W A C O

Willow Area Community Organization

The Willow Community

The community got its start in 1897 when miners discovered gold on Willow Creek. Ships and boats brought supplies and equipment up Cook Inlet, landing at Knik or Tyonek. From Knik, a 26-mile summer trail went northwesterly. The trail along Willow Creek heading east became Hatcher Pass Road, currently an adventurous scenic road used during the summer tour season.

In 1920, the Alaska Railroad built its Willow station house at mile 185.7 along the tracks leading from Seward to Fairbanks. During World War II, a radar warning station and airfield were built near the railroad tracks; a post office was established in 1948. By 1954, Willow Creek was Alaska's largest gold mining district, with a total production approaching 18 million dollars. Around 1970, before construction of the Parks Highway, Willow had a population of 78 until land disposals, homestead subdivisions, and completion of the George Parks Highway in 1972 fueled growth in the area.

In 1976, Alaskans elected to move the state capital from Juneau to Willow in an effort to improve access for Alaskans while keeping the capital out of Anchorage, the largest city. Landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg created a master plan for the city as part of one such proposal. This fueled interest and land speculation in the area. However, funding to enable the capital move was defeated in the November 1982 election. As a result, Juneau remains the state capital. More than half of the 1,500 cabins around Willow are for seasonal-use. Nearly all of the occupied homes in Willow are fully plumbed, using individual on-site water wells, septic tanks and drain fields. Willow is now the official host of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race restart.

note: the above information taken from the Willow,AK entry at Wikipedea.org

Willow Area Community Organization

The Willow Area Civic Organization was founded in 1960 with a very large percentage of the area residents (39) participating. It was voted unanimously to form the organization, whose objectives were to "Work for the betterment of the community and promote an active interest in residents of the area in projects which would have an effect on their welfare." Later the word "civic" was changed to "community" and the ofjectives broadened to more mirror that of a community council.

Through the years Willow has grown slowly with little industry and no large businesses or government entities that could have brought about uncontrolled developement. Homesteading brought 117 students in a three year period to Willow. Even with the last 46 years of developement, including the Parks Highway, the elementary school enrollment is 139 (as of 2012).

note: the above information taken from the Willow,AK comprehensive plan.