Alaskan Entrepreneurs – From Rags to Riches

Harriet Smith Pullen left her children and a bankrupt farm in Washington state and arrived broke in Skagway on Sept. 8, 1897. Although her husband came with her, their marriage ended in divorce. Earning $3 a day as a cook, one of many enterprising Alaskan entrepreneurs, the 37-year-old opened a tent restaurant to feed Skagway’s […]

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Fires in Alaska – The Day Dawson Burned

Fires in Alaska – The curse of many towns during the Klondike Gold Rush era, and Dawson was no exception. The extreme cold, coupled with dryness, meant fires burned in all buildings when occupied. Stovepipes thrust through flimsy walls or roofs of cabins and tents carried smoke from high-creosote spruce. Over time, the creosote built […]

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Flame of the Yukon dazzled miners with her moves

After brief stints in Skagway and Whitehorse, one Kansas girl swirled her way into Gold Rush history when she stepped on stage at the Palace Grand in Dawson City in 1900. Kathleen Eloisa Rockwell, better known as “Klondike Kate,” delighted audiences of miners with her song-and-dance routines. She wore an elaborate dress covered in red […]

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Alaskan Fortune – Immigrant puts the right foot forward

One of Anchorage’s finest department stores can trace its roots to the gold rush days of the Klondike when a young Swede hunkered down with pick and ax and chipped out a small fortune. John W. Nordstrom arrived in New York City from his native Sweden in 1887. With $5 in his pocket, and not […]

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Prospector turns Alaska history into gold

One prospector who headed north at the turn-of-the-last century later successfully turned Alaska history into gold. As a young man, famous American novelist Rex Beach struck out from Illinois in 1897 in search of his fortune in the gold-filled Klondike. Along with others who had some money and time, he chose to travel the all-water […]

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Alaska’s First Streetcar

A three-hour stopover in Skagway in July 1923 by President Warren G. Harding turned into a booming business for one Alaskan sourdough. Martin Itjen, an immigrant who came north from Florida in 1898 to join the stampede in search of riches in the Klondike, took the President on an excursion in a painted coal truck. […]

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Chitina once was a thriving town

This Model-T is loaded and ready to deliver mail out of Chitina in 1919. These new-fangled automobiles put a few sled dogs out of business along some of Alaska’s postal routes! The town, located about 53 miles southeast of Copper Center on the Edgerton Highway, was a bustling operation following the discovery of copper ore […]

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Will Rogers dies in plane crash, August 1935

Much-loved humorist and columnist Will Rogers, left, and his friend and pilot, Wiley Post, left California in August 1935 on their ill-fated trip north to explore a new route to Europe over Alaska and Siberia. Post had a hybrid airplane custom made for the grand adventure. It was the last trip the two would ever […]

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Kodiak was buried in ash from Novarupta in 1912

This month in Alaska history: On June 6, 1912, the earth exploded when a volcano located on the Alaska Peninsula blew its top. The Novarupta explosion was the most powerful volcanic eruption of the 20th Century. People in Juneau, Alaska, about 750 miles from the volcano, heard the sound of the blast more than an […]

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First Post!

The first school in Anchorage, pictured here during the winter of 1916, was located between Fifth and Sixth avenues downtown. School days delayed in Anchorage When Land Office chief Andrew Christensen opened the auction for a townsite above Ship Creek on July 10, 1915, bidding became so brisk that prospective lot owners couldn’t hold down […]

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