Conman topples Alaska Governor

Many have heard tales touting the shenanigans of conmen like Jefferson “Soapy” Smith and a man named Hendrickson, better known as the “Blue Parka Bandit.” But neither of them caused the demise of an Alaska governor’s political aspirations. That dubious honor falls upon H.D. “Harry” Reynolds, who singlehandedly brought down Gov. John Brady in 1906, […]

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Alaska’s archaeological sites explored

Theories about how and when Alaska became inhabited with people ebb and flow like the state’s rivers. Archeologists pretty much agree that Alaska’s mainland was physically and ecologically a part of Asia 10,000 years ago, and that the Bering Strait was a grassy land area that separated the Bering Sea to the south and the […]

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Gold rush entertainers dazzle Hollywood

Although the frenzied gold seekers of the North lacked most of the luxuries, not to mention necessities, of civilized living, they did have theaters – even opera houses. There had been entertainment in California’s gold rush of 1849, but never had there been such garish and colorful entertainers as in the days of ’98. And […]

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The Mall in Anchorage turns 47

Forty-seven years ago this month, an Anchorage landmark opened its doors to the public for the first time. When shoppers streamed into The Mall, then Alaska’s largest shopping center, on Jan. 31, 1968, they found a covered, weather-conditioned facility anchored by Sears Roebuck Co. at one end and the newest Carr’s Quality Food Center at […]

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Alaska troublemakers earned one-way ticket south

An abundance of gamblers, con men and thieves made their way north following the discovery of gold in the Klondike in the late 1890s. And with no official lawmen to take care of evildoers, miners took the law into their own hands and dispensed frontier justice. Murder was punished by hanging; stealing meant a sound […]

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Alaska Native Brotherhood organizes in 1912

After decades of oppression by Russian fur traders, and then American interests, the Natives of Southeast Alaska decided it was time to organize into a united voice to change the way people perceived them and to better their circumstances in a land that their ancestors had inhabited for thousands of years. A dozen men and […]

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Alaska establishes boroughs

Alaska officially became the 49th state in the Union 56 years ago this month. Gov. William A. Egan was sworn in on Jan. 3, 1959, and the new state got down to the business of figuring out how to govern itself. The job was made easier, however, because many diligent Alaskans had meet three years […]

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Russian Orthodox Christmas Celebrated January 7

While most people celebrated Christmas on Dec. 25 last week, many Alaskans from the Pribilof Islands to Nikiski to Sitka will celebrate next week. The Russian Orthodox Church still observes the Julian calendar, and each day on that calendar occurs 13 days after the corresponding day on the modern Gregorian calendar – so January 7 […]

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Airfield emerges from Anchorage wilderness

More than 90 years ago, Anchorage residents prepared to usher in a new form of transportation. Bush pilots, flying open-cockpit planes, needed a place to land, so the community dedicated an area “outside” of town as its first airstrip. Townspeople turned out in force in the spring of 1923 to clear 16 acres of land […]

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The last sled dog mail service

The explosion of airplane competition didn’t stop Chester Noongwook of St. Lawrence Island from continuing his sled dog mail service run until 1963. His was the last mail delivery of its kind in the country. Wien Airlines established the first commercial airplane base on St. Lawrence Island at Gambell and built a landing strip at […]

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Happy Birthday, Anchorage!

Although railroad workers began laying tracks along Ship Creek in 1915, technically speaking, Anchorage was born in November 1920. So this month marks its 94th year as a city. According to information gleaned by the League of Women Voters many years ago, it was eligible to become a first-class city because it had a population […]

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ZJ Loussac – Down but never out

Z.J. Loussac was broke when he arrived in the United States from his native Russia in 1901. The 18-year-old boy, a refugee from the Tsar’s secret police, landed in New York City and found a job running errands for a drug store in a Russian neighborhood. He worked there long enough to learn basic English […]

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Seattle ship swipes totem

Of the multitude of steamships that plied the waters from California to Point Barrow during the late 1800s, one has the dubious distinction of being what some may call a “pirate ship.” The City of Seattle, which sailed from Seattle to Skagway and points in between, played a major role in spiriting a totem pole […]

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Ship Creek plateu becomes Anchorage

How did Fourth Avenue become the main street of Anchorage? Some say, “it just happened,” while others say look at its location in relation to the land disposition in 1915. Many original lot owners lived in “Tent City” and had established businesses in their tents along Ship Creek. The area that was to become Fourth […]

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New historical book just released!

Just in time for the holidays! Aunt Phil’s Trunk Proudly Presents The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses Although I still am working hard on Volume Five of my Aunt Phil’s Trunk Alaska history series (anticipating mid-2015 release), I also have been listening to Alaska history fans. Many of you have asked me how […]

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