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Browse Locations Cantwell




Current Population:202   (2011 Alaska Department of Labor Estimate)

Incorporation Type: Unincorporated

Located In: Denali Borough

Taxes: Sales: None, Property: None, Special: 7% Bed Tax (Borough); Severance Tax $.05 (Borough); Yard Gravel $.05/Ton-Coal (Borough)



Location and Climate

Cantwell is located on the George Parks Highway at the west end of the Denali Highway, 211 miles north of Anchorage and 28 miles south of Denali (Mount McKinley) Park. Part of the community is located on the Alaska Railroad. The areas known as Kantishna and Carlo Creek are located nearby. The community lies at approximately 63.391670° North Latitude and -148.950830° West Longitude. (Sec. 31, T017S, R007W, Fairbanks Meridian.)   Cantwell is located in the Nenana Recording District.

The climate in Cantwell is continental, characterized by long, cold winters and relatively warm summers. Total annual precipitation averages 15 inches, and annual snowfall averages 78 inches. Extreme temperatures ranging from a low of -54 to a high of 89 °F have been recorded.


History, Culture and Demographics

The Cantwell River was the former name of the Nenana River. The earliest inhabitants of the area were nomadic Natives who trapped, hunted, and fished throughout Interior Alaska. Cantwell began as a flag stop on the Alaska Railroad. Oley Nicklie was the first Native to permanently settle here. When fur prices dropped, he and his two brothers sought work with the railroad.

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community -- the Native Village of Cantwell. Alaska Natives in the Cantwell area are primarily Athabascans.

According to Census 2010, there were 200 housing units in the community and 104 were occupied. Its population was 15.5 percent American Indian or Alaska Native; 77.2 percent white; 0.5 percent black; 5 percent of the local residents had multi-racial backgrounds. Additionally, 1.4 percent of the population was of Hispanic decent.


Facilities, Utilities, Schools and Health Care

The majority of homes and the school have individual water wells and septic systems. Over 50% of households have complete plumbing. Refuse is deposited in a borough transfer station, and then hauled to the regional landfill just south of Anderson. Electricity is provided by Golden Valley Electric Association. There is one school located in the community, attended by 32 students. Local hospitals or health clinics include Cantwell Clinic.  Cantwell Clinic is a Primary Health Care facility with highway air and helicopter access. Emergency service is provided by 911 Telephone Service volunteers and a health aide.  Auxiliary health care is provided by Cantwell Volunteer Ambulance (907-68-2982/768-2162).



Cantwell's economy is based on highway tourism and transportation. Part-time seasonal construction jobs also provide income. Most Native residents also depend on subsistence hunting, fishing, trapping, and gathering.

The 2006-2010 American Community Survey (ACS) estimated 451 residents as employed. The public sector employed 44.4%1 of all workers. The local unemployment rate was 21.1%1. The percentage of workers not in labor force was 40.0%1. The ACS surveys established that average median household income (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) was $61,875 (MOE +/-$18,438)1. The per capita income (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) was $24,556 (MOE +/-$5,872)1. About 2.5%1 of all residents had incomes below the poverty level. 




Cantwell is accessible by road, rail, and air. The George Parks Highway connects to Fairbanks and Anchorage, and the Denali Highway links Denali Park with the Richardson Highway during summer months only. There are two privately-owned airstrips; the 2,080' long by 30' wide gravel airstrip is for public use. A privately-owned helipad is also available at the Igloo. The Alaska Railroad still provides train service.

Organizations with Local Offices

Community Non Profit - Community of Cantwell, Incorporated

Cantwell, AK 

Electric Utility - Golden Valley Electric Association, Incorporated
P.O. Box 71249
Fairbanks, AK 99701
Phone 907-458-5754

Tribe - federally recognized - Native Village of Cantwell
P.O. Box 94
Cantwell, AK 99729
Phone 907-768-2591
Fax 907-768-1111


Regional Organizations

School District - Denali Borough School District
P.O. Box 280
Healy, AK 99743-0280
Phone 907-683-2278
Fax 907-683-2514

Regional Native Corporation - Ahtna, Incorporated
P.O. Box 649
Glennallen, AK 99588
Phone 907-822-3476
Fax 907-822-3495

Regional Native Health Corporation - Copper River Native Association
Mile 104 Old Richardson Highway, P.O. Box H
Copper Center, AK 99573
Phone 907-822-5241
Fax 907-822-8803

Native Housing Authority - Copper River Basin Regional Housing Authority
P.O. Box 89
Glennallen, AK 99588
Phone 907-822-3633
Fax 907-822-3662


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