Iditarod Lodge No. 20 received dispensation to work on March 11, 1995 and was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Alaska as Iditarod Lodge No. 20 on April 11, 1996.
Phone: (907) 561-1477
Phone: (907) 745-4732
PO Box 873892
Wasilla, AK 99687
Location & Meetings:
Iditarod No. 20 meets on the Third Thursday of each month at 7pm, except for the months of June, July, and August. Dinner begins at 6pm.
We look forward to seeing you!
Wasilla & Big Lake, Alaska
The Matanuska-Susitna valley was eventually settled by the Dena’ina Alaska natives who utilized the fertile lands and fishing opportunities of Cook Inlet. The Dena’ina are one of the eleven sub-groups comprising the indigenous Athabaskan groups extending down Canada’s western coast. The area around downtown Wasilla was known to the Dena’ina as Benteh, which translates as “among the lakes”. Near the mouth of the Matanuska River, the town of Knik was settled about 1880. In 1900, the Willow Creek Mining District was established to the north and Knik thrived as a mining settlement.
In 1917, the U.S. government planned the Alaska Railroad to intersect the Carle Wagon Road (present Wasilla-Fishhook Road) which connected Knik and the mines. Knik businesses and residents rushed to buy land nearby, and the town declined. Wasilla Station was named for the nearby Wasilla Creek. Local miners used the name “Wassila Creek”, referring to Wassila, a chief of the Dena’ina. There are two sources cited for the name, one being derived from a Dena’ina word meaning “breath of air” while another stating Dena’ina derived it from the Russian name Васи́лий Vasilij. As Knik declined into a ghost town, Wasilla served early fur trappers and miners working the gold fields at Cache Creek and Willow Creek. More than 200 farm families from the Upper Midwest were moved into the Matanuska and Susitna valleys in 1935 as part of a U.S. government program to start a new farming community to counteract this trend; their linguistic influence is still audible in the region.
The area was a supply base for gold mines near Hatcher Pass through World War II. Until construction of the George Parks Highway around 1970, nearby Palmer was the leading city in the Matanuska Valley. Wasilla was at the end of the Palmer-Wasilla highway and the road to Big Lake provided access to land west of Wasilla. The Parks Highway put Wasilla at mile 40–42 of what became the major highway and railroad transportation corridor linking Southcentral Alaska to Interior Alaska. As a result, population growth and community development shifted from the Palmer area to Wasilla and the surrounding area. Wasilla was incorporated as a city in 1974. All non-borough municipalities throughout Alaska are designated cities.
In 1994, a statewide initiative to move Alaska’s capital to Wasilla was defeated by a vote of about 116,000 to 96,000. About that time, the Matanuska Valley began to recover from an economic collapse, beginning a sustained boom that involved dramatic population growth, increased local employment, and a boom in residential and commercial real estate development. The local real estate market slowed in 2006. In 2008, suburban growth and dwindling snow forced organizers of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to bypass Wasilla permanently, due to a warming climate. The race had its start in Wasilla from 1973 to 2002, the year when reduced snow cover forced a “temporary” change to Willow.
Be sure to visit the Iditarod Headquarters if you are in Wasilla. They have interesting videos, exhibits, and a shop. But, the best part is outdoors: you have a chance to interact with the puppies, talk to the family of the racers, and take a short dogsled ride.