Lights along Alaska’s coast

The discovery of rich gold deposits in the upper Yukon River in the late 1890s brought a massive rise in the number of ships plying Alaska waters. Especially in Lynn Canal, a part of the Inside Passage. It was a safer route for ships to travel than the open ocean route to the west through […]

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Dinosaurs roam Alaska grasslands

My 2-year-old grandson Aiden is crazy about dinosaurs. So much so that we decorated his birthday cake last weekend with small brontosaurus, nanosaurus and T-rex replicas. He received an abundance of dinosaur-themed gifts, too, including dino sippy cups, dino books, dino imprinted T-shirts and a multitude of dinosaur toys. I went to bed Sunday night […]

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Maternity suit ends with wedding bells

Long before marshals and judges brought law and order to Alaska’s Interior districts, miners made a point of policing themselves. When a wrong was perceived, a meeting of miners was called and both the offender and offendee could explain their sides of the matter. Then the miners would render a verdict and carry out the […]

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Anchorage’s first police chief murdered

In an effort to curb rampant crime in Anchorage in the early 1920s, the town’s newly formed city council officially created a police department in December 1920. The council then sifted through many applications, and settled on John “Jack” Sturgus as its first chief of police. The council told him to crack down on gambling […]

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Big Sickness Arrives in Alaska in 1918

During the spring of 1918, as World War I veterans returned to their home countries, flu spread across the world and sickened many people. By that fall, the virus had mutated and become a mass killer. It preyed on the young and healthy. A dull headache signaled the beginning. Then came chills so intense that […]

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Alaska’s first serial killer strikes

Between 1912 and 1915, a number of single, unattached men mysteriously disappeared in Southeast Alaska. The few law enforcement officials in the territory were baffled, but a suspect finally emerged in the fall of 1915. A Petersburg man named Edward Krause, who’d run for the Territorial Legislature as a Socialist Party candidate in 1912, represented […]

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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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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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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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