Free land in Alaska

    Free land in Alaska

    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 available.
    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 groceries.
    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 home.
    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."


    Life in Alaska

    Jan. 10 5:00 P.M. It's starting to snow. The first of the season and the first one we've seen in years. The wife and I took our hot buttered rum and sat by the picture window, watching the soft flakes drift down, clinging to the trees and covering the ground. It was beautiful!

    Jan. 11 We awoke to a lovely blanket of crystal white snow covering the landscape. What a fantastic sight. Every tree and shrub covered with a beautiful white mantle. I shoveled snow for the first time ever and loved it. I did both our driveway and our sidewalk. Later a city snowplow came along and accidentally covered up our driveway with compacted snow from the street. The driver smiled and waved. I waved back and shoveled it again.

    Jan. 12 It snowed an additional 5 inches last night, and the temperature has dropped to around 11degrees. Several limbs on the trees and shrubs snapped due to the weight of the snow. I shoveled our driveway again. Shortly afterwards, the snowplow came by and did his trick again. Much of the snow is now brownish-gray.

    Jan. 13 Warmed up enough during the day to create some slush which soon became ice when the temperature dropped again. Bought snow tires for both cars. Fell on my butt in the driveway. £115 to a chiropractor, but nothing was broken. More snow and ice expected.

    Jan. 14 Still cold. Sold the wife's car and bought a 4x4 in order to get her to work. Slid into a guardrail anyway and did a considerable amount of damage to the right rear quarter-panel. Had another 8 inches of the white stuff last night. Both vehicles covered in salt and crud. More shoveling in store for me today. That darn snowplow came by twice today.

    Jan. 15 -2 degrees outside. More blasted snow. Not a tree or shrub on our property that hasn't been damaged. Power was off most of the night. Tried to keep from freezing to death with candles and a kerosene heater, which tipped over and nearly burned the house down. I managed to put the flames out, but suffered second degree burns on my hands and lost all my eyelashes and eyebrows. Car slid on ice on way to emergency room and was totaled.

    Jan.16 Darn blasted white snow keeps on coming down. Have to put on all the clothes we own just to get to the mailbox. If I ever catch the jerk that drives the snowplow, I'll chew open his chest and rip out his heart. I think he hides around the corner and waits for me to open our driveway again! Power still off. Toilet froze and part of the roof has started to cave in.

    Jan.17 Six darn more inches of blasted snow and sleet and ice and God knows what other kind of white crap fell last night. I wounded the snowplow jerk with an ice ax, but he got away. Wife left me. Car won't start. I think I'm going snow blind. I can't move my toes. I haven't seen the sun in weeks. More snow predicted. Wind chill -62 degrees. I'm moving back to England.
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