Alaskan History Magazine

Alaskan History Magazine is an independently produced magazine dedicated to portraying the colorful and important past of the Last Frontier as an interesting and exciting journey of exploration. The style is conversational, yet confident and informative, thoroughly researched to bring the true stories of the people, places and events which shaped Alaskan history to a wide readership. Subscribe, order all the back issues, or just order a single issue:

March-April, 2020 issue, Vol. 2, No. 2, postpaid

1 Year Subscription, Six Issues, beginning with the current issue. The March-April, 2020 issue of Alaskan History Magazine features a wide range of Alaskan history, from some of the first photographs of Alaska by Eadweard Muybridge, to the earliest settlers at Valdez, and an adventuresome lady musher who blazed trails where today’s Alaska Highway crosses the northern landscape. Also Dr. James Taylor White on the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear, and Luther Sage "Yellowstone" Kelly, an Indian scout who helped write Alaska's history.

$48.00


To order a single issue of Alaskan History Magazine:

May-June, 2019 issue, Vol. 1, No. 1, postpaid

Articles include the construction of the Alaska Railroad; a 1918 trip by Margaret Murie, Addison Powell’s 1902 adventures in the Copper River Valley, the All Alaska Sweepstakes sled dog race, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle, and the 1935 Matanuska Colony barns.

$10.00


July-August, 2019 Issue, Vol. 1, No. 2, postpaid

Alaskan bush pilots and early aviators, Alaska’s first newspaper, The Esquimaux; the Alaska Steamship Company; a 1916 horseback trip across the Kenai Peninsula by Frank G. Carpenter; Alaska’s first commercially successful novelist, Barrett Willoughby; and an exciting childhood in the gold rush town of Nome

$10.00


Sept-Oct, 2019 issue, Vol. 1, No. 3, postpaid

The sled dog artwork of Josephine Crumrine, the luxury cruise of railroad magnate Edward H. Harriman and his carefully selected passenger list of scientists and artists, the importance of a key player in Alaska’s history: the sea otter, and the story of the SS Nenana, the Last Lady of the River. Also the history of Alaska’s flag, and an excerpt from Josiah E. Spurr’s 1896 expedition to the Birch Creek Mining District.

$10.00


Nov-Dec, 2019 issue, Vol. 1, No. 4, postpaid

The Orr Stage Company, a WPA guidebook to territorial Alaska, the Kink in the FortyMile, the Woodchopper Roadhouse, pioneer Native rights activist Elizabeth Peratrovich, and the 1898 explorations of Capt. Edwin F. Glenn and W. C. Mendenhall through the Matanuska Valley.

$10.00


Jan-Feb, 2020 issue, Vol. 2, No. 1, postpaid

The history of Chilkoot Pass, the 1915 Tanana Chiefs Conference, the Davidson Ditch, author Ella Rhodes Higginson, 'Baldy of Nome' author Esther Birdsall Darling, and Bard of the Yukon, Robert Service.

$10.00



 

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The Yukon Quest Trail

YQ logoThe 2020 Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race begins in Fairbanks at 11:00 am on February 1, and runs to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory; the Yukon Quest 300 starts at 3:00 pm the same day and runs to Circle, on the Yukon River. There are many exciting books about the race, and many written by the mushers who have run the race, but one book focuses on the trail between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, highlighting the incredible route followed by those mushers who accept the very real challenge of the Yukon Quest.

Yukon Quest Trail The Yukon Quest Trail: 1,000 Miles Across Northern Alaska and the Yukon Territory, text and photos by Helen Hegener, with additional photographs by Eric Vercammen and Fairbanks-based photographer Scott Chesney, was published in full color in December, 2014 by Northern Light Media. The book also includes detailed Trail Notes for Mushers by two-time Yukon Quest Champion John Schandelmeier.

Screen Shot 2019-12-29 at 3.07.23 PMThe Yukon Quest Trail traces  a captivating journey by hardy mushers and their teams of lionhearted sled dogs, traveling, as the subtitle states, ‘1,000 miles across northern Alaska and the Yukon Territory.’ Over frozen rivers and lakes, across mountain ranges, through “valleys unpeopled and still,” as described by poet Robert Service over a century ago, the sled dog teams are on a quest….

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘quest’ as “a journey made in search of something,” or “a long and difficult effort to find or do something.” In the case of the Yukon Quest there are a lot of possibilities for what that “something” might be. A championship. The fulfillment of a dream. A testing of oneself, and one’s dogs. A trek through some of the most incredible wilderness to be found anywhere. A promise kept. A bucket list checkmarked. A march through history. An accomplishment which few mushers ever achieve.  An achievement to be proud of.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 1.55.39 PMThe Yukon Quest Trail explains the history and the route of the Yukon Quest, with photographs which give the reader a compelling look at what it’s like to launch out of the starting chute behind a team of lunging huskies, or to be feeding your tired but hungry team when it’s thirty degrees below zero, or to be all alone in a vast mountain valley with only the thin orange-and-black trail markers to show the way. Superlatives become superfluous, but Robert Service found just the right words in his ode to the north country, The Spell of the Yukon:

The winter! the brightness that blinds you,
The white land locked tight as a drum,
The cold fear that follows and finds you,
The silence that bludgeons you dumb.
The snows that are older than history,
The woods where the weird shadows slant;
The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,
I’ve bade ‘em good-by — but I can’t.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 1.58.26 PMEvery year a large percentage of the mushers who enter the Yukon Quest are those who have been down this trail before, and over the years, this incredible adventure wraps mushers and dogs together with a traveling road show made up of handlers, vets, volunteers, judges, friends, families, fans and the media, as they all travel from checkpoint to checkpoint along the Yukon Quest trail.

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,
And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless,
And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons;
There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There’s a land — oh, it beckons and beckons,
And I want to go back — and I will.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 2.38.15 PMThere are photos of some of the old teams which originally ran these trails, for there is a palpable sense of history inherent in this great race; the mushers and their dogs literally run in the tracks of some of the greatest sled dog drivers of all time.  As the race website notes,”The race is a living memorial to those turn-of-the-century miners, trappers, and mail carriers who opened up the country without benefit of snowmobiles, airplanes, or roads. It was their strength and fortitude that blazed the Trail over which most of the Yukon Quest travels.”

The combination of history, distances, wilderness, and the sheer physical endurance necessary to make the trek captures the imagination like few other sled dog races can, but the country itself, the land the race takes place in, simply captures one’s heart and soul. Robert Service’s epic poem, about a sourdough longing for the country he left behind, puts words to what many who have traveled the Yukon Quest trail still feel today:

There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It’s the great, big, broad land ‘way up yonder,
It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

YQ Front CoverThe Yukon Quest Trail: 1,000 Miles Across Northern Alaska and the Yukon Territory, text and photos by Helen Hegener, additional photographs by Eric Vercammen and Scott Chesney; also included: Trail Notes for Mushers by two-time Yukon Quest Champion John Schandelmeier. Published December, 2014 by Northern Light Media. 151 pages, 8.5″ x 11″ format, bibliography, indexed. $29.00 (plus $5.00 shipping and handling). Click on the title (or here) to order via PayPal.

 

 

 

 

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Jan-Feb Alaskan History Magazine

J:F 2020 CoverLARGEThe Jan-Feb, 2020 issue of Alaskan History Magazine features a look at the history of Chilkoot Pass and the ages-old trail which crossed it, not only in the Klondike gold rush era, but long before then as a vital trade route for the coastal Tlingit Indians, and later as an access route for the earliest gold prospectors, along with a large number of scientists, military expeditions, explorers and adventurers.

The cover image is an 1897 theatrical posted titled “Across the Chikoot Pass,” by American playwright Scott Marble, created by The Strobridge Lithograph Co., Cincinnati & New York, part of the theatrical poster collection of the Library of Congress. Scott Marble (1847 – April 5, 1919) also wrote the stage melodrama The Great Train Robbery (1896), which would become a beloved movie classic.

The first article in this issue is a look at the famous writer, Ella Rhodes Higginson, who became Washington State’s first Poet Laureate. Mrs. Higginson made four trips to Alaska just after the turn of the century,  researching and gathering material for her book titled Alaska, The Great Country, published in 1908. Her flowery detailed descriptions of the land, the people, the towns and villages and much more made her book a popular reference on Alaska for many years.

Tanana Chiefs book 420Also in this issue is a look at the great Davidson Ditch, a 90-mile aqueduct which channeled water from the Chatanika River over hills and across valleys to the rich gold diggings at Fox and Dome Creek, north of Fairbanks. And Fairbanks was the site of another article in this issue, the historic meeting of the Tanana Chiefs in 1915. An excellent book on that gathering was published by the University of Alaska Press in March, 2918: The Tanana Chiefs: Native Rights and Western Law, edited by UAF Emeritus Professor William Schneider, who wrote about the meeting, “It was one of the first times that Native voices were part of the official record. They sought education and medical assistance, and they wanted to know what they could expect from the federal government. They hoped for a balance between preserving their way of life with seeking new opportunities under the law.”

Esther B Darling and dogs 420To the north and west, at Nome, an unusual lady was making a place for herself in the history books as one of the great authors of children’s books, writing classics such as Baldy of Nome and Navarre of the North, beloved by not only children, but by anyone thrilling to a well-told tale about sled dogs and life in the north country. But Esther Birdsall Darling was also a high society lady from a wealthy California family, and her husband, Charles Edward ‘Ned’ Darling, not only founded the farthest north hardware store, but in 1906 he set a world’s record for long distance mushing when he drove his dog team from Nome to Seattle.

This issue concludes with an article about the great Bard of the Yukon, Robert Service, who penned the immortal lines of favorite northern ballads such as The Spell of the Yukon, The Shooting of Dan McGrew, and The Cremation of Sam McGee. From crossing the Canadian prairies in his Buffalo Bill cowboy outfit to canoeing the dangerous “back door” to the Klondike, Robert Service’s life was filled with adventures which matched anything in his beloved poetry.

Also in this issue: Governors of Alaska 1867-1959, antique maps of Alaska, and classic books on Alaskan history, both old and new!


The Jan-Feb issue can be ordered via PayPal or Amazon (I’ll add links here when the issue is available), or you can subscribe to Alaskan History Magazine at this website.

 

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Congressional Records & the ARR

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There are a wealth of historic resources at the website for my book on the Alaska Railroad construction from 1902 to 1923. Most of the resources I used in researching the history and writing the book are there.

Link to the 1913 Congressional Report of the Alaska Railroad Commission, on Railway Routes in Alaska.

Alternate Link.

Below is an excerpt from this report, a message from President William H. Taft dated February 6, 1913, in which he explains the purpose and meaning of the commission report.

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oie_2431739Mw7GhIDh(1)Link to the Congressional Report of the Alaskan Engineering Commission for the period from March 12, 1914 to December 31, 1915.

Alternate link.

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AEC History cover

 

1922 Report on The Alaskan Engineering Commission: Its History, Activities and Organization.

Alternate link.

AEC History quote

 

 

 

 

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Read more history: Website for the Book

ARR CoverThe Alaska Railroad: 1902-1923, Blazing an Iron Trail Across The Last Frontier, by Helen Hegener, published in May, 2017 by Northern Light Media. 400 pages, over 100 b/w historic photos, maps, bibliography, indexed. The book can be ordered via PayPal for $24.00 plus $5.00 postage, by clicking here (credit cards accepted). The Alaska Railroad: 1902-1923 is also available at Amazon, and can be ordered through your favorite bookstore.

 

 

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Nov-Dec Alaskan History

Screen Shot 2019-10-25 at 1.48.24 PMThe November-December of Alaskan History Magazine ranges widely across Alaska, from the early settlements of Tyonek and Knik to the frontier towns of Cordova, Chitina, and Valdez, and from the goldfields of the Fortymile District to the halls of the Territorial legislature in Juneau. Among the articles for this issue:

A guidebook to territorial Alaska from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s U. S. Work Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal jobs program which created the Federal Writers Project.

• An unusual but little-known earth-moving project known as The Kink, notable for the remote location and for the size of the undertaking.

Orr Stage ad• The Ed. S. Orr Stage Company, an important part of our past, which proudly claimed “Eight day service between Valdez and Fairbanks, a distance of 364 miles,” and “All stages equipped with abundance of fur robes and carbon-heated foot warmers.”

• The Woodchopper Roadhouse, at one time the oldest and largest log structure on the Yukon River between Eagle and Circle City.

• The story of pioneer Native rights activist Elizabeth Peratrovich.

• The 1898 explorations of Capt. Edwin F. Glenn and W. C. Mendenhall through the Matanuska Valley.

• Pioneering Alaskan artists, color postcards from the turn of the century, a timeline, an index to the 2019 issues, and a few classic Alaskan books worth seeking out make this issue another worthwhile addition to your library shelves.

Click here to go to the orders page for subscriptions or single issues!

 

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Sled Dog Movies

Last year, 2018, was noted by the Chinese calendar’s zodiac as being the Year of the Dog, but this year, 2019, seems to be the Year of the Sled Dog, as film after film featuring heroic sled dogs is released to movie theaters and home streaming services. There are two movies about the great Serum Run to Nome during the 1925 diphtheria epidemic, one focusing on the champion musher Leonhard Seppala, and the other on his favorite lead dog, Togo. One is an independent production, the other is from the powerhouse film company Disney Studios, but both are absorbing stories, beautifully filmed. Another champion musher, the sprint racing legend George Attla, is the subject of a new PBS documentary, and one of the greatest dog stories of all time is brought to life by a great film legend, Harrison Ford. Pass the popcorn!

~ ~ ~ THE GREAT ALASKAN RACE ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

MV5BNzY2NDFhYzctM2ZmMi00MmU3LWJkOWMtM2UyYzQzYzZmYjQzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTA0NTU3MDYz._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_ From the official website for The Great Alaskan Race: “After overcoming personal tragedy, widowed father and champion musher Leonhard ‘Sepp’ Seppala steps up in the midst of a diphtheria outbreak in Nome, Alaska to deliver the anti-toxin to the hospital. With his own child’s life on the line, Sepp battles the impossible, accompanied by his pack of sled dogs.”

Rex Reed in the Observer: “Bruce Davison is the nervous, embattled governor who approves of the race despite growing fear and criticism, and the skeptical antagonist is Henry Thomas (yes, the child from E. T., all grown up and bearded now). Director Presley is very good as Sepp—the strong, virile and indestructible hero. But there’s no getting around the fact that it’s the dogs who steal the picture.” And “The unfailing spirit of survival is captured along with the excellent period costumes, sets and even makeup (the frostbites look too real for words) that are rare for an independent film with a limited budget. Not a perfect film, but breathtaking enough to linger in the memory.”

great-alaskan-race_668_330_80_int_s_c1Frank Scheck for the Hollywood Reporter: “You’d think that the true story of a legendary dog run across Alaska’s frozen tundra nearly 100 years ago to get lifesaving medicine to diphtheria victims would make for compelling drama. Unfortunately, actor tyro director/screenwriter Brian Presley lacks the filmmaking chops to make the tale come alive in his feature debut. Although earnest to a fault and certainly fulfilling its goal of being family-friendly entertainment, The Great Alaskan Race ultimately proves less exciting and not nearly as adorable as Balto, the 1995 animated film inspired by the same events.”

~ ~ ~ TOGO ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

220px-Togo_film_poster  Walt Disney Studios: An Original Movie starring Willem Dafoe and Julianne Nicholson, “Togo” is the untold true story set in the winter of 1925 that treks across the treacherous terrain of the Alaskan tundra for an exhilarating and uplifting adventure that will test the strength, courage and determination of one man, Leonhard Seppala, and his lead sled dog, Togo. The poignant and emotional adventure debuts on Disney+ on Dec. 20, 2019.

Kate Erbland on IndieWire: “Tom Flynn’s screenplay wedges in a hefty amount of fact-based drama (with a few curious tweaks), and while those elements will likely prove less appealing to younger viewers, the human demands and the canine cost of the quest to secure diphtheria-fighting serum during a horrific Alaska winter are the stuff of classic drama. Dafoe stars as legendary breeder and musher Leonhard Seppala (who helped normalize the use of Siberian Huskies beyond their Native American roots) as he sets out on a 600-mile journey to obtain the medicine needed to save the children of his adopted hometown of Nome, Alaska.”

Screen-Shot-2019-12-04-at-10.05.26-AM-800x400Nicola Austin for Geeks Wordwide: “Togo is a character driven tale that focuses primarily on the central “man and his dog” tale rather than the wider race against time (and elements), and it’s all the better for it. The film flits between present day and flashbacks, nicely building up the central bond between Seppala and Togo – recounting his mischievous puppy years in which the musher tried to give him away twice(!), to him finding his heroic place leading the pack. It’s a beautiful bond that will undoubtedly melt the iciest of hearts; you know what they say about the purest love being between grumpy dads and the pets they said they didn’t want!”

~ ~ ~ ATTLA ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Screen Shot 2019-12-07 at 12.36.40 AMFrom the film’s website: A co-production of ITVS & Vision Maker Media, ATTLA tells the gripping but little-known story of George Attla, a charismatic Alaska Native dogsled racer who, with one good leg and fierce determination, became a legendary sports hero in Northern communities around the world. Part dog whisperer, part canny businessman and part heartthrob, Attla rose to international fame during a unique period of history when Western education, economies, and culture penetrated the Alaskan village lifestyle and forever changed the state with the discovery of oil in the late 1960s. Spanning his fifty-year long career, the film tells Attla’s story from his childhood as a tuberculosis survivor in the Alaskan interior, through his rise as ten-time world champion and mythical state hero, to a village elder resolutely training his grandnephew to race his team one last time.

Screen Shot 2019-12-07 at 12.34.45 AMFrom PBS Independent Lens: “ATTLA tells the gripping but little-known story of George Attla, a charismatic Alaska Native dogsled racer who, with one good leg and fierce determination, became a legendary sports hero in Northern communities around the world. Part dog whisperer, part canny businessman and part heartthrob, Attla rose to international fame during a unique period of history when Western education, economies, and culture penetrated the Alaskan village lifestyle and forever changed the state with the discovery of oil in the late 1960s.

“ATTLA weaves George’s remarkable underdog story with the final chapter of his life, as he emerges from retirement to mentor his twenty-year-old grandnephew, Joe Bifelt, who takes a break from college to train with his uncle. With their sights set on reviving proud cultural traditions, the pair embark on a journey to compete in one of the world’s largest dogsled sprint races, one that has seen a steep decline in Native competitors.”

~ ~ ~ THE CALL OF THE WILD ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Screen Shot 2019-12-07 at 12.47.34 AM  20th Century Fox: Adapted from the beloved literary classic, THE CALL OF THE WILD vividly brings to the screen the story of Buck, a big-hearted dog whose blissful domestic life is turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Alaskan Yukon during the Gold Rush of the 1890s. As the newest rookie on a mail delivery dog sled team–and later its leader–Buck experiences the adventure of a lifetime, ultimately finding his true place in the world and becoming his own master. As a live-action/animation hybrid, THE CALL OF THE WILD employs cutting edge visual effects and animation technology in order to render the animals in the film as fully photorealistic–and emotionally authentic–characters.”

No reviews yet, scheduled for release in February, 2020.

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Alaskan History Magazine

Jul-Aug coverAlaskan History Magazine’s second issue shares the history of the aviation pioneers known as bush pilots, from the first attempt to climb into Alaska’s skies  in 1911 to 1935, when the future of flight in the Last Frontier was well-established and looking bright! 

Ak Steamship Co 2 420Other articles in this issue explore Alaska’s first newspaper, The Esquimaux, which was published a little northwest of Nome; the Alaska Steamship Company, which became an Alaskan shipping monopoly; a 1916 horseback trip across the Kenai Peninsula by the dauntless world traveller Frank G. Carpenter; Alaska’s first commercially successful novelist, Barrett Willoughby, whose every book was about or set in Alaska, and two were made into movies; and an exciting childhood in the gold rush town of Nome by Irving Kenny, who saw it all first-hand!

Wrapping up this issue are brief highlights about Alaska’s early missionaries, the ubiquitous white canvas tent, a half dozen classic books on Alaska’s history, and a guide to some of the sources and resources used in researching this issue. You won’t want to miss this one!

Click here to go to the orders page for subscriptions or single issues!

 

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A New Books Site

First six books

I have reworked an old website I built a few years ago and it is now a showcase for my Baker’s Dozen books on Alaskan history. The front page displays all the book covers, and clicking on any book title will take you to an in-depth description and ordering information for that book. Photographs, excerpts, quotes and more from each book can be found on their individual pages, easily accessed from anywhere on the site via the book titles listed in the right sidebar.

Bottom Seven BooksA page about my company, Northern Light Media, and another linking to my new Alaskan History Magazine round out this simple and straightforward book site. It will be a somewhat static site, while this Northern Light Media site will continue to be updated with posts about Alaskan history, my books and book-related activities, and great photographs. Books can be ordered via PayPal from either site. I hope you’ll take a look at my new book site, share the link with friends who may be interested, and bookmark the site for future reference!

Here’s the link again! 

 

 

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Interesting Old Photos

As I’m researching and doing reference work on articles for Alaskan History Magazine I come across many interesting old photographs of Alaska which don’t meet my needs, but which seem worth sharing for those who enjoy the history. I’ll post a few here now and then, and I’ll share more great old photos from time to time at the magazine’s website and on the related Facebook group.

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Wells Fargo Express office, Tanana, 1900.

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The U.S. Lighthouse Service tender Armeria, assigned to Ketchikan, ran aground off Cape Hinchinbrook on 20 May 1912 while delivering supplies for the Cape Hinchinbrook lighthouse.

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Governor’s mansion under construction. Juneau, July 31, 1912. 

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Cabin of Rex Beach, author of ‘The Spoilers,” and “The Silver Horde,” Rampart, date unknown.

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Freighters crossing Thompson Pass north of Valdez, date unknown. 

 

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Old Alaskan Postcards

Nome 1899

Juneau mine

Ft. Gibbon on the Yukon River

Seward birds eye view

Valdez Overland Stage

Nome watching passengers landing

Skagway

Wrangell

Juneau and Gastineau Channel

Nome passengers landing

Valdez

78. Keystone Canyon team

 

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