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Anchorage    

Reindeer sausages are sold on the street corners.  If you eat one, does this give you bad karma with Santa?

In 1915,  President Woodrow Wilson authorized funds for the construction of the Alaska Railroad.  A "tent city" sprang up in the wilderness at the mouth of Ship Creek, and soon swelled to a population of over 2,000.  On July 9, 1915, the Anchorage townsite auction was held, and over 600 lots in a fixed grid were sold for approximately $150,000.  Although the area had been known by various names, in the same year the U.S. Post Office Department formalized the use of the name "Anchorage", and despite some protests the name stuck.

During the thirties, Anchorage rebounded from then loss of population and industry it had suffered during World War I.  Between 1940 and 1951, Anchorage's population expanded exponentially from 3,000 to 47,000, and so did the cost of living.  The "Boom Town" of Anchorage also experienced an unfortunate rise in crime during this tumultuous growth period, a problem the city would fight for decades.  The long awaited completion of the road between Seward and Anchorage along the Turnagain Arm was completed in the early 1950's by the Alaska Road Commission, opening the Kenai Peninsula to motor vehicle traffic.

The decade of the 1960's began on the high note of Alaska's attaining statehood in 1959.  However, another less propitious event dominated Anchorage's energy during these years.  On March 27, 1964, a natural disaster of incredible proportions struck Anchorage and Southcentral Alaska: the Good Friday earthquake.  This earthquake measure 8.6 on the Richter scale, the largest ever recorded in North America and, because Anchorage lay only 80 miles for the epicenter, damage to structures ran to the hundreds of millions of dollars.  This disaster printed itself indelibly on an entire generation of Anchorage residents, who still vividly remember the tribulations and loss of life brought on by what is simply known as "The Big One."

The decade of the eighties was also a time of growth for Anchorage, especially for its infrastructure and quality of life.  Thanks to a flood of North Slope oil revenue into the state treasury, between 1980 and 1987 nearly a billion dollars worth of capital projects were constructed in Anchorage.  These included a new library, civic center, sports arena and performing arts area.  An aggressive beatification program combined with far-sighted community planning helped add to the large number of parks already established in the area, bringing the total to over 180.  An unparalleled system of trails was created, culminating in the Coastal Trail which made the  Anchorage coastline available to runners, skiers and bikers from Ship Creek to Point Campbell.  By the beginning of the 1990's Anchorage could boast  of 259 miles of maintained trails.  Hilltop Ski Area was established in 1984, which along with the Alyeska Ski Resort in Girdwood and Alpenglow Ski Area gave residents three fully operational skiing areas.  Tourism and recreational activities were fast becoming a mainstay of the modern Anchorage economy, which has continued to the present day.

Alaska Timeline

 

1778

Captain Cook discovers and names the "River Turnagain"

 

1794

Captain George Vancouver explores southcentral Alaska

 

1839

Dena'ina population decimated by smallpox

 

1867

United States purchases Alaska territory from Russia

 

1888

Gold discovered in Turnagain Arm area

 

1896

James Girdwood stakes placer claim at Crow Creek

 

1902

Alaska Central Railway construction begins at Seward

 

1910

First cabins built on the flats of Ship Creek

 

1912

Alaska becomes a Untied States Territory

 

1918

First train between Anchorage and Seward

 

1942

Whittier tunnel completed

 

A mother moose (not shown) and her two babies decide to take a stroll through the middle of downtown Anchorage

Earthquake Park is just one of the rest areas you'll find on the Tony Knowles Coastal Bike Trail

Byron Glacier — outside Portage, on the east end of Turnagain Arm

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