Save the Knik to Susitna Iditarod Trail-located incorrectly!

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  Most people do not know that there were two historic Knik to Susitna Trails, also known as the Iditarod Trail, the historic Iditarod Trail, the Government Seward to Nome Trail, Alaska Road Commission Route 20A, RST 118, and the Iditarod National Historic Trail(1910 Goodwin Route),  in Alaska's history.    The first Knik to Susitna trail was a trail used by Native Alaskans.  It connected the Native communities at Knik, Big Lake, the Cow Lake tributary, Red Shirt Lake, and a village at the confluence of the Yenta River and the Big Susitna River, now known as Susitna(Shem Pete's Alaska, 2003).  This Native trail was adopted  by W.L. Goodwin of  the Alaska Road Commission in 1908, as the Knik to Susitna section of the Nome to Seward Trail(later to be called the Iditarod Trail).   It was used from 1908 to October 1912, and is also known as the Goodwin Route(David H. Sleem Map, 1910).       By February, 1911, the Alaska Road Commission had located a new, shorter route between Knik and Susitna, which was described in Alaska Road Commission reports as a "near direct tangent."   Five and a half miles of the new direct route were cleared by September 1, 1911, with an average width of eight feet.  The new direct route was maintained by the Alaska Road Commission from November 2, 1912 until 1918.  The location of the new route was documented on the 1951-1957 Alaska Road Commission Mt. McKinley District Map below.    The following is a history of the two correct locations of the Knik to Susitna sections of the Iditarod Trail.  

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 Anyone can enjoy the Iditarod Trail!  Just drive from the Fish Creek Bridge at  South Big Lake Road to West Susitna Parkway, which runs  along the southern side of Big Lake, and you are on the 1910 Goodwin Trail!  The 1910 Sleem map identified this trail as the "Winter Trail" and "Goodwin Proposed Mail Route to Seward."  Dr. Sleem was a surgeon with the Alaska Northern railroad, and he traveled with Anton Eide of the Alaska Road Commission in 1910.  Dr. Sleem was also a respected author, photographer, and cartographer(Iditarod Pioneer, Aug. 14, 1910, Iditarod Nugget, April 19, 1911).

THE FOLLOWING HISTORICAL MAPS HAVE BEEN LAYERED WITH ANNOTATIONS.

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1899 Johnston and Hernings Map

This map shows the Knik to Susitna Trail from Knik Principle City(Knik), heading northwest, the trail stays on the east side of Fish Creek(known because it exits Big Lake to the Knik Arm, between Knik and Goose Bay).  The trail crosses the southern side of Big Lake and then continues northwest to Station ACC(Susitna).  The Knik to Susitna Trail is also noted as a trail used by the Natives on this map. 

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1906  Herning Map(Alaska State Library)

This map shows the Knik to Susitna Trail(prior to adoption by the Alaska Road Commission) heading north from Knik P.O. to Threemile Lake along the Klondike and Boston Trail(now known as the Herning Trail), where it veers northwest crossing Fish Creek, crossing the southern side of Big Lake, crossing the Little Shushetna(Little Susitna), and continues to an Indian village and Churchill's Station(Susitna).
This trail also went to Big Lake in 1906.

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Detail:  1910 D.H. Sleem Map of Central Alaska(Alaska's Digital Archives): trail went from Knik P.O, to Threemile Lake(pink), to Fish Creek outlet at Big Lake, across the southern side of Big Lake(yellow), northwest to the Little Susitna River, and then to Susitna Station.  In 1910, the Knik to Susitna Trail, also known as the Iditarod Trail, stayed on the eastern side of Fish Creek(orange) and went to Big Lake.  This map notes the trail also as the "Goodwin Proposed Mail Route to Seward."  Due to size, it cannot be shown in this detail.  The label is located in the upper left-hand corner on the map.   There is no northwest trail where the State claims ASLS 79-14 represents the "old" trail which was located in 1908.

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Detail of illustration drawn by Walter Goodwin in the July 1911 Alaska-Yukon Magazine, "Trail Making in Alaska, An account of W.L. Goodwin's trip from Nome to Seward surveying and marking the proposed overland United State mail route across Northern Territory(illustrations by W. L. Goodwin)", University of Alaska, Anchorage, Alaska.


This map shows the trail from Nome passing across the Susitna River, then crossing the Little Susitna River close to the eastern bend, and then continuing east to a large lake located on the eastern side of  Little Su bend.  The lake is very large and runs in an east-west direction(Big Lake).  The   trail then continues towards Knik Arm.

Alaska Road Commission Notes:
1911      Report submitted October 31, 1911

“ Route 20-A- New Knik-Susitna winter trail(approximately 50 miles.)-This route will accommodate about the same travel as route 19.  The present location is nearly a direct tangent between Knik and Susitna Station.  A very circuitous route has been followed between these points in the past, and the new line will be a much shorter route.  Owing to the swampy nature of the area crossed, it  was found advisable to delay construction on this route until after the freeze up.  Clearing 5.5 miles, average width 8 feet, $440.  Pg. 26.


Alaska Road Commission Notes: 
1912         Report submitted October 19, 1912 SOUTHWESTERN DISTRICT, (Mr. Anton Eide, acting superintendent.), The reports on the routes below 

  Route 20A- Knik – Susitna Trail( approximately 35 miles).  At present travel follows a long and winding trail made by natives.  No work has been done on this route since the last report, but the completion of a new and direct trail will be accomplished before the end of the present season.(pg. 15)  $2,769.66 spent(pg. 27).(Report of the Board of Road Commissioners for Alaska  1912, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1912).

Alaska Road Commission Notes:

1921              Part 1:  Route 20 A- No money spent.

                      Part 2:  Route 20 A- Last expenditure in fiscal year 1918.  To be abandoned in favor of shorter route, Susitna Station to Nancy, on the Government Railroad.

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1918 Department of the Interior Alaskan Engineering Commission, Anchorage, Alaska Map Railroad Route Anchorage to Chickaloon and Main Line to Houston(Anchorage Museum).


This map shows the 1911 realignment location heading northwest from Knik, crossing Fish Creek just south of the Threemile Creek fork, and northwest into section 17 where the trail enters a swamp. 

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State's evidence in Dickson v. State of Alaska 
Map with added annotations in boxes.

A no author, undated map was admitted into evidence in the above trial by the State of Alaska.  The State claimed it showed both the old trail and the relocation. The trails do not connect and are  separate trails, unlike the State surveys for ASLS 79-14 and ASLS 83-001(shown below in red and yellow).  Both State claimed trails on this map both cross Knik Lake, unlike the surveyed route on the 1918 DIAEC map(above).   The northern trail leads to Threemile Lake, then Big Lake(Fish Creek exits), across the Little Susitna River, and drops south into Susitna Station(Station).  The map also shows a railroad on the western side of Knik Lake.  There is no railroad in that location.  This map shows the "old" route leading to Big Lake.  Map located at the Anchorage Museum, B2014.013.

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1951 Alaska Road Commission Map,  Mt.McKinley District, 1951 with revisions through 1957 

The trail goes from Knik, to the Fish Creek fork, to the north fork of Goose Creek, to Stephan Lake, to the Little Susitna River, to Fish Creek, to Soup Creek and then to Susitna.  This map matches the 1911 realignment route from Knik to Stephan Lake.

 Annotated map(layered over original):  The yellow line on this map represents where the State claims the historic Iditarod Trail was located(ASLS 83-001).  It does not match the Alaska Road Commission map and is incorrect.  This map shows nine landmarks between Knik and Susitna Station which show the correct location of the Iditarod Trail.  Part of ASLS 79-14 is correct, but the southern drop is incorrect.  The historic Iditarod Trail between Knik and Susitna has been located incorrectly by State officials when compared to the Alaska Road Commission  map and previous identified maps.  Above map located in Alaska Department of Natural Resources, RST 118 File.