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Nikolai is located in Interior Alaska on the South Fork of the Kuskokwim River, 46 air miles east of McGrath. It lies at approximately 62░ 58' N Latitude, 154░ 09' W Longitude (Sec. 36, T028S, R023E, Kateel River Meridian). The community is located in the Mt. McKinley Recording District. The area encompasses 5 sq. miles of land and 0 sq. miles of water.

Nikolai is an Upper Kuskokwim Athabascan village, and has been relocated at least twice since the 1880s. One of the former sites was reported in 1899 to have a population of six males. The present site was established around 1918. Nikolai was the site of a trading post and roadhouse during the gold rush. It was situated on the Rainy Pass Trail, which connected the Ophir gold mining district to Cook Inlet. It became a winter trail station along the Nenana-McGrath Trail, which was used until 1926. By 1927, the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church was constructed. In 1948, a private school was established, and in 1949, a post office opened. Local residents cleared an airstrip in 1963, which heralded year-round accessibility to the community.




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