Happy Russian Orthodox Christmas!

Many Alaska Native families will celebrate the Russian Orthodox Christmas this next week, beginning on January 7. This observation of Christ’s birth began after Christmas celebrations were banned following the Russian Revolution of 1917. Russian families turned decorating trees and giving presents into New Year’s traditions. Alaska’s First People have a long history with the […]

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Santa visits rural Alaska villages

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas! I hope you all had a marvelous Christmas with family and friends. Thought you might enjoy this short note about Operation Santa Claus, which began in 1956. Alaska’s Air National Guard received a request from St. Mary’s Mission for toys for its children that year. Spring floods meant a dismal […]

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Trappers help economy throughout Alaska History

Trappers helped to build the economy throughout Alaska history. These adventurous souls didn’t search the creek beds and mountains for golden riches. Instead they chose to make their fortunes through trapping furs. From early in the fall to the close of trapping season in April, many trappers traveled miles and miles of trap lines with […]

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Miners’ Code ruled the Last Frontier

Prior to the arrival of sheriffs and judges to the Far North, a practical application of frontier democracy called the Miners’ Code ruled the Last Frontier. Each camp decided matters of common concern by majority vote and meted out justice to fit the crime. When a situation came along that necessitated a meeting, the miners […]

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Petroglyphs found in Alaska history

Not only is Alaska history steeped in fur trading, whale harvesting and gold mining. It also has drawings on rocks that are usually associated with primitive people in exotic far-away lands. Greek for rock carving, petroglyphs are among many enigmas of science. Because their true meanings are elusive, they remain a mysterious link to a […]

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Alaska military history spurred by WW II

Soldiers who arrived in Anchorage in 1940 had to chop trees and make a space in the wilderness on which to build Fort Richardson. Soldiers can be seen here exercising in front of their tents. This week we give thanks to all the U.S. military folks who served, are serving and will serve in the […]

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Inmate No. 594 has ties to Alaska history

                              Before he became well known around the country, one of America’s most famous prison inmates had ties to Alaska history. He dug gold nuggets out of a mine in Juneau during 1908. But justice proved swift and sure after he […]

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Mother Nature Rocks Alaska’s Past, Shapes Its Future

On April 2, 1836, the whole coast of Southeast Alaska shook when an earthquake triggered a series of waves that threatened to wipe out the entire town of Sitka. It happened near the Feast of the Annunciation. Bishop Veniaminoff, in charge of the Russian Church at the time, ordained, that in order to give thanks […]

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A town called Knik

Thousands of gold seekers flooded into the North Country during the late 1800s and settled around new towns such as Nome, Juneau and Dawson. Several also streamed into Cook Inlet. They hacked out primitive trails connecting scattered camps and eventually unified the region between Cook Inlet on the south and the Talkeetna Mountains on the […]

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Newspapers spread the word of Yukon gold!

Glowing reports, like the following excerpt from the Aug. 8, 1897, edition of the New York World newspaper, helped fuel the stampede for gold along the Yukon River. “Mr. J. O. Hestwod, one of the most successful argonauts of ’97, has just returned from Klondike and furnishes by telegraph to the Sunday World a true […]

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Historic Alaskan Names Along The Koyukuk

It seems fitting to devote this May blog to the woolly mammoths that roamed the earth 10,000-15,000 years ago. Scientists in Russia have discovered viable blood and tissue from the ancient creatures in ice along the Arctic Ocean and today are attempting to clone the animals back into existence, according to a recent article in […]

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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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