An important historic theme throughout the KMTA National Heritage area is transportation. The development of trails, water transport, a railroad and highways were key to opening the territory. From early Alaska Native trails, to the gold rush and development of the Iditarod trail system, and the building of a railroad, and highways – this area has always been a transportation corridor.
In many ways, the development of Kenai Mountain-Turnagain Arm transportation routes reflects the history of Alaska as a whole. First foot trails were developed, then pack trails and winter sled trails. Dogs often led the way in hauling freight and people through mountainous terrain. Eventually, rough wagon roads cut through the wilderness. Seward, known as the Gateway City, provided a deepwater port for steam ships to dock. Rivers and lakes provided waterways in summer and surface travel on ice in the winter. From Seward the railroad eventually stitched its way across the Kenai Mountains and up Turnagain Arm toward Fairbanks. Finally, the building of modern roads in the Corridor opened the Kenai Peninsula to the rest of the territory.
Most technological developments have taken place over the course of the past 100 years. The history of transportation in Alaska is actually quite recent, with many pioneers still able to remember the days before cars could drive uninterrupted from one end of the KMTA Corridor to the other.