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That transaction was branded Seward’s Folly in 1867. The discovery of gold in Fairbanks, in 1896 changed all minds about the value of the state. There was such a stampede of gold seekers that General Wilds P. Richardson was put in charge of building a pack road from Valdez to Fairbanks to handle the Klondike traffic. After the gold rush ended, the US Army kept up the road to reach their posts in central Alaska. Even though the road was upgraded in the 1920s to automobile standards, it was not paved until 1957.
That road today is the Richardson Highway. Linking the state’s two largest cities, Anchorage and Fairbanks and Denali National Park.
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It took nearly 50 years after the purchase for the United States to authorize funds for construction of the Alaska Railroad. In 1915, a tent city sprang up with nearly 2,000 would be entrepreneurs, workers, lumberjacks, and more. The name Anchorage came from a popular hardware and clothing store called The Anchorage, that was housed in an old dry-docked steamship named Berth. The city wasn’t incorporated until 1920.
The 1980s brought great prosperity and boom in the oil industry, soon supported and equalled by tourism and recreation, the largest industries in the state today.
Distance: 126 miles
Your can explore more about the multitude of Alaska’s public lands at the Alaska Public Lands Information Center. The Alaska Museum of History introduces you to prehistoric Alaska, a collection of fossils and artifacts and information about Alaska’s unique geological, cultural and ecological history.
Katmai National Monument was created in 1918 to preserve the famed Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a spectacular forty square mile, 100 to 700 foot deep ash flow deposited by Novarupta Volcano. A National Park & Preserve since 1980, today Katmai is still famous for volcanoes, but also for brown bears, pristine waterways with abundant fish, remote wilderness, and a rugged coastline.
Given it's remote location and notoriously bad weather, Aniakchak is one of the least visited units of the National Park System. A vibrant reminder of Alaska's location in the volcanically active Ring of Fire, the monument is home to an impressive six-mile wide, 2,500 ft. deep caldera formed during a massive eruption 3,500 years ago.
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve was created to protect scenic beauty (volcanoes, glaciers, wild rivers and waterfalls), populations of fish and wildlife, watersheds essential for red salmon, and the traditional lifestyle of local residents. Lake Clark's spectacular scenery provides a true wilderness experience for those who visit.
Distance: 305 miles
A portion of your journey to Homer and back will be on the Seward Highway. Few roads in the United States can offer the diversity of scenic landscapes and unique natural features so concentrated in one area. This 127-mile road linking Anchorage and Seward passed through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. The landscape varies from the muddy waters of the Turnagain Arm to the icy blue glaciers that hang almost to the sea.
At the far end of the peninsula, perched on Mount Ballyhoo in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, you’ll find that the concrete remains of the Aleutian World War II National Historic Area speak silently of a time of war. This magical place was the stage for two American tragedies. Here servicemen fought both the Japanese and the extreme weather, as hundreds of native Unangan people, interned a thousand miles away, longed to return to their island homes.
Distance: 248 miles
The name Glennallen comes from the combination of Major Edwin Glenn and Lt. Henry Allen, both leaders in the early explorations of the Copper River region. It was one of the few communities in the region that was not built on the site of a Native village.
Distance: 225 miles
Distance: 340 miles
Summer slopes are graced with birds and wildflowers. Visitors enjoy sightseeing, backpacking, mountaineering, and research opportunities. Whether climbing or admiring, the crowning jewel and North America’s highest peak is the awe inspiring 20,320 foot Mount McKinley.