Location of Glennallen, Alaska
|• Total||114.9 sq mi (297.5 km2)|
|• Land||114.1 sq mi (295.5 km2)|
|• Water||0.8 sq mi (2 km2)|
|Elevation||1,434 ft (437 m)|
|Time zone||Alaska (AKST) (UTC-9)|
|• Summer (DST)||AKDT (UTC-8)|
|GNIS feature ID||1402643|
Glennallen // (Ciisik’e Na’ in Ahtna) is a census-designated place (CDP) in the Valdez–Cordova Census Area in the Unorganized Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census, the population of the CDP was 483.
Geography and climate
It lies along the Glenn Highway at its junction with the Richardson Highway, 189 road miles (304 km) east of Anchorage. It is just outside the western boundary of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 114.9 square miles (298 km2), of which, 114.1 square miles (296 km2) of it is land and 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) of it (0.66%) is water.
Glennallen is located in the continental climate zone, with long, cold winters, and relatively warm summers. The mean temperature in January is -10°F (-23°C); in July, 56°F (13°C). However, temperatures can reach -50°F (-46°C) in winter and 80°F (27°C) in summer. Snowfall averages 39 inches (1 m), with total precipitation of 9 inches (23 cm) per year.
History and culture
In earlier times, the Ahtna Alaska Natives roamed the Copper River Valley in search of fish and game, both of which are usually plentiful there. Ahtna now live in several communities around Glennallen.
In 1899, the U.S. Army built a pack trail for summer use between the port of Valdez and Eagle, which passed through the Copper River Valley. In the early 20th century, the trail was widened and became the Richardson Highway.
During World War II, the United States built a series of military bases in Alaska, primarily for the purpose of supplying aircraft and other war material to Russia by way of Alaska and the Russian Far East as part of the Lend-lease program. This made it difficult for the Germans to the west and the Japanese to the south of Russia to interfere with the supply operation. As part of this operation, highways were built to supply the bases. The major highway project of this effort was the Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada to the existing Richardson Highway at Delta Junction, Alaska and thus to Fairbanks via the Richardson Highway. Another project was the Glenn Highway, which connected Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, with the Richardson Highway, and thus with the rest of Alaska, Canada, and the then-48 United States.
Construction for the Glenn Highway began at a camp on the Richardson Highway in the Copper River Valley named Glennallen after two U.S. Army explorers of the late 19th century: Capt. Edwin Glenn and Lt. Henry T. Allen. The highway was completed in 1945. Glennallen developed as a small community around the site of the camp. It became a commercial center for motor traffic along the Glenn and Richardson highways. It is one of the few communities in the region that was not built on the site of a Native village.
During the 1950s and 1960s, another highway, the Tok Cut-Off, was constructed from a point 15 miles north of Glennallen to the community of Tok, 135 miles east on the Alaska Highway. This enhanced Glennallen as a commercial center. Also, in 1956, a Jesuit school was opened, called Copper Valley School. This facility increased the population considerably by bringing to the region a number of staff and students from Holy Cross Mission in Western Alaska. In 1961 "Glenallen" was officially renamed "Glennallen" by the US Postal Service, adding the extra 'n'.
Glennallen's economy grew with the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System from 1975–1977 and the continuing service needs of the pipeline. The economy of the area was negatively impacted by the construction of the George Parks Highway, which connected Anchorage to Denali National Park and Fairbanks along the Alaska Railroad route, bypassing Glennallen.
As of the census of 2000, there were 554 people, 204 households, and 136 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 4.9 people per square mile (1.9/km²). There were 269 housing units at an average density of 0.9/km² (2.4/sq mi). The racial makeup of the CDP was 85.20% White, 0.18% Black or African American, 5.05% Native American, 0.18% Asian, 1.44% Pacific Islander, and 7.94% from two or more races. 0.54% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 204 households out of which 36.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.4% were married couples living together, 6.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.3% were non-families. 27.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.31.
In the CDP the population was spread out with 31.8% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 26.2% from 45 to 64, and 5.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 106.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 110.0 males.
The median income for a household in the CDP was $38,846, and the median income for a family was $40,909. Males had a median income of $29,375 versus $28,125 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $17,084. About 4.6% of families and 8.04% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.8% of those under age 18 and 3.1% of those age 65 or over.
Facilities, utilities, schools, and health care
Facilities and utilities
Many but not all year-round homes are fully plumbed. Although many residents have private wells in the Glennallen area, the water is often of poor quality. Glennallen Heights utilizes two wells to serve a piped system, and a local private business delivers water by truck to fill home water tanks. The majority of downtown is connected to a piped sewage system operated by The Glennallen Improvement Corp. The sewage system serves 52 homes and businesses, and is being expanded to the Alaska Bible College and the Glennallen Heights subdivision. Most residences have individual septic tank systems, but permafrost and high water tables cause drainage failures. Refuse collection services and the Class II permitted landfill are operated by Copper Basin Sanitation in Glennallen. Copper Valley Electric purchases power from the state-owned Solomon Gulch Hydro Facility, and owns diesel plants in Glennallen and Valdez. Electricity is provided by Copper Valley Electric Assoc.
Prince William Sound Community College is located in Glennallen at mile 188 of the Glenn Highway. Alaska Bible College was founded in Glennallen in 1966, and continues to offer extension classes in the community.
Local hospitals or health clinics include Cross Road Medical Center (a community health center)(822-3203). The clinic provides 24 hour urgent care, located at Mile 186.6 Glenn Hwy. Glennallen is classified as an isolated town/Sub-Regional Center, it is found in EMS Region 2E in the Copper River Region. Emergency Services have highway and helicopter access. Emergency service is provided by 911 Telephone Service and volunteers Auxiliary health care is provided by Copper River EMS Council (822-3671).
Economy and transportation
Glennallen is the supply hub of the Copper River region. Local businesses serve area residents and tourism from the Glenn Highway traffic, supplies and services, schools and medical care. State highway maintenance and federal offices are in Glennallen. RV parks, lodging, fuel and other services cater to independent travelers. The National Park Service's Wrangell-St. Elias Visitor Center and the Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge were completed in 2002 at Copper Center. Offices for the Bureau of Land Management, Alaska State Troopers, and the Dept. of Fish and Game are located here. There are several small farms in the area. Four residents hold commercial fishing permits.
The Glenn/Tok Cutoff and Richardson Highways provide year-round road access to other areas of the state. Brenwick's Airport provides public air access, and scheduled services are available. The 2,070' turf airstrip is owned and operated by Copper Basin District, Inc. The Gulkana Airport is located 4.3 miles northeast.