Gold/World War II

Gold/World War II

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The U.S. bought Alaska from Russia in October 1867 for 7.2 million dollars, or two cents per acre. Many Americans thought this was a waste of money and called Alaska "Seward’s Folly," after Secretary of State William H. Seward who championed the purchase.

English and Russian versions of the treaty for the sale of Alaska.

dipper.gif (185 bytes) For decades the federal government ignored Alaska. In 1877, the sole authority for governing Alaska’s half million square miles and 40,000 residents was placed in the hands of a single customs collector in Sitka. Little changed until the discovery of gold.
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The Gold Rush Era in Alaska began with the gold discovery by Joe Juneau and Richard Harris. Soon hundreds of prospectors poured into the site that later became Alaska’s capital city. In 1897, gold was discovered on the Klondike River in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Some 10,000 fortune seekers headed for the Klondike gold fields. Many of them hiked from Skagway across the treacherous Chilkoot Trail. In 1898, gold was found on the beaches near Nome. A city of tents sprang up overnight, and by 1900, 232 ships had arrived in Nome carrying nearly 18,000 prospectors.

Gold Panner

dipper.gif (185 bytes) Gold focused the world’s attention on Alaska. Newspapers carried sensational stories about the lawlessness in Skagway and Nome. Exaggerated or not, they pointed out the need for law and order on America’s frontier. In 1900, a code of laws was adopted and a court system established, but Alaska wasn’t granted true territorial status until 1912.
dipper.gif (185 bytes) During the frenzy of the gold rush, Alaska’s salmon commercial fishing industry was born. By 1900, more than 50 salmon canneries were operating between Ketchikan and Bristol Bay.
dipper.gif (185 bytes) In the following decades, the distant federal government was preoccupied with the war in Europe and a depression at home. But when America declared war on Japan in 1941, Alaska’s strategic position was suddenly important. By the time Japan invaded the Aleutian Islands in 1943, more than 140,000 military personnel were stationed in Alaska. The Aleutian campaign, known as the "One Thousand Mile War," was the first battle fought on American soil since the Civil War.
dipper.gif (185 bytes) World War II made a supply route to Alaska critical. The government built the 1,523-mile Alaska Highway, through Canada to Fairbanks, in just eight months. The Alaska Highway is one of only two roads linking Alaska with the lower 48 states (the other goes to the small town of Hyder, just across the board from British Columbia).

Alaska Facts

State Nick Name: "The Last Frontier" - the name Alaska is derived from the Aleut word "Aleyska," meaning "great land."

State Motto: "North to the Future"

State Capital: Juneau, located in the Southeast region of Alaska, has a population of 33,277 (2015 Estimate of Population, Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development)

Alaska Map:

Map of Alaska

Alaska Flag:

Alaska state flag is dark blue with yellow stars in the shape of the big dipper with the North star

NOTE: The State of Alaska is not responsible for the content/information on any site outside of a State of Alaska department.