Palmer is located in the center of the lush farmlands of the
Matanuska Valley, 42 miles northeast of Anchorage on the Glenn Highway.
It lies at approximately 61░ 36' N Latitude, 149░ 06' W Longitude (Sec.
04, T017N, R002E, Seward Meridian). The community is located in the
Palmer Recording District. The area encompasses 4 sq. miles of land and
0 sq. miles of water.
was established around 1916 as a railway station on the Matanuska Branch
of the Alaska Railroad. In 1935, Palmer became the site of one of the
most unusual experiments in American history: the Matanuska Valley
Colony. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration, one of the many New
Deal relief agencies created by President Roosevelt, planned an
agricultural colony in Alaska. 203 families, mostly from Michigan,
Wisconsin and Minnesota, were invited to join the colony. They arrived
in Palmer in the early summer of 1935. Although the failure rate was
high, many of their descendants still live in the Mat-Su Valley today.
For more detailed information about the project, see the AlaskaWeb
section, "Matanuska Valley Colony Project."
Construction of the statewide road system, and the rapid development
of Anchorage fueled growth in the Mat-Su valley. Many people in Palmer
today commute to jobs in Anchorage, either by road or rail.