What other community or neighborhood in the United States considers it ‘normal’ for a child to play with baby bears while sitting on a wooden crate handing out bear treats? Welcome to the photographic history of Seward, Alaska!
Included is a copy of the 1866 sale of the territory of Alaska. For less that 2 cents an acre, the United States acquired nearly 600,000 square miles. Opponents of the Alaska Purchase persisted in calling it “Seward’s Folly” or “Seward’s Icebox” until 1896, when the great Klondike Gold Strike convinced even the harshest critics that Alaska was a valuable addition to American territory.
Many travelers are unaware of the 1964 Seward, Alaska earthquake which devastated the region. Lasting four minutes and 38 seconds, it was the most powerful recorded earthquake in U.S. and North American history, and the second most powerful ever measured by seismograph. It had a magnitude of 9.2, making it the second strongest earthquake in recorded history.
The Seward, Alaska cable office was constructed in 1905 by the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Telegraph service from the lower states first connected to Valdez, Alaska. In summer 1905, submarine cable was extended from Valdez to Seward.The first message over the line was to A. C. Frost, president of the Alaska Central Railway, who was in Chicago: “This first message transmitted over Alaska Cable connects Seward from this day to the great city of Chicago.” Among initial regular users of the telegraph line was the local newspaper, the Seward Daily Gateway. In August 1905, owner Frank Ballaine began featuring the previous day’s news from the Coterminous United States in his paper. Before the telegraph line, outside news arrived via steam ship days or weeks later.
Added to the photographic history of Seward, Alaska is a vintage of President Harding arriving in Seward, Alaska in 1923. Privately, and not so privately, the President Harding and his wife argued and battled the whole way to Seward. When they arrived in Seward July 13, they boarded the Pullman Presidential car. Mrs. Harding had special-ordered a steel-wheeled Dodge roadster, modified to run on rails, where she sat alone to enjoy the magnificent Alaska scenery as they traveled north.