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The History of Marshall, Alaska

    Marshall is located on the north bank of Polte Slough, north of Arbor Island, on the east bank of the Yukon River in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. It lies on the northeastern boundary of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. It lies at approximately 61 53' N Latitude, 162 05' W Longitude (Sec. 27, T021N, R070W, Seward Meridian). The community is located in the Bethel Recording District. The area encompasses 5 sq. miles of land and 0 sq. miles of water.

    An expedition came upon an Eskimo village at this site in 1880, called "Uglovaia." Gold was discovered on nearby Wilson Creek in 1913. "Fortuna Ledge" became a placer mining camp, named after the first child born at the camp, Fortuna Hunter. Its location on a channel of the Yukon River was convenient for riverboat landings. A post office was established in 1915, and the population grew to over 1,000. Later the village was named for Thomas Riley Marshall, Vice President of the United States under Woodrow Wilson from 1913-21. The community became known as "Marshall's Landing." When the village incorporated as a second-class city in 1970, it was named Fortuna Ledge, but was commonly referred to as Marshall. The name was officially changed to Marshall in 1984.

    Editor's Note: Fortuna Hunter herself disagrees with the above description of the name of the town. In conversation with Jeanne Ostnes Rinear in 1999, she asked that I add to this history that she was born in 1916, and she was named after the town, not vice-versa. For much more information, see the online book Marshall, Fortuna Ledge and the Mining of Willow Creek, by Jeanne Ostnes Rinear and Eleanor Ostnes Vistaunet.

Photo of Marshall's new clinic and Head Start building, June 2006, by Jimmy Smith

To Community Histories Index Alaska DCCED Community Database Online

History and map graphic used with permission from the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development