Alaska History Timeline

Events

The Beginning of Exploration

1700 - 1799

Towards the end of the 15th century several countries launched expeditions in search of new lands. They were looking for resources and trying to learn the size and positions of the continents. Historians refer to this period as the “Era of discovery”. The Europeans built their own ships and grew more and more curious about the continents and inhabitants. They called north and South America the “New World”. By the beginning of the 18th century most of the world was explored except the North Pacific Ocean. Europeans encountered with people from different places and cultures, therefore eventually dominated the New World.

Bering's First Journey

1727

Early 1725-1728 Tsar Peter chose Bering to explore along the coast of what appeared to be part of America. Traveled over 5,000 miles to Russias Pacific coast. January 1725 to the spring of 1728 to move the expedition across Russia to the Pacific Ocean seaport of Nizhne Kamchatsk. Voyage lasted only a month. They reached 67 degrees 18 minutes north latitude and turned back because the North American coast wasn’t in sight. Main result was determining the different points on Russia’s Pacific Ocean coasts.

First Russian Contact

1732

Ever since the tenth century Russia has been looking for new lands. They had conquered indigenous people and traded with them under the rule of Ivan IV the Terrible. In 1725 Vitus Bering sailed east from the Kamchatka Peninsula. Two years later he sailed north through the Bering Strait to the Arctic ice pack, then back to Kamchatka. There was too much fog, which caused the North American mainland to go unnoticed. In 1732 Mikhail Gvozdev found the Diomede Islands. This discovery represents the first Russian contact with the American mainland and the Alaska Natives.

Cook's Voyage

1778

First Permanent Russian Settlement

1784

Settled in Kodiak, Alaska

Baranov Named First Russian Governor

1799

Purchase of Alaska

1867

Rivers get People and Freight Inland

1890 - 1900

Alaska’s major rivers are a very important way of transporting people and goods. Some of the vessels used include Native boats, poling boats, rowboats, sailboats, and steamboats. Back in the late 1800’s a boat could pay for itself on a single trip upriver. During the gold rush many steamboats were used on the Yukon River. Steamboats burned wood for power and had to stop every 10 to 12 hours to collect more wood. Some Natives worked as pilots to guide the boats, firemen, and deckhands. In 1923 the Alaska railroad began a riverboat service. In the early 1900’s river traffic slowed down and airplanes began to be used.

Klondike Gold Rush

1897

Nome Gold Rush

1899

Territorial Organic Act of 1912

1912

An act to create a legislative assembly in the Territory of Alaska, to confer legislative power thereon, and for other purposes.

WWI Event in Alaska

1942

Japanese bomb dutch harbot and invade kiska and attu. Known as "Alaska’s bloodiest battle".

Anti-Discrimination Act

1945

Envisioning the Future

1955 - 1956

On November 8th, 1955, fifty-five delegates got together to create a constitution for Alaska. However, Alaska wasn’t a state at this time. Business people, lawyers, miners, professionals, homemakers, and fishermen joined this group of delegates. University of Alaska’s student body president Ken Carson said, “now is the proper time for Alaska to become a state and for us to govern ourselves. Today we are students, but tomorrow we hope to be citizens of the state of Alaska and with this thought in mind we sincerely welcome you, you who will build a solid foundation upon which a state government must stand.” All but one of the delegates was in favor of Alaska becoming a state. The delegates spent over 3 months crafting a 14,400 word document that became Alaska’s constitution. The constitution included a lowered voting age (19 instead of 21), delayed action of Native land claims, strong governor, and declared that resources were to be managed and developed for the benefit of everyone. It was signed with over 1,000 witnesses on February 5th, 1956.

Constitutional Convention

1956

The Final Push in Congress

1958

Back before statehood of Alaska many people claimed it couldn’t afford becoming the 49th state. However, many Alaskan’s disagreed and an attorney from Juneau stated that there were enough creative people and resources in Alaska to solve any problems. The residents of Alaska were willing to do almost anything for the purpose of statehood. Ted Stevens helped draft the statehood act at the Interior Department. Slowly the concept of Alaska becoming a state started to gain national support. On May 28th, 1958 the House approved Alaska’s statehood bill by a 210-166 vote.

Statehood

1959

Anchorage Earthquake

1964

Exploration and Mapping of Alaska's Land

1967

Ten years after Alaska was purchased the United States wanted to know more about the territory. Gold mining and fisheries increased interest as well as trading fur and mineral resources. These interests led to the need for mapping and charting the coastal and inland areas. Soon the interests began to be about the Native people, geology, and environment. Allen explored 1,500 miles of wilderness and charted the Copper, Tanana, and Koyukuk rivers. In 1884, information was collected on resources through the exploration along the Kobuk River. This allowed a collection of information on the natural history to make maps with. By 1900 the most important mountain ranges and major rivers in Alaska had been traced.

Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act

1971

Alaska Permanent Fund Established

1976

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

1980

Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act

1980