The Koyukon name for Ruby is Tlaa’ologhe ‘, which means at the edge of the bluff.
Ruby was founded by miners in 1911. It is located 230 air miles west of Fairbanks. Native people from the surrounding area, from Kokrines, and from Old Louden (above Galena) also settled there at this time. During the gold rush years, Ruby was a booming port and mining supply center. There was a large non-native population of miners and tradesmen and their families living in the town, which boasted many stores, restaurants, and even a theatre. Ruby is somewhat different from other villages because it was so dominated by whites when it was first established. There was a segregation and much racism then. Most of the whites left after the gold rush but Ruby is still not as traditional village as some others, even though many of the people living there today do live traditional lifestyles. The village held its first memorial potlatch in 1980. In 1929 a fire destroyed most of the old business district and a flood a couple years later wiped out the rest.
When Kokrines was abandoned in the late 1940’s, many of those people (including Honeas, the Cleavers, the Phillip Albert Family, and Henry & Agnes Titus) moved to Ruby. Ruby was incorporated as a second-class city in 1973.
According to Betsy Hart (The History of Ruby, Alaska 1981 (BMDC), P. 56), “The city of Ruby owns and operates a small sawmill, where most of logs and lumber for Ruby’s distinctive and attractive 3-sided log homes are sawed…Ruby retains its charm as a hillside town of neat log homes contrasting with the older historic buildings…”
Ruby is one of the Koyukon villages that is especially well known for its interest in dog mushing. Some of the well-known dog mushers in Ruby include Emmitt Peters, Howard Albert, Don Honea, Valerie Honea, and John Honea. A video program has been produced about Emmitt Peters by YKSD.
Some well-known people from Ruby include: Altona Brown, Henry and Agnes Titus, Harold Esmailka (manager of Harold’s Air Service). Further Reading: Hart, Betsy. 1981. The History of Ruby, Alaska: “The Gem of the Yukon”. NBMD: Anchorage
YKSD Biography Series: Altona Brown, John Honea, Billy McCarty, Sr., Josephine Roberts (Tanana)