Wasilla remembers 100 years, works to preserve history
Wasilla turns 100 years old this year. The Southcentral community of more than 8,000 people has come a long way from its days of dirt roads and a single general store.
Wasilla Mayor Bert Cottle has deep roots in the city, which sits in the middle of the Matanuska and Susitna Valleys.
“That’s where we used to shop when I was a kid. My dad used to haul freight for these guys,” Cottle said, as he pointed to an old picture the Teeland’s Country Store.
That building is now home to the Dorothy G. Page Museum and it’s memory-sparking displays.
But curator Bethany Buckingham says there are holes in city’s history.
“We have information, but we don’t have a lot of historical information,” Buckingham said.
She’s trying to fill the gaps, starting with the people who lived it, such as 88-year-old Corky Sager.
He and his family moved to Wasilla from Wyoming when he was 15.
“When we got to Glenallen we flipped a dollar whether we were going to Fairbanks or down here,” Sager said.
He still remembers just about everyone he went to high school with. After all, his graduating class in 1947 had just two people.
Sager says a lot has changed since those days.
“It isn’t nothing like it used to be when I fell in love with it,” Sager said.
Combined census data for the cities and areas adjacent to Wasilla and along the Parks Highway — from Gateway to Houston — shows a current estimated population of more than 60,000 people, according to state demographer Eddie Hunsinger.
“They still claim we’re the fastest growing,” Mayor Cottle said. “We’re kind of the hub of commerce, I’d say, for the Mat-Su valley.”
As part of the city’s centennial celebration, the museum is asking people to share their stories and photos.
“Just trying to get that word out to people that you are important and we need your information,” Buckingham said.
Because each person who calls Wasilla home is part of the city’s 100-year story.
To celebrate its centennial, Wasilla is hosting a year-long birthday bash with different events each month. The first one will be Saturday, Jan. 7.
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