How a Public Railroad Saved Alaska

Long Before Statehood, the Progressive Era Made the Last Frontier Possible

Alaska officially became a state in 1959, but its modern origins occurred in the two decades that followed the discovery of gold in the Klondike in 1896.

At the turn of the century with reports of innumerable mineral resources and a limitless agricultural potential surfacing, this little-known U.S. possession suddenly grabbed the world’s attention. As pioneers and settlers rushed into the frontier and returned during this period, Alaskans founded many of today’s cities (including the two largest, Anchorage and Fairbanks), birthed a structure of highway and railroad transportation, and established …

When ‘Codfish Fever’ Swept San Francisco  | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

When ‘Codfish Fever’ Swept San Francisco 

Hungry Gold Miners Craved the Salted Fish, and so a Ragtag Fleet Set Off for Alaska

An affliction jocularly known as “codfish fever” swept San Francisco in the late 1800s. Caught up in the craze, a number of enterprising young men set to sea in whatever …

When Alaskan and Russian Native People Thawed the Cold War’s ‘Ice Curtain’

Citizen-Diplomats on Both Sides of the Bering Strait Eased U.S.-Soviet Relations—and Could Help Confront Climate Change

As the Russian city of Provideniya’s deteriorating concrete buildings came into view below, Darlene Pungowiyi Orr felt uneasy. So did the other 81 passengers landing in that isolated far-eastern Soviet …

At Minus 40 Degrees, It’s Hard to Argue for More Wilderness

Why the Fight Over the Arctic Wildlife Refuge Is as Bitter as Our Alaskan Winters

The value of virgin land on the frontier is based on what it can yield in economic terms. Alaska’s conservationists knew this and wanted to preserve entire landscapes for their …

The Glittering Lens That Brought Me Back to Alaska

Heading Home In Search of One of the World’s Most Remote Lighthouses

One of my favorite places as a kid was the Alaska State Museum in Juneau, where I never got tired of ascending the vast spiral ramp at the entrance that …

When I Got Sent to Anchorage Instead of Pyongyang

During a Bloody War in Korea, Army Life in Alaska Postal Unit 50 Was Pretty Good

On October 3, 1951, after learning that I would be spared deployment to Korea and getting a customary 14-day leave from the U.S. Army, I reported to Union Station in …