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Iditarod photos: Ghost town of Ophir

Aerial of the Ophir checkpoint on Wednesday, March 7, 2012. Rohn and Martin Buser's teams are the first ones into the checkpoint.
Loren Holmes photo
Kyle Forsgren cooks dinner for the volunteers at the Ophir checkpoint on Wednesday, March 7, 2012. His family has owned the cabin used as a checkpoint for every Iditarod.
Loren Holmes photo
Keith Forsgren inside the Ophir checkpoint on Wednesday, March 7, 2012. His family owns the cabin that has been used as a checkpoint for every Iditarod. On the wall are his mother's cribbage winnings.
Loren Holmes photo
Colleen Robertia napping with her dogs in Ophir on Thursday, March 8, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Martin Buser in Ophir on Thursday, March 8, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Volunteers inside the Ophir checkpoint on Wednesday, March 7, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
It is a tradition to do a Tuesday night turkey bake at the Ophir checkpoint. Each bone is one year. There used to be more, but a bear got inside and some disappeared. Wednesday, March 7, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Iditarod volunteer John Casey and veterenarian Samantha Yeltatzie taking a break between teams in the Ophir checkpoint on Thursday, March 8, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
The sauna at the Ophir checkpoint on Wednesday, March 7, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
A musher on the trail from Takotna to Ophir on Thursday, March 8, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

Ophir isn't one of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race's bustling checkpoints, though it used to be quite a beehive of activity. Ophir, population 0, took it's name from a nearby placer creek when gold miners swarmed the area just after the turn of the century.

The creek was reportedly named by Bible-reading prospectors for the lost country of Ophir, the source of King Solomon's gold. And many artifacts remain from those gold-mining days of the early 1900s. It was never a big city. According to Wikipedia, Ophir's population peaked at 122 in 1910. 

As late as 1949, there were eight mining operations near Ophir, including two dredges. But low $35-an-ounce gold prices winnowed them down to none by about 1955. Some new operations have started in the area more recently, prompted by much higher gold prices.