Eagle River s written history begins in 1898, when the valley was explored by W.C. Mendenhall of the US Geological Survey. Since that first journey, a vibrant community has grown just 10 miles from Anchorage, still retaining its small town characteristics. The early years include the Iditarod Trail, the building of the Alaska Railroad, and a fox farm around Fire Lake. World War II brought many families to the area, and some of these families started homesteads in Eagle River. By the 1960s, Eagle River had a shopping center, post office, and schools earning it a place on the map. The 1970s and 1980s saw an explosion in growth as Pippel s Field was built up with businesses and housing, the Chugiak Eagle River Chamber of Commerce was organized, and the Bear Paw Festival was started.