Marshall is on the east bank of the Yukon River off the north side of Polte Slough at the northeastern boundary of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. The first written record of the village came from an expedition in 1880 that referred to an Eskimo village at this site named Uglovaia. It is high off the river at a place called Fortuna Ledge, named for Fortuna Hunter, a child born at the placer mining camp in the early 1900s. The village is just over 80 air miles north of Bethel and 400 miles west of Anchorage.
Marshall is surrounded by tundra and taiga forests; the geology is mostly green to dark grey sedimentary rock in various stages of metamorphosis. The area’s geology has played a big role in its past. On July 15, 1913, gold was discovered on nearby Wilson Creek and a camp was built here on a channel of the Yukon because riverboats could dock. This mining camp was named for Thomas Riley Marshall, Vice President of the United States during the Woodrow Wilson administration, and it processed both gold and platinum. Gold production peaked between 1913 and 1924 and between 1934 and 1942 with 85,000 ounces attributed to the Willow Creek area.
A manuscript written in 1937 by Paul E. Thompson described the village at that time: “The climate is satisfactory for raising home vegetables in the summer. The average temperature in the summer months is approximately 60 degrees above, whereas in the winter the thermometer reaches 20 to 30 below. The three chief sports are: dancing, skating and mushing dogs. Swimming is not very common at this place as there are no ponds or lakes in which to do so. However, some of the younger resident take the chance of swimming in the river.”
Although at first Marshall was composed of a large number of non-Natives, today it is an almost completely Native community with roots up and down the Yukon River. Many of the people of Marshall came from the old villages of Ohagamiut and Takshak and from present day Pilot Station and Russian Mission.
Marshall is unique among villages in Alaska because until statehood it held Territorial status and it served as a headquarters for many state and federal agencies, including the Fish and Wildlife Service. Marshall had its own U.S. Marshal and a Territorial elementary school, not a Bureau of Indian Affairs school. It is the only Alaska village that has two official names, Marshall and Fortuna Ledge.
The village has a school, clinic, water treatment facility, airport and AVEC power plant. There is also a network of winter trails between Marshall, Pilot Station and Russian Mission.
Calista Corporation is pleased to hold the 2010 Annual Shareholders meeting in Marshall.