Good Question. In the late 1800's early miners were in this area searching for gold (and a few are still here!). Food was sometimes scarce, but along the south fork of the 40-mile river here, ptarmigan were abundant...and similar to chicken. Chicken was incorporated in 1902, only the 2nd town in Alaska to do so. The name "Ptarmigan" was suggested, but nobody could agree on the correct spelling - so they settled on the much easier to spell & pronounce "Chicken". Fun for a day trip...and if you need any touristy stuff with a chicken on it! We didn't try our luck at gold panning, but I will say that the Chicken Pot Pie at the Chicken Creek Café was excellent.