Black Wolf Squadron touches down in Nome

Soon after the end of World War I, Brigadier Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell organized a flight of four De Havilland DH-4B aircraft from Mineola, New York, to Nome. The general wanted to show that airplanes could play an integral part in the nation’s defense. The Alaska flying expedition was named the Black Wolf Squadron. The […]

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An update of happenings with Aunt Phil

The Alaska State Fair is opening next Thursday, Aug. 27, and will run through Labor Day, Sept. 7. If you are planning to visit the fair this year, make sure to stop by my booth on the Purple Trail (next to the face-painting people and across from the Pasty Shack) and say “Hi!” In other […]

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Alaska Natives earn recognition by 1900s

After decades of not being recognized by the federal government, Alaska Natives marked a milestone in the mid-1930s. Amended in 1936 to include Alaska, the Indian Reorganization Act of 1935 allowed American Indians to locally govern their affairs by a tribal government that was established by constitution and bylaws for each tribe. Through its enactment, […]

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How did Alaska get its name?

The man credited with purchasing Alaska from the Russians in 1867 probably signed his name to more government documents than any man of his day. He also appears to be the chief architect of the name given to America’s new possession. William H. Seward, born May 16, 1801 in Orange County, New York, held many […]

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Aunt Phil Featured on CBS KTVA Channel 11 Anchorage!

CBS KTVA Channel 11 of Anchorage featured Aunt Phil last Sunday on Rhonda McBride’s show, Frontiers, at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. Reviews have been overwhelming – looks like people really enjoyed learning about a few colorful characters in early Anchorage history. Here is a link to the expanded Web version if you’d like to […]

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St. Michael Alaska Awakens

On June 25, 1897, the sleepy old Russian town of St. Michael Alaska awoke when the river steamer Alice arrived with 25 miners from Dawson carrying $500,000 among them in gold dust. That was enough to liven up just about any town. But the party wasn’t over. Two days later, the P.B. Weare carried in […]

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Gold helped settle Alaska

Gold fever began rather tepidly in Alaska. Although Russian fur traders were aware of gold deposits found in Russian America in the mid-1700-1800s, they weren’t anxious to have gold-seeking outsiders combing their new land. So they said little about the discoveries of the bright gold metal. English missionary Robert McDonald, who researchers say found gold […]

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Railroad births Anchorage

Unlike other settlements in Alaska’s past, Anchorage didn’t evolve as a result of gold, furs, fish or timber. As late as 1913, there was no town at the head of Cook Inlet. There was only a spot called Ship Creek, where small ships entered because the creek was deep enough. But a couple of years […]

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Alaska totems educate millions in 1904

When John Green Brady, governor of the District of Alaska, was asked to create an exhibit to publicize the Great Land for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904, he decided to showcase one of Southeast Alaska’s most recognizable features: totem poles. Brady thought a display of poles carved by Alaska’s Native people […]

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Arctic Brotherhood born on the high seas

What Alaska connection do England’s King Edward VII, Al Capone’s chief legal counsel, Albert Fink, and American presidents Warren G. Harding, Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley have in common? They are all honorary members of the Arctic Brotherhood club. This fraternal club, which at its height boasted around 10,000 members in the early 1900s, was […]

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Baseball in the Arctic 1894

As the days get longer and winter begins to wane, the boys of summer are gearing up for another awesome season of baseball – a mainstay in Alaska for generations. Before Anchorage had plotted out its main street on Fourth Avenue in 1915, baseball teams faced off near the mud flats to put bats to […]

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Great Alaska Earthquake

The second-largest earthquake in recorded history struck at 5:36 p.m. Anchorage time. Measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale – experts later upgraded it to 9.2 on the Mw (moment magnitude) scale as the Richter scale was determined to be inaccurate at measuring earthquakes above 8.0. Many Alaskans later said they lived through hell on earth […]

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Radios: Early Alaska Lifelines

Before the Internet and cell service became synonymous with instant communication, Alaska’s remote villages relied on a military network of telephone-telegraph radiophone stations to relay messages. Only a few cables reached a few Alaska cities back in the mid-1900s, so messages from these Alaska Communication System stations were transmitted to and from these radiophone stations […]

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How Did Seward Get Its Name?

In March, Alaska celebrates Seward’s Day in honor of the man who succeeded in persuading the United States to buy Alaska from the Russians. And there are many landmarks named after President Lincoln’s Secretary of State. However, when Seward was chosen for the name of the town on Resurrection Bay, it took the personal intervention […]

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Anchorage: A Jewel on the Tundra

By the early 1950s, the tent city at the mouth of Ship Creek had turned into a bustling, modern city. Clifford Cernick wrote that Anchorage was much like Baghdad in an article that appeared in the Seattle Times on March 4, 1951 – a time when Baghdad was a bustling city, a jewel in the […]

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First Miss Alaska Turns Heads

Dubbed The Arctic Venus by newspapers across the globe, Helmar Liederman turned many heads as she strutted her stuff in 1922 during the Inter-City Beauty Contest – forerunner of the Miss America Pageant. The 23-year-old beauty, who immigrated from Sweden in 1921, proved to be one of the most popular contestants of the 57 that […]

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