" living is supplemented by talking
to tourists, many of them Japanese groups who come to see the Aurora. Many Japanese come to Alaska to see the Aurora.
Below, Jack standing in front of his cabin. Visitors like us give him the cash to supplement his "subsistence living". His sister
owns a B&B in Wiseman. The snow has been piled purposefully around the house to hold in the heat.
Above, another cabin. Some of the cabins are sinking in the ground..
Left, moose antler tree by Jack's house.
On the day we visited Wiseman, our van took Jack the once a week mail
delivery from Coldfoot. That way we also got to meet all the towns people
as one by one they came and knocked on the door to get their mail. Most of
them received packages of items they had ordered on the internet including
Below, a century old cabin, now the "museum" in Wiseman.
Our last day in Fairbanks, we attend the Fur Auction which was located at the start and finish line for the dog races. What is
being auctioned in the picture below are Moose horns suitable for carvings.