Hughes is located on a 500-foot bluff on
the east bank of the Koyukuk River, about 115 air miles northeast of
Galena and 210 air miles northwest of Fairbanks. It lies at
approximately 66░ 03' N Latitude, 154░ 15' W Longitude (Sec. 33, T008N,
R022E, Kateel River Meridian). The community is located in the Ft.
Gibbon Recording District. The area encompasses 3 sq. miles of land and
0 sq. miles of water.
Native groups have lived in the area, including Koyukon Athabascans and
Kobuk, Selawik, and Nunamiut Eskimos from the north and northwest. The
Koyukon lived in several camps throughout the year, moving as the
seasons changed, following the wild game and fish. Hughes was used as a
trade center between Athabascans and Eskimos, but was formally founded
and named in 1910 after New York Gov. Charles Hughes. It served as a
riverboat landing and supply port for the Indian River gold fields until
1915 when the local mining industry declined. The local Natives stayed
on, however, and in a post office was established in 1942. An airstrip
was built in the 1950s, a school in 1956, a clinic in 1968, and local
roads in 1974. A community-wide electric system was developed in 1981.
In September 1994, flood waters destroyed and swept away nearly all of
the community's buildings, homes, and food caches for the winter.
Residents are rebuilding homes and facilities.