From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]


21st century homesteading: Free land in Alaska

POSTED:  March 16, 2007

Story Highlights

· Community of 300 offering 26 1.3-acre lots for free
· Lots go to first people to apply and pay $500 deposit beginning 9
a.m. Monday
· Winners must build 1,000-square-foot house within two years
· Idea for land lottery came from school project

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anderson, a little town in Alaska’s
interior, has no gas station, no grocery store and no traffic lights,
but it does have plenty of woodsy land — and it’s free to anyone
willing to put down roots in the often-frozen ground.

In a modern twist on the homesteading movement that populated the
Plains in the 1800s, the community of 300 people is offering 26 large
lots on spruce-covered land in a part of Alaska that has spectacular
views of the Northern lights and Mount McKinley, North America’s
highest peak.

And what’s an occasional day of 60-below cold in a town removed from
big-city ills?

“It’s Mayberry,” said Anderson high-school teacher Daryl Frisbie,
whose social studies class explored ways to boost the town’s dwindling
population. Students developed a Web site and Power Point
presentation, then persuaded the City Council to give it a go.

“Are you tired of the hustle and bustle of the Lower 48, crime, poor
schools, and the high cost of living?” the Web site asks. “Make your
new home in the Last Frontier!”

The 1.3-acre lots will be awarded to the first people who apply for
them and submit $500 refundable deposits beginning at 9 a.m. Monday.
Each winning applicant must build a house measuring at least 1,000
square feet within two years. Power and phone hookups are now

City Clerk Nancy Hollis said people who apply in person or have
someone stand in for them will have the best shot, since the post
office doesn’t open until noon and deliveries are even later from the
regional hub of Fairbanks, 75 miles away.

People seeking more information are calling from such places as
California, Texas, Idaho and Florida.

Locals eyeing the sites include 15-year-old newcomer Brittney Warner,
a student who worked on the project. The 10th-grader, her parents and
three siblings moved to Anderson two months ago from Boise, Idaho,
when her father got a job at nearby Clear Air Force Station.

Warner calls her new community “very nice, small, very outdoorsy” — a
place that would be even better if it brought in some new businesses.
Residents now have to drive at least 20 miles for gasoline or

Her family is now living in a rental home and planning to apply for
one of the lots.

“We already have a house design,” she said.

Cory Furrow, a 26-year-old electrician, said he will be in line, too.
Anderson has everything he enjoys — good terrain for snowshoeing and
skiing, fishing, and hunting for moose and grizzly bears.

“I’ve lived here my whole life, so when free land comes up in my
hometown, I can’t pass that up,” said Furrow, who lives in his family

Folks in Anderson say there are some job opportunities within driving
distance, including a coal mine, a utility, major hotels and the air
station, a ballistic missile early-warning site. Locals also would
like to see entrepreneurs among the newcomers.

In addition, they are hoping for families. The high school basketball
team had to go coed this year because there weren’t enough boys.

Among the other advantages of Anderson: no property taxes, state
income taxes or sales tax, virtually no crime, and no traffic. There
are magnificent summers with temperatures as high as 90 degrees and
plenty of wide-open space.

“One of the resources that we have is land,” said Mayor Mike Pearson,
a mechanic at the air station. “If this works out well, the city’s got
lots more property.”