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20 March 2016 / leggypeggy

Visiting a village in the Arctic Circle

Post office, Wiseman Alaska

Post office

Wiseman Alaska

Yes, that’s us under the parkas!

Wiseman Alaska is 63 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It was originally settled in 1919 as a mining community. History indicates that when gold ‘ran out’ around Slate Creek (now Coldfoot), the miners moved on to create Wiseman.

Even though the current population is a mere 13, Wiseman is thriving. That’s most likely because it’s Alaska’s only place north of the Arctic Circle where a person can actually own property.

Root cellar, Alaska

Jackie lifts the lid on the root cellar for food storage

Harry Leonard's cabin

Harry Leonard’s cabin

Jackie, our guide for the day, has even purchased a dry (meaning no running water) cabin there. Ten years ago she visited Coldfoot and Wiseman as part of a RoadScholar tour (the same program we were on this year), and fell in love with life in the Arctic Circle. Now she spends about 75 per cent of her time there. She and her husband have plans to fix up their ‘handyman’s dream’.

They are looking forward to the renovations because someone found a hidden gold nugget in this cabin some years back.

Handyman's dream in Wiseman

This handyman’s dream may be beyond repair

Many cabins in Wiseman look like handyman’s dreams, but others have been modernised and new ones have been built.

Today Wiseman has a post office, museum (some exhibits shown below) and chapel, as well as a bed and breakfast.

Wiseman outhouse

Historic outhouse

There’s even a community outhouse with a short history (compiled by Jacqui) posted inside. In a nutshell, carpenter and woodsman Ernie Johnson built it in 1945. Clutch Lounsbury moved it from Fairbanks to Wiseman in 1983.

Wiseman’s resident guru is Jack Reakoff. He was born and reared in Wiseman. He was in Anchorage for meetings when we visited, but we ‘saw’ him several times on documentaries on Wiseman, Coldfoot, the Trans-Alaskan Pipleine and more.

Wiseman is also where we got our best views of the aurora borealis (the Northern Lights. That night we ‘camped out’ in the cabin that belonged to the late Harry Leonard, an earlier authority on Wiseman.

P.S. If this post makes you feel cold, why not try out one of the stew recipes on my cooking blog. Especially good options are lamb stew and coq au vin.

Alaskan bird

Wiseman wildlife—a red crossbill


Leave a Comment
  1. agenda19892010 / Mar 20 2016 1:49 am


    Liked by 2 people

  2. Andrew Petcher / Mar 20 2016 2:02 am

    Cold? I am FREEZING!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Susanne / Mar 20 2016 2:18 am

    Were you kidding about the “handyman’s” dream being fixed up? It looks like a heavy snowfall would crush it. Fun decor with all the caribou antlers.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 20 2016 2:20 am

      We didn’t see Jackie’s cabin because the snow hadn’t been cleared on the road to her place. She said hers can be fixed up, but the one I showed here probably can’t be. I certainly wouldn’t want to be inside for the next snowfall. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. (b)ananartista SBUFF / Mar 20 2016 2:32 am


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sand Salt Moon / Mar 20 2016 3:02 am

    I miss the snow so this is COOOOOL~

    Liked by 2 people

  6. dfolstad58 / Mar 20 2016 3:02 am

    Interesting photos and narrative and the air must be so fresh

    Liked by 1 person

  7. apriltulip / Mar 20 2016 3:14 am

    Great location! It’s a treat to get peeks of real life in far away places (especially off the beaten path).
    I love armchair travel ( I didn’t even have to get cold!) Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Pupazzovi / Mar 20 2016 4:00 am

    Bellissime fotografie.
    L’Alaska e tutta quella neve hanno di sicuro un loro fascino

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Curious to the Max / Mar 20 2016 5:53 am

    I would think it takes a certain temperament to choose to live in these kind of extreme climates and locales. Did you find a common thread (personality, world view etc) among the residents?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 20 2016 9:16 am

      The only obvious common thread was that the people in Alaska simply love being in Alaska. Must be the lust for the frontier. Have to admit I loved it too, but not sure how much I want to be there 12 months of the year. Many go to warmer climates for a couple of months in deep winter.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Worlds Biggest Fridge Magnet / Mar 20 2016 6:01 am

    I love this SOOOO much! I would seriously love to go here. Adventure and wilderness and what could possibly beat a hole in the floor for the larder…..

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Dorothy / Mar 20 2016 7:39 am

    Another great post Peggy. Lucky for me that you and John go to these places and tell me about them as I am not a cold weather person. I don’t think even the lure of finding a gold nugget would tempt me to live there. I would turn into an ice block. Dorothy


    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 20 2016 9:18 am

      Sometimes I felt like I WAS turning into an ice block. Fortunately I thawed out. Indoors was always warm—sometimes too warm.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Maniparna Sengupta Majumder / Mar 20 2016 9:17 am

    Wonderful pictures and narration… 🙂 especially the lone bird…

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 20 2016 9:19 am

      Not many birds stay for the winter, but this one did along with its much plainer mate. Didn’t manage to get a photo of her.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. gerard oosterman / Mar 20 2016 10:21 am

    We never suffered cold as much as when we migrated to Australia in 1956. Cold countries generally take good care of their heating. Buses, trains etc are heated and so are their houses. I love those pictures of the old cabins. Give me a snow- bound cabin above a hot beach anytime.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Mar 20 2016 11:00 pm

      The same happened to me, Gerard, when I first arrived in June 1982. We landed in Adelaide after having spent several yeas in Syria. The temp in Adelaide dropped to -1°C overnight (a new record for June) and I had most summery clothes. I was freezing.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Lynz Real Cooking / Mar 20 2016 11:33 am

    Wonderful post Peggy! I love the pictures and the history!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sy S. / Mar 20 2016 12:31 pm

    Peggy, nice to read that you survived the Artic Circle/Wiseman’s cold weather… and able to write about it,an interesting lifestyle for the few people living there.. but not for me, me, me!

    You move around/travel so fast, it is hard to keep up with your travels… this morning from your e-mail, you were in Tampa, Florida… now I know why, thawing out “big time.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 21 2016 2:03 am

      Yes, pleased to report we did survive and have gone from the BIg Chill to the BIg Thaw.


  16. Aquileana / Mar 20 2016 1:16 pm

    What an adventure… Excellent pics and retelling… all my best wishes. Aquileana 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Rashminotes / Mar 20 2016 4:50 pm

    What a unique place; population of just 13!!! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 21 2016 2:08 am

      There are more people in the warmer months, but only 13 over winter. And even they escape to Hawaii sometimes. 🙂


  18. poshbirdy / Mar 20 2016 7:01 pm

    What an amazing place. Lovely photos too

    Liked by 1 person

  19. derrickjknight / Mar 20 2016 8:38 pm

    Now. That. Is. Rugged

    Liked by 1 person

  20. sidilbradipo1 / Mar 20 2016 11:01 pm

    All that white must be fascinating, sometimes 😀
    Great shots!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. voulaah / Mar 21 2016 12:39 am

    Veery beautiful village
    Thank you so much for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Deb / Mar 21 2016 12:40 am

    Oh my goodness…no matter how beautiful it may be I know I could never adjust to the cold. It’s cold here in the winter I can only imagine what it’s like there!! I’ve been thinking of you daily wondering how you liked the aurora borealis and if you were able to see them. Reading above I see that you did…how wonderful.. I’m going to check out your other posts to see if you wrote about it. Boy talk about a handyman special…Yikes! And oh the outhouse is just divine…even that bird looks cold! I wish you the best time!! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 21 2016 2:11 am

      Thanks Deb. I have a lot to be grateful for here. And I agree with you, I might never quite adjust to the cold.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Ronja / Mar 21 2016 1:33 am

    The fotos look sooo great. Snow and Sun – a absolut perfect combination.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 21 2016 10:54 am

      Thanks. We were so lucky to have great weather.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ronja / Mar 21 2016 5:59 pm

        It is not only the weather – it is so much more.
        I grow up in a place with wood – now I live in vienna, a really big town.
        Your fotos remembered me to my youth and the winters.

        I wish you to have so great weather like on your fotos. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Mar 22 2016 12:32 am

        I’m so glad these photos brought back good memories.


  24. tomorrowdefinitely / Mar 21 2016 4:14 am

    Just read a crime story set in Anchorage, so your beautiful pictures and words were a great addition to get a feel for what it must be like up there 🙂
    have a great week,

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 21 2016 1:58 pm

      Glad it gave you some idea. We didn’t get to Anchorage on this visit. Maybe someday.


  25. Carol Ferenc / Mar 21 2016 5:01 am

    A bed-and-breakfast too? I think that’s the very definition of optimism. Charming!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 21 2016 1:58 pm

      The B&B looks amazing from the outside, but I suspect it’s busier in summer. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Sangeeta Pradhan RD, CDE / Mar 21 2016 6:28 am

    This is so cool, Peggy! You pictures capture the beauty of the landscape so well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 21 2016 1:59 pm

      Thanks so much. The landscapes are so breathtaking, it’s hard to take a bad picture. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Stephanae V. McCoy / Mar 21 2016 9:56 am

    That is some serious snow. How cold was it Peggy? It looks a tad chilly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 21 2016 2:01 pm

      It was cold, but not too windy. I think the coldest night in Fairbanks was about -17°F. Not sure about Coldfoot.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stephanae V. McCoy / Mar 21 2016 8:50 pm

        I’m shivering just reading this 😉 Anything under 70°F is cold to me and when we get to temps under 30° it’s unbearable. I’m so glad that I can enjoy your travels from my computer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Mar 22 2016 12:38 am

        I’m glad too, for your sake.


  28. simpletravelourway / Mar 21 2016 3:06 pm

    I am shivering cold just reading this and looking at the photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Coral Waight / Mar 21 2016 3:53 pm

    Gosh, that looks even colder than Canberra.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 21 2016 4:00 pm

      Yep, a whole lot colder than Canberra. Colder than any place in Australia except our part of Antarctica.


  30. Carol Taloni / Mar 21 2016 4:45 pm

    What another amazing journey I have shared with you, Peggy.
    Your descriptions and photographs ensure I get the feeling of being there with you.
    Seeing places I have never and will never see, but your generosity of sharing your travels
    brings everything to life. When I joined your blog, I thought I might hear a tale or two from you,
    but never did I expect such treasures from you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 22 2016 12:28 am

      Oh my goodness, thanks so much Carol. I love that you follow along. I’m also glad that you’re not getting cold along with me. 🙂


  31. heidi ruckriegel / Mar 21 2016 10:38 pm

    Wow. That reminded me of my childhood in Germany and winter walks in the snowy forest with my Opa. That peculiar creaky crunch of really cold snow!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. tony / Mar 22 2016 8:19 pm

    Wow! What a great holiday. Great pics. My memory of trying to explain how cold it was in Winnipeg to people who’d never experienced it was when you spit it rolls and bounces when it hits the ground. Did you notice that?

    By the way in Chiang Mai it’s 40° C in the afternoon.

    Regards Tony

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 23 2016 1:43 am

      Now you tell me. I forgot to spit when I was there! 🙂


  33. forkwardthinkingfoodinista / Mar 22 2016 9:43 pm

    Hi, Fab blog! Only 13 people, would love to go there!! Thank you for liking my post that lovely Deb re blogged. I have only just set up mine, but still in the very early stages! Just making efforts to link in with fellow bloggers to improve our followers and get the word out there for us both. I would appreciate you having a peek at my blog, as I have just published my first post. Feel free to like, comment, follow or just take a peek. Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 23 2016 2:18 am

      Welcome to the blogging world. Thanks for stopping by and for following. Your blog looks great. I’ll enjoy watching it grow.

      Liked by 1 person

      • forkwardthinkingfoodinista / Mar 23 2016 2:26 am

        Thank you for the warm welcome 🙂 I love travel, so your blog is fab!! Look forward to your upcoming posts and thank you for the follow 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Mar 23 2016 2:27 am

        My pleasure.


  34. milliethom / Mar 23 2016 2:42 am

    The scenery is stunning, and I confess, I’m green with envy that you managed this fabulous trip to Alaska. I’m not sure how well I’d cope with the cold, mind you. The snow all looks so beautiful, but at 63 miles north of the Arctic Circle, I think I’d need more than a hot water bottle! Interesting info. about Wiseman and buying property there, and, as always, great photos. Is the bird some kind of bullfinch? It’s a pretty little thing, with a very finch-like bill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 23 2016 12:23 pm

      No way a hot water bottle would do the trick. As for the bird, I’m not sure what kind it is, but I’ll try to find out. It is a pretty thing.


    • leggypeggy / Mar 26 2016 6:28 am

      With the help of Claudia, I’ve learned the bird is a red crossbill. I’ve added that to the caption.

      Liked by 1 person

      • milliethom / Mar 26 2016 6:32 am

        Thank you, Peggy. I didn’t mean to put you to so much trouble! It was just such a pretty little thing. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Mar 26 2016 7:06 am

        No trouble at all. Luckily I knew exactly who to ask. Thanks Claudia!


  35. mommermom / Mar 23 2016 3:39 am

    What a curious little place to settle down! I would miss the sunshine!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 23 2016 12:22 pm

      Yes, I would miss the sunshine too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mommermom / Mar 23 2016 12:38 pm

        I have spent some time today researching a trip to see the Northern Lights. Don’t know if we would go but you have inspired me to consider checking out the options!

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Mar 23 2016 2:57 pm

        They can only be viewed during the winter months when there are longer nights. Apparently late September last year had some amazing displays. We toured with a group call Road Scholar, and they were excellent. Highly recommended. Good luck planning.


  36. legominifigurestravel / Mar 24 2016 11:01 am

    What a nice spot and look at those photo’s!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 24 2016 11:16 am

      It is a lovely spot and I wonder what it looks like in summer. 🙂


  37. Reimund Manneck / Feb 20 2021 9:28 am

    I was amazed to read about the root cellar. Can you give us some more details: dimensions, temperature during winter months, what kind of vegetables are or can be stored there?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Feb 20 2021 9:38 am

      It was -22°F when we were in Fairbanks. Not sure how much colder it was in Wiseman. We didn’t get to look inside the root cellar so I can’t comment on dimensions. The vegetables that are grown and stored include cabbages, potatoes and carrots. No doubt other root veg such as turnips.


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