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69Mil BC
A plant-eating duck-billed dinosaur roamed northern Alaska about this time. Fossils of the hadrosaur were reported as a new species in 2015.
Links: Alaska, Dinosaur, HistoryBC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
9500 BC
In 2011 scientists identified the cremated bones, dating to about this time, of a 3-year-old child buried in the Tanana lowlands of central Alaska.
Links: USA, Alaska, HistoryBC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1728
Vitus Bering (47), Danish explorer in the Russian navy, discovered the Bering Strait between Asia and North America.
Links: Russia, USA, Denmark, Alaska, Explorer     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1741 Jul 15
George Steller, an observer with Vitus Bering (1680-1741), claimed to see the American mainland (Alaska). Bering, a Danish-born mariner, was on an exploratory mission on behalf of Russia.
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1741 Jul 16
Vitus Bering (1680-1741) first sighted Mt. St. Elias, the second highest peak in Alaska at 18,008 feet.
Links: Russia, USA, Denmark, Alaska     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1780
A Japanese whaling ship ran aground near the western end of the Aleutian Islands. Rats from the ship reached the nearest island giving it the name Rat Island. The incident introduced the non-native Norway rat, also known as the brown rat, to Alaska. The rats terrorized all but the largest birds on the island. In the Fall of 2008 poison was dropped onto the island from helicopter-hoisted buckets for a week and a half. By mid 2009 there were no signs of living rats and some birds had returned.
Links: USA, Japan, Alaska, Whales     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1796
An Aleutian island named Bogoslof first appeared after an underwater eruption. Its base lay 5,500 down on the floor of the Bering Sea. By 2017 it measured 169 acres with a peak at 490 feet.
Links: USA, Volcano, Alaska     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1799
Sitka, Alaska, was founded by Alexander Baranof of the Russian American Company.
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1844
The Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel was built in Sitka, Alaska. It was destroyed by fire in 1966 and painstakingly rebuilt.
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1856
In Alaska the Russian occupants of the Batzulnetas outpost were massacred by natives.
Links: Russia, Alaska     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1865 Jun
The Confederate ship Shenandoah under Capt. James Waddell attacked Yankee whalers off the coast of Alaska firing the last shots of the US Civil War.
Links: USA, Alaska, Civil War (US)     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1865 Nov 6
The Confederate ship Shenandoah under Capt. James Waddell surrendered in Liverpool, England, after attacking Yankee commercial shipping off the coast of Alaska. It had sunk of captured 38 vessels, mostly New Bedford whaleships. The surrender of the Shenandoah was the last act of the US Civil War.
Links: Britain, USA, Alaska, Civil War (US)     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1867 Mar 30
US Secretary of State William H. Seward signed an agreement with Russia’s Baron Edouard de Stoeckl to purchase the territory of Alaska for $7.2 million, two cents an acre, a deal roundly ridiculed as "Seward's Folly," "Seward's icebox," and President Andrew Johnson's "polar bear garden."
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1887
In Alaska William Moore, a former steamboat captain, homesteaded 160 acres with his son in a settlement he called Mooresville, where the Taiya River meets the Skagway. He anticipated a gold rush that arrived in 1897. His settlement was overrun and became Skagway.
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1899
The Matson shipping line began using 266-foot square-rigger Falls of Clyde, built in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1878, to haul molasses to California and return back to Hawaii with kerosene. This continued until 1922 when the ship was demasted and sent to Alaska, where it became a floating fuel dock. In 1963 enthusiasts towed the ship back to Hawaii, where it later came under the ownership of the Bishop Museum. In 2008 new owners hoped to save an renovate the ship.
Links: USA, SF, Alaska, Ship, Hawaii     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1906 Sep 7
1906 Sep 19
Dr. Frederick Cook (1865-1940) and Ed Barrill explored the foothills of Mt. McKinley, Alaska. Cook soon claimed to have taken a picture of his companion, Edward Barrill, from the summit of Mt. McKinley. In 1909 his book “To the Top of the Continent” was published. In 1923 Cook was convicted of mail fraud for selling worthless oil stocks to unsuspecting investors. In 1998 it was reported that the photo was a fake, and that the 2 men never reached the summit.
Links: USA, Alaska, Explorer, Fraud     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1909 Jan 18
Robert Stroud (1890-1963), who later gained fame as the Birdman of Alcatraz, killed a bartender in Alaska. Barman F. K. "Charlie" Von Dahmer had viciously raped and beat his friend, Kitty O’Brien (36), a prostitute and dance-hall entertainer. Stroud later knifed a fellow prisoner and was transferred to Leavenworth prison where he murdered a guard in the prison dining hall.
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1909
California became its own Jesuit province becoming fully independent from Turin. The Province boundaries expanded to encompass all of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
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1912 Jun 6
In Alaska the Novarupta volcano began erupting 6 miles from Mount Katmai. When the eruption stopped on June 9th, the ash cloud had spread across southern Alaska. This was later recognized as the most powerful volcanic eruption of the 20th century. Crops withered across Canada and the US that summer under skies shrouded with volcanic ash.
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1913 Jun
Rev. Hudson Stuck led a team in the 1st ascent to the summit of Mt. McKinley, Alaska.
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1917
In Alaska the territorial Legislature created the Univ. of Alaska in Fairbanks and specified that it include a museum. In 1978 the state Legislature paid for a building designed to hold exhibits. In 1980 a 39,000-square-foot space opened as the Univ. of Alaska Museum of the North.
Links: USA, Alaska, Museums, Education     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1923
US Pres. Warren Harding authorized a 22-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve as an emergency oil supply for the US Navy near Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. In 2015 ConocoPhillips became the first company to draw from the reserve.
Links: USA, Oil, Alaska, HardingW     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1925 Jan 27
Anchorage, Alaska, delivered a diphtheria antitoxin to Nenana. Dr. Curtis Welch in Nome had begun diagnosing cases of diphtheria. An emergency delivery of serum against the disease was arranged by dogsled. 20 mushers rushed the serum 674 miles from Nenana to Nome in 5 days. The last leg of the journey was run by Gunnar Kaasen (1882-1964) and his lead dog Balto (d.1933). An animated film on Balto was made in 1995 by Stephen Spielberg. The longest segment of the journey, 260 miles, was run by Leonhard Seppala and his lead dog Togo. The events were later described by Bill Sherwonit in his book: "Iditarod: the Great Race to Nome."
Links: USA, Microbiology, Medical, Alaska, Animal     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1935
The Federal Emergency Relief Administration created an experimental farming community known as the Matanuska Valley Colony as part of the New Deal resettlement plan. Palmer, Alaska, was founded during the Great Depression, when 203 Midwestern farm families were relocated here and given 40-acre tracts as part of the Matanuska Colony Project.
Links: USA, Alaska     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1939
Augie Hiebert went to Alaska to help build the first radio station in Fairbanks.
Links: USA, Radio, Alaska     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1946 Apr 1
Two large earthquakes shook the Scotch Cap Lighthouse on Unimak Island, Alaska. A resulting tsunami washed away the lighthouse. The Aleutian Islands earthquake also triggered a Pacific-wide tsunami that killed 165 people and caused over $26 million in damages. Tidal waves struck the Hawaiian islands, resulting in more than 170 deaths. 91 people were killed in Hilo.
Links: USA, Earthquake, Alaska, Disaster, Hawaii     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1948 Mar 12
In Alaska 24 merchant marines and six crewmen were flying from China to New York City, when their DC-4 slammed into Mount Sanford killing all 30. Pilots Kevin McGregor and Marc Millican discovered some mummified remains in 1999 while recovering artifacts to identify the wreckage they had found two years earlier.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Alaska, DNA     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1952 Sep 7
The 369-foot passenger liner Princess Kathleen, launched in 1924, ran aground and sank near Juneau, Alaska. There was no loss of life.
Links: USA, Alaska, Ship     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1952 Nov 22
A US military plane crashed near Anchorage, Alaska. All 52 crew members were believed killed. Wreckage was spotted on a melting glacier in 2012. By 2014 the remains of 17 were recovered and identified. The remains of 35 others were not yet recovered.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Alaska     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1953
Augie Hiebert (1916-2007) opened Alaska’s first television station in Anchorage.
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1954
The Alaska town of North Pole began Operation Santa, a volunteer program to respond to children’s letters sent to Santa Claus. The US Postal Service dropped the program in 2009.
Links: USA, Postage, Alaska     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1960
The Eisenhower administration created the Arctic National Wildlife Range on 9 million acres of Alaska’s coastal plain and mountains adjacent to Canada.
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1964 Feb 11
Sarah Palin, later governor of Alaska, was born in Sandpoint, Idaho. After 3 months her family moved to Alaska. In 2008 Sen. John McCain named her as his vice-presidential running mate.
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1964 Mar 27
On Good Friday, Valdez, Alaska, in Prince William Sound was rocked by an 8.6 earthquake, the largest ever recorded in North America. In 1977 seismologists pegged the quake at 9.2. It lasted 4 minutes and was followed by tsunamis and fires and 131 people were killed. Survivors moved 4 miles west to solid bedrock and rebuilt the town.
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1964 Mar 28
Much of Crescent City, Ca., was demolished early today by a tsunami generated from the 8.6 earthquake that hit Valdez, Alaska. 11 people were killed.
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1966
Walter Hickel (1919-2010) upset 2-term Democratic Gov. William Egan to become governor of Alaska. In 1969 Hickel was named secretary of the interior under Pres. Nixon.
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1967 Feb
Art Davidson, Ray Genet and Dave Johnston completed the first winter ascent of Mount McKinley. On their descent they became trapped by a storm for 6 days at 18,500 feet in an ice-cave. In 1969 Art Davidson authored “Minus 148°.”
Links: USA, Alaska, Books     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1967 Jul 15
In Alaska a major blizzard caught 7 climbers high on Mount McKinley (Denali). Five of 12 climbers managed to reach safety, but 7 were caught and froze to death. In 2007 James M. Tabor’s: “Forever on the Mountain: The Truth Behind One of Mountaineering's Most Controversial and Mysterious Disasters,” was published.
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1968 Mar 13
Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) and Humble Oil and Refining Company (now Exxon Company, U.S.A.) announced the discovery of oil on Alaska’s North Slope (Prud-hoe Bay). The oil companies soon began efforts to construct a pipeline, but work was sus-pended due to environmental concerns.
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1968 May 15
A tornado at Jonesboro, Arkansas, killed 34 people. Another near Anchorage, Alaska, killed one person.
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1968
The Anchorage Museum of History and Art opened.
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1968
Ted Stevens began representing Alaska in the US Senate.
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1968
Following the disocvery of oil in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the Eskimos were given 44m acres of land, $1 billion and shares in regional and village corporations so that the government could build a pipeline to the oil.
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1969
Ben Metcalfe (d.2003 at 83) coordinated the initial campaigns of the Winnipeg-based Don't Make a Wave Committee (later Greenpeace) against planned nuclear tests in the Aleutian Islands.
Links: Canada, Alaska, Nuclear     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1970 Feb 12
Dean Arthur Schwartzmiller (28) was convicted in Juneau, Alaska, of 2 charges of lewd conduct after being accused of molesting 2 boys. Over the next 35 years he was arrested in 6 more states on molestation charges. In 2005 police in San Jose found notebooks at his home that documented over 36,000 sex acts with young boys. In 2006 a jury in Santa Clara, Ca., convicted Schwartzmiller (64) of molesting 2 San Jose boys. In 2007 he was sentenced to 152 years to life in prison.
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1970 Nov 25
Walter Hickel (1919-2010), former governor of Alaska and US Secretary of the Interior, was fired by Pres. Nixon after sending Nixon a letter critical of how the president handled student protests following the National Guard shootings at Kent State.
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1971 Sep 4
An Alaska Airlines jet crashed near Juneau, killing 111 people.
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1971 Sep 15
A group of activists set sail on the Phyllis Cormack for Alaska from Vancouver, Canada, to stop a US nuclear weapons test in the Aleutian Islands. Panels reading Green and Peace dangled from the bridge. Bob Hunter (d.2005), one of the activists, became the 1st president of Greenpeace (1973-1977).
Links: Canada, Alaska, Nuclear     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1971 Nov 6
The US Atomic Energy Commission exploded a 5-megaton bomb beneath Amchitka Island, Alaska, just 87 miles from the Petropavlovsk Russian naval base. It registered as a magnitude-7 earthquake.
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1971 Dec 18
Pres. Nixon signed into law the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). It gave large portions of prime bear habitat to the Alutiiq people, who had hunted and fished on the island for 7,000 years. 10% of the state, 44 million acres of land, was ceded to native tribes.
Links: USA, Alaska, AmerIndian, NixonR     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1971
Walter Hickel (1919-2010), former governor of Alaska (1966-1969) and former US secretary of the interior (1969-1970) under Pres. Nixon, authored “Who Owns America.”
Links: USA, Alaska, Books     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1972 Sep 26
Richard M. Nixon met with Emperor Hirohito in Anchorage, Alaska, the first-ever meeting of a U.S. President and a Japanese Monarch.
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1972 Oct 16
A small plane disappeared during a flight from Anchorage to Juneau. On board were Thomas Hale Boggs Sr. (b.1914), US Congressman from Louisiana, Representative Nick Begich of Alaska, Begich’s aide Russell Brown and the pilot, Don Jonz. House Resolution 1 of January 3, 1973, officially recognized Boggs's presumed death and opened the way for a special election. Boggs’s wife, Lindy Boggs, (1916-2013), won the special election and served to 1991.
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1972
The Alaska Continental Development Corp. merged with the financially troubled Alaska Airlines. The airline soon became profitable in part due to the Alaska oil pipeline.
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1973 Nov 16
President Nixon signed the Trans Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act into law. Oil companies formed a consortium that gave British Petroleum 50.1% control of the pipeline.
Links: USA, Oil, Alaska, NixonR     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1973
The Alaskan 1,159 mile Iditarod dog-sled race was first run in commemoration of the 1925 dog-sled relay for diphtheria vaccine to Nome.
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1975 Mar 27
The 1st pipe of the Alaska oil pipeline was laid at Tonsina River.
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1975
Alaska’s Supreme Court ruled that what a person does in his home is protected under a strong privacy provision in the state’s Constitution. Justices concluded that cultivating small amounts of cannabis was harmless. Marijuana remained illegal under federal law.
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1976
The Alaska Permanent Fund was created after oil was discovered on the North Slope. Residents of over a year received an annual dividend from the fund.
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1977 May 31
The trans-Alaska oil pipeline was completed after three years of work.
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