Streets of McCarthy: Much ado about a street fenced off in the middle of town

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The quaint and historic Alaska town of McCarthy, a summer tourism destination, has been in turmoil over a central street in the town that was blocked by a business owner who thought he had control over the street — Barrett Way.

The sign posted on the fence across the road said that Don Wolcott and Neil Darish, who are principles in McCarthy Ventures LLC, were illegally blocking the street that the people of the town claim is a right-of-way.

The two personalities are members of the group that produced the reality TV series, “Edge of Alaska,” that showcased McCarthy, a colorful town that was built during the Gold Rush. The show premiered in 2014 and ran for four seasons of eight episodes each, ending in 2017.

McCarthy and Kennecott, are historic sites far off the beaten trail in the Copper River and Wrangell St. Elias portion of eastern Interior Alaska. They date back to 1900 and while once filled with miners and mill workers, they now enjoy a short but vibrant summer tourism season. Barrett Way is named after the founder of McCarthy, gold prospector and homesteader John Barrett.

Sources in the town, which has a population of about 110, said that Wolcott and Darish had been notified by the State of Alaska to take down the fence across the street, and the fence eventually came down before tensions rose further.

Darish, who owns the Golden Saloon Bar, has a lot across the street that he has used as an outdoor entertainment venue. He wanted people to be able to legally take their drinks over to the other side of the street, and so he decided to block it off and essentially claim the 25-foot street as part of his property.

Lawyers and state troopers have all been helping untangle the street scuffle. The dispute seems to have been resolved for now, with the chainlink fence removed. It might end up being a good start for an episode of “Edge of Alaska: Who’s Street is This, Anyway?”

9 COMMENTS

  1. Ha! McCarthy: I was in that part of the country in 1977, before McCarthy became part of a National Park and may go back again to share a Tall Tales adventure story in August, back in the day when MEN WERE MEN! but, … some of the women were too!

  2. Looks like a publicity stunt to revive the tourist business post covid and post tv show… It worked.

  3. The town doesn’t have many jobs. For a town of 110 people, those few jobs should be filled since there are 8 weeks of tourism left. I wonder how most of Mcarthy live when employment is little when there are jobs available.

  4. Also what is minors doing within the square where alcohol is being served? I spy two. That business can lose its liquor license when in Anchorage and a venue is selling alcohol outside with a fence corral a sign is posted no one under 21 permitted.

  5. As a local resident of the McCarthy area, I’d like to thank the author for bringing attention to this matter, and also to clarify that it has not been resolved. When the barricade is swung open, it nicks our 25’ road down to about 10’ of passable space. They continue to close the road by pulling it back into Barrett Way. This business has also recently constructed a deck 16 feet into the road, which has been a public prescriptive easements for nearly a century.

    What interest the Barrett family retained in the roads, they generously Quitclaimed to the public in 2016. One of the lodge owners altered that document after it was signed and notarized by the Barrett family without their permission, and then recorded the altered Quitclaim deed. This illegally altered document is the basis for the Lodge owners’ insane claim that they own the streets.

    Who owns them is no mystery. These roads belong to the public. That includes everyone reading this article.

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