Tag Archives: The Kink

The Kink in the North Fork

From the Nov-Dec issue of Alaskan History Magazine:

The Kink 1

“Oblique photo looking north, channel that was blasted is in lower left quadrant. Entrance and exit of old river channel seen above and below a portion of ridge.” [USGS 1996]

The North Fork River is a major tributary of the Fortymile River in the eastern Interior of Alaska, flowing through the remote country north of the community of Chicken. Originally, the southeasterly path of the North Fork River was interrupted by a rock ridge 100 feet thick at the base and over 100 feet high. This rock ridge caused a two-and-three-quarter-mile oxbow meander to the west. In the U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin No. 2125, titled Gold Placers of the Historical Fortymile River Region, Alaska (USGS 1996), on page 21, is this description of a singular leftover from the gold rush era (note that dates differ in accounts):

The Kink 2

The Kink on the North Fork of the Fortymile River: “Oblique aerial looking west showing the artificial channel and the 2 3//4 mile meander that was bypassed.” [USGS 1996]

“Approximately 20 miles up the North Fork from its confluence with the South Fork is a curious point on the map called The Kink. It is a very recently unnatural abandoned meander of the river. It was created in 1900 when an English-backed company blasted away a 100-foot-high bedrock ridge. The blast changed the course of the river and laid bare the 2 3/4-mile-long abandoned river bed meander. The original width of the cut-off was only about 16 feet, and at first only a small quantity of water flowed through it, but after a few hours the main body rushed through and soon worked out a channel over 39 feet wide (Prindle, 1905). The company had determined that the newly exposed gravels contained gold valued at approximately $9.00 per cubic yard so they were intent on mining them. In 1901 while an attempt was being made to mine the gravels with horses and scoops, a rock slide occurred that covered the gravels after which the company abandoned the area (Scott, 1990).”

The Kink was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.