Houston, Alaska (not Texas!) joins Palmer and Wasilla as one of three incorporated cities in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. It is the largest city by area, with 22.4 square miles of land and 1.2 square miles of water. Though larger in size, it is significantly less populated than the other cities in the Mat-Su Borough and has a population of just under 2,000. Many people who live in Houston work in Wasilla or Palmer, while others make the 57 mile commute to Anchorage.
Houston began as a place where freight supplies traveled through the Herning Trail (nowadays known as the Willow Creek Sled Trail) to the Willow Creek Mining District. Several coal mines were developed in the area in 1917-1918 that were in operation until the end of World War II. After power and gravel roads were extended west of Wasilla in the 1950s, people began settling the area and the City of Houston was officially incorporated in 1966.
The Susitna River runs through the center of Houston. Other popular recreational sites in the area include Zero Lake, Prator Lake, Loon Lake, and Little Su Campground. Trails traverse the Houston terrain that accommodate hiking and ATVs in the summer and snow machines and dog mushing in the winter. Every August the town holds the Founder’s Day Celebration, a festival full of food, craft vendors, lively entertainment, and fireworks.
Houston has many community organizations to support its residents, including the Mid-Valley Seniors, the Houston Chamber of Commerce, the Susitna Rotary, and the Houston Lions. Though elementary students that reside in Houston attend school at Big Lake or Willow Elementary, Houston does have a middle school and a high school. It also has a post office, a visitor’s center, a small market, a hardware store, and a volunteer fire department.
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