Chicken, Alaska is a very small town. In 1997, the population was 4. Chicken is located on the Taylor Highway, which starts about 20 miles south of Tok, Alaska, and ends at Dawson City, Yukon Territory in Canada. The highway runs through the southern Ogilvie Mountain Range and offers beautiful views and vistas along the way. There is a border crossing about half way along this route, but it is only open 9am-6pm each day. There are no camping facilities in the area, so a traveler must plan wisely before beginning the 6-7 hour journey. It is also important to note that the highway on the Canadian side of the border is called Top of the World Highway.
Chicken was established during the Klondike Gold Rush. In 1896, Bob Mathieson discovered gold on Chicken creek, and as was the procedure at the time, he staked his claim. The town grew and prospered during this era and the post office was established in 1903. But why the hell is it called Chicken? Here is an excerpt from the Chicken, Alaska homepage:
As the story goes, the miners collectively decided to name their community "Ptarmigan" after the species of bird, which prevailed in the area. However, no one was certain of the correct spelling of "Ptarmigan", and since the miners called the birds "tundra chickens", they voted on naming the town CHICKEN!
Today, Chicken serves mostly as a rest stop for bus tours, although in the summer months there is still some gold mining going on. One can take a historical tour or visit the Chicken Post Office, the Chicken Saloon, the Chicken Gift Shop or the Chicken Diner. The gift shop sells tacky tourist souvenirs and cards that read Greetings from Chicken, Alaska! and I survived a 7 day Alaska Cruises Bus Tour! The majority of the visitors to Chicken are over the age of 65.
Chicken, Alaska can only be reached during the summer months, as heavy snow falls shut down the highway from mid-October to mid-March. During this time, the residents who choose to stay, opt out for hibernation.
For pictures and more detailed information visit these Chicken, Alaska web sites:
The second site listed here contains a short Lonely Planet documentary and a short Chicken quiz.