Palmer is a city in and the borough seat of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is part of the Anchorage Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 5,937.
The first people to live in the Matanuska Valley, where Palmer is located, were the Dena’ina and Ahtna Athabaskans. They moved throughout the area, living off of subsistence and by trading with other native groups. Their trade routes were along the Matanuska River. When Russians came to Alaska in 1741. When Alaska was bought from Russia by the United States in 1867 for two cents an acre, many of the Russians left. In the mid-1880s, an entrepreneur named George W. Palmer built a trading post on the Matanuska River, near present-day Palmer. The town was later named after this Alaskan pioneer.
In the late 19th century, the U.S. government began to take interest in the Matanuska coal fields located north of Palmer. This interest sparked financiers to begin constructing the Alaska Central Railroad in 1904. The advent of WWI created a need for high quality coal to fuel US battleships. By 1917 the US Navy had constructed rail from the port of Seward to the Chickaloon coal deposits. Land north of Palmer was given to WWI veterans and additional land was opened to homesteading. Farmers, miners and homesteaders began to populate the area. The Palmer Post Office was opened July 6, 1917 under the name of Warton. With railroad accessibility, new markets for agriculture began to open up for farmers in the Matanuska Valley.