Talkeetna is an unincorporated village located about 2.5 hour drive from Anchorage. We don’t have local government, other than an advisory community council. The village has many non profits that help things run…a chamber of commerce, an arts council (play theatre, movies and children’s theatre), ski club, hockey club, airman’s association, local radio station, etc, as well as the museum/Historical Society. Volunteers run events and happenings in town. We have a comprehensive land plan and guidelines for building in town. Services (such as sewer/water, roads) are taken care of by the Matanuska Susitna Borough, headquartered in Palmer, Alaska. The museum, for lack of tourist center, also acts as an information hub for the village.
Talkeetna Historical Society and Museum
The Talkeetna Historical Society (THS) was founded in 1972 and incorporated with the State of Alaska in 1985, becoming a 501 c 3 nonprofit organization in 1989. The old Talkeetna School has been home-base to the society since 1974 and serves as the first of three on-site museum buildings, housing a general collection of photographs, artifacts, and exhibits that celebrate Talkeetna’s rich Alaskan history. The second and third buildings–both of which are historical railroad buildings moved to the Talkeetna School downtown site–house a transportation exhibit and the mountaineering room, which features a room-sized three dimensional exhibit of the Alaska Range. Mountaineering talks are given daily during the summer months. The society owns a total of six historic buildings within Talkeetna’s nationally recognized historic district.
The MOOSE DROPPING FESTIVAL History
Although the festival no longer exists, it enjoyed a 37 year history (from 1972-2009) for which Talkeetna became almost-famous! THS founding members also invented the Moose Toss Game, which involved tossing varnished moose droppings onto a painted and numbered sheet of plywood; when droppings landed on a number, that number was added to a player’s score. The game led to the development of the Moose Dropping Festival, which THS ran as a fundraising event for thirty seven years. As the festival grew, a new “Moose dropping” event developed where numbered moose droppings were dropped from a crane onto the town’s VFW post’s parking lot; nuggets landing closest to the center of a target won cash prizes for those holding tickets with matching numbers. Sadly, the festival eventually became too big of an event for the town. With an estimated 5,000 people in town in 2009, there were a number of incidents and the village residents voted on suspension of the event.
Today, THS is ever-active with running the museum, preserving and maintaining its historic buildings, fundraising endeavors, and educating local residents and visitors alike as to the significance and value of Talkeetna’s 1993 placement on the National Register of Historic Places.
Talkeetna’s Main Street, circa 1930s.
Museum Staff: Sue Deyoe, Executive Director; David Shealy, curator and collections manager