The History of
Manley Hot Springs

Manley Hot Springs is located about 5 miles north of the Tanana River on Hot Springs Slough, at the end of the Elliott Highway, 160 road miles west of Fairbanks. It lies at approximately 65 00' N Latitude, 150 38' W Longitude (Sec. 17, T002N, R015W, Fairbanks Meridian). The community is located in the Manley Hot Springs Recording District. The area encompasses 59 sq. miles of land and 3 sq. miles of water.

In 1902 John Karshner, a mining prospector, discovered several hot springs and began a homestead and vegetable farm on 278 acres. At the same time, a U.S. Army telegraph station and trading post were built. The area became a service and supply point for miners in the Eureka and Tofty Mining Districts, and was known as Baker's Hot Springs, after nearby Baker Creek. In 1903, Sam's Rooms and Meals, now called the Manley Roadhouse, opened in the community. Ambitious farming and livestock operations in the area produced fresh meat, poultry and produce for sale.

In 1907, miner Frank Manley built the Hot Springs Resort Hotel. The resort was a large four-story building with 45 guest rooms, steam heat, electric lights, hot baths, bar, restaurant, billiard room, bowling alley, barber shop and an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool which used heated water from the hot springs. During the summer, the hotel's private launch transported guests from steamers on the Tanana River. In the winter, an overland stagecoach trip from Fairbanks took two days. Due to the resort and area mining, the town of "Hot Springs" prospered with an Alaska Commercial Company store, a local newspaper, bakery, clothing stores and other businesses. Local estimates of the area's population in 1910 was more than 500. In 1913, this thriving resort burned to the ground. Mining was also declining and by 1920 only 29 residents lived in Hot Springs. The name was changed to Manley Hot Springs in 1957. A small school re-opened in 1958. In 1959, completion of the Elliott Highway gave Manley a road link with Fairbanks during the summer. In 1982, the state began maintaining the Highway for year-round use. A new resort with a small swimming pool opened in 1985.

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