Willow is 26 miles northwest of Wasilla in the Matanuska Susitna Borough, with a population of about 2,000 as of 2020. It began in 1897 as a tent city for miners who came to the region after discovering gold on Willow Creek. The construction of the Talkeetna Trail made the site famous and eventually gave way to the Alaska Railroad. A railroad construction house was built in Willow in 1920, and many of the railroad’s construction crew and surveyors made Willow their home. The place then became a ghost town after gold mining activity dropped in the 1940s, and it wasn't until 1972 that people returned to the area thanks to the completion of the Parks Highway.
Willow is full of recreational activities and is famous for being the site of the actual start of the Iditarod, the annual dog mushing race. Willow is also a popular spot for canoeing and fishing, and has access to many lakes, Willow Creek and the Susitna River, which allow anglers to reel in various fish such as grayling, salmon, and rainbow trout. The Willow Creek State Recreation Area is home to over 140 campsites. Nancy Lake State Recreation Area is a popular destination for canoeing and winter activities such as cross-country skiing and ice fishing.
Willow is a small community with a handful of businesses, including a post office, restaurants, a thrift shop, and a community health center. They also have a library, an elementary school, an active chamber of commerce, and a post office.
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