Chief Walter Northway
Chief Walter Northway was named after Captain Northway, a steamboat captain who traveled into 1908 during the Chisana gold rush. Before the area had been settled during the early years, two store owners (Herman Kestler and John Hajdukovich) provided goods and traded with the local residents.
Freighting the Supplies
They would freight their supplies from Dawson in Canada by horse. The site of the community was chosen by Chief Sam, who had moved from his fish camp following the death of his wife, Agnes.
T’aaiy Ta’ (father of Chief Walter Northway) encouraged Chief Sam’s relatives to move next to him, and within a few years, six homes were built. Finally, in 1946, all residents lived in the main townsite area (the old townsite was located across the river).
The 1940-41 Construction
In 1940, construction on the airport started in support of the World War II war efforts.
The Northway airport was a link in the Northwest Staging.
The route, a cooperative project between the U.S. and Canada, a chain of air bases through Canada to Fairbanks were used to supply Alaska during World War II.
During the construction effort, local labor was utilized for brush clearing.
The construction was hard on residents because the site chosen was directly over the Indian cemetery.
During construction, graves were dug up and burnt at the ends of the airfield.
During that time, construction of the Alcan Highway had started, and a temporary army base was created in Northway.
The first post office was also established in 1941.