Brooks Range
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Grizzly along the Denali Highway Rafting the Gulkana National Wild River Native woman drying salmon on racks ATV rider on trails near Glennallen Surveyor
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History on Alaska's Public Lands

Alaska's History

Alaska has an amazing history, from the Russian and British explorers of the late 1700s, to the Gold Rushes that brought so many people from all over the world to the Last Frontier with the promise of adventure and wealth, to the importance of Alaska as a defense against the Japanese invasion of North America during World War II.  The BLM in Alaska manages many resources important to this history, as you will see by reading the material and following the links below. Enjoy!

Of course, Alaska's unwritten history goes back many thousands of years. To read more about the Native Alaskans who lived here before the Europeans, click on the "Prehistoric Archaeology" link on the menu on the right side of the page.

Russian Alaska

Sitka Blockhouse

Historic Photo of the Sitka Blockhouse, circa 1898BLM manages the Sitka Blockhouse, a replica of a Russian fortification around the town of Sitka, which was once the capital of Russian America. The structure was part of a defensive stockade built around Sitka in the early 1800s. It is located near the Orthodox Church’s historic cemetery, and is now part of Sitka National Historic Park, managed by the National Park Service.

Holy Trinity Church was located close to the blockhouse in the stockade. The church was built in 1849 and consecrated by Bishop Innokentii. This church was built expressly for the local Tlingit community where services could be conducted in the Tlingit language. The church was built right into the stockade surrounding the little Russian town of Novoarkangel’sk (Sitka). The western door of the church opened to the Tlingit village; the eastern doors inside the stockade faced the Russian village. Because relations between the Russians and the Tlingit continued to be tense for decades after their initial conflict, the Russians were in a quandary about Tlingit conversion to the Orthodox Church.   On the one hand, the Russians were gratified that so many Tlingit desired to attend church. On the other hand, they were uneasy about allowing up to 200 Tlingit at a time into the stockade to go to services. Holy Trinity Church was built to solve this problem.

Learn more about the history of the capital of Russian Alaska, on the Sitka National Historic Park website.

Pre-Statehood Alaska: 1867-1958

ALASKA'S "LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION"? 

Can you imagine the adventures some of the first westerners encountered in the 1885 Allen Expedition, exploring 1,500 miles of uncharted terrain in Alaska? Imagine traveling at that time from the Southcentral coastal areas, northward through the Alaska Range, into the Yukon River drainage, and finally westward to the Bering Sea in less than 20 weeks (4 months). What an achievement! Learn more about the Alaska's "Lewis and Clark Expedition." >>

PRESIDENT ANDREW JOHNSON'S KEY ROLE IN THE PURCHASE OF ALASKA

Most people know that William Seward was a strong advocate for the purchase of Alaska in 1867, but few know of President Andrew Johnson's key role. Learn more about the little known part of Alaska history in Frontiers Issue 103 Summer 2008 p. 11>>

DALTON CACHE

Dalton Cache

 More information on the preservation of the Dalton Cache coming soon!

 

 

 

 

THE ALASKA GOLD RUSH

Gold miners near Nome, early 1900s

 GOLD! Catch the fever! Relive the excitement of the Alaska gold rush era and visit locations that made history. From the Southeast Alaska panhandle to the Brooks Range and northern Alaska, gold rush sites abound on BLM-Alaska lands—and the places read right out of a history book. Lively names such as Coldfoot, Dalton Cache, and Iditarod. Learn more about the Alaska Gold Rush>> 

 

HOMESTEAD ACT

Homestead. Photo courtesy of Robert KingHomesteading in America began when President Lincoln signed the 1862 Homestead Act enabling over 1.6 million people to claim federal land intended for small farms. Homesteaders included men, women, freed slaves, and European settlers. During the homestead era, about 270 million acres of federal land were claimed in 30 states, from Florida to Michigan to Alaska. Learn more>

 

ROADLESS TRAVEL

Before 1905, Alaska had very few roads. One estimate is that fewer than 10 miles of roads existed in the entire territory at the start of the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1890s. Under the leadership of Wilds P. Richardson, Alaska's territorial roads and trails expanded dramatically. Learn more about the Richardson Highway, connecting Valdez to Fairbanks for over 100 years>>

VALDEZ CREEK GOLD STRIKE

On August 15, 1903, a group of determined prospectors found gold in Valdez Creek, flowing southwest out of the Alaska Range mountains, and about 100 miles east of Mount McKinley. Their discovery started a mining tradition for more than 100 years in this region that continues today. Learn more about mining at Valdez Creek>>

HISTORIC OVERVIEW OF THE IDITAROD NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL

Mail carrier on the Susitna to Seward Iditarod TrailDuring early 1908, a new government trail was blazed from Seward to Nome, beginning what we know of today as the Iditarod National Historic Trail. Later that year, rich gold discoveries were made near what became the town of Iditarod, now abandoned. Yet, the real history of the Trail began thousands of years earlier with Native use. Later, early Russians and Americans also used portions of the Trail adding still more episodes to its fascinating story. Learn more about the real history of Alaska's Iditarod Trail>>

JOHN AND CLYDE'S FRONTIER ADVENTURE 

A 1939 overland trip by motorcycle and foot from Alaska to the Lower 48 States, spotlighted the need for the Alaska Highway. Learn more about this amazing frontier adventure>> 

WORLD WAR II ON THE CAMPBELL TRACT IN ANCHORAGE

The Campbell Tract in Anchorage is now a recreation area managed by the BLM. But during World War II, it was important for military defense. Learn more about the history of Campbell Tract here.

LYNDON B. JOHNSON'S ROLE IN ALASKA'S HISTORY

Not many people know the importance of President Lyndon B. Johnson's role in Alaska becoming a state and it's early statehood years.  Learn more about this little known part of Alaska's history in Frontiers Issue 105 Winter 2008 pp. 10-11>>

Alaska Since Statehood: 1959- Present

THE LAST HOMESTEADING IN ALASKA  

On May 5, 1988 the last federal agricultural homestead in Alaska was granted. Learn more about it and other fascinating details about the end of the homestead era in Alaska. Frontiers, Issue 83 pages 4-5. >> 

Alaska Statehood: We're in!!

More information about Alaska Statehood coming soon!


Links to Alaskan Museums & Exhibits:

Aleutian Islands

Museum of the Aleutians

Anchorage Area

Alaska Museum of Science and Nature

Alaska Native Heritage Center

Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center

Fairbanks Area

University of Alaska Museum of the North

Kodiak Island

Alutiiq Museum

Southeast Alaska


For more information contact:
Alaska State Office
Bureau of Land Management
222 W. 7th Ave., Unit 13
Anchorage, AK 99513
Public Room: 907-271-5960
FAX: 907-271-3684