Located 221 miles northwest of Anchorage in Interior Alaska, McGrath was a seasonal Upper Kuskokwim Athabascan village used as a meeting and trading site for Big River, Nikolai, Telida and Lake Minchumina residents in the early 1900s. Being the northernmost point on the river, accessible by large riverboats, McGrath became a regional supply center.
McGrath is named for Peter McGrath, a local US Marshal and was originally located across the Kuskokwim River until a major flood in 1933. After the flood and with changes in the course of the river, the old site was left on a slough rendering it useless as a river stop. After the move and by 1940, McGrath welcomed an airstrip, communications complex and school and served as an important refueling stop for Lend-Lease equipment during World War II.
McGrath is home to McGrath Native Village, a federally-recognized Tribe, and approximately 350 residents primarily of Athabascan, Aleut, Yupik, and Iñupiaq descent. While there are no publicly maintained roads to McGrath, there are local roads with winter trails marked to Nikolai and Takotna. Residents rely on and receive cargo through air and barge shipments.
McGrath is also a checkpoint for the Iditarod Sled Dog Race which takes place in early March from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska.
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