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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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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