Martin, Carl E.

1883-1958 | Master Steamfitter, Plumber, and City Councilman

Carl Martin was a freighter and contract U.S. mail carrier who carried the first mail from Seward to Iditarod by dog team after the Iditarod trail was opened in 1910. He was a plumber by trade and worked as a master steamfitter for Anchorage Commercial Company before establishing his own business. He served three terms on the Anchorage City Council (1929-1936).

Carl Ernest Martin was born in Red Oak, Iowa on February 8, 1883, the eldest of three sons of George and Martha Martin. By 1900, the family had moved to San Jose, Santa Clara County, California, where the elder Martin was a farmer.[1]

Martin arrived in Seward, Alaska, in 1909 and headed for the Cache Creek country in search of gold. Unsuccessful in his quest, he began hauling freight out of Knik and Susitna Station, Alaska. In 1910, after the Iditarod trail was opened, he carried the first U.S. mail from Seward, Alaska to Iditarod, Alaska via dog team.

Lucille Black was born in Chicago, Illinois on December 11, 1898. She arrived in Knik, Alaska in 1911 with her mother and stepfather who were working a gold claim on Friday Creek. She and Martin first met when she was thirteen at Susitna Station, while he was prospecting and freighting into the Cache Creek country located on the other side of Talkeetna. Martin usually wintered there in his cabin, and often tended bar as a wintertime occupation. They were married in 1917, when she was eighteen, in a private ceremony at Oscar Gill’s home in Anchorage. The young couple lived a hard life, as Lucille accompanied Carl on the trail, sleeping outdoors on spruce boughs and putting up with the rigors of the trail. Soon afterwards, they gave up the freighting business and they lived on a homestead near Matanuska for one year, raising potatoes for sale at local markets.[2]

In 1919, Carl and Lucille Martin moved to Anchorage from their Matanuska homestead. Carl was employed by the Anchorage Commercial Company, which later became the Northern Commercial Company, as a master steamfitter and head of their mechanical department. He later was engaged privately in the plumbing business.

Martin’s civic activities included serving on the Anchorage City Council for three two-year terms (1929-1936).[3] He was the town's first volunteer fire chief and superintendent.

Martin was very active in community affairs in Anchorage.  He was an exalted ruler of Elks Lodge 1351.  He was a member of Masonic Lodge No. 221, F & AM, and a member of the Pioneers of Alaska. In 1958, Martin was a candidate for the Alaska Territorial House of Representatives, after many years of service to the local Republican party. Lucille was noted for her large garden, where she raised hybrid tea roses.

Carl Martin died on March 5, 1958, of acute liver deficiency while on an airliner enroute from Mazatlán, Mexico to San Diego, California, following a vacation in Mexico.[4] Lucille Black Martin passed away on April 4, 1983, in Anchorage. Their remains are buried in the Elks Tract of Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.[5]

The Martins had three children. Son Carl Jr., born in 1919, was lost in his plane while on a flight to interior Alaska in 1945. Their two daughters were Dorothy Martin Rogers (1920-1996) and Bonnie Martin McGee (1921-1996).

The Martin home at 626 D Street, Anchorage, remained standing long after their passing, and because of its location in the center of downtown Anchorage, it was remodeled to house various business enterprises. 


[1] Carl E. Martin, Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900, San Jose, Santa Clara County, California, ED 58, page 2B, National Archives Microfilm Publication T623, Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900, Roll 110, 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line], (accessed August 23, 2016).

[2] Helen Gillette, “In Those Days, They Carried Mail to ‘Iditarod Country’,” Anchorage Times, March 5, 1978, E-10; John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2001), 58-59; and Obituary, “Lucille Martin,” Anchorage Times, April 5, 1983, B-4.

[3] Honor Roll of Mayors and Assembly Members, 1925-1985 [“Mayors and Councilmen of the City of Anchorage, Alaska, 1925-1985”], Clerk’s Office, Municipality of Anchorage, Anchorage, AK.

[4] Carl Ernest Martin, American Foreign Service, “Report of the Death of an American Citizen,” Tijuana, Baja, California, Mexico, June 4, 1958, Reports of the Deaths of American Citizens, January 1885-December 1974, Box 887, Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59, National Archives at College Park (College Park, MD), in Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad, 1835-1974 [database on-line], (accessed August 23, 2016); and “Carl Martin, 75, Dies during Vacation Trip,” Anchorage Daily Times, March 5, 1958, 13.

[5] Carl Ernest Martin, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], (accessed August 23, 2016); and Lucille Martin, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], (accessed August 23, 2016).



This biographical sketch of Carl E. Martin is based on an essay which originally appeared in John Bagoy's Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage, AK: Publications Consultants, 2001), 58-59.  See also the Carl Martin file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 5, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, AK.  Photographs courtesy of the Martin family.  Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012.  Note:  edited, revised, and expanded by Bruce Parham, August 23, 2016.  

Preferred citation:  Bruce Parham, ed., "Martin, Carl E.," Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940,


Major support for Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, provided by: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Atwood Foundation, Cook Inlet Historical Society, and the Rasmuson Foundation. This educational resource is provided by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt association. Contact us at the Cook Inlet Historical Society, by mail at Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 or through the Cook Inlet Historical Society website,