Historic Talkeetna: Nagley’s General Store

by:  Alberto Garcia

Talkeetna’s Main Street is well known for its line-up of restaurants, bars and gift shops. However, where do people go to buy groceries, to get a coffee on-the-go or to buy a pack of cigarettes?

The one-stop place in Talkeetna where you will find all this and more is at the Historic Nagley’s General Store.

Nagley’s sits at the entrance of Main Street as Talkeetna Spur Road merges with Main Street and you are greeted by the “Welcome to Beautiful Downtown Talkeetna” sign. After turning left and going down the street about 50 feet, some picnic tables with umbrellas, a pay phone and a cat or two come into view. You have now arrived at Nagley’s

Horace Willard and Jessamine Nagley built the original log cabin at Susitna Station in 1917 and named it Nagley’s Trading Post. Susitna Station was located where the Susitna and Yentna River joined together. Goods were brought by boat from Anchorage along the Susitna River and buyers hauled suppies by boat, packhorse, dogs or on foot during the summer and by sleds pulled by dogs and horses in the winter.

Once the railroad began to take over, Horace Nagley foresaw the demise of Susitna Station. By 1922, The Nagleys decided to make the corner of  Main and B streets the new location of the trading post. There, the general store was successful as a little In & Out shop for miners, trappers, railroad men and Talkeetna residents.

Flooding and erosion along the Talkeetna River convinced Nagley to relocate his shop once again to the entrance of Main Street where it sits today. With the help of George Wheaterell and his tractor, Nagley’s made it’s journey down Main Street for a few days and it even remained open for business.

Changes to the exterior of Nagley’s came about in the 1940s. The sign that once read “H.W. Nagley: General Merchandise” changed to “B&K,” which stood for Barrett & Kennedy, after Nagley’s was sold to Don Barrett.

In 1994, current owner Dennis Freeman changed the name of the B&K back to its original version as a recognition of Nagleys contribution to the community. Willard II, The Nagleys’ son who now resides in Washington, visits frequently and is content with the the restoration of the name as it brings back memories of his childhood in Talkeetna.

On New Years Day in 1997, a fire broke out in the store and damaged much of the building. Firefighters used thousands of gallons of water over three days to neutralize the fire. With the hep of dedicated residents, Nagley’s was rebuilt and open for business once again in less than 4 months.

Today, Nagley’s remains a thriving and lively business in Talkeetna. With the addition of the West Rib Pub & Grill and an upstairs area for gift shopping and houseware needs, Nagley’s truly is Talkeetna’s super store. Nagley’s has also come to be known as Stubbs Mayoral Office, housing the famous feline sensation, Mayor Stubbs, who has held the mayoral position for almost two decades.

General Manager and Stubbs’ caretaker, Lauri Stec, talks about  her time at Nagley’s and what it means for her to work there.

“The crew is fun. The cat, the famous cat that everybody makes me crazy about. Just, everything we got. We got a lot of everything, well, a little bit of everything. It’s a fun place to be. It’s at the center of town so we get to meet and greet lots of different kind of people. This is my job I’ve been here for 18 years. I love it, you know, this is what I do.”

So if you need to stock up on groceries, buy an ice cream cone or hoping to take a picture of the cat mayor, Nagley’s is without a doubt the first place you want to visit in Downtown Talkeetna.

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