Chicken, Alaska, population 15, brings hope to Hur
Two-fisted drinkers soak up a few, the bar is
adorned with hundreds of ball caps donated by customers
- Hur Herald Photos
By Bob Weaver 2008
The town of Chicken, Alaska, not unlike Hur, has a population of about 15.
It is an old gold mining town from the late 1800’s in the middle of nowhere.
While there is still mining in the region, the “rush days” are long over. The town at the end of the Taylor Highway near the Yukon Territory is a popular tourist destination, far away from another civilized village.
It is an example of, 'Build it and they will come' - tourists in cars and tour buses, motorcyclists on road trips and a few die hard bicyclists.
Uncle Eddie used to go over to McCoy’s store in Hur to sit around and be enlightened by Jake Kerby and Hunker’in Ed Cooper, coming home in the evening he would say, "Their conversation got me to thinking," after which he would reveal a big idea.
After visiting Chicken, I got a big idea.
Panning for gold with old gold dredge in rear (L) Eric
Weaver tries his panning skills for a few "nuggets" (R)
If Chicken can generate all this tourism after an 80-mile drive with no indication of human life, why can’t the Village of Hur?
Hur, much like Chicken, has an historical past linked to the extraction of a natural resource - natural gas.
During the early 1900’s, large companies came through the village and bought royalty rights for a flat fee of $300 annually, after the state government separated mineral rights from the landowners.
That annual contract fee remains in tact nearly 95 years later, netting the owner about $28,000 over that time, while the company has sold the gas for a couple million or two.
So what about a Royalty Owners Hall of Shame?
It could be a building next to the eatery and gift shop, filled with trinkets made in China, just like the shops in Chicken, Alaska.
Chicken revels in having tourists use outhouses marked Hens and Roosters, beside a pile of dredged rock on which tourists can pan for gold.
We already have the famous Hur outhouse, which has been featured on TV, written about in newspapers and magazines, and reported on by National Public Radio.
Chicken claims to have grizzly animals with an equal number of grizzly bar patrons, many of which the owner said "drink beverages two-fisted style."
They don't bother arresting anyone for expired license plates or intoxication, with the nearest trooper a hundred miles away.
Surely our black bear, deer and coyotes mixed with Budweiser drinkers (that former all-American beer) could be equally fascinating to tourists.
The long and winding road, no habitation, leading to remote Chicken
Surely we could place markers at historical sites, certainly at the long-gone one room school, where the election day riot took place in 1928 Hur's 1928 Election - Fists, Rocks And Clubs
The story could be slightly updated from what was mostly a drunken brawl to calling it an act of political terrorism, since the basis of the feud was a face-off between the Democrats and Republicans with the rising-up of a third party.
Calling it a terrorist event against real American political parties has a spine-chilling ring these days.
We could create a Scottie McCoy ghost tour, portraying the return of the feisty Hur storekeeper, and place a marker on Bear Rocks where Tap Kerby launched his flying machine in the 1950’s.
Maybe adding an updated version of the Hur Sloth Monster would bring the tourists, or re-creating a number of the villages most notable characters to float around the village and talk to the tourists.
Hunker’in Ed would lead the pack, a man who was never known to sit in a chair, would be a conversation hoot, although he’d have to eliminate chain smoking Camel cigarettes. See HUNKERIN' ED COOPER - A Forgotten Champion
When Hunkerin' Ed died, rather than try and straighten him out, Stump Funeral Home built their famous hunkerin' casket for the well-known man. Hundreds came to view his bony knees.
Now, all that remains is applying for one of those economic development grants from Charleston, so a nowhere place like Hur could become flourishing, just like Chicken, Alaska.
The Royalty Owners Hall of Shame should acknowledge how Hur and Mountain State citizens have used its gigantic natural resources to build the American Dream, with most citizens left behind in the poorest region in Appalachia.
At least in Alaska they adopted a novel concept, helping their citizens with resource money. Every man, woman and child gets an annual check from the proceeds, this year estimated at $2,000. There are virtually no taxes.
In West Virginia, the state keeps the resource tax money (which they trickle down) and raises every citizen's taxes, including the most impoverished that make only $10,000 a year.