Matanuska-Susitna Valley (known locally as the Mat-Su or The Valley) is an area in Southcentral Alaska south of the Alaska Range about 35 miles (56 km) north of Anchorage, Alaska. It is known for the world record sized cabbages and other vegetables displayed annually in Palmer at the Alaska State Fair. It includes the valleys of the Matanuska, Knik, and Susitna Rivers. 11,000 of Mat-Su Valley residents commute to Anchorage for work. It is the fastest growing region in Alaska and includes the towns of Palmer, Wasilla, Big Lake, Houston, Willow and Talkeetna.
The valleys are shaped by three mountain ranges: the Alaska Range, the Talkeetna Mountains and the Chugach Mountains. The Matanuska-Susitna Valley was carved by glaciers leaving thousands of lakes. The Mat-Su rivers and lakes are home to the spanning grounds of chinook, coho, sockeye, pink, and chum salmon. The area is home to 31 state parks and campgrounds.
The 23,000-square-mile (60,000 km2) Matanuska-Susitna Borough (the Alaskan equivalent of a county) governs the Mat-Su Valley. According to the 2010 Census, the borough's population is 88,995, a 50% increase since 2000.
The Mat-Su Valley was originally inhabited by Athabaskan Indians and was explored by Russians in 1818. In 1935, as part of the New Deal 200 families from the Midwest traveled to Alaska and started the Matanuska Valley Colony. Palmer was originally inhabited by Athabaskan Indians. In 1880 a trading station was built and the area was settled by gold miners in 1913. Wasilla was originally inhabited by the Dena'ina Indians. The city began when the Alaska Railroad was constructed in 1917. In 1915, Knik was settled by trappers and miners. Talkeetna began in the 1890s, with the construction of a trading station and later the Alaska Railroad. Today, Talkeetna serves as the starting point for mountaineers who climb Mount McKinley.
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