North Pole is a small community located about eight miles northwest of Eielson along the Richardson Highway. The Santa Claus-themed town serves as a hub for more than 2,150 residents. The community offers basic shopping conveniences and a selection of fast-food chains and restaurants. North Pole is also home to the Santa Claus House and other tourist shops. The town was originally established to attract toy manufacturers wanting to make products labeled “Made at the North Pole.” This endeavor failed to blossom, but North Pole continued to grow and was incorporated as a city in 1953.
Instead of a toy kingdom, the city became a bedroom community for military residents. In 1975, the North Pole Refinery became the major industry in the area. Since then a second refinery has been constructed. The refineries gave North Pole a large tax base and the area underwent a period of rapid growth, unprecedented even in Alaska. The city has one of the highest assessed valuations per capita in Alaska. The city maintains full-time fire, police, utility and public works departments. Just outside North Pole, the Chena Lakes recreation area offers camping, boating, swimming and excellent fishing. Visitors may also catch a glimpse of local wildlife, including resident moose known to wander through homeowners’ yards and campsites. There is also an abundant variety of beautiful wildflowers in the summer months.