Eagle was once a seat of government and commerce for the Interior. An Army post, Ft. Egbert, operated here until 1911, and territorial judge and noted Alaska historian James Wickersham had his headquarters in Eagle until Fairbanks began to grow from its gold strike. The population peaked at 1,700 in 1898. Today there are fewer than 200 residents. Although the majority of the population is gone, the town still retains its frontier and gold-rush character.
The Yukon River has shaped Eagle in more ways than just geographically. In earlier times it provided a vital mode of transportation. Today vacationers use Eagle as a jumping-off point for self-planned journeys through the Yukon–Charley Rivers National Preserve. Eagle was devastated by a flood in 2009; fortunately most historic structures were left undamaged.