Sopoff, Nicholas "Nick"

1886-1938 | Placer Miner

Nicholas “Nick” Sopoff was a placer miner from Flat who was well-known throughout interior Alaska. In 1934, he brought his family to Anchorage, where he worked as a contract laborer. On January 7, 1938, he was killed in an accident on the Eighth Avenue sewer project.

Nickolas “Nick” Sopoff was born in Vladikvkaz, in northern Russia, on June 16, 1886.[1] He immigrated to the United States in 1911.

After living for four years in the Lower 48 states, Sopoff landed at Seward, Alaska in 1914, with Harry Scott, his partner in gold mining and prospecting ventures. After arriving at Seward, they made a seventeen-day arduous, overland hike to Flat, which had begun as a small mining camp at the confluence of Flat and Otter Creeks.

Flat became the largest mining camp in the Iditarod mining district and a supply center for the surrounding mines. In the winter of 1908, gold had been discovered at Otter Creek, setting off a gold rush.[2] Since all of the good claims had already been staked, Sopoff worked for wages and prospected on the side. It was not until 1923 that he and his partner were able to develop their own properties, when rich gold bearing gravels were discovered under the town of Flat. Sopoff and Scott then became interested in mining ventures at Stuyahok on the lower Yukon River, selling their interests to Vance Hitt and his associates. The partners' other properties were in Iditarod and Fort Yukon.[3]

In 1922 or 1923, Sopoff married Matilda Peterson of Anvik Mission, and they made their home in Flat. She operated a bathhouse and laundry while he worked in the placer mines. Sopoff and his partner sold their mining interests in the Stuyahok to Vance Hitt in 1930 and spent the next four years in Flat before moving to Anchorage.[4]

In 1938, Sopoff was working for a contractor in Anchorage laying pipe for a new sewer system when he was accidentally killed by a section of pipe which fell into the ditch and landed on him. He had been working at the bottom of a twelve-foot ditch, when a 236-pound section of sewer pipe rolled down an incline and struck him.[5]

In addition to his widow, Matilda Sopoff, he was survived by three daughters: Nina, age thirteen; Anita, age five; and Marian, an infant. Nicholas Sopoff was buried in the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.[6] Matilda Peterson Sopoff died in 1973.


[1] Draft registration card, Nickoli Sopof [Nicolas Sopoff], U.S., World War I Civilian Draft Registrations, 1917-1918 [database on-line], (accessed October 28, 2016).

[2] See, Rolfe G. Buzzell and Darrell L. Lewis, Historic Building Survey Report, Flat, Alaska, BLM-Alaska Open File Report 64 (Anchorage: Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, and Office of History and Archaeology, Alaska Department of Natural Resources, 1997): ii.

[3] “Nick Sopoff Spent Many Years Mining,” Anchorage Daily Times, January 17, 1938, 5.

[4] John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2001), 364; and “Nick Sopoff Spent Many Years Mining,” Anchorage Daily Times, January 17, 1938, 5.

[5] “Man Killed on Sewer Job.  Nick Sopoff Succumbs to Head Injuries.  Heating Pipe Rolls into Ditch at Eighth and N Streets, Fractures Skull,” Anchorage Daily Times, January 7, 1938, 1.

[6] Nicholas Sopoff, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], (accessed October 28, 2016).


This biographical sketch of Nicholas "Nick" Sopoff is based on an essay which originally appeared in John P. Bagoy’s Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage, AK: Publications Consultants, 2001), 364. See also the Nick Sopoff file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 7, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage, AK.  Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012.  Note:  edited, revised, and expanded by Bruce Parham, October 28, 2016.

Preferred citation: Bruce Parham, ed., “Sopoff, Nicholas ‘Nick’,” 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,