Location: 48 miles south of the Arctic Circle, on the south bank of the Yukon River at the end of the Steese Highway #6. 160 miles northeast of Fairbanks. Population: 88.
With the discovery of gold in nearby Preacher Creek, Circle was established in 1893 as a supply point for goods shipped up the Yukon River and then overland to the gold mining camps. The town was named Circle City because the early miners thought they were near the Arctic Circle, which in fact lies 50 miles north.
By 1896, before the Klondike gold rush, Circle was the largest mining town on the Yukon, earning the nickname "The biggest log cabin city in the world" with a population of 700. It boasted an Alaska Commercial Company store, eight or ten dance halls, an opera house, a well-stocked library, 28 saloons, a school, a hospital and an Episcopal Church. Log cabins stretched out for nearly a mile and a half along the river front. It had its own newspaper and a number of residential U.S. government officials.
Circle was virtually emptied after gold discoveries in the Klondike and Nome near the end of the 19th century. A few hearty miners stayed on in the Birch Creek area and Circle became a small, stable community that supplied miners in the nearby Mastodon, Mammoth, Deadwood and Circle Creeks. Most of the main part of town became a family owned farm that produced its own vegetables, meat, milk, cheese and eggs. The family farmhouse still stands today, in front of the trading post and is commonly known as the "Rasmussen House".
Today, most of the residents are Gwitch'in Natives. Circle has electricity, telephones, a post office, school, two stores, a cafe, bar and 2 churches. There is also a campground and boat ramp for visitors. The Steese Highway offers nearly year-round access to Circle; during the winter months the road conditions can make travel to Circle by road difficult. Circle has experienced its share of flooding over the years. Flood levels can be seen on a marker located behind the "Welcome to Circle City" sign above. Pictures of the last two floods hang in the Yukon Trading Post. Mining activity continues in Circle today.