Settlements on the Iditarod Trail
The Town was originally named Glacier City and acted as a gold mining and railroad supply camp in the early 1900s. Later it was renamed "Girdwood" in honor of James Girdwood, a Irish entrepreneur who came in 1896 and bought 4 mining claims along Crow Creek. In 1906, the tiny city boasted fifteen buildings including a bathhouse, stable, blacksmiths, commissary, and 5 saloons. On weekends, the tiny city was flooded with over 300 railroad workers, miners and visitors from Anchorage. In 1923, the construction of the Crow Creek Highway provided easy transportation for miners and their equipment. In 1924, the town became a movie set for the silent screen frontier saga: "Cheechakos" produced by Austin Lathrop (a copy remains in the archives of the Anchorage Museum of History of Art). Gold operation ceased before WWII by presidential order. In 1960, the first chairlift was built. In 1961, the town became incorporated. After the good Friday Earthquake of 1964 which destroyed the townsite and the airstrip, the town was relocated at the present location in early 1965. Construction of the Alyeska Highway was terminated in late 1964. In 1977, the post office entered their own building. Today, the town economy is based on the ski resort and tourism. There are accommodations of all kinds, restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores and general stores, a post office, a gas station, a school, several snowmachine rental, rafting organizations, guides and airflight operators at the state owned airstrip.