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May-June, 2019



Alaskan History



May-June, 2019

Welcome! Welcome to the inaugural issue of Alaskan History, an independently produced magazine dedicated to making the colorful past of the Last Frontier an interesting and exciting journey of exploration for all ages! To launch this new venture and portray the tone and focus of future issues, this first effort showcases the books published by Northern Light Media (see page 4). In future issues we’ll be sharing articles by a diverse selection of writers—please contact us if you are interested in contributing—but this issue is all about the publishing company behind this new magazine!

Inside the magazine: Alaskan History Magazine is divided into three sections: the front, back, and middle. In the front of each issue you’ll find the editorial section, table of contents, and a topical feature about one category of the people who wrote Alaska’s history. In this issue the focus is on the intrepid photographers who captured images of our past while working with bulky cameras, dauntless in the face of the northland’s adverse and often downright dangerous conditions. In future issues this section will feature more photographers, and artists, explorers, sea captains, farmers, missionaries and many other groups whose contributions to our history cannot be overstated. The middle section is the feature articles, with one in-depth piece eight to twelve pages in length, and four or five shorter articles on various aspects of northland history. We’ll occasionally include articles about our close neighbor, western Canada, because the shared history is an integral part of our story, from the steep path over Chilkoot Pass to the great Alaska Highway which ties us to the Lower 48 states. The back section of each issue begins with a photo feature highlighting one aspect of Alaska’s history; in tihis issue we focus on the beautifully utilitarian snowshoes. Wrapping up the issue are half a dozen brief highlights of classic books on Alaska’s history, often written by the people who lived through that history, and a guide to some of the sources and resources used in researching the articles, photographs and more which will comprise every issue. ~•~

Subscriptions, Single Issues, eMags and Online: Single issues are $10.00 postpaid; a one year subscription, 6 issues, is $48.00 postpaid (U.S. addresses only). Both options include the digital edition. For information visit our website: http://www.alaskan-history.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



Alaskan History May-June, 2019 VOLUME 1, NO. 1 ISBN 9781095618134

Published bimonthly




by Northern Light Media





The Alaska Railroad 1902-1923 Volume 1, Number 1 of the Cook Inlet Pioneer was published on June 5, 1915, and the first column told how “Railroad Work Is Under Way At Anchorage,” heralding the beginning of one of the most ambitious and important construction projects in Alaska’s history, the building of The Alaska Railroad from Seward, on Resurrection Bay in Prince William Sound, to Fairbanks, the golden heart of Interior Alaska. The project would take 21 years to complete. Featured article begins on page 16



The Big Loop at mile 47.5 from Seward was constructed in 1905 as part of the Alaska Central Railway. It was demolished for safety reasons in the 1950s. [A.E.C. photo, P.S. Hunt]



SHELTER, FOOD AND LODGING ON THE RICHARDSON TRAIL In 1918 young Margaret Murie visited the roadhouse, which would sometimes be so buried by snowdrifts that only the stovepipe would be visible from the trail.



ADDISON POWELL’S 1909 BOOK ON HIS ADVENTURES Summer, 1902: We crossed the Copper River and spent several weeks camping at the base of Mt. Wrangell, puffing from its top great clouds of smoke and steam.



FROM THE STAINED GLASS DOG TEAM The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition opened on June 1, 1909, on the largely undeveloped grounds of the University of Washington, northeast of Seattle.



408 MILES ACROSS THE SEWARD PENINSULA “On a cold spring day in 1907 a group of us gathered around the stove in a Nome saloon and began talking about dog races.” -Scotty Allan in Gold, Men and Dogs.



ENDURING LEGACY OF A GOVERNMENT PROGRAM In 1935 the U.S. government devised a plan to colonize and develop a pioneering community in Alaska. A solid square barn was the heart of each family farm.

Dog team transporting the U.S. mail near Seward, 1910. [Photo by John E. Thwaites]

Notes & Comments . . . . . . . . . . 3

Focus on: Snowshoes . . . . . . . . . . 46

In this Issue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 - 5

Alaskan Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

About this Magazine . . . . . . . . . . 6

Sources & Resources . . . . . . . . . . 50

Alaskan Photographers . . . . . . . 8

Subscriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50



Alaskan History

Alaskan History

About this Magazine

M•A•G•A•Z•I•N•E May-June, 2019

Published by Northern Light Media

Volume 1, Number 1

Ten Years of Books on Alaska’s History

Northern Light Media has published books on the history of Alaska’s roadhouses, the construction of the Alaska Railroad, an anthology of excerpts from historic books on Alaska, and many more. This first issue of Alaskan History Magazine is an anthology of articles exerpted from books published by Northern Light Media over the last ten years.

Published by Northern Light Media Post Office Box 870515 Wasilla, Alaska 99687 (907) 521-5245 www.Alaskan-History.com Email AlaskanHistory@gmail.com Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/ alaskanhistory/ Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/ AlaskanHistory/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/HelenHegener Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ akhistorymagazine/

ISBN 9781095618134


Northern Light Media was founded in 2007 by my husband and myself. Our previous 30 years of publishing books and a magazine brought prestigious awards and widespread acclaim in our field, but we were seeking something different, and based in Alaska, so we teamed up with an Emmy-award winning videographer to produce a documentary DVD on the legendary long distance sled dog musher Lance Mackey. The video we produced in 2008, Appetite & Attitude: A Conversation with Lance Mackey, received enthusiastic reviews, became a fan favorite, and aired on the Alaskan television program 360 North. A book on the historic All Alaska Sweepstakes sled dog race was next, followed by a groundbreaking volume on the iconic barns of the 1935 Matanuska Colony Project near Palmer. That led to three books about the Colony itself, and a photographic exploration of the southcentral valley in which the Project was built, titled The Beautiful Matanuska Valley, which has been our family’s home for many decades. Books on the Iditarod and Yukon Quest sled dog races were followed by a venture into Alaskan history triggered by my father’s work for the Alaska Railroad in the 1970’s, and a reprinting of a little-known 1909 classic by one of Alaska’s early explorers, Addison Powell. The research, writing, editing and publication of these books over the past ten years have given me a broad perspective and a valuable understanding of Alaska’s remarkable history. That understanding and perspective will be put to the test with this new publication, as I share the vibrant history of the Last Frontier with my readers. Welcome to the adventure!

Helen Hegener Helen Hegener, Publisher


May-June, 2019 Editor’s Note

Inspiring Alaskans

Alaskan History A New Approach

This magazine has been designed to share the history of Alaska, for that history surrounds and envelops and informs and inspires us all. My goal is to provoke interest, provide insight, and present information about that history in a new and engaging way. I am the publisher, and the managing editor, an Alaskan author whose non-fiction books on various facets of the Last Frontier’s history have given me an understanding and an appreciation which I hope will serve this publication’s readers well. My name is Helen Hegener, and I came to Alaska in 1965 when my father, a computer systems analyst when computers were the size of cars, was transferred by the U.S. Army from the desert climate of Fort Huachuca, Arizona to the near-Arctic of Fort Richardson, Alaska. My parents fell in love with Alaska, and five generations of their family now call it home. There is much to love about Alaska, but for me the history has always held a special fascination. It’s not an easy history, but this is not an easy land. There is a hard, often harsh reality to consider, but there is also a deep, rich legacy of heroic adventurers and legendary explorations, pioneer successes and extraordinary achievements. There’s an enigmatic attraction to Alaska, and the Yukon poet Robert Service captured it well when he wrote these lines in my favorite poem, The Spell of the Yukon: Some say God was tired when He made it; Some say it’s a fine land to shun; May be, but there’s some as would trade it For no land on Earth—and I’m one. In starting this new magazine I am taking a road less traveled by, to paraphrase another favorite poet, but that seems to be the Alaskan way. I am excited about the journey ahead, looking forward to discovering new stories, new perspectives, and new friends. I’m hoping you, dear reader, will be among those friends! ~Helen https://www.facebook.com/groups/AlaskanHistory/ https://twitter.com/HelenHegener https://www.instagram.com/akhistorymagazine/


“Alaska Nellie” From 1915 to the 1950’s Nellie Neal Lawing earned a reputation as a fearless and independent roadhouse keeper for the Alaska Railroad. Nellie entertained guests ranging from railroad workers to U.S. Presidents. She hunted Alaska’s big game, traveled widely, and wrote her autobiography to wide acclaim in 1953. She was popular, widely loved, and in 1956 was honored with Alaska Nellie Day. Her spirit inspires the publication of Alaskan History!

Subscriptions, Single Issues, eMags and Online:

Single issues are $10.00 postpaid; a one year subscription, 6 issues, is $48.00 postpaid (U.S. only). For information about emagazines and other options visit our website: www.alaskan-history.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Alaskan History

Alaskan Photographers They captured Alaska’s moments in time on plates and film

Case & Draper photography studio tent. The photographers William H. Case and Herbert Horace Draper opened a studio in Skagway in 1898, at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, and later another in Juneau. [Photo by Case & Draper. Alaska State Library, ASL-P39-0477]


Eric A. Hegg arrived in Skagway in Oct., 1897, opened a studio, and was soon joined by his brother and two friends. Largely self-trained, he became closely associated with the Klondike gold rush, as he was among the first to journey over Chilkoot Pass, and his images became iconic of the struggle over the steep mountains.

Russ Clift, an apprentice with Hegg, described him as “a small slight man… he had to backpack all of his bulky equipment whenever he moved around. He coated and re-coated his own glass plates and mixed all of his own formulas from chemicals that he carried with him.”

E. A. Hegg traveled to New York to show his photographs, lived in Nome and Cordova, and spent some time in Hawaii. Eventually moving to San Diego to live with his son, he passed away in 1947, at the age of 79.

Left: Chilkoot Trail, 1898. {E.A. Hegg]


May-June, 2019 Clarence Leroy Andrews came to Alaska in 1897 as part of a climbing expedition to Mt. St. Elias. He spent time in Sitka, in Skagway during the gold rush, in Eagle as a customs agent, 1904-1906. Between 1923 and 1929, he traveled throughout the Arctic as a surveyor for the School and Reindeer Service for the Alaska Bureau of Education.

Andrews was a journalist and photographer for the Alaska-Yukon magazine and the Alaska Daily Empire. In his later years, Andrews wrote numerous books and articles about Alaska and the Eskimos. [Left: Anarok's Wife, Kivalina. 1924. [C.L. Andrews papers, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage. uaa-hmc-0059-27]

Phinney S. (P. S.) Hunt moved to Valdez, Alaska in 1898 and worked as a photographer in Valdez and the surrounding communities, creating many well-known photos of the era and the area. In 1916 he became an official photographer for the Alaskan Engineering Commission, which was building the Alaska Railroad, and he moved to Anchorage. Hunt died suddenly of heart disease on October 14, 1917 while working on A.E.C. business in Seward, Alaska. The Oct. 16 issue of the Alaska Railroad News carried his obituary, which noted he was only 51 years old, and survived by a wife and two grown sons. Many of Hunt’s photos can be seen the the Alaska Railroad article in this issue (page 14). John Edward Thwaites, an amateur photographer, was a clerk for the Railway Mail Service from 1905 to 1912, on the mailboat S.S. Dora, which traveled the route from Valdez to Unalaska delivering mail to coastal communities.

Thwaites was not trained as a professional photographer, but using a Kodak 3-A Special, a popular camera for producing postcards, he photographed volcanic eruptions; maritime disasters, fox farming, whaling, glaciers, small towns and daily life encountered as the S.S. Dora sailed its route.

In January of 1910 Thwaites was aboard the S. S. Farallon, a wooden steam schooner, when it was wrecked at Illiamna Bay. He and thirty others survived for a month before being rescued, and his photographs documented the harsh conditions faced by the shipwrecked passengers.

The Jabez Howes, Benjamin F. Packard, and Star of Alaska were blown onshore in Chignik Bay during a gale on the night of April 17, 1911. The Jabez Howes (above) was completely wrecked, but the other ships were later repaired. [University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, Negative Number Thwaites 247.7]

In future issues Alaskan Photographers will include the Lomen Brothers, Albert J. Johnson, Sidney Lawrence, Winter & Pond, Dobbs & Fleming, Orville G. Herning, Frank H. Nowell and others.



Alaskan History

Yost’s Roadhouse on the Valdez-Fairbanks Trail, 1916. [Photograph by Albert J. Johnson. Albert J. Johnson Collection, University of Alaska Fairbanks, UAF-1989-166-90]



May-June, 2019

Young Margaret Murie, who would become an author, ecologist, environmentalist, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian honor awarded.

Yost’s Roadhouse In her classic memoir Two in the Far North (Knopf, 1962), about finding love and adventure in Alaska with the great naturalist Olaus Murie, Margaret Murie tells of traveling via dog team and horse-drawn wagon in 1918, over the Valdez-to-Fairbanks Trail, which would become the Richardson Highway. The future author, ecologist, and environmentalist, who would be called ‘the Grandmother of the Conservation Movement’ by both the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society, was only fifteen years old, but she was making the trip from her home in Fairbanks to Cordova, where she would meet her father and her brother. At one point she is riding in the sled of a dog driver named French John, and after dinner and a few hours of sleep at the Black Rapids roadhouse, he awakens her to continue the journey south.



Alaskan History

Yost’s Roadhouse, 1916. This is a wider shot of the photo on page 10, showing several loaded dogsleds. The sign on the building at the far left reads “Pioneer Hotel.” [Photograph by Albert J. Johnson. Albert J. Johnson collection, University of Alaska Fairbanks UAF-1989-166-90]

“I was tucked into a big wolfskin robe in John’s basket sled sometime around midnight. For now the snow even high in the mountains was thawing and we must still travel at night. But not silently, for John poured forth one story after another of the North, of his dogs, even while he struggled to keep the sled on the thawing, sliding trail which led up and around and ever up, with the high peaks glistening above us. Sometimes John talked to his seven beautiful Huskies in French, and I almost drowsed, snug in the furs, in spite of the bouncing and sliding of the sled on the soft trail. Once I roused suddenly with John’s face close to mine; he was crouching under the side of the sled, his shoulder under the rim of the basket, his voice exhorting the dogs. He was fairly holding the sled by main strength from turning over and rolling down the mountainside, for here the way led across a steep mountain face and the trail had thawed away. ‘Jus’ sit still, don’ be scare. We soon get to Yosts now; dis place here de worse one. Ah! Dere’s de bell!’ “Bell? I sat up. We had come onto a level pass, and out in the middle hung a large bell in a framework of heavy timbers. A few yards away there was a black hole in the snow, and above the hole, smoke. “‘Funny places in dis world, eh?’ said John. ‘You know, snow still very deep up here, roadhouse mostly covered. Dis is top of Alaska Range– summit. And dat bell, she is save much people since early days. Wind, she blow like son of gun here in winter–roadhouse always cover in snow. Bell, she only ting to tell us where Yost’s is, see? Wind so strong she ring bell.’”



May-June, 2019 This first-person exchange is echoed in an article written in 2002 for the Los Angeles Times, titled Finding Gold Rush Tales and Roadhouse Comfort on the Richardson Highway. Writer Michael Parrish opens his article with some chilling history: “At least a dozen people died in the winter of 1913 along the old Valdez-Fairbanks Trail, lost in churning blizzards as they struggled to find Yost’s Roadhouse. The two-story log lodge in the central Alaska Range was often so buried in snow that only its stovepipe poked above the drifts. Yost’s was 200 yards back from the trail, making it even harder to find in a storm.” He shares the story of the bell which would help lost travelers find safety and comfort: “The summer after that deadly season, a Lt. Dougherty of the U.S. Army Signal Corps installed a wire fence across the winter trail to steer blizzard-blind trekkers toward the front door, and a 150-pound bell mounted near the roadhouse would clang whenever the wind blew. Those innovations are said to have saved many lives.” Ken Marsh’s history of the Richardson Highway, The Trail (Sluice Box Productions, 2008) shares more. Apparently built in 1905 at the confluence of McCallum Creek and Phelan Creek, on the north side of Isabel Pass, it was a small one-story log building operated by a Mrs. McCallum during the summer and winter of 1905-06. Known at that time as McCallum’s Roadhouse, it was “at a pivotal spot... as well as a treacherous area during the winter.” Marsh continues: “Charlie Yost took over McCallum’s in the winter of 1906-07 and enlarged it with a twostory log building next to the old structure. The name was changed to Yost’s Roadhouse, and Charlie was said to have dispensed a

Yost’s Roadhouse advertised widely. basic menu of hot cakes and beans to travelers at two dollars a meal.” Ken Marsh shared an excerpt from Hallock C. Bundy’s 1910 guide to the ValdezFairbanks trail: “The roadhouse at Yost’s is built right on the bank of the Delta River, at one of the most exposed portions of the winter trail, but at the place where it is most needed. At night the big light that is hung outside the door can be seen for a long distance by the travelers coming from Fairbanks and is a welcome beacon in stormy weather.” A flood of the Delta River in March, 1916 overran the roadhouse. The Alaska Road Commission reportedly used the site as a camp while working on improvements to the Richardson Highway during the 1920’s and ’30’s, but no trace of the old roadhouse remains at the site today. ~•~

[From Alaskan Roadhouses, by Helen Hegener, Northern Light Media, 2015]



Alaskan History

Addison Powell, resting his chin in hand second from the left, with friends and a large nugget of copper found on Nugget Creek, in the Wrangell Mountains, summer of 1902. [Photos are from Addison Powell’s book, Trailing and Camping in Alaska, Wessels & Bissell, 1909]

TRAILING & CAMPING in ALASKA Addison Powell’s 1909 Book, subtitled

TEN YEARS SPENT IN EXPLORING, HUNTING AND PROSPECTING IN ALASKA • 1898-1908 Addison Powell, Summer, 1902, selected excerpts from chapter XXI: We, the passengers of the steamer Santa Ana, enjoyed a ride on Prince William Sound, during the balmy days of the spring of 1902. Alaska's spring does not come "creeping," as described in our old school books, but with soft-footed fleetness, it laughingly bursts upon and overwhelmingly envelops you.

On that summer's trip into the interior I fell into company with several men, among whom were the Miles brothers, who were going in to photograph scenery, Indians and immense copper properties…. We crossed the Copper River and spent several weeks camping at the base of Mt. Wrangell, puffing from its top great clouds of smoke and steam.

We bartered with the Indians and photographed them; and camped on the bank of the Kuskalina River, where the colossal monument of Mount Blackburn was plainly visible. Here an anticline afforded so much interest to the prospector, with its lime and copper deposits,



May-June, 2019 that I remained to prospect, and bade goodbye to the others, who proceeded on their way.

After prospecting a week I mounted my saddlehorse, and with the packhorse following, started for the Nizina country. For a week I camped at the Big Springs, near the Kenekott glacier — a prong of the Wrangell system of glaciers, extending far back among the mountains. It was five miles wide and continued that far below my camp. It would repay any admirer of sublimity capable of roughing it, to travel thousands of miles to see it, and when the rail- road is built into the Bonanza copper mine nearby, it will be one of the greatest at tractions for all northern tourists. It is a canyon filled with clear blue ice, and possesses yawning crevasses and frowning precipices.

With all this coldness so near, the weather was warm, the birds sang in the nearby trees, flowers bloomed and the horses fed on luxuriant bunchgrass. A few scattering spruce trees grew on the adjoining foothills, and high pinnacled mountains formed the background to the northwest, where variegated mineral ledges and dykes always will tantalize all prospectors who chance to camp in this picturesque locality. I prospected there, dug holes and returned to camp tired, but mentally interested and keen for the experiences of the morrow.

Just across that glacier was where Clarence Warner and "Arizona Jack" Smith discovered the greatest copper deposit ever naturally disclosed to the eyes of man. Seeing a green area high on the mountain, they climbed until nearly exhausted to reach it, and at last stood speechless when they found that patch of verdancy to be copper chalcocite and bornite — any prospector would have been speechless at such a discovery.

For days I traveled alone, ate ptarmigan, and was often rain-chilled. On my return I again fell into company with the photographing party, and on Nugget Creek we were photographed beside a large nugget of pure copper metal that evidently weighed many tons. ~•~

Pack train crossing a pole bridge.

[From Trailing and Camping in Alaska, by Addison Powell, Northern Light Media, 2018]



Alaskan History

Workers on completed spans of the Matanuska River railway bridge, August 23, 1916. [Photograph by Alaska Engineering Commission photographer P. S. Hunt]

Building the Alaska Railroad Gold, coal, timber and other natural resources were the motivating factors in the construction of early railroads in the territory of Alaska, and there were many railroads, by one count over thirty, from the far western reaches to the Panhandle. Many of these railroads were built and operated by mining interests, others were funded by farsighted groups or individuals who understood the potential profitability of steel rails providing reliable access to a new and growing land. President Wilson appointed the Alaskan Engineering Commission in May, 1914, under the authority of the Secretary of Interior Franklin K. Lane, who appointed three men to the new Commission: William C. Edes, Chairman and Chief Engineer, a senior railroad engineer who had been locating and building railroads for 40 years. Edes had been the chief engineer on the Northwestern Pacific Railroad in California since 1907.



May-June, 2019

Tents and buildings next to Alaska Railroad track at Wasilla, May 4, 1917. [Alaska Engineering Commission photo by Phinney S. Hunt]



Alaskan History

Alaskan Engineering Commission, created in 1914 to arrange for and facilitate construction of the railroad. L-R: Frederick Mears, William C. Edes, and Thomas Riggs, Jr. [A.E.C. photo] Lt. Frederick Mears had been a railroad engineer for the Great Northern Railway. He fought in the Philippines before turning to the construction and operation of the Panama Railroad in Central America, where he was promoted to General Superintendent. Thomas Riggs, Jr. joined the Klondike gold rush in 1897, prospecting near Dawson City. He was the chief surveyor on the International Boundary Commission, locating the border between Alaska and Canada between 1906 and 1913, and he advanced to U.S Engineer-in-Charge as the team surveyed the rugged boundary from the Pacific to the Arctic Ocean. Riggs was wellknown in Alaska, and he would later serve as Territorial Governor of Alaska from 1918 to 1921. The task set before these three experienced and very capable men was to reconnoiter and survey the potential railroad routes in Alaska. There had been sharp debating in Congress over the best route for the new government railroad, and survey parties were sent forth to assess every possible route, while all of the territory held its collective breath to see which would be selected, and where the rails would run from tidewater to the Interior of Alaska. During the summer of 1914 there was thorough analysis of the Alaska Northern and Tanana Valley Railroads in the west, and the Copper River and Northwestern Railroad to the east, with both options ending in Fairbanks. There were also reconnaissance trips to the Iditarod and Kuskokwim areas, and a study of the potential for tunneling through the mountains at an old



May-June, 2019

The “City of Tents� on Ship Creek, 1915. Businesses include White Road House. [Marie Silverman papers, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage] portage point at the head of Turnagain Arm to access an ice-free port at the head of Passage Canal. Edes and Mears both recognized the great potential of the Ship Creek site at the head of Cook Inlet, being close to the coal fields at Matanuska, and having thousands of acres of eminently developable land, wooded in valuable birch and spruce, adjacent to a port which would be open for at least six months of the year. In April, 1914 President Wilson announced his decision, selecting the western or Susitna route, beginning at Seward and including purchase of the Alaska Northern Railway, proceeding northward around Cook Inlet, across the Matanuska and Susitna Valleys, through the Alaska Range at Broad Pass, and crossing the Tanana River to end in Fairbanks. Sixteen days after the president signed the order, Commission Chairman Edes - now Chief Engineer for the project - had selected Seward as his headquarters for railroad operations, Lt. Mears was landing men and supplies on the banks of Ship Creek, and Thomas Riggs had gone north to take charge of the survey parties working from Broad Pass to Fairbanks. In support of their efforts to get underway with the building of the railroad, tremendous mountains of supplies and materials were being shipped to Alaska, and small armies of men were gathering.



Alaskan History The railroad route was split into three divisions, the Seward Division, Anchorage Division, and Fairbanks Division, and each Division was broken down into Districts. There were official efforts to prevent a stampede to the railroad construction center at Ship Creek, but when Frederick Mears arrived on April 26, 1915, he was greeted by a city of white tents which stretched along both banks of the creek, right where he intended to built his railroad construction camp and the main terminal. Undaunted, Mears set to work, and the ceremonial first spike was driven three days after he arrived. A 350-acre site on the plateau south of Ship Creek was platted just as railroad towns in the American West had been, in a neat grid of streets running north-south (named alphabetically) and east-west (named Anchorage dock, November, 1919. numerically), with the notable exception of Christiansen Road, which cut a long angle up the steep bluff from the creek. The townsite developers reserved lands designated for a school, a cemetery, parks, federal buildings, and for Indian possessions, and the city of Anchorage became the first of several towns the U.S. government would survey and build in conjunction with the railroad construction. ‘ Equipment and materials used in building the Panama Canal were transported north on freighters and used in building the Alaska Railroad, including four locomotives, two steam shovels, 15 flatcars, a large dredger, and thousands of tons of materials and machinery. The first order of construction was to reach the coal fields along the Matanuska River at Sutton and Chickaloon, and before the summer was out thirteen miles of steel rail had been laid in that direction, to the high trestle Trail above Turnagain Arm, February, 1917. and bridge which crossed the glacial Eagle River. By the end of summer, 1914, another 35



May-June, 2019 miles, across Peters Creek and the Eklutna River and arcing around the head of Knik Arm, had been cleared and graded, ready for work in the spring, and an additional 40 miles across the broad Matanuska Valley had been cleared of brush and timber. To the south, Commissioner Edes was overseeing repairs to the Alaska Northern Railway from Seward to mile 72. Because the U.S. government was only leasing the railway, pending settlement of grievances between the litigious American and Canadian bondholders, Commissioner Edes ordered that only the necessary work be done to make the tracks safe for use by gas-powered railcars. Edes would later tell Secretary Lane that the Alaska Northern was in worse shape than they had first thought, and that bridge and tunnel timbers which appeared sound were riddled with rot. Even with the repairs, during the winter of 1915-1916, until April 25, the mail, freight, passengers and other traffic which would have traveled by train was carried by dog teams along the railroad route between milepost 35 and Anchorage. To the north, Commissioner Thomas Riggs and his engineers were surveying the route through the Alaska Range toward Fairbanks. The locating surveys of 1914 had shown the general route, but now the line needed detailed surveys and the final locations marked on the ground for the construction groups who followed. With horses packing their equipment and supplies across the wilderness, the survey parties slept in tents or just on the ground at night, cooking over campfires and fighting hordes of mosquitos as they slowly made their way north. To assist in river travel and moving supplies and equipment, and to avoid the increasingly high prices charged by private carriers, the Alaskan Engineering Commission arranged for the construction of a 50foot sternwheeler, the Matanuska, which plied the waters of the Susitna River and its tributaries.



Alaskan History

Between Potter Creek and Rabbit Creek, Mile 104 near Potter, July, 1917. [P.S. Hunt photo]

The work of building bridges, trestles, laying ties and extending the rails over them was paid by the hour, which in 1915 was reported to be thirty-seven and a half cents an hour for laborers. Skilled carpenters could expect forty to sixty cents an hour. In his book, Railroad in the Clouds (Pruett Publishing Co., 1977), railroad historian William H. Wilson drew an especially poignant portrait: “Fading gray photographs capture the dull sameness of their daily lives. The laborers stand against a boreal background, usually stiff and unsmiling under broad-brimmed hats. Wide galluses over rough shirts, denims tucked into heavy boots, were the working clothes of the men whose toil built the railroad.� On May 26, 1916, the surveyors and engineers working under Commissioner Thomas Riggs in the Fairbanks Division reached the wide Tanana River at a point 70 miles downstream from Fairbanks. Here a Native village sat alongside the river, just east of its juncture with the smaller Nenana River. The government workmen built a wharf and erected a few frame and log buildings, including a main office and a large two-story commissary, and set up a hospital in two great white tents. They then set about platting a townsite for Nenana, and lots would be auctioned to the highest bidders, just as they had previously been auctioned for Anchorage, Matanuska, Wasilla, and Talkeetna. Reaching navigational waters at Nenana meant supplies and materials could be shipped via steamboat and stockpiled until needed, and the vessels of the Northern Commercial Company



May-June, 2019 brought cargo along the Yukon and Tanana Rivers, from the west via St. Michaels, and from the east via Whitehorse. Overland, the best time for transportation was in winter, when the land was frozen, and freight teams of horses could move wagonloads of equipment, materials and supplies. The narrow gauge Tanana Valley Railroad, which ran from Chena to the gold fields at Chatanika, was purchased by the federal government in 1917 for $300,000, providing a head start on the rail line south to Nenana. Historian William H. Wilson explained the details in his well-written account of the times, Railroad in the Clouds: The Alaska Railroad in the Age of Steam (Pruett Publishing, 1977): “By buying the destitute little line, the Commission reduced its own rail charges from Chena and gained the first leg of a narrow gauge link with Nenana, where coal from the lignite fields could be rushed to Fairbanks’ fuel-starved mines. In April, 1917, the United States entered the First World War. The major powers of Europe had already been fighting for three years, but President Wilson had kept the U. S. neutral as he worked to find a peaceable solution to the bitter conflict. Finding none, he reluctantly declared war against Kaiser Wilhelm’s German forces. Although far removed from Alaska, the war would have a devastating and long-lasting effect on the railroad effort, especially in Fairbanks. Judge Cecil Clegg declared the war set Fairbanks back ten years by draining the area of its young, capable workforce and thereby slowing construction of the railroad.

Alaskan Engineering Camp No. 88, Turnagain District, 1917. [A.E.C. photo]



Alaskan History In the Anchorage Division, AEC Commissioner Frederick Mears received a promotion to the rank of Major from the War Department, and upon returning to active duty he was given orders to recruit, train and equip 1,000 men for the construction and operation of military railroad lines in France. Mears gained permission from Secretary Lane to solicit men from the Alaskan Engineering Commission for his regiment, and the response was a hearty one. Between the men joining Mears and those leaving for more lucrative wartime work in the States, the railroad’s work force was decimated by half. Work continued on the railroad, but the average monthly number of employees dropped from 4,466 in 1917 to 2,550 in 1918. On September 10, 1918, the only remaining gap in the rails between Seward and Anchorage was closed when the last rails were laid and, at a formal ceremony marking the event, Commission Chairman William C. Edes drove the final spike. To the north, the end of track reached mile 373, just south of Nenana, by January, 1919, but little work was done on the railroad until late summer due to a lack of appropriation from Congress. By the end of the year there was still a gap of 122 miles between the Anchorage and Fairbanks divisions. In August, 1919, shortly after returning from his wartime duties and assuming the position vacated by Commissioner Edes, that of AEC Chairman and Chief Engineer, Col. Frederick Mears issued a reorganization order which consolidated the

Laying track at Matanuska, 1916.



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Tanana River bridge under construction, Nenana, Mile 411.7, October 27, 1922.

administration of the government railroad into one functional operation, with headquarters at Anchorage. The Hurricane Gulch bridge was, according to many sources, one of the most difficult construction projects involved in the building of the railroad. At 918 feet in length and soaring 296 feet above Hurricane Creek, a tributary of the Chulitna River, it was the longest and highest span built, and an engineering marvel. It was one of the few construction projects given to an outside contracting firm, the American Bridge Company, of Gary, Indiana. Actual construction would be started in March, 1921, and completed on August 15, 1921. By 1921 two unfinished bridges, at Riley Creek, Milepost 347, and over the Tanana River between Mileposts 411.7 and 413.7, were all that prevented steel rail from meeting between Seward and Fairbanks. In June, 1923, the twenty-ninth President of the United States, Warren G. Harding, and his wife, Florence, set out on an epic journey, to cross the country to Seattle and then go north to Alaska and take the much-touted Great Circle Tour, stopping in Nenana to drive the Golden Spike to signal completion of the Government Railroad. At Seward, the Presidential party, including 23 government officials, their wives, 32 press members and 30 railroadmen, boarded the train, making the first stop in Anchorage, where they received an enthusiastic welcome.



Alaskan History

Tanana River bridge at Nenana, Mile 411.7, January 5, 1923.

They spent three hours in Anchorage before boarding the train again for the journey north. At the Wasilla stop, President Harding took the throttle of Engine 618 and gleefully drove the train 26 miles, to the Willow station. The Presidential party spent that evening at Curry, and the next morning ‘Alaska Nellie’ Neal served heaping plates of sourdough pancakes in her warm roadhouse kitchen, commenting, “Presidents of the United States like to be comfortable when they eat, just like anyone else!” The following day, July 15, 1923, President Harding drove the golden spike in a formal ceremony, marking the completion of the Alaska Railroad and dedicating the Government transportation system to public service. After 21 years and an estimated cost of $60 million, the ocean ports of the North Pacific were connected with the navigable waters of interior Alaska by two narrow bands of steel. The Alaska Railroad, owned by the State of Alaska since 1985, winds four hundred and seventy miles through the very center of The Great Land, from the coastal waters at Seward to the Golden Heart of the state at Fairbanks. Along the route the terrain is constantly changing, from climbing through the beautiful Kenai Mountains to edging along the tidewaters of Turnagain Arm, then wending through the Anchorage bowl and the Matanuska and Susitna Valleys, and crossing the formidable Alaska Range just east of Denali—the Great One. Regularly scheduled service provides transportation for almost half a million passengers every year, and the Alaska Railroad’s scenic routes, such as the Coastal Classic, the Denali Star,



May-June, 2019 and the Glacier Discovery, are popular travel options for tourists—and for residents seeking to share Alaska’s unequalled beauty with family and friends. Perhaps the most unique feature of today’s Alaska Railroad is the flag-stop service on the Hurricane Turn, north of Talkeetna. One of the last flag-stop railroad routes in the United States, this service provides invaluable transportation for residents of the roadless area between Talkeetna and Hurricane, where the railroad meets the Parks Highway just before crossing Hurricane Gulch. Passengers can flag down the train anywhere along this route by waving a large white flag or cloth, and the option is popular with hikers, hunters, fishermen, weekend cabin owners, and especially those who live along the route and depend on the train to obtain food and supplies. The railroad has a vital role in transporting Alaska’s natural resources such as oil, coal, and gravel, hauling over five million tons of freight each year, and the Alaska Rail-Marine Service between Whittier and Seattle ensures seamless travel between Alaska and the lower 48 with a fleet of rail container vessels. The hardy pioneer workmen who built The Alaska Railroad one hundred years ago could not have imagined the speed and luxury with which today’s travelers can cross the state, but today’s travelers likewise can scarcely imagine what it must have been like for those stout-hearted souls who braved the elements to build the railroad. Whether we utilize the railroad today for business, pleasure, transportation, or simply pause alongside the tracks and thrill to the thunderous passing of those gold-and-blue cars, we owe a nod of gratitude to the far-sighted builders of The Alaska Railroad. We are all immeasurably richer for the great treasure they gave us. ~•~

[From The Alaska Railroad 1902-1923, by Helen Hegener. Northern Light Media, 2018.]

Hurricane Gulch, July 21, 1921.

President Warren G. Harding, 1923.



Alaskan History

The 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition As noted in the 1907 Dawson Daily News article, the Alaska Club was in large part responsible for the remarkable extravaganza known as the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909, which took place on the then still largely forested campus of the University of Washington. The A-Y-P Exposition, as it became known, was designed to showcase the city of Seattle as the up-and-coming commercial center of the Pacific coast. It was the golden age of expositions, or World Fairs, which had begun in 1851 with the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, held in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London. The Great Exhibition, as it became known, was the brainchild of Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, and it set the precedent for many subsequent international exhibitions, later called world's fairs. London’s Great Exhibition, which took place from May to October, 1851, was attended by numerous notable figures of the time, including Charles Darwin, Samuel Colt, and the writers Charlotte BrontÍ, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, George Eliot and Alfred Tennyson. Queen Victoria and her family visited three times. Although the Great Exhibition was a platform on



May-June, 2019

The 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition was designed to display and publicize the growth and development of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. which countries from around the world could display their achievements, Great Britain sought to prove its own superiority. The British exhibits at the Great Exhibition "held the lead in almost every field where strength, durability, utility and quality were concerned, whether in iron and steel, machinery or textiles." The Chicago World's Fair, held in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' 1492 arrival in the New World, covered more than 600 acres and featured nearly 200 buildings of predominantly neoclassical architecture, canals, lagoons, and people and cultures from 46 countries. Boasting an iconic centerpiece pool which represented the long voyage Columbus took to the New World, the fair was an influential social and cultural event, and it had a profound effect on architecture, sanitation, the arts, Chicago's self-image, and American industrial optimism. More than 27 million people attended the exposition during its six-month run. Its scale and grandeur far exceeded the other world fairs, and it became a symbol of the emerging American Exceptionalism, a belief that the United States was qualitatively different from other nations.



Alaskan History

The Crystal Palace, home of the 1851 Great Exposition in London. In 1904, St. Louis hosted a World's Fair to celebrate the centennial of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, the largest fair to date with over 1,500 buildings, connected by 75 miles of roads and walkways, on the 1,200 acre site. Sixty-two foreign nations sponsored exhibits, along with fortythree of the then-forty-five U.S. states. It was said to be impossible to give even a hurried glance at everything in less than a week; the Palace of Agriculture alone covered almost 20 acres. The 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, held in Portland, Oregon, and featuring exhibits from 21 countries, attracted over 1.6 million visitors from around the world during the exposition's four-month run. A nationwide economic slump at the end of the nineteenth century spurred plans to boost Oregon’s economy, and some of Portland’s wealthiest and most powerful men began working together to create an international exposition of unprecedented grandeur. The resulting Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition was not, in reality, designed to commemorate the famed cross- country journey. The organizers reportedly had little interest in the historical heroes and their 2,000-mile trek; their inspiration was the vision of Pacific trade which had motivated the exploration and later settlement of the Oregon Territory. In the following five years the city's population increased by over 100,000 people, growth which was attributed to the exposition and did not go unnoticed by its neighbor to the north, Seattle. As the succession of expositions and world's fairs took place following the great popularity of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, Seattle civic boosters, noting the tremendous success of the Portland event, developed plans for such a fair in their



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1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Court of Honor and Mt. Rainer. Puget Sound city, with an eye toward promoting the region's economic and cultural ties to Alaska, the Canadian Northwest, and the Pacific Rim. The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition opened on June 1, 1909, on the largely undeveloped grounds of the University of Washington. As visitors passed through the fair they marveled at exhibits such as the desk where Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, an operational lighthouse, model locomotives, and a large exhibit documenting the history of photography. A popular display at the Alaska building was the more than $1 million in gold nuggets, dust, and ingots inside a heavily fortified case which was lowered through the floor to an underground vault at the end of each day. Alaskan wildlife was on display, along with a fishcanning exhibit, and timber, whaling, and mining displays. There was the finale of a transcontinental auto race, a reenactment of the Civil War battle of the Monitor and the Merrimac, and displays showcasing the “Streets of Cairo,” “On the Yukon,” and the “Gold Camps of Alaska.” The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition was a resounding success. Over eighty thousand people visited on opening day, and more than three million people visited the fair before its gates closed in October; it was the first World's Fair to turn a profit. ~•~ [From The Stained Glass Dog Team, by Helen Hegener, Northern Light Media, 2014]



Alaskan History

“Togo- Most traveled dog in Alaska - Champion trophy winner in Nome - Record of longest and fastest run in Serum Drive,� with 3-time Sweepstakes Champion Leonhard Seppala.



May-June, 2019 “On a cold spring day in 1907 a group of us gathered around the stove in a Nome saloon and began talking about dog races. After a few weeks of arguing we worked out the rules of the ‘All-Alaska Sweepstakes.’ Beginning with the spring of 1908 this great race of dog teams was run every year until the war, the last one in 1917. It became world-famous, and has set the pace for every important dog race since.” A.A. (”Scotty”) Allan,



Men and Dogs (G.P. Putnam Sons, 1931)

All Nome turned out for the Great Race.

The All Alaska Sweepstakes “We all know what an important part dogs have contributed to the development of Alaska, how dependent we are up here on them for transportation. I propose that we establish a Kennel Club, the purpose of which will be to improve the strains of Alaskan dogs, and to better their conditions. The Annual All-Alaska Sweepstakes races...will serve to prove which dogs are best. I predict that dog racing in Alaska will prove as popular a sport as horse racing in Kentucky.” With these words at the Board of Trade saloon in the winter of 1907, the Nome lawyer and dog fancier Albert Fink and a few friends set in motion the creation of the Nome Kennel Club, which would be the first to formalize the rules for racing dogs, founded on the same principles as jockey clubs. Albert Fink served as the first President. The first race, a 408-mile route to Candle and return, held in the spring of 1908, was won by musher John Hegness driving Albert Fink’s team and winning the purse of $10,000. The time for Hegness was 119 hours, 15 minutes, and 22 seconds. The time for popular Nome musher “Scotty” Allan was 120 hours, 7 minutes, and 52 seconds. This close finish for such a rich purse guaranteed the future popularity of the race! There were, however, extenuating circumstances: A two-hour interval between starting teams would prove disastrous when a storm forced the leaders to wait at a checkpoint while the



Alaskan History following teams caught up, and the next year the starting interval was changed to two minutes. Albert Fink would later gain fame as the defense attorney for Illinois Senator William Lorimer’s bribery trial, and as the special tax lawyer who gave the summation for the defense in the tax evasion trial of Chicago mobster Al Capone. In both cases the defendant was found guilty. The course set for the All Alaska Sweepstakes was a tough one, traversing the width of the remote Seward Peninsula from south to north and back again. Esther Birdsall Darling described the trail in her promotional booklet and Official Souvenir History, The Great Dog Races of Nome: "The route varies consistently - from hour to hour - from narrow passage between towering ice hummocks of the Bering Sea to wide plains of unbroken snow; from the steep slopes of Topkok Hill, to the desolate, storm-swept waste of Death Valley; from the pleasant winding road through wooded Council district, to the trackless and treacherous ice on rivers and lakes." Archdeacon of the Yukon Hudson Stuck further explained the country in his 1914 book, Ten Thousand Miles with a Dogsled: "Traveling, like so many other things, is very different on the Seward Peninsula. The constant winds beat down and harden the snow until it has a crust that will carry a man anywhere." A little later, after describing the local meteorological peculiarities, he continues: "So a striking difference in travel at once manifests itself; in the interior all the snow is soft except on a beaten trail itself, while in the Seward Peninsula all the snow is alike hard. The musher is not confined to trails-he can go where he pleases; and his vehicle is under no necessity of conforming in width to a general usage of the country-it may be as wide as he pleases. Hence the hitching of dogs two and three abreast; hence the sleds of twenty-two, twenty-four, or twenty-six inches in width. My tandem rig aroused the curiosity of those who saw it."

Winners, First Annual All-Alaska Sweepstakes, Nome, Alaska. 1908, John Hegness, driver. [Lomen Bros. photograph. Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks, Seiffert Family Photographs UAF-1985-122-1115.]



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Winner 2nd All Alaska Sweepstakes. Berger's entry #1, Scotty Allan, driver. April 1, 1909. [Lomen Bros. photograph. University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections. PH Coll 328.249]

And of the trail from Candle to Council the Archdeacon wrote: "For a while there would be travel such as one sees in children's picture-books, where the man sits in his sled and cracks his whip and is whisked along as gaily as you please - such travel as I had never had before; but there was no pleasure in it - the wind saw to that." Allan Alexander “Scotty” Allan Allan Alexander “Scotty” Allan wrote in his autobiography Gold, Men and Dogs (1931, G.P. Putnam's Sons), "It was great fun winning a race. No matter how much you suffered you felt all right in the end; the same applied to the dogs. The toughest job of all was to go through with a race which you lost. You not only had the disappointment, but the dogs always seemed to know that things hadn't gone right." Scotty tells of the harrowing 1910 race when he literally "fell off a mountain," when a snow ledge gave way beneath his team and he and his team rolled over two hundred feet down a nearly vertical drop, but they gathered themselves and finally arrived at the finish line with "five dogs hitched, two in the sled, and three tied behind.” Scotty later wrote that the last three and one half miles of the race were a total blank, "I never remembered any of it afterwards." And he didn't remember tying the three loose dogs to his sled. Alaskan author Barrett Willoughby's novel The Trail Eater: A Romance of the All Alaska Sweepstakes (1929, G.P. Putnam's Sons) featured a hero based on the real Scotty Allen. The foreword to her book captures the legend of the race: "In this novel of love and reckless adventure I tell of the gold town of Nome in the heyday of its glory--rich, careless, luxurious, and ugly. Nome in evening clothes and on the trail. Nome where the wolf-dog was king, and fortunes



Alaskan History

Team No. 1 starting 5th All Alaska Sweepstakes, April 4, 1912. G.H. Johnson, owner/driver. [Photo by H.G. Kaiser. Dr. Daniel S. Neuman Photographs P307-0313 Alaska State Library] were lost, and gold mines were won on strings of racing malemutes. I tell of the Sweepstakes Trail, and the daredevil drivers who risked their lives on that four-hundred-mile course that is the longest, most hazardous, most cruel--and most fascinating--known to the world of sport. My characters are fictional, but every racing incident is drawn from the colorful career of the champion driver of the All Alaska Sweepstakes--Allen Alexander Allan." Willoughby describes the scene at the start of famed race: "In front of the judges' stand racing drivers were already swinging their teams in--lines of superbly trained, lithe-limbed, thinflanked dogs, groomed to a hair and stripped to their twelve-ounce racing harnesses. At every new arrival a cheer burst from the watching crowd, a cheer that was both for the dogs, and for their tense-faced driver standing behind the handlebars, furred, mukluked, with his starting number on a white square sewed to the front and to the back of his parka." In the 1910 race John “Iron Man� Johnson drove a team for the Scottish nobleman, Fox Maule Ramsay, who had traveled to the Anadyr River area of Siberia and brought back to Nome around sixty of the "thick-coated, prick-eared, tough-footed, swift little foxy-looking dogs," which became the distant forerunners of today's Siberian husky. Driving a team of these speedy little huskies, with his own blue-eyed Siberian leader Kolyma in front, Johnson set a record in the 1910 race of 74 hours, 14 minutes, and 37 seconds. It was a record which stood until 2008.



May-June, 2019 “King of the Alaskan Trail� The great dog driver Leonhard Seppala ran his first All Alaska Sweepstakes race in 1914. A legend in his own time, Seppala lost the first race when he miscalculated the trail, nearly losing his team - and his life - over cliffs which rimmed the Bering Sea. Sliding on ice, barely twenty feet from disaster, his freighting leader Suggen, half Siberian and half malemute, clawed his way to safety with a young and inexperienced team scrambling behind him. Later Seppala said, "I don't know what [Suggen] told them, but it worked." Leonhard Seppala's contributions to the All Alaska Sweepstakes, to dog mushing, and to the development of the Siberian Husky cannot be overstated. In The World of Sled Dogs, author Lorna Coppinger wrote ten years after Seppala's death in 1967, "No dog driver has the status, the reknown, the respect of his colleagues as does Leonhard Seppala." In his autobiography, Seppala: Alaskan Dog Driver, Leonhard Seppala writes of standing around the Board of Trade Saloon in Nome, "glancing at Scotty Allan, Fay Dalzene, and John Johnson, and I felt greatly honored if I could speak with them. I thought they were wonderful men and admired their achievements greatly. Little did I think that the day would come when I should be battling my way on the Sweepstakes trail against them! When they came in they would look frostbitten and worn out after the storms and cold they had encountered on the trail, and I envied them their experiences." Seppala's telling of his second Sweepstakes race is a riveting account, and among the most engaging sections are his encounters with champion dog driver Scotty Allan. Seppala plays a cat-and-mouse game with Scotty Allan, explaining that "Scotty was known for his cunning in dog races, and it was commonly believed that he won his races as much by talking the other fellow out of it as anything else."

Leonhard Seppala and Togo

Leonhard Seppala often said Togo was his favorite sled dog; named for a Japanese admiral, the tough little Siberian co-led Seppala's team in the 1925 Serum Run.



Alaskan History

1910 news clipping, “Iron Man” Johnson

John “Iron Man” Johnson’s leader, Kolyma

Seppala did his best to convince Allan that he was no challenge to his bid for the win, and let Allan tell him that he stood a good chance of coming in second. When he was sure Allan was out of sight Seppala urged a little more speed from his team. At the Boston checkpoint the two dog drivers exchanged pleasantries and Allan told Seppala he didn't have to rush to get second place, and as Seppala pulled out he "got a glimpse of Scotty in the window checking up on the condition of my team." Seppala's dogs were slow to get started, "dragging along and to all appearances were pretty tired and not able to go many miles more; but I was banking on the Siberian traits I knew so well." Seppala delighted in describing his victorious finish: "Tired as I was, it gave me a thrill which made me forget my fatigue to hear the cannon, and the whistles in Nome from the power plant and the fire stations shrieking their blare of welcome. Great numbers of people were strung along the trail to see the finish, and they shouted their encouragement and approval as I went by. Somehow, I was no longer tired, only glad it was over." Leonhard Seppala's reputation as “King of the Alaskan Trail” was created by his three consecutive victories in the All Alaska Sweepstakes (1915-17) and his many wins in shorter races, but the intrepid musher would also play a pivotal role in the 1925 Serum Run to Nome, when an outbreak of diphtheria threatened the isolated town. His famous racing leader Togo led Seppala’s team through a blinding blizzard and across the treacherous frozen Norton Sound, saving precious hours in the heroic race against death. ~•~



May-June, 2019 From The Great Dog Races of Nome - Held Under the Auspices of the Nome Kennel Club, Official Souvenir History, by Esther Birdsall Darling, President, 1916 In this country where dogs have always been an indispensable factor in the work of discovery and settlement, it is hardly surprising that they should be, as well, an indispensable factor in the most popular and representative sport: and it was because of a desire to make this sport a recognized part of the life of the community that the Nome Kennel Club was organized in 1908 with Albert Fink as its first President. From the very beginning there was much enthusiasm, and generous purses have been offered that have ranged from ten to three thousand dollars, according to the financial conditions prevailing, not only in Alaska, but generally-for many contributions come from liberal friends "Outside." It was early seen that not only would the races furnish much of the winter entertainment, but that there would also be a consistent effort on the part of the dog owners and dog drivers to improve the breed of sled dogs, which up to this time had been but little considered; an effort to instill into all dog users an intelligent understanding of the accepted fact that care and kindness to their dogs bring the quickest and surest returns from all standpoints. This has resulted in the development of such a high standard for dogs that not alone is their worth acknowledged throughout Alaska, but their supremacy is conceded the world over. When Amundsen contemplated making a dash to the North Pole, it was to Nome that he wrote for dogs; and while he subsequently gave up the voyage, the dogs selected for him were afterwards used by Leonhard Seppala in a team which twice won the All Alaska Sweepstakes, and the Ruby Derby. Vilhjalmur Stefansson, too, turned to Nome for dogs when he went at the head of a Canadian Expedition to search for unknown lands and chart unknown waters in the ice floes of the Arctic; and the dogs which "Scotty" Allan bought for that intrepid explorer have been of untold assistance in his great achievements. ~•~

1910 Winner First Place, 3rd All Alaska Sweepstakes, John Johnson, driver.



Alaskan History

“Barns in our landscape are sublime. Like a mountain or a river, they have existed there for so long that you can come to believe they will be there forever. But they will not.” Charles Bultman, Architect, in the National Barn Alliance publication, The Barn Journal

Venne barn, Springer Loop Road, 1935. [photo by Albert Marquez, 2013]

The 1935 Matanuska Colony Barns In his classic book, An Age of Barns, artist and author Eric Sloane wrote, “America has no noble ruins, for the old houses are torn down to make way for the new. But, fortunately, some of the old barns still remain--the only structures that are allowed the dignity of pleasing decay.” Today the Matanuska Valley draws worldwide attention for its uniquely orchestrated history and colorful agricultural heritage. The striking Matanuska Colony barn, often seen in local artwork and advertising, has become an iconic symbol of Matanuska Valley history. In 1935 the U.S. government devised a plan to colonize and develop a pioneering community in Alaska. In Matanuska Valley Memoir: The Story of How One Alaskan Community Developed, by Hugh A. Johnson and Keith L. Stanton, published in 1955 by the University of Alaska’s Agricultural Experiment Station in Palmer, the authors explained how the Colony Project brought 202 midwest farm



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The Glendon Doughty barn is located on its original tract no. 63, on McLeod Road, off the southwestern end of Outer Springer Loop Road, south of Palmer. [Photo by Albert Marquez/Planet Earth Adventures]

families to the valley in an unprecedented resettlement program “...established for three purposes: to take people off, or keep them off, relief as a result of the depression in the United States; to demonstrate whether or not Alaska provided a settlement frontier that could absorb excess population; and to add greater support of the Alaskan economy by production of more locally produced food which would lessen dependence on costly and vulnerable waterborne transportation.” A Dramatically Beautiful Valley It was the Colonists’ good fortune to land in a dramatically beautiful valley which already had a rich and vibrant history, and they contributed hard work and dreams of a better future to help build it into a dynamic and vibrant place. The authors of Matanuska Valley Memoir pointed out that the valley was not an untamed wilderness when the Colonists arrived: “It is not generally known that homesteads had owned most of the better lands in the Matanuska Valley for 20 years before the Colony was founded.” However, the Colonists arrived at an opportune time, as the Matanuska Agricultural Experiment Station was showing how fruitful the Matanuska Valley could be, and the growing population center at Anchorage was ready to embrace the local production of farm goods. When the settlers arrived in Alaska in May, 1935, they were assigned 40 to 80 acre tracts via a lottery drawing. The government planned to spend $3,000 building a home, barn, and outbuildings for each family, and the farmers agreed to liquidate the government advance over 30 years. The government architect, David R. Williams, had designed five practical and



Alaskan History

Wineck barn at the Alaska State Fairgrounds, moved from near Bodenburg Butte in 1976. [Photo by Helen Hegener/ Northern Light Media]

Lentz/Musk Ox Farm Colony barn, showing the interior endwall of the hayloft, with ventilation hole. [Photo by Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media]

servicable house plans from which the families could choose. The barns, however, came in only one design, as explained by Johnson and Stanton in Matanuska Valley Memoir: "Only one plan was available. Each was 32 feet square, 32 feet high and had a 'hip' roof. The walls were logs to 10 feet above the ground and then siding to the roof. All were built on small pilings of native spruce.” A Compact, Square Barn The standard barn built for the Matanuska Colony farmers was a 32’ x 32’ structure with a gambrel roof soaring another 32’ into the air. In a booklet published by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Division of Cultural Resources in 1988, titled Evaluation of Historic Sites in Palmer, Alaska, a concise description of the barns is given: “The roof ridge projects over the haymow track and has a flared, open eave line. An open cupola provides venting through the center of the ridge. One and one-half stories in height, the lower floor is log and the upper floor is frame. The mid-section or ‘pony wall’ was usually made of board and batten or vertical planks while drop siding sheathed the hay loft. A large square door, either hinged or on sliding track, provided entry to the hay loft while large, double-leaf doors provided ground floor entrance. Fixed glass, multi-pane windows were used on both floors.” The end result was a compact square barn which was pleasing to look at, but not always pleasing to the farmers who were destined to utilize the barns in their daily lives. From the beginning some of the Colonists complained that the barns were too small, inefficiently partitioned, drafty and poorly built, but many others were finding plenty to appreciate about their new home and were busily making plans to upgrade and improve their farms. By 1940 there



May-June, 2019 were 83 general farms, nine dairy farms, six truck farms, two poultry farms, one sheep farm, and 17 unclassified farms. From the nine dairies in 1940 the dairy industry in the Valley developed and grew until there were 38 Grade A dairies in 1958. Arnold and Emmy Havemeister joined the Colony from Michigan, and built their farm just a few miles east of Wasilla. Today the Havemeister Dairy, still family owned and operated after more than 80 years, is the only working dairy farm from the original Matanuska Colony. Saving the Barns The remaining Matanuska Colony barns can be found in all stages of repair and disrepair, from beautifully restored barns to collapsing and decaying remnants of the originals, slowly being reclaimed by the land. There is no unified effort to save the remaining barns, although a few have been added to the National Register of Historic Places, the nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. There have been herculean efforts to save some Colony barns, most notably the Wineck barn at the Alaska State Fairgrounds, and the Linn-Breeden double barn at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, both moved from their original locations. The Wineck barn was moved from the Bodenburg Butte area to the Alaska State Fairgrounds in 1976. Earl Wineck, whose father Ed Wineck had built the barn 40 years earlier, oversaw the preparation for transporting. Heavily braced for travel stresses, the barn was sawn in half from the front door to the rear door, loaded onto two flatbed trailers and moved down Bodenburg Loop Road, south on the Old Glenn Highway, past the Eklutna Power Station in the shadow of Pioneer Peak. The

Rebarchek farm circa 1955, west side of well house and barn, with two concrete silos. Near the current state fairgrounds {barn is gone). [Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division HABS AK, 13-PALM.V,2-2]



Alaskan History

In the early morning hours of July 17, 2007 the immense Linn-Breeden barn was trucked from near milepost 35 on the Parks Highway through downtown Wasilla to its new location at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry [Frontiersman staff photo by Robert DeBerry, Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman]

trucks turned north onto the Parks Highway, crossed the Knik and Matanuska Rivers and crossed the Palmer Hay Flats and back up the new Glenn Highway to the State Fairgrounds. There the two halves were expertly aligned and spliced together again. On August 28, 1977 the Alaska State Fair celebrated Ed Wineck Day, and today the magnificent barn is a favorite with fair visitors, standing as an enduring tribute to the pioneering spirit. When a Dusty Light Filters through the Cracks Old barns are popular subjects for artists and photographers, and the Matanuska Colony barns are often highlighted by a dramatic backdrop of towering mountains, rendering them almost irresistable to anyone wielding a brush or a camera. The special character of barns stems from their overall appearance of strength, solidity and permanence. They were built to serve generations of farm families, and over many years of service to those families they develop a rich patina and a nostalgic appeal to the sensibilities.When one steps inside an old barn, the complex network of beams, braces, posts, rafters and other elements of the barn's framework create an imposing and impressive sight. The rhythmic placement of structural members creates patterns, and when a dusty light filters through the cracks, an old barn can evoke the same respectful, reverent feelings as one finds when entering an ancient cathedral. This feeling was captured well in the introduction to The Matanuska Colony Barns (Northern Light Media, 2012), written by Valley historian Jim Fox. He described the big Colony barn which graced his grandparents’ farm near Palmer: “My grandparents, Henning and Irene Benson, were



May-June, 2019 Colonists. As a young boy, their big barn was a wonderful, mysterious, and magical place for me. I had free reign of it: At age two or three watching my grandmother take new piglets into the house from an old sow with little maternal instinct; climbing up the wooden stairs behind a wooden door to the haymow full of dust motes electric in the shafts of light…. “The granary - a ground floor room beside the stairs - held a smaller tin room, rodent-proofed to protect the feed grain and spring seed. Horse collars, reins, and tack hung on the walls, which my grandfather first used during his second summer in Alaska, in 1936, until he bought a tractor at the end of WW II. “In the main, south half of the barn were metal stanchions from end-to-end above a concrete floor put in by grandpa as he worked to upgrade the barn to a Grade A dairy before his sudden death in 1950. On the interior white-washed wall opposite the stanchions were the names of cows in his hand, along with the amount of milk they gave, when they’d freshened, been bred, and the date of their calves’ births. A bovine history and genealogy in pencil, still there. “I visited other barns as a child, all with a unique scent of fresh as well as aged manures from cows, chickens, horses, pigs, and pigeons - the same warm earthy smells I find in most farm-made cheeses today - what the vintners in France refer to as terroir. Each barn had its own terroir from the animals, the feeds and hays, the soaps and disinfectants used to clean the milk rooms, and from constant use and disuse over the years. Today they stand as obvious symbols of the farming and dairy past of this Valley. They are also reminders of a time when people worked for themselves, when life seemed simple, was difficult, full of hard work and simple fun.” We are fortunate to have so many Colony barns remaining in the Matanuska Valley, standing proudly against the sky, evoking our agricultural roots. ~•~

Plan for the 1935 Matanuska Colony barn. They were 32’ x 32’ square and 32’ high.

Ferber Bailey Colony Barn. Photo by Helen Hegener/Northern Light Media.

[from The Matanuska Colony Barns, by Helen Hegener. Northern Light Media, 2012]



Alaskan History



Arthur Pitka of Rampart, circa 1930s. [Richard Frank Collection. UAF-1973-71-8]

Simon Paneak mending snowshoes, Anaktuvuk Pass, 1963. [Ward Wells Collection. AMRC-wws-4077-188]

"Belle Stevens, her morning's catch of rabbits on her back, .22 rifle in her right hand.� [Rivenburg Album, 1910-1914. UAF-1994-70-164.]



E.B. Collins, 1912. [E.B. Collins Papers. UAF-2015-111-370]

May-June, 2019

Interior of station agent’s cabin at Chicaloon [sic], 1918 [Photographer H.G. Kaiser, A.E.C. AMRC-aec-g1008]

Man in fur with snowshoes. 1910. [HC Votaw Album UAF-1979-92-63]

Mary-De-An-Na Alli-De-Ute. 1907. [Photo by Case & Draper. Wm R. Norton Album,. ASL-PCA-226-039]

“Mr. Hagan with dogsled and snowshoes.” (No date or location given) [E. B. Collins papers, UAF-2015-111-366]

UAF: University of Fairbanks • ASL: Alaska State Library • AMRC: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center



Alaskan History

Alaskan Books

The Ascent of Denali (Mount McKinley), by Hudson Stuck (1918)

A Woman Who Went to Alaska, by May Kellogg Sullivan (1902)

Golden Alaska, An Up-toDate Guide, by Ernest Ingersoll (1897)

Hudson Stuck, an Episcopal Archdeacon, organized, financed and coled the first expedition to successfully climb the South Peak of Mt. McKinley (Denali). With co-leader Harry Karstens (later the first Superintendent of Mt. McKinley Nat’l Park), and four native youths, Stuck departed Nenana on March 17, 1913 and reached the summit of McKinley on June 7, 1913. Walter Harper, a native Alaskan, reached the summit first. Published in 1918 by Charles Scribner’s Sons, "The Ascent of Denali" is Stuck’s account of that pioneering expedition.

“Two trips, covering a period of eighteen months and a distance of over twelve thousand miles were made practically alone. Neither home nor children claimed my attention. No good reason, I thought, stood in the way of my going to Alaska…” With these words the plucky and determined May Kellogg Sullivan opens her book, recounting her extensive travels to Yukon and Alaskan gold camps and beyond, seeking adventure and her fortune, at a time when few women ventured anywhere alone. Published in 1902 by James H. Earle & Co.

Subtitled “a complete account to date of the Yukon Valley; its history, geography, mineral and other resources, opportunities and means of access.” The Dial, a literary journal of the time, noted in their July 1, 1897 issue that Ingersoll's book was "a timely publication just issued," citing the author as "a well-known writer of books of travel," and noting the book was "well printed and contains numerous half-tone reproductions from photographs of Alaskan scenery." Published in 1897 by Rand, McNalley & Co.



May-June, 2019 The Alaska Railroad 1914-1964, Bernardine Prince (1964) Bernadine LeMay Prince, who joined the U.S. Governmentrun 470-mile Alaska Railroad company in 1948, worked with seven Alaska Railroad managers. In the early 1960’s she used her almost 20+ years of experience and knowledge of the railroad to compile a remarkable two-volume photographic record of the construction and growth of the Alaska Railroad. Utilizing photos from the Alaska Engineering Commission’s photographers, among others, she traced the railroad’s history from it's beginnings in 1914 through decades of sometimes difficult change, to the earthquake of March, 1964. Included are over 2,100 b&w photographs and line drawings. Published by Ken Wray’s Print Shop, Anchorage, 1964. Compilation of Narratives of Exploration in Alaska (1900) By the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, United States Congress, 1900. An important gathering of reports by Frederick Schwatka, Ivan Petrof, W.R. Abercrombie, Henry T. Allen, and many others, comprising the records of expansion of non-natives' knowledge of the territory. Assembled to facilitate a review of territory covered, and the possibilities of opening all American routes to the interior of Alaska. "Henry Allen in his report of the reconnaissance of Copper River and Tanana River valleys states that the Indians drew a number of maps. The one he reproduces …. shows the route to Cook Inlet via Suchitno river." Sixteen reports with 27 folding maps and 33 b/w plates. U.S. Gov’t. Printing Office, 1900. Old Yukon Tales-Trails-Trials, James Wickersham (1938) Territorial judge James Wickersham describes his career as a pioneer attorney, judge, and later as a congressional representative, assigned to a district extending over 300,000 square miles. He made the first recorded attempt of Mt. Denali in 1903; the summit he attempted is now known as Wickersham’s Wall. Once seated as a congressional delegate for the District of Alaska, beginning his term in 1909, Wickersham orchestrated changes to Alaska’s relationship with the federal government, in passage of the Second Organic Act in 1912, establishing Alaska officially as a United States territory with a legislature. Wickersham would go on to serve several more terms as Alaska's delegate to Congress, his last term running from 1931-1933. Published by Washington Law Book Co., 1938.



Alaskan History

Sources & Resources Researching the history of Alaska online or in a library is always an adventure in unexpected discoveries, for a person may start by searching for a specific book or photograph and become happily sidetracked by any number of wonderful resources one never expected to find. In researching the several books which make up this first issue of Alaskan History it was difficult to ignore the distractions and maintain focus on the subject at hand, and that became part of the impetus for starting this magazine. My hope is to inspire readers to do their own research on the marvelous history of Alaska, and enjoy the sidetracks! Alaska & Polar Regions Collections & Archives [http://library.uaf.edu/apr] The mission of the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections & Archives (APRCA) is to acquire, preserve, and provide access to materials that document the past and present of Alaska and the polar regions. Alaska's Digital Archives [https://vilda.alaska.edu] presents a wealth of historical photographs, albums, oral histories, moving images, maps, documents, physical objects, and other materials from libraries, museums and archives throughout our state. Alaska's Digital Newspaper Program [https://library.alaska.gov/hist/ newspaper/digital_home.html] digitally preserve and provide free access to historical newspapers in a searchable online database, Chronicling America. Currently, Alaska has added over 103,000 pages to Chronicling America. ArchiveGrid [https://researchworks.oclc.org/archivegrid/] ArchiveGrid includes over 5 million records describing archival materials, bringing together information about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more. With over 1,000 different archival institutions represented, ArchiveGrid helps researchers looking for primary source materials held in archives, libraries, museums and historical societies. Archives West [http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org] provides descriptions of materials held by institutions in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, and Utah. See the About page for links to other regions. Library of Congress [https://www.loc.gov] The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The Library is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. N. B. Leventhal Map & Education Center [https://collections.leventhalmap.org] a website that includes more than 10,000 digitized maps, global in scope, dating from the 15th century to the present. Northern Light Media [http://www.northernlightmedia.com] publishes this magazine and the books featured in this inaugural issue.

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May-June, 2019

Boats on the beach at Old Knik, on the east side of the Knik River, head of Knik Arm, near the present-day site of Eklutna Village, 1914. Knik was moved to its current location around this time. Photo by P.S. Hunt.

This is the digital edition of Alaskan History Magazine. The print version is available for $10.00 per issue, or $48.00 postpaid for a one year (6 issues) subscription. For more information visit our website at alaskan-history.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A free weekly email newsletter is available, featuring news about upcoming issues, photos, quotes, and excerpts relating to Alaskan History, and links to writer’s guidelines and other information of interest to our readers. To sign up for the free newsletter visit the Contact Us page on our website, find us on Facebook, or just send your email address to AlaskanHistory@gmail.com with a request for the newsletter. The July-August issue of Alaskan History Magazine will be mailed to subscribers July 1st; the digital edition will be available at that time. ~•~



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Alaskan History Magazine, May-June 2019