Bettles is located about 180 air miles and
250 road miles northwest of Fairbanks, adjacent to Evansville. It lies
just north of the Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge. The John River is one
mile northeast of Bettles. It lies at approximately 66░ 54' N Latitude,
151░ 41' W Longitude (Sec. 16, T024N, R019W, Fairbanks Meridian). The
community is located in the Fairbanks Recording District. The area
encompasses 2 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. "Old Bettles,"
located 7 miles from the present community, was named for Gordon Bettles,
who opened a trading post during the 1899 gold rush. Old Bettles was the
northern terminal of the Koyukuk River barge line, and a post office
operated there from 1901 to 1956. Today, the new site of Bettles is also
known as Bettles Field. The FAA constructed an airfield and
communications installation during 1948, and the U.S. Navy used these
facilities as a support base for exploring National Petroleum Reserve 4.
Work opportunities at Bettles Field attracted both Natives and whites to
the new airfield. Wilford Evans, Sr. opened a sawmill at the present
site of Evansville and built the Bettles Lodge and General Store. A post
office was established at the Bettles Lodge in 1950. A school was
constructed in 1956. A health clinic opened in 1980. Bettles
incorporated as a City during 1985. The City boundaries do not include
the village of Evansville.