Tag Archives: Alaska

Eight stars of gold on a field of blue


The Alaska state flag

In 1927, when Alaska was still a U.S. Territory, Territorial Governor George Parks persuaded the Alaska American Legion to hold a competition. The Governor thought it would help the statehood movement by having a state flag, so the Legion held a contest, open to all Alaskan children, to design Alaska’s new flag.

142 designs were sent to Juneau from all over the state. A thirteen year old living in Seward, John Ben “Benny” Benson won the contest with a simple, yet elegant design.


Benny Benson holding his design for the new Alaska flag

Benny Benson was born in the fishing village of Chignik. His father was a Swedish fisherman, his mother an Aleut-Russian. Benny’s mother died when he was just three, and the family home burned to the ground shortly afterwards. His father, John Ben Benson Sr, could not take care of his three children alone, so they were divided up. Benny and his brother were put into an orphanage in Unalaska; his sister Elsie was sent to a school in Oregon.

The Jesse Lee Home in Unalaska was home to hundreds of Aleut orphans. It eventually moved from Unalaska in the Aleutian Chain, to the town of Seward on the mainland. It was from here that Benny Benson sent his design for the Alaska flag, as a seventh grader.


The Jesse Lee Home for Children in Unalaska, circa 1901

Benson described his design to the judges this way: “The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaska flower. The North Star is for the future of the state of Alaska, the most northerly in the Union. The dipper is for the Great Bear – symbolizing strength.”

The Territorial Legislature approved the new flag in May of 1927, and Alaska officially flew its new flag for the first time on 9 July 1927. Benny Benson received a watch, with the flag design etched on it, as well as a $1000 educational scholarship, which he eventually used to become a diesel mechanic.

Benson Boulevard in Anchorage, which is a major east-west thoroughfare, is named after Benny.
A Benny Benson Memorial is located at milepost 1.4 of the Seward Highway in Seward.
The airport in Kodiak was renamed the Kodiak Benny Benson State Airport in 2013.
A school in Anchorage on Campbell Airstrip Road has been named the Benny Benson School.

Benny Benson died of a heart attack in 1972. He was 58.

The black & white photos courtesy of The Alaska State Library Archives


Rover Repairs

I have not done a Rover post in a while, simply because I have not worked on the vehicle in a while. I have not been idle on that front however, as I’ve been hoarding Rover parts for at least a year, and quite possibly two.

Since my work truck now has a body shop appointment, due to an Out of State Trespasser, I will need the old Land Rover for a week or two on the job, so my motivation to rid the Rover Hut of parts has grown considerably.

As in life, one part going out, leads to the replacement of several others, and such is the World of Land Rovers. After installing the new Turner engine in San Antonio, I found that this motor was not happy with the standard mechanical fuel pump. I then installed an inline electric pump, which made all the difference. The added benefit to the electric pump, was that the problem of vapor lock dissipated. Living in Alaska, vapor lock was like the Yeti: the stuff of legends. Traveling in Texas and Mexico, brought the beast out into the realm of reality.

The electric pump recently fried out, which started this whole affair. The last time The Rover was in the Lower 48, my gas tank started to leak at the seam. I had heard that rubbing Ivory bar soap at the point of the leak, would seal the thing, and sure enough, Ivory worked like a charm. In fact, that field repair ended up lasting several Years, and yes, I meant to capitalize that. Obviously, once one replaces the fuel pump, one might as well replace the leaking tank, especially since a new tank is sitting under the work bench.

Dropping the old tank on this truck is relatively easy, although a tad harder when it is almost full. One thing that constantly amuses me, hours later, is how a simple item like a gas tank can change over the years. One would think at 52 years old, the mold would be kind of locked into a pattern, but no. This isn’t the first time I’ve replaced the tank, so I know that the tank has grown in length incrementally over the years. That is only a problem due to the fact that the tank fits into a fixed amount of space. You’ll get the thing in there, but it will take a bit of pressure.

Rovers North claims that the new tank has been tested for leaks. It better be, but I’ll carry a bar of Ivory just in case.

Since I was under The Rover, and the tail pipe had broken from the muffler, and since I have the replacement parts, I decided to pull the exhaust too. I know what you’re thinking, the tailpipe was hanging there just fine from the clamps, but there is another reason for the exhaust removal. That will be for another post, assuming the job goes in the direction of the plan.

While dropping the muffler, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a brown blur racing at me. I had just enough time to jump up, and bang my head, which caused the blur to change direction before running through my hair. I thought I knew what it was, but I hadn’t seen it for a while. Sure enough, the little force of nature came zipping by me again, and this time I was able to get a good look at it.

It was my resident weasel, which I’ve written about on here before. He was living in my wood shed this past winter, but as each week passed, and the wood pile became smaller and smaller, he was forced to find another place to live. He’s brown now, with the black-tipped tail. The weasel is as feisty as ever, not even remotely impressed by my presence, and quite possibly still holding a grudge.


Happy Fourth

4th of July, 1904; Fairbanks, Alaska


The dedication of the first court house in Fairbanks – 1904, Judge Wickersham gave the 4th of July speech


Reading of the Declaration of Independence – 1904 Fairbanks


Independence Day – 1904, Fairbanks, Alaska


Birch Glow


Kodiak after Novarupta

Kodiak, Alaska in 1912


Photo courtesy of Katmai National Park & Preserve

The Alaskan community of Kodiak one day after the eruption of Novarupta in 1912. Over a foot of ash fell on the town, collapsing roofs and engulfing the area in near total darkness.


The Sacred Grove


Comic credit: Nuggets by Jamie Smith


Hiking the Dome


Looking up at Murphy Dome

I spent much of Saturday hiking the trails from Murphy Dome, which lies 25 miles or so, northwest of Fairbanks. Not surprisingly, there was a fair amount of snow still up high, although the trails were mostly snow free. It was a beautiful day to be out & about, with only a few rain drops making it to me from far away, when the wind was just right.

As luck would have it, this was the only shot I took with the digital today, the rest were all film shots. Time will tell if anything turns out worth sharing, but this gives one an idea of the country.