Story and photos by Lisa Maloney

The more remote the Alaska community, the more conscious people tend to be that our mutual survival depends on facing obstacles together. That might be one of the factors at play in the near-Arctic city of Nome, a surprisingly cosmopolitan community that straddles the line between regional hub (providing essential goods and services for small villages nearby), gold-mining community and thriving tourist town, especially during the yearly finish of the world-famous Iditarod sled dog race.

Despite its cosmopolitan nature, Nome can only be reached by plane or ship – unless you happen to live along one of the three rough, unpaved roads that radiate out with Nome at the hub.

Nome is also a little rough around the edges, perhaps best exemplified by the lingering vestiges of the gold fever that first drew white settlers here. Old, historic dredges and steam-era train cars sit quietly rusting into the tundra, only a few miles from the beach where modern dredges still launch, hoping to excavate true pay dirt lying hidden beneath the shallow waters.

Then, of course, there are the musk oxen that randomly wander into town, posing a public safety hazard and a remarkable photo opportunity all at once. There booming crowds that descend here every March to see who’ll be crowned winner of that year’s Iditarod sled dog race – and quiet creativity blooming indoors during the winter, as a handful of artisans stock up on goods for the next summer’s crowds.

Either way, it’s just another day in Nome.