Category Archives: Books

A New Books Site

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. Continue reading

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The Ascent of Denali

Hudson Stuck (1865–1920), known as the Archdeacon of the Yukon and the Arctic, was an Episcopal priest, social reformer, and mountain climber in the territory of Alaska who co-led the first expedition to successfully climb Denali (Mount McKinley) in June, 1913. He wrote a book based on the climb, The Ascent of Denali (Mount McKinley): A Narrative of the First Complete Ascent of the Highest Peak in North America, which was published in February, 1914 by Charles Scribers Sons, New York.  Continue reading

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Across Alaska in 1907-08

In October 1907, his work for the 1906-1908 Anglo-American Polar Expedition completed, Ejnar Mikkelsen set out on a formidable journey home, which would take him west along the Arctic coast from Flaxman Island, where he left Leffingwell to continue doing scientific research and mapping. Mikkelsen’s trail led to Barrow, Nome, Fort Gibbon, Manley Hot Springs, Fairbanks, and then down the Fairbanks-Valdez Trail to Valdez, where he boarded a ship for home. The first part of his journey was made by dogsled, the second half riding in the horse-drawn sledges which travelled the winter trails. Continue reading

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Tribute to a Sled Dog

Prologue: Tribute to a Sled Dog, from “Sled dog : and other poems of the North,” by Charles E. Gillham, associate editor of Field & Stream magazine, an outdoor writer and game biologist. In 1934 he transferred to the Canadian Arctic as a Federal waterfowl biologist, and his arctic service resulted in four books, “The Raw North,” “Sled Dog,” “Beyond the Clapping Mountains” and “Medicine Men of Hooper Bay.” He left Alaska in 1945. Continue reading

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Addison Powell in Valdez

Addison M. Powell was an adventurer, prospector, hunter, and a guide for Captain William R. Abercrombie’s 1898 Copper River Exploring Expedition, one of three military expeditions organized to explore the interior of the new territory of Alaska. His book Trailing and Camping in Alaska, subtitled Ten Years Spent Exploring, Hunting and Prospecting in Alaska – 1898 to 1909, was republished in its entirety by Northern Light Media in September, 2018.  Continue reading

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W. T. Geisman, Photographer

As the official photographer for the Matanuska Colony Project, Geisman documented every aspect of the venture, from the kitchen help aboard the North Star to the colonists’ children playing in the tent city, from officials posing stiffly for portraits to farmers working together to build homes before winter. His photographs portray proud farm wives showing their neat tent kitchens, and a small girl sitting in an Alaskan berry patch grinning at the cameraman. Continue reading

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1967 Centennial Race

The 1967 race was billed as ‘the biggest event in racing history,’ with an unprecedented purse of $25,000, richer than any purse offered for a sled dog race until then. It attracted mushers from all around Alaska, respected dog drivers such as George Attla, Gareth Wright, Earl Norris, Jerry Riley, Orville Lake, Herbie Nayokpuk, Dick Mackey, and even two champion sprint mushers from Massachusetts: Dr. Roland Lombard and Dr. Charles Belford. Continue reading

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The Origins of Mushing

“I find in the book, ‘The World of Sled Dogs,’ by Lorna Coppinger, that the earliest historical records of the use of sled dogs in the Siberian subarctic appear in Arabian literature of the tenth century; in writings of Marco Polo in the thirteenth century; and of Francesco de Kollo in the sixteenth.” Continue reading

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1911 Iditarod Sweepstakes

On New Year’s Day, January 1, 1911, 62 years before the inaugural run of today’s race, the First Annual Iditarod Sweepstakes Race was held over a 20-mile course which started in front of the Miners and Merchants Bank in the town of Iditarod. Continue reading

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The First Iditarod, 2nd Edition

From 2007 to 2012 I travelled across Alaska to visit veteran mushers from the 1973 race who would share their memories of what has since become known as “The Last Great Race on Earth.” The bulk of my book is comprised of the verbatim words of these intrepid men who drove their teams on that first journey to Nome in 1973, captured through recorded and videotaped interviews and many notes and follow-up letters and emails. Continue reading

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