Willow, Alaska

Willow is a census-designated place (CDP) in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is part of the Anchorage, Alaska Metropolitan Statistical Area. At the 2010 census the population was 2,102.

Willow, Alaska
Location in Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the state of Alaska.

Location in Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the state of Alaska.
Willow, Alaska is located in Alaska
Willow, Alaska
Willow, Alaska
Location within the state of Alaska
Coordinates: 61°46′10″N 149°59′28″W / 61.76944°N 149.99111°WCoordinates: 61°46′10″N 149°59′28″W / 61.76944°N 149.99111°W
Country United States
State Alaska
Borough Matanuska-Susitna
 • Borough mayor Vern Halter
 • State senator Mike Dunleavy (R)
 • State rep. David Eastman (R)
 • Total 692.9 sq mi (1,794.5 km2)
 • Land 684.8 sq mi (1,773.7 km2)
 • Water 8.0 sq mi (20.8 km2)
Elevation 213 ft (65 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 1,658
 • Density 2.4/sq mi (0.9/km2)
Time zone Alaska (AKST) (UTC-9)
 • Summer (DST) AKDT (UTC-8)
ZIP codes 99683, 99688
Area code(s) 907
FIPS code 02-85280
GNIS feature ID 1417146


The community got its start in 1897 when miners discovered gold on Willow Creek. Ships and boats brought supplies and equipment up Cook Inlet, landing at Knik or Tyonek. From Knik, a 26-mile summer trail went northwesterly. The trail along Willow Creek heading east became Hatcher Pass Road, currently an adventurous scenic road used during the summer tour season.[1]

In 1920, the Alaska Railroad built its Willow station house at mile 185.7 along the tracks leading from Seward to Fairbanks.[2]

During World War II, a radar warning station and airfield were built near the railroad tracks; a post office was established in 1948.[3]

By 1954, Willow Creek was Alaska's largest gold mining district, with a total production approaching 18 million dollars.[3]

Around 1970, before construction of the Parks Highway, Willow had a population of 78[2] until land disposals, homestead subdivisions, and completion of the George Parks Highway in 1972 fueled growth in the area.[4]

In 1976, Alaskans elected to move the state capital from Juneau to Willow in an effort to improve access for Alaskans while keeping the capital out of Anchorage, the largest city. Landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg created a master plan for the city as part of one such proposal.[5] This fueled interest and land speculation in the area. However, funding to enable the capital move was defeated in the November 1982 election. As a result, Juneau remains the state capital.[4]

More than half of the 1,500 cabins around Willow are for seasonal use. Nearly all of the occupied homes in Willow are fully plumbed, using individual on-site water wells, septic tanks and drain fields.[4]

Willow is now the official host of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race restart.

In June, 2015, a large wildfire burned thousands of acres of wilderness, numerous structures and forced the closure of the George Parks Highway, severing the road link between Anchorage and Fairbanks.


Willow is located at 61°46′10″N 149°59′28″W / 61.76944°N 149.99111°W (61.769345, -149.991065).[6]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 692.9 square miles (1,795 km2), of which, 684.8 square miles (1,774 km2) of it is land and 8.0 square miles (21 km2) of it (1.16%) is water. By area, it is the largest CDP in the United States.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1960 78
1970 38 −51.3%
1980 139 265.8%
1990 285 105.0%
2000 1,658 481.8%
2010 2,102 26.8%
Est. 2015 2,085 [7] −0.8%
U.S. Decennial Census:[8]

As of the census[9] of 2000, there were 1,658 people, 654 households, and 438 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 2.4 people per square mile (0.9/km²). There were 1,530 housing units at an average density of 2.2 per square mile (0.9/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 92.40% White, 3.08% Native American, 0.24% Asian, 0.42% from other races, and 3.86% from two or more races. 1.27% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 654 households out of which 32.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.6% were married couples living together, 5.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.0% were non-families. 25.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the CDP, the population was spread out with 27.9% under the age of 18, 5.4% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 29.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 114.2 males. Of residents age 18 and over, there were 119.3 males for every 100 females.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $38,906, and the median income for a family was $41,944. Males had a median income of $42,188 versus $29,792 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $22,323. About 15.3% of families and 22.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 38.1% of those under age 18 and 4.6% of those age 65 or over.

Willow resedent point of view: Willow is heavily religious. So any free thinkers are shunned. Willow is not as friendly as they portray. Willow is not family friendly. Willow has a crime. Willow has one school, elementary. So middle and high school children have to travel to Talkeetna or Houston for school. That can range from a 30-45 min bus ride. Willow has no activities for grade school children or even middle and high school kids. There is a clinic that has no doctor, just nurses. No pharmacy. The closest hospital is over an hour away. Willow consists of a school, two gas stations less then a mile apart, run down vermin filled strip malls, a post office, a library and a not so community orenented community center. There are more dry cabins and unplumbed homes then this wiki says. So much so, we need a laundry mat and shower facilities. Instead people are forced to use gas stations and bars. The unemployment rate in Willow is very high. There are very few jobs in Willow. The train does not stop in Willow instead passes by it, that should tell you enough. Willow is run by a community board that pockets money and is corrupt.

Notable people

Due to its outlying location and access to trails, Willow has become a popular destination for a number of notable dog mushers. Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race competitors DeeDee Jonrowe, Beverly Masek and Iditarod winner Dallas Seavey have established their residence and dog kennels in Willow. Masek also represented Willow and the surrounding area in the Alaska House of Representatives from 1995 to 2005. John Gourley, lead singer and guitarist of American rock band "Portugal. The Man" was born in Willow, Alaska.


  1. ^ State of Alaska Dept of Commerce, Division of Community & Regional Affairs Community Database Online at http://www.dced.state.ak.us/dca/commdb/CF_BLOCK.cfm
  2. ^ a b Dictionary of Alaska Place Names
  3. ^ a b AK DCRA Community Overview
  4. ^ a b c Community Overview
  5. ^ M. Paul Friedberg and Partners Timeline, http://mpfp.com/timeline/index.shtml
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  7. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  8. ^ "Census Of Population And Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  9. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.

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