History of Palmer:
The First peoples in the area were the Ahtna and Dena’ina tribes of native Athabascans who used the location to meet and trade goods. Later, Russian colonization of Alaska’s Southern coastline brought new items like firearms, iron, and various items for crafting. After Alaska’s purchase from Russia, the Matanuska Valley largely consisted of small homesteads and mines, both coal and gold, North of modern-day Palmer and Wasilla. From 1917 to 1935, Palmer consisted of scattered homesteads and a singular Post Office & General Store along the rail line, but much of the area was heavily forested and untouched.
The Matanuska Valley Colony Project of 1935 brought 203 families from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, along with a large group of administrative staff, to the area to found a farming community with the help of the federal government. Though rushed planning and other issues made for a rough start, by the 1940s the boom in population for the state solidified Palmer as a farming community and solidified it’s place as the agricultural capitol of Alaska.