in 1880. thw town of knik was settled near the matanuska river and thrived as a mining town after the willow creek mining district was established in 1900. the alaska railroad planned to intersect the calrle wagon road which lied between knik and the mines in 1917, which caused a major decline in knik as people bought land near where the ailroad was to be built. wasilla station was named for the nearby wasilla river which was in reference to a chief of the dena'ina. knik soon became a ghost town while wasilla began to flourish with fur trapping and miners working at cache creek and willow creek. during world war ii, it was a supply base for gold mines near hatcher pass. the peopulation of wasilla didn't grow until after the construction of the george parks highway around 1970 and community development shifted from nearby palmer to wasilla and the surrounding area. wasilla didn't become a city until 1974. in 1994, wasilla was defeated in a vote to become the capital by a vote of around 116,000 to 96,000. the iditarod race originally had its start in wasilla from 1973 to 2002, but, due to the warming climate and suburban growth, the race has been passing the city permanently since 2008.