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Articles written by laurel downing bill

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The first Miss Alaska was a favorite

Dubbed The Arctic Venus by newspapers across the globe, Helmar Liederman turned many heads as she strutted her stuff in 1922 during the Inter-City Beauty Contest – forerunner of the Miss America Pag...

 

Conman topples Alaska governor

Many have heard tales touting the shenanigans of conmen like Jefferson "Soapy" Smith and a man named Hendrickson, better known as the "Blue Parka Bandit." But neither of them caused the demise of an...

 

Alaska's archaeological sites explored

Theories about how and when Alaska became inhabited with people ebb and flow like the state's rivers. Archeologists pretty much agree that Alaska's mainland was physically and ecologically a part of A...

 

Baseball played in the arctic in 1894

As the days get longer and winter begins to wane, it's safe to assume that the boys of summer are preparing for another awesome season of baseball – a mainstay in Alaska for generations. Before Anch...

 

Troublemakers earned a one-way ticket south

An abundance of gamblers, con men and thieves made their way north following the discovery of gold in the Klondike in the late 1890s. And with no official lawmen to take care of evildoers, miners...

 

Alaskans live through 'hell on earth'

The second-largest earthquake in recorded history struck at 5:36 p.m. Anchorage time. Measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale, experts later upgraded it to 9.2 on the Mw (moment magnitude) scale as the...

 

Alaska Native Brotherhood organizes in 1912

After decades of oppression by Russian fur traders, and then American interests, the Natives of Southeast Alaska decided it was time to organize into a united voice to change the way people perceived...

 

Alaska pioneer brings automobiles north

One of Alaska's early pioneers, who died 33 years ago this month at age 99, left his mark on early Alaska transportation. Robert E. "Bobby" Sheldon built the territory's first automobile, drove the...

 

Sled dogs figure into Alaska history

Sled dogs have a long and illustrious history in the North Country, from the early days of Native settlements to the gold-rush booms during the 1890-1900s. Natives of Alaska, northern Canada,...

 

Radios served as lifelines for bush Alaska

Before the Internet and cell service became synonymous with instant communication, Alaska's remote villages relied on a military network of telephone-telegraph radiophone stations to relay messages....

 

Disaster strikes steamliner Princess Sophia

One of the last ships scheduled to leave Southeast Alaska in the fall of 1918 met with disaster only a few days into her voyage. On October 23, Canadian Pacific Railway steamship Princess Sophia...

 

Muktuk Marston: A human dynamo

Many of those who came to Alaska during World War II liked what they saw and decided to set down roots in the Last Frontier. Among them was a true visionary who created one of Anchorage's premier...

 

Cordova born from strife, violence and stubborn faith

Prospectors searching for gold in the Wrangell Mountains during the early 1900s found a mountain of copper instead. Others had discovered coal and oil in the Prince William Sound and Bering River...

 

Alaska wins battle for statehood in 1958

At 2 p.m. on June 30, 1958, teletypes and telephones all across Alaska began buzzing with exciting news. After six days of debate, the U.S. Senate had voted 64-20 to add Alaska as the 49th state. The...

 

Mr. Baseball comes to town

The infant town of Anchorage, only a few years old, had always been interested in America's favorite pastime when William F. Mulcahy, later known as "Mr. Baseball," blew into the lusty, young railroad...

 

Gold rush entertainers dazzled Hollywood

Although the frenzied gold seekers of the North lacked most of the luxuries, not to mention necessities, of civilized living, they did have theaters – even opera houses. There had been entertainment...

 

1918: The big sickness spreads across Alaska

Called the Spanish flu, only because the Spanish press wrote about it, a virus took more than 500,000 American lives between 1918-1919 (estimates worldwide range from 20 to 100 million). And it came...

 

Painter makes points with Alaskans

Among the memorials in the Anchorage Municipal Park Cemetery stands a small, pink marker adorned with a palette. It is the final resting place of Sydney Mortimer Laurence, one of Alaska's greatest art...

 

Anchorage doctor makes first relay run to Iditarod in 1921

One of Anchorage's most respected doctors made a mercy run to Iditarod four years before Nome's celebrated diphtheria serum run of 1925. Early on the morning of Jan. 24, 1921, Dr. John B. Beeson...

 

Partners laid groundwork for prospector rush

Some courageous pioneers saw the possibilities of the Yukon Basin years before the Klondike Gold Rush. And a few stand out above the rest, including Leroy Napoleon "Jack" McQuesten, Alfred Mayo and...

 

Mollie Walsh, Angel of the Klondike Trail

Mollie Walsh made a name for herself among the prospectors who flooded north during the Klondike Gold Rush. Her "grub tent" was a welcome sight to many miners who climbed the White Pass Trail in the...

 

Early mail routes on the Last Frontier

When Alaska was transferred from Russia rule to the United States, it was up to the Americans to establish a way to deliver mail across its new possession. The Russians had not used a postal system. Communications between Russia and Russian America...

 

Prospector was first to blaze Alaska Highway

While workers completed the last portion of the Alaska-Canada Highway at Beaver Creek on Oct. 25, 1942, the idea to connect Alaska to the rest of the world was born many years earlier. Donald...

 

Bad land deal triggered 1802 Tlingit attack

Russian fur traders wanted to build a fort called Mikhailovsk about six miles north of the present town of Sitka in 1799. They gave the Tlingits, who'd occupied that part of Southeast Alaska for more...

 

Joe Spenard's miracle mile still grows

The section of Anchorage called Spenard was referred to as the "Miracle Mile" not so long ago. As part of the Chugach National Forest created by U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt in 1907, the land was...

 

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