I’m sure we all remember the 1993 box office hit Cliffhanger, starring Sylvester Stallone. What we might not remember or even know about is that there is an actual village in Alaska where the entire town is full of cliffhangers.


Welcome to Ukivok, literally hanging off a cliff on Alaska’s King island.

The town is now abandoned – it is so interesting to see how these people lived!


It is difficult to know how long the builders and citizens of this rocky outpost 90 miles northwest of Nome, Alaska.


Captain James Cook noted his sighting the island in 1778 – but at that time, the Aseuluk people had been living there for hundreds or possibly thousands of years.


Other explorers considered the area as an arctic wasteland; however, the area is more than abundant in food and natural resources. The trick was learning how to extract the resources and develop a sustainable lifestyle – obviously someone had figured this out.


With walrus-roofed houses built on stilts, the village of Ukivok was built and maintained over the years.


Despite the massive snowfall during brutal winters, the villager maintained their way of life for many generations.


At latitude of 65 degrees north, the village was well above the tree line. This mean that any and all lumber used for architecture, fuel or otherwise consumed had to be brought in from another location.


With the Alaska Purchase of 1867, Ukivok gained more attention. A large Catholic church and school were built there. But nearly one hundred years later in 1959, the Bureau of Indian Affairs demanded the school be closed as it was in danger of falling rocks, etc.


Here is the school as it still stands today – completely undamaged.


Unfortunately, the closure of the school was the beginning of what would be a chain reaction, exposing the existence of the village and their lifestyle to increased scrutiny.


Eventually, the fiber that kept the culture of the village alive snapped and the entire town was abandoned. All of the town relocated to Nome by 1970.