Matanuska-Susitna Valley

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Matanuska-Susitna Valley shown shaded in red north of Anchorage, Alaska

Matanuska-Susitna Valley (known locally as the Mat-Su or The Valley) is an area in Southcentral Alaska south of the Alaska Range about 35 miles (56 km) north of Anchorage, Alaska.[1] It is known for the world record sized cabbages and other vegetables displayed annually in Palmer at the Alaska State Fair.[2] It includes the valleys of the Matanuska, Knik, and Susitna Rivers.[3] 11,000 of Mat-Su Valley residents commute to Anchorage for work.[4] It is the fastest growing region in Alaska and includes the towns of Palmer, Wasilla, Big Lake, Houston, Willow and Talkeetna.[1]

The valleys are shaped by three mountain ranges: the Alaska Range, the Talkeetna Mountains and the Chugach Mountains.[3] The Matanuska-Susitna Valley was carved by glaciers[5] leaving thousands of lakes.[6] The Mat-Su rivers and lakes are home to the spanning grounds of chinook, coho, sockeye, pink, and chum salmon.[7] The area is home to 31 state parks and campgrounds.[8]

The 23,000-square-mile (60,000 km2) Matanuska-Susitna Borough[9] (the Alaskan equivalent of a county)[3] governs the Mat-Su Valley. According to the 2010 Census, the borough's population is 88,995, a 50% increase since 2000.[10]

The Mat-Su Valley was originally inhabited by Athabaskan Indians and was explored by Russians in 1818.[11] In 1935, as part of the New Deal 200 families from the Midwest traveled to Alaska and started the Matanuska Valley Colony.[12] Palmer was originally inhabited by Athabaskan Indians. In 1880 a trading station was built and the area was settled by gold miners in 1913. Wasilla was originally inhabited by the Dena'ina Indians. The city began when the Alaska Railroad was constructed in 1917. In 1915, Knik was settled by trappers and miners. Talkeetna began in the 1890s, with the construction of a trading station and later the Alaska Railroad. Today, Talkeetna serves as the starting point for mountaineers who climb Mount McKinley.[11]

The region is also home to the Matanuska-Susitna College[13] and the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman newspaper.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "About the Mat-Su: the Matanuska-Susitna Valley". 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Johnson, Greg (16 August 2010). "Green Envy". Frontiersman. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "Matanuska-Susitna Valley". Alaska Trekker. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "Kinik Arm Bridge". 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  5. ^ "Palmer/Wasilla Day Trips & Tours". AlaskaTours. 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  6. ^ "Mat-Su Outdoor Activities and Adventures". 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "Conserving Salmon Habitat in the Mat-Su Basin". Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership. 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  8. ^ "Find a Park, Campgrounds, Alaska State Parks". Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. 16 December 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  9. ^ "Visitors: Yahoo Mat-Su! Alaska Vacations for Visitors and Alaska Residents". Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  10. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau Delivers Alaska's 2010 Census Population Totals, Including First Look at Race and Hispanic Origin Data for Legislative Redistricting". United States 2010 Census. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  11. ^ a b "Past and Present". 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  12. ^ "Thriving at 75: Mat-Su marks Colony anniversary". Anchorage Daily News. 4 June 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  13. ^ "About Mat-Su College". Mat-Su College, Alaska. 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  14. ^ "About Us: Frontiersman". Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman Newspaper. 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 61°23′N 150°15′W / 61.383°N 150.250°W / 61.383; -150.250