“Welcome to Alaska and her golden history.”
From earliest recorded history, Alaska has been a land of natural wealth, be it her abundance of sea mammals & wildlife that fed and
clothed her earliest residents, the Alaskan native, with such feasts as fish, shell fish, caribou, moose, whales, mammoths & bison, wolves and bear.
The Russian explorers of the early 1800’s found what they believed to be an unlimited supply of sea otter and fur seal in Alaska’s coastal
water for their lucrative fur trade in Europe.
As early as 1848 Alaska was giving up her golden riches from the Russian River on the Kenai Peninsula,
and by the 1880’s, gold discoveries were being made all over the state. There had been several large strikes made before the Klondike discovery, most notably in the Forty Mile & Circle Mining Districts.
Everywhere you went, you found men eagerly digging and panning the creeks and rivers for gold dust and nuggets.
Just after the turn of the century, in 1902 the discovery of “black
gold”, oil, was made near Katalla, Alaska and that field produced until 1933. It was 1968 before the now famous Prudhoe Bay oil discovery was made and the 800 mile long trans-Alaska pipeline
built. In 1977 the first barrel of oil arrived in Valdez from Prudhoe Bay. Today more than one million barrels of oil travel the pipeline to
Valdez, the most northerly ice-free port in the Western Hemisphere. Within the next five years, a gas line will be built from Prudhoe Bay to the lower-48 to harvest Alaska’s huge reserves of natural gas.
The pictures seen here have never been published, and we were unable to identify any of the men in the
photo’s, but have identified the area’s they were taken in. These are a small sample of the negative found, and depict the hardships of life in early day Alaska.