View a written history of the area, written by Beverly Mitchell, a long time Healy resident.
View the storyboards from our centennial celebration, for a quick overview of history and contributing industries.
The area broadly known as Healy today, found its start in mining, when the United States Geological Survey explored the local area to evaluate mineral, timber and animal resources. The significant and visible coal reserves caught the surveyors attention, and in 1919 the first coal mine operation began. This timing coincided with the Alaska Railroad (known then as Alaska Northern Rail) reaching the coal fields, and Healy was born as a railroad community.
By the 1940’s, in the area now known as Healy River Valley, a series of mini-communities had formed at each mining site. Over time, the mining operations consolidated or closed, until only Usibelli Coal Mine remained. Gradually, the mini-communities formed in the Healy River Valley relocated. Initially to the newly formed railroad community, and then in 1985 to the current town location.
Healy is the largest community in the Denali Borough, with a year round population of about 1000 residents. During the shoulder-season and winter months, the majority of visitor amenities, can be found in Healy, including overnight accommodations and dining. There is also a hardware store, auto parts store, a bank, grocery store, medical care and more.
During the summer months, the population more than triples with seasonal workers and visitors. Many of the local excursions operate in Healy – and there is plenty to do besides: play on Otto Lake, explore Dry (sometimes) Creek, hunt for fossils, hike or berry pick.