Adventures in Alaskan Economy

Episode 1: Pillagers of the North

No one knows for certain when or how the first humans came to North America. Our best guess is that between 10,000 and 30,000 years ago the ancestors of Alaska's Eskimos and Aleuts followed herds of bison, caribou, and woolly mammoth eastward across the land bridge that connected Asia and North America. Over hundreds of years, they trickled slowly into the area that is now called Alaska...

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  Episode 2: Lord of Alaska

Russian explorers and hunters began arriving in Alaska soon after Vitus Bering discovered Alaska in 1741. Bering had been hired by the Russian czar to seek a trade route to Europe and to determine whether Asia and North America were connected by land. On his second voyage Bering sighted the Aleutian Islands and briefly explored the coastline of southeastern Alaska. Bering and many members of his crew died of scurvy on the trip, but the survivors returned to Russia with news of Alaska and its many wonders - especially the millions of sea otters whose fur was the most expensive on earth...

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  Episode 3: Arctic Graveyard

The first Yankee whalers entered the Bering Sea in 1848. They were a long way from their home ports in New England for a very good reason. They had scoured first the Atlantic and then the Pacific oceans for whales to satisfy the world's soaring demand for whale oil and whale bone. Whales were becoming harder and harder to find, and the icy waters of the Bering Sea held great promise...

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  Episode 4: Ice Treasure

When gold was discovered in California in 1848, most of the people in the United States lived east of the Mississippi River. Made up of small towns and ranches, California was a new territory of the United States. San Francisco was a small whaling port. The discovery of gold changed all that!..

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  Episode 5: The Rush for Gold

Over forty thousand men and women made it to the Canadian gold fields of the Klondike by 1898. Like the 49ers in California they included both prospectors searching for gold in the hills and merchants searching for gold in the towns. The trip into the Klondike was long and expensive, but, as in California, the lure of gold provide powerful incentives...

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  Episode 6: Rivers of Plenty

The first commercial salmon canneries opened in southeast Alaska in 1878. This was about the same time gold was discovered near Juneau. Gold and Salmon became the two major industries of the Alaska territorial economy...

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  Episode 7: Steel Rails in the North

In 1915 it seemed strange to most people that the government would build a railroad to Alaska. Railroads had been important in the development of the western territories of the United States throughout the nineteenth century, but these had mostly been privately owned railroads. Although the government through land grands and subsidies had helped these other railroads, this would be the first time the government would own a railroad. This seemed more like socialism than the  i that the U.S. economy followed...

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  Episode 8: Fortress Alaska

In June, 1942 Japanese forces bombed the American base at Dutch Harbor and occupied the islands of Attu and Kiska at the western tip of the Aleutian chain. Alaska became the only U.S. territory to be invaded in the twentieth century. Fortunately the United States was not entirely unprepared. American military planners had foreseen the possibility of a Japanese attack and had begun fortifying parts of Alaska in 1940...

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  Episode 9: Quest of Statehood

Alaska became a state in 1959, eighty-nine years after it was purchased by the U.S. from Russia. The road to statehood, however, was rough and rocky. Many problems had to be overcome...

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