Alaska, the Last Frontier

Alaska, the Last Frontier

by Sandra Merville Hart

Alaska’s official nickname is The Last Frontier. It is also known as The Land of the Midnight Sun.

Alaska’s early history

The Russians establish their first permanent settlement at Unalaska in 1772.

Their first settlement on Kodiak Island at Three Saint’s Bay was built in 1784.

Seward’s Folly

U.S. Secretary of State William Seward wanted to expand our country’s holdings. He negotiated for the United States to purchase Alaska from Russia in 1867. We paid $7,200,000 in gold or about 2 cents an acre.

Even at the low cost, folks at the time believed the land offered nothing of value to the country and called it “Seward’s Folly.”

History proved that Seward made a wise choice.

The shortest day in Alaska

midnight-sun-887048_960_720December 21st, winter solstice, is the shortest day of the year. Where you are in Alaska makes a big difference in how much sun you may see on that day.

For instance, the sun rises at 8:45 am and sets at 3:07 pm in Juneau, Alaska. It rises at 10:50 am and sets at 2:41 pm in Fairbanks for total daylight of 3 hours, 42 minutes.

It’s even worse in Barrow, Alaska. They don’t see any sun from November 18th to January 23rd. That 67 days of darkness!

Alaska becomes a state

Alaska became the forty-ninth state on January 3, 1959. The capital is Juneau.

It is our largest state. In fact, 425 Rhode Islands can fit inside Alaska!

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

dog-sled-278875_960_720In 1925, twenty dog team relays carried medicine from Anchorage to Nome to stop a deadly epidemic of diphtheria. Twenty drivers and over 150 dogs made the perilous trip over 1,000 miles across Alaska in dangerously frigid temperatures.

The precious medicine saved lives. Three weeks after residents received necessary injections, the doctor lifted the quarantine.

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race commemorates the memory of the brave drivers and dogs who halted an epidemic.

Other fun facts about Alaska

Alaska celebrates Seward’s Day on the last Monday in March. They remember the treaty signed between Russia and the United States when we acquired Alaska.

Mount McKinley, which is also called Denali, is the highest mountain in North America.   Denali National Park is the home of Mount McKinley.

Alaska has more coastline than any other state.

The state sport is dog mushing. People have traveled by dog sled for centuries. This is a professional sport and a family recreation.



“Alaska,”, 2016/06/07

“Alaska,” State Symbols USA, 2016/06/07

Cheney, Lynne. Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006.

Davis, Kenneth C. Don’t Know Much About the 50 States, Harper Collins Publishers, 2001.

“Highlights from Alaska’s History,” Alaska Kids, 2016/06/07

“Shortest Day in Alaska,”, 2016/06/07

Klein, Christopher. “The Sled Dog Relay that Inspired the Iditarod,”, 2016/06/07

“William Seward,”, 2016/06/07




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