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Today, Douglas is a residential community on Douglas Island and the only traditional school left on Douglas is Gastineau Elementary, which serves all the Douglas Island elementary aged students. The Douglas Public Library is part of the Capital City Libraries, and a couple restaurants and bars exist (The Island Pub, The Douglas Inn, and The Douglas Café). The town’s population dropped over the years, but recently is up to about 3000 people, or close to 10 percent of the City and Borough of Juneau’s population. Douglas gets its water and electricity from Juneau and has a mix of onsite and municipal (diverted to Juneau) wastewater treatment.
|Absorbed into Juneau, Alaska, 1970|
Douglas Island was originally a border of the Auke people’s and Taku people’s territory. It was not usually used for year round settlement, but as a place to spend the summer, or at times a place for battles.
Some historical reports indicate an early settler to the area may be credited for the naming of Douglas Island.
In 1880 gold was discovered in Juneau, Alaska, across the narrow Gastineau Channel, drawing in all kinds of people looking to strike it rich. In 1881 two towns sprouted up on Douglas Island: Treadwell and Douglas. Treadwell was the community for the miners, with its own entertainment, pool, and bar. Douglas, too, had businesses popping up and soon had its own school and post office. A railroad and boardwalk connected the two towns. At this time the Treadwell power plant was large enough to power the entire Treadwell area, Douglas, and Juneau. The power plant continued to serve the Alaska Juneau Gold Mine until being shut down in 1944 by the war department.
In 1902 the city of Douglas was incorporated. The town sustained significant damage on March 9, 1911 when a fire started in the Douglas grill. It took the Douglas, Treadwell, and Juneau fire departments working together to stop the entire town from being destroyed.
The towns of Douglas and Treadwell underwent changes after the 1917 cave in of the Treadwell mine. While one section still operated until 1926, Treadwell shrank and Douglas became the town of Douglas Island.
Douglas continued to have its own dairy (Douglas Dairy, owned by Joe Kendler) until 1923 when it moved across the channel. At this time there was a regular ferry between the towns of Juneau and Douglas.
Then, in 1935 the Douglas Bridge was opened and made transportation between the island and Juneau simple. On February 23, 1937 the city of Douglas again experienced a devastating fire. 600 of the then 700 residents lost their homes. However, Douglas rebuilt and restarted. On March 8, 1955 the city voted to combine schools with the city of Juneau, resulting in the construction of Juneau-Douglas High School, which continues to serve the area's students.
In a controversial moment in 1970, citizens of the cities of Douglas and Juneau voted to merge and unify their governments, along with borough-level functions, and formed the City and Borough of Juneau.
- "Douglas, AK Town Fire, Feb 1937 | GenDisasters ... Genealogy in Tragedy, Disasters, Fires, Floods". .gendisasters.com. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
- "Alaska's Digital Archives : Item Viewer". Vilda.alaska.edu. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
- "Douglas, AK Fire, Mar 1911 | GenDisasters ... Genealogy in Tragedy, Disasters, Fires, Floods". .gendisasters.com. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
- "Photo: Douglas 70 years ago | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper". Juneau Empire. 2003-11-28. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
- "Douglas construction inconveniences some locals | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper". Juneau Empire. 2004-06-01. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
- "Douglas Dynasty | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper". Juneau Empire. 2003-03-11. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
- "Treadwell Mine trail gives glimpse of history | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper". Juneau Empire. 2002-06-23. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
- "Local author writes novella on Juneau mining history | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper". Juneau Empire. 2009-08-13. Retrieved 2011-12-16.