Galena (Louden)

Quick Facts

  • Pronounced (lauw-DEN / guh-LEE-nuh)
  • Current Population 484 (2012 Alaska Department of Labor Estimate)
  • Legislative Districts (link to State Legislature page):
    • Senate District T
    • House District 39
    • Judicial District 4
  • Latitude: 64.7333
  • Longitude: -156.9275


Galena is located on the north bank of the Yukon River, 45 miles east of Nulato and 270 air miles west of Fairbanks. It lies northeast of the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge.


The area experiences a cold, continental climate with extreme temperature differences. The average daily high temperature during July is in the low 70s; the average daily low temperature during January ranges from 10 to below 0 °F. Sustained temperatures of -40 °F are common during winter. Extreme temperatures have been measured from -64 to 92 °F. Annual precipitation averages 12.7 inches, with 60 inches of snowfall. The river is ice-free from mid-May through mid-October.


The area’s Koyukon Athabascans had spring, summer, fall, and winter camps and moved as the wild game migrated. In the summer, many families would float on rafts to the Yukon to fish for salmon. There were 12 summer fish camps located on the Yukon River between the Koyukuk River and the Nowitna River.

Galena was established in 1918 near an old Athabascan fish camp called Henry’s Point. It became a supply and trans-shipment point for nearby lead ore mines. In 1920, Athabascans living 14 miles upriver at Louden began moving to Galena to sell wood to steamboats and to work hauling freight for the mines. A school was established in the mid-1920s, and a post office opened in 1932. The Galena Air Field was constructed in World War II.

In 1945, the community suffered a major flood. During the 1950s, military facilities at the Galena and Campion Air Force Stations and airport and road developments sparked growth in the community. Due to another severe flood in 1971, a new community site was developed at Alexander Lake, about 1.5 miles east of the original townsite. City offices, the health clinic, schools, a washeteria, a store, and more than 150 homes were constructed at “New Town,” and a city government was formed. The Air Force Station was closed in 1993, and the facilities are currently being used by the Galena School District as a boarding school. The base facilities are maintained under contract by the Chugach Development Corporation.


The population is mixed Athabascan and non-Native, and traditional festivals attract visitors from other river villages. The establishment of the Galena and Campion Air Force Bases in the 1950s brought growth and change to Galena. But in 1997, the airbase was closed and the property was transferred to the City. Many of Galena’s residents were originally from Louden or are descendants of Louden inhabitants. Subsistence food sources include salmon, whitefish, moose, and berries.

Community profile data provided by the State of Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.