Tag Archives: anniversary

The opening of the Al-Can

The first truck through, November 1942

The anniversary of the first truck to travel the Alaska Highway was on Saturday, 20 November. The truck was the first to drive from Dawson to Whitehorse, and then from Whitehorse to Fairbanks. In 1942, that must have been one chilly ride.

The Alaska Highway Guide; 1948

In 1948, The Alaska Highway Guide was published, which listed the scant accommodations and services along the route. The Milepost, which today is the bible of Al-Can travel, would be published for the first time in 1949.


Big Fitz Memorial Beacon

Split Rock Lighthouse, Two Harbors, Minnesota

The annual Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Beacon Lighting will once again be a public event. Every year on 10 November, the lighthouse, fog signal building, and visitor center are open to the public to commemorate the lives lost in the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975. In 2020, the buildings were closed due to the pandemic.

A film on the Big Fitz will be shown throughout the day. At 4:30pm, the lighthouse will close for the reading of the names of the crew to the tolling of a ship’s bell. Afterwards, the lighthouse will reopen. This is the only day of the year that visitors are allowed to climb the tower, in the dark, to see the lit beacon.


Happy Alaska Day

The Big Dipper dominates Alaska skies

Today is the anniversary of the formal transfer of the Territory of Alaska from Russia to the United States.

The $7.2 million U.S. Treasury check for the purchase of Alaska


Constitution Day

On this date in 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia.


The First Sections of Pipe

The Alaska Maru

On this date in 1969, the first shipment of pipe for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline landed in Valdez, Alaska. On board the Alaska Maru was enough pipe for 8.6 miles of the proposed 800 mile pipeline. There were 1160 sections of 40 foot long pipe, weighing 5 tons each.

Alaska received on average, three shipments a month from Japan. It took ten days for the pipe to travel from Japan to Alaska. The first 300 miles were unloaded at Valdez, and 500 miles to Seward, Anchorage and “other” ports in the state for distribution along the line. The final 150 miles of pipe were trucked up the Haul Road to Prudhoe Bay.


Steamer Yukon

The steamer Yukon

The steamboat Yukon was the first paddlewheeler to venture up the Yukon River. It was July 5, 1869, shortly after the Alaska Territory was bought by the United States from Russia. In part, the trip was a reconnaissance mission, but it was also a supply mission for the Alaska Commercial Company, which took over the trade route from the Hudson Bay Company.

By 1885, when gold was discovered on the Fortymile River, there were three steamers working the river. With the discovery of gold in the Klondike, as many as 100 steamers entered the Yukon River at St Michael to make the trip to Dawson City in the Yukon Territory.



The Good Friday Earthquake

Aerial view of Anchorage’s Park Strip the day after the 9.2 quake; Photo from the University of Alaska Archives

Saturday, March 27 was the 57th Anniversary of the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake that hit south-central Alaska. The 9.2 magnitude earthquake struck at 5:36 pm AST, and the earth shook for the next 4 minutes and 28 seconds. Witnesses say that the earth roared like a freight train for that entire time.

The epicenter was 78 miles from Anchorage in Prince William Sound. It was a relatively shallow quake, with a depth of roughly 15 miles. 131 people were killed due to the earthquake, with 122 of the deaths due to the resulting tsunamis.

Downtown Anchorage after the 1964 earthquake; Photo from the University of Alaska Archives

Seward, Kodiak, Valdez, Chenega, were all hit by tsunamis. Shoup Bay was hit by the largest tsunami with a wave height of 220 feet.

In the first 24 hours after the main shaker, there were 11 aftershocks over 6.0, with another nine over the following three weeks. Thousands of aftershocks hit the area over the next year.


Operation Santa… by dogsled

Flashback Film Friday; Holiday Edition:

Photo credit: Alaska Archives, UAA, USAF

Airmen out of Elmendorf AFB take packages by dogsled into the village of Savoonga on Saint Lawrence Island. It was -20F when they unloaded their C-123, Christmas Day, 1963. The huskies look to be getting impatient.


Losing Darkness

Happy Winter Solstice

Photo credit: University of Alaska Fairbanks

On the Winter Solstice, we neither gain nor lose daylight here in Interior Alaska. The day today will be the same length as yesterday: 3 hours, 47 minutes long.

But tomorrow, tomorrow we will gain 20 seconds. Christmas Eve will see a gain of a minute, and by New Year’s, our daylight will last more than 4 hours.

It’s a big deal here in the north.

Saturn and Jupiter join forces; Credit: NASA/JPL

There will be a double treat in the skies this year, as we get to experience the rare “double conjunction”. Saturn and Jupiter will be so close together in the low southwestern sky, that they will appear as one bright point. The best time for viewing will be one hour after sunset.

The last time Jupiter and Saturn put on this “joint force” in the sky was in 1623.

And for any readers south of the equator:

Cheers!