Alaska State Facts - Alaska History Firsts

Catch up on your state trivia with these Alaska history firsts and interesting fun facts about the state.

Official Name Alaska
Capital Juneau
58.38858 N, 134.13342 W
Constitution Ratified April 24, 1956
Statehood January 03, 1959
49th State
Number of Boroughs 27 Boroughs and 11 Geographical Census Areas in Alaska
Largest Borough
(by population)
1,698 sq. mi.

Alaska History Firsts & State Facts

  • 1741 - Outsiders first discovered Alaska in 1741 when Danish explorer Vitus Jonassen Bering sighted it on a voyage from Siberia.
  • 1784 - Russian whalers and fur traders on Kodiak Island established the first settlement in Alaska in 1784.
  • 1880 - Joe Juneau's 1880 discovery of gold ushered in the gold rush era.
  • 1834 - Native Aleut population, estimated at between 15,000 and 20,000 before Europeans arrived, dropped to 2247 by 1834 largely due to the introduction of guns and diseases such as smallpox, measles, and tuberculosis.
  • 1867 - United States Secretary of State William H. Seward purchased Russia $7,200,000, or two cents per acre, for Alaska. Many Americans called the purchase "Seward's Folly."
  • 1897 - During the Klondike gold rush in 1897, potatoes were so highly valued for their vitamin C content, that miners traded gold for them.
  • 1898 - Discovery of gold in the Yukon began a gold rush in 1898. Later gold was discovered at Nome and Fairbanks.
  • 1910 - An unnamed draftsman created the Alaska state seal in 1910. It consists of a rising sun shining on forests, lake, fishing and shipping boats, and agricultural and mining activities.
  • 1915 - Record high temperature in Alaska was 100 degrees Fahrenheit at Fort Yukon.
  • 1917 - Wild forget-me-not is Alaska official state flower. The Territorial Legislature adopted it in 1917.
  • 1926 - 13-year-old Bennie Benson from Cognac, Alaska designed Alaska state flag.
  • 1943 - Japan invaded the Aleutian Islands, which started the One Thousand Mile War, the first battle fought on American soil since the Civil War.
  • 1955 - Willow ptarmigan is Alaska official state bird. The Territorial Legislature adopted it in 1955.
  • 1956 - Alaska's Constitution was adopted in 1956 and became effective in 1959 making it the 49th state.
  • 1959 - Alaska officially became the 49th state on January 3, 1959.
  • 1962 - Sitka spruce is Alaska official state tree. The Territorial Legislature adopted it in 1962.
  • 1968 - Gold is the official Alaska state mineral. It was named the state mineral.
  • 1968 - The jade is the official Alaska state gemstone.
  • 1971 - Record low temperature was -80 degrees Fahrenheit at Prospect Creek Camp.
  • 1972 - Dog mushing is Alaska official state sport. The Alaska Legislature adopted it in 1972.
  • 1986 - Mount Augustine erupted near Anchorage.
  • 1995 - The four-spot skimmer dragonfly is Alaska official state insect.
  • 2010 - The Alaskan malamute sled dog is strong and heavily coated. It was developed as a breed by a group of Eskimos named the Malemiuts becomes Alaska state dog.

More Alaska History Firsts & State Facts

  • Alaska's coastline, 6,640 miles, is longer than all the other states' coastlines combined. It is the United State's largest state, measuring 1,400 miles long and 2,700 miles wide; Rhode Island could fit into Alaska 425 times.
  • Alaska has more inland water than any other state, 20,171 square miles.
  • Alaska's most important revenue source is the oil and natural gas industry.
  • Alaska accounts for 25% of the oil produced in the United States.
  • State of Rhode Island could fit into Alaska 425 times.
  • Prudhoe Bay, on the northern Alaskan coast, is North America's largest oil field.
  • The Trans-Alaska Pipeline moves up to 88,000 barrels of oil per hour on its 800 mile journey to Valdez.
  • The fishing and seafood industry is the state's largest private industry employer.
  • Most of America's salmon, crab, halibut, and herring come from Alaska.
  • The term Alaska native refers to Alaska's original inhabitants including Aleut, Eskimo and Indian groups.
  • The state motto is North to the Future.
  • Alaska has been called America's Last Frontier.
  • Every four years Alaskans elect a Governor and a Lieutenant Governor to four-year terms.
  • The Alaska State Legislature is made up of a Senate and a House of Representatives.
  • Twenty senators are elected to four-year terms; forty representatives serve two-year terms.
  • Nearly one-third of Alaska lies within the Arctic Circle.
  • Alaska Highway was originally built as a military supply road during World War II.
  • State boasts the lowest population density in the nation.
  • Alaska is a geographical marvel. When a scale map of Alaska is superimposed on a map of the 48 lower states, Alaska extends from coast to coast.
  • The state's coastline extends over 6,600 miles.
  • Alaska is the United State's largest state and is over twice the size of Texas. Measuring from north to south the state is approximately 1,400 miles long and measuring from east to west it is 2,700 miles wide.
  • Agattu, Attu, and Kiska are the only parts of North America occupied by Japanese troops during World War II.
  • Oil is the state's most valuable natural resource. The area includes what is thought to be the largest oil field in North America.
  • Alaska's geographic center is 60 miles northwest of Mount McKinley.
  • Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the United States.
  • 17 of the 20 highest peaks in the United States are located in Alaska.
  • At 20,320 feet above sea level, Mt. McKinley, located in Alaska's interior, is the highest point in North America.
  • Juneau is the only capital city in the United States accessible only by boat or plane.
  • The state's largest city is Anchorage; the second largest is Fairbanks.
  • Alaska Range is the largest mountain chain in the state. It covers from the Alaska Peninsula to the Yukon Territory.
  • Juneau is the only capital city in the United States accessible only by boat or plane. It is also the largest US city covering 3,108 square miles. Los Angeles covers only 458.2 square miles.
  • More bald eagles gather along the Chilkat River than at any other place in the world.
  • There are more than 100,000 glaciers in Alaska and about 75% of all the fresh water in the state is stored as glacial ice.
  • Alaska accounts for 25% of the oil produced in the United States. Daily average yield of an oil well at full production in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay is 10,000 barrels. In the other 48 states, the average is only 11 barrels.
  • Alaska has the 16 highest peaks in the United States. Mount McKinley is the highest mountain peak in all of North America.
  • Trans-Alaska Pipeline moves up to 88,000 barrels of oil per hour on a 800 mile journey to Valdez.
  • Alaska's name comes from the Eskimo word Alakshak, meaning great lands or peninsula.
  • There are over three million lakes in Alaska. The largest, Lake Iliamna, is the size of Connecticut.
  • Of the 20 highest mountains in the United States, 17 are in Alaska. Mount McKinley, North America's largest mountain at 6194 m (20,320 ft), is a highlight of Denali National Park and Preserve.
  • Malaspina Glacier, at the foot of Mount Saint Elias, covers an area larger than Rhode Island.
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