||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (October 2013)|
|Incorporated||October 26, 1971|
|• Mayor||Russ Sweetsir|
|• Total||24 sq mi (62.1 km2)|
|• Land||17.9 sq mi (46.3 km2)|
|• Water||6.1 sq mi (15.8 km2)|
|Elevation||128 ft (39 m)|
|Time zone||Alaska (AKST) (UTC-9)|
|• Summer (DST)||AKDT (UTC-8)|
Prehistory and early history
The Koyukon Athabascans had seasonal camps in the area and moved as the wild game migrated. In the summer many families floated on rafts to the Yukon River to fish for salmon. There were 12 summer fish camps located on the Yukon River between the Koyukuk River and the Nowitna River. Galena was established in 1918 near an Athabascan fish camp called Henry's Point. It became a supply and point for nearby lead ore mines that opened in 1918 and 1919.
Military air base
In 1941 and 1942, during World War II, a military air field was built adjacent to the civilian airport, and the two facilities shared the runway and flight line facilities. This air field was designated Galena Air Force Station shortly after the split of the United States Air Force from the United States Army, which occurred as a result of the National Security Act of 1947. During the 1950s, the construction of additional military facilities at Galena and the nearby Campion Air Force Station, in support of Galena's mission as a forward operating base under the auspices of the 5072nd Air Base Group, headquartered at Elmendorf Air Force Base, near Anchorage, provided improvements to the airport and the local infrastructure, causing economic growth for the area.
Following the end of the Cold War, in 1993, operation of Galena Air Force Station was turned over to a contractor, and all military personnel were withdrawn with only small groups of active personnel visiting the base on an as-needed basis. The former military facility remains in use effectively as a forward operating location that is used occasionally by the military. This use came under scrutiny by the Base Realignment and Closure Committee in the late 2000s and was officially closed October 1, 2010. The Air Force retains responsibility for toxin cleanup in the area and engineers from Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks still visit the site on occasion. The base is now totally controlled by the City of Galena, the Galena School District and the Alaska Department of Transportation. The Alaska Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) was pursuing[when?] retaining one of the F-16 fighter hangars as a CAP facility for the CAP Wing in Galena, the "Yukon Squadron".
The City of Galena gained notoriety in 2011 when it was noted in media reports as the highest benefit recipient community in the United States of lobbying. The town evaded bankruptcy by aggressively lobbying for state and federal funds for the GILA boarding school in the town, which produced funds that turned the city's finances around.
In May 2013, Galena suffered a freak catastrophic flood when the spring breakup on the Yukon River caused an ice jam approximately 20 miles downstream, backing up the river and affecting 90% of homes in the city. This flood was on the scale of a flood never seen before by Galena residents. In the part of town closest to the river, houses were submerged to the roofs in water, and properties on higher ground suffered damage also. Most of the residents had to evacuate in thanks to the efforts of the local airline and the Alaska National Guard. Some of the residents chose to stay behind and took refuge in the few last remaining dry parts of town. The flood dike the Air Force built around the runway managed to keep the river from inundating the runway and GILA.[clarification needed] Efforts are currently underway to help Galena rebuild, with the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and volunteer groups.
Galena is located at .(64.740643, -156.885462)
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.0 square miles (62 km2), of which, 17.9 square miles (46 km2) of it is land and 6.1 square miles (16 km2) of it (25.41%) is water.
Galena is inaccessible by road to other parts of Alaska. Residents rely on river cargo in the brief summer season for the bulk of its needs, and by air travel to access the outside world.
As of the census of 2000, there were 675 people, 216 households, and 149 families residing in the city. The population density was 37.8 people per square mile (14.6/km²). There were 259 housing units at an average density of 14.5 per square mile (5.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 30.22% White, 0.30% Black or African American, 63.41% Native American, 1.04% Asian, 0.30% Pacific Islander, 0.30% from other races, and 4.44% from two or more races. 1.93% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
In the city the age distribution of the population shows 37.5% under the age of 18, 7.6% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 4.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 121.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 123.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $61,125, and the median income for a family was $70,250. Males had a median income of $46,563 versus $37,000 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,143. About 1.3% of families and 10.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.4% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.
Government and public safety
The headquarters for the Koyukuk/Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge is located in Galena.
The City of Galena is incorporated as a first-class city, governed by a city council. The city's mayor is Russ Sweetsir, who has served since 1987.
The Louden Tribal Council is elected to represent the local Athabascan Native community. The council's tribal chief is Chris Sommer.
The City of Galena operated a full-time police department. There is an Alaska State Troopers post in Galena with two troopers and a trooper-pilot.
Galena has a volunteer Rescue Squad composed of Alaska Emergency Trauma Technicians (ETT) and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), and a volunteer fire department which recently received new advanced firefighting apparatus from the U.S. Air Force upon the closure of Galena Air Force Station.
As Galena is incorporated as a first-class city and located in the Unorganized Borough, it is required by state law to operate its own city schools. As with many other such cities across Alaska, Galena's school district operates a boarding school and a correspondence study program, to increase state funding which would not otherwise be available with the local pupil base.
Galena has three schools. Galena City School is primarily for local K–12 students. There is a public library located in the Sidney C. Huntington School. Huntington was a well-known local resident and the author of Shadows on the Koyukuk, a popular book on Alaska.
The vocational Galena Interior Learning Academy (GILA) is a boarding school which draws students from around the state. GILA is located on the site of the former Galena Air Force Station and is one of three public boarding high schools in Alaska; the second in size behind Mt. Edgecumbe in Sitka. The third is the Nenana Living School in Nenana. GILA uses the former barracks as a dorm, the former PX and headquarters buildings as class rooms and the dining hall as a cafeteria, along with the gym and other facilities. GILA provides educational and vocational training to young men and women from all over Alaska, grades 9-12, with most students coming from remote Native Alaskan villages from the Interior, North Slope and Aleutian Islands. GILA hosts various traiing and regional conferences throughout the year. GILA student enrollment grew from 110 to 180 in the 2009-10 school year.
Transportation, utilities and other facilities
Galena's Edward G. Pitka Sr. Airport (Code GAL) is the former Galena Air Force Station field and with a paved runway of over 8000 feet is the largest public, state-maintained airport in the Interior of Alaska.[clarification needed] The control tower was demolished when the Air Force vacated the facility in 2007. The Airport is also the home of the "Yukon Squadron" of the AK Wing, Civil Air Patrol (CAP), which covers much of lp the interior region to the Bering Sea for Search and Rescue (SAR). A CAP Cessna-172 aircraft is stationed at Galena.
The City of Galena, as a first-class city, operates various vital services. The city also owns Nollner Health Clinic operated by Tanana Chiefs Conference, a Native health clinic that offers 24-hour emergency care and routine health care. Eye and dental services are provided to Alaskan natives on a visiting provider basis. Medical emergencies are stabilized at Nollner Clinic and flown by air ambulance to Fairbanks or Anchorage. Dire pediatric emergencies are flown to Seattle Children's Hospital.
Galena's remote location, apart from Alaska's urban transportation and utility distribution networks, means that the city must transport and store fuel oil in large-volume quantities. In 2004, the Galena City Council tentatively accepted a proposal from Toshiba Corporation to build the Galena Nuclear Power Plant, a small, self-contained nuclear power plant. In 2010, the plan was abandoned after local start-up costs to build a 27 million dollar reactor core proved prohibitive for the community. The demonstration plant, the prototype for a line which Toshiba hoped to sell to similar communities in the U.S. and Canada, would have been the first civilian nuclear plant in Alaska; Fort Greely, Alaska, had a small military SM-4 reactor until the early 1970s.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race goes through Galena (on even years), as does the Tesoro Iron Dog trans-Alaska snowmobile race. Galena is the halfway point of the Yukon 800, an annual summer speedboat race beginning in Fairbanks and taking place along the Tanana and Yukon Rivers.
The Galena high school boys' and girls' basketball teams were regional champions from 2004 to 2007. The boy's basketball team won the state championship in 2008.
In popular culture
One of the action hero GI Joe's colleagues is an Athabascan from Galena.
- 1996 Alaska Municipal Officials Directory. Juneau: Alaska Municipal League/Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs. January 1996. p. 58.
- "Community: Galena". Community Database Online. Juneau: Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, Division of Community and Regional Affairs. 2013. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Buske, Norman, Pamela Miller & Lorraine Eckstein, "The Nuclear Reactor at Fort Greely." (Anchorage: Alaska Community Action on Toxins, 2000)
- Galena City School District
- uaf.edu, Galena: Nuclear Energy?
- Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge
- Nowitna National Wildlife Refuge