The first four issues of Alaskan History Magazine are now available as an anthology featuring the stories and photographs which ran in the magazine from the inaugural issue in May-June through the Nov-Dec issue. The full texts of every article are highlighted by historic photos from the magazine, making this a great gift for anyone interested in the history of the north. 6” x 9” format, B/W interior, 225 pages, with over 150 black-and-white photographs. $24.95 plus $5.00 shipping & handling. Click here to order from the publisher via credit card or PayPal. Also available from Amazon or your favorite bookstore.
Digital subscriptions to Alaskan History Magazine are available at Issuu, the digital magazine electronic publishing platform which was named one of Time magazine’s 50 Best Websites.
Single issues are $2.50, a digital subscription is $12.00 for one year (6 issues). All digital issues are free to print subscribers (contact for access code).
The first three issues of Alaskan History Magazine are available to read online, download, or share via email, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. The first three digital issues are free to view; issues after Sept-Oct, 2019 are available only to print or digital subscribers, and those who purchase the digital or corresponding print issue of the magazine.
Luther Sage “Yellowstone” Kelly
An Indian Scout in Alaska, by Thomas J. Eley, PhD.
In the March-April issue of Alaskan History Magazine, historian Thomas J. Eley, PhD., who describes himself as an Itinerant Geographer, shares the story of Luther Sage “Yellowstone” Kelly, an Indian scout who contributed greatly to the explorations of territorial Alaska.
Born in New York on July 27, 1849, Luther Kelly lied about his age, joined the Union Army, and fought in the final days of the Civil War, most notably the occupation of Richmond, Virginia. After the war he headed west, to the Yellowstone River Valley where he hunted, trapped, explored and gained fame for his knowledge of the Yellowstone country. This knowledge got him recruited by the Army as a scout, interpreter, guide, dispatch rider, and to conduct special assignments, earning his nickname, “Yellowstone” Kelly, and he was selected Chief of Scouts by Brig. Gen. Nelson A. Miles.In 1898, General Miles dispatched Expedition Number 3, under the command of Capt. Edwin Glenn (1857-1926), with the mission being to explore and map, as well as to find a transportation corridor for a railroad or wagon paths from ice-free ports (Portage Bay [Whittier] and Seward) to the Yukon and Tanana Rivers (Learnard 1900 and Yanert 1900a and 1900b). Luther Kelly, then 49, was assigned to this expedition by General Miles as chief scout and tracker. Eley’s article details Kelly’s travels with the other expedition members, including USGS Geologist Walter Mendenhall, from Portage Bay, across the Portage Glacier, over Crow Pass on what would become known as the Kelly Trail, around Knik Arm to Knik.
The following year, 1899, the wealthy railroad magnate Edward Harriman organized an expedition to explore the coast of Alaska, aboard his own private steamship. Harriman brought with him a group of noted scientists, artists, photographers, naturalists, hunting guides, chefs, family members and taxidermists to explore and document the Alaskan coast. Harriman’s personal goal for the expedition was to hunt Kodiak bear, and his personal guide was Luther Kelly. At the various stops, Kelly got off the ship and assisted the scientists. Arriving at Kodiak, Yellowstone Kelly guided Harriman on his hunt, and he got his bear.
You can read Dr. Eley’s entire article, with historic photos, in the March-April issue of Alaskan History Magazine.
From the March-April issue of Alaskan History Magazine:
The Pathfinder is the official publication of the Pioneers of Alaska, a fraternal group which traces its history to the Yukon Order of Pioneers, organized at Fortymile in 1898. The following article on the early settlement of Valdez is from The Pathfinder, February, 1920. The issue is available to read or download at Google Books.
On the 22nd day of September, 1897, the schooner Laninfa sailed from San Francisco with 33 passengers aboard enroute to the mouth of the Copper River in Alaska. They had been told that they could navigate this river with small power boats and were fully equipped to make a trip up that turbulent stream. On their arrival at Orca they learned that it was impossible for them to ascend the Copper River with any kind of boat, so about 20 of the men in the party chartered a cannery craft and came on up to Valdez Bay having been told that men had gone to the Copper River by that route thus landing above the glaciers and rapids of that river. The cannery boat carrying 22 men came into Valdez Bay on the 10th day of November, 1897 and landed its passengers at the place now known as Swanport, just below where Fort Liscum now is built. This was the first settlement on the shores of Valdez Bay.Sometime in December, about a month after the landing of the Swanport party, the schooner Bering Sea hove into port with a large number of passengers bound for the Klondike by way of the Copper River. In February, 1898, the steamer Valencia arrived in the Bay with 600 passengers, and crafts of all kinds then came thick and fast until there were over 4,000 men climbing over the glacier bound for the Copper River enroute to the Klondike. In 1898 Capt. Abercrombie arrived in Valdez Bay for the purpose of opening a road from the Bay to the Interior.
In the winter of 1898 a group of gold seekers traveled to Alaska aboard the schooner Moonlight, bound for Valdez and the Copper River country beyond its great glacier. Among these prospectors were Charles Margeson, who would write a book of their adventures (Experiences of Gold Hunters in Alaska, 1899), and Neal D. Benedict, who took many photographs.
Arriving in Valdez Bay in March, 1898, Margeson was dismayed to find not the wharf they’d expected, but a large shelf of ice extending a long ways out into the bay. He described their landing and unloading, and what they found when going ashore:
“About a mile from where the schooner was anchored was a piece of timber containing two or three hundred acres, and running down through this was a clear stream of pure water. In the edge of this timber, and near this little stream, were about one hundred tents, clustered together, and others were being set up. This unique camp—for it was about that—presented a scene of unusual activity. Some were tramping down the snow, preparing a place to put up their tents; some were cutting tent poles, and others were cutting firewood, while others were getting their dog teams ready for hauling their goods up to the foot of the glacier, which was five miles away.”
Learn more about early Valdez
• Experiences of Gold Hunters in Alaska, Charles Margeson
• History of the Valdez Trail National Park Service
Single back issues of Alaskan History Magazine, which carries no advertising in its 48 page 8.5” x 11” full-color format, are available for $10.00 each postpaid (U.S. only). Subscriptions (6 issues) are $48.00 per year (postpaid). For more information click here.
From the March-April issue of Alaskan History Magazine:
The first trails in Alaska were made by animals, those which came after that showed where the earliest men and women traveled. Then came the explorers, the missionaries, the scientists, the prospectors….
The Yukon, Tanana, & Kuskokwim Rivers
The earliest trails in Alaska were generally those which relied on the frozen rivers, lakes, and streams which crossed the land, the largest rivers being the main thoroughfares, with smaller streams branching off toward destinations, and lakes and ponds providing easy access across sometimes rough country. Most early maps of Alaska include the notations for Winter Trails; in the other three seasons these trails simply did not exist, or they were traveled by rafts, boats or canoes. Still today many trails rely on frozen waterways for part of their length, i.e. the Iditarod Trail on the Yukon River between Ruby and Kaltag.
The Native Trails
Native groups traditionally created their own transportation networks, utilizing local paths for subsistence activities, while longer trails were used for hunting, intertribal trade, and occasional raiding trips. These routes usually followed the contours of the land, tracing natural corridors. Exploring Keystone Canyon north of Valdez in 1884, Lt. Abercrombie reported “a deep and well-worn trail up the canyon and across to the Tiekel River in the Copper River valley.”
In the late 1880’s prospectors objecting to foreign control of the Chilkoot and White Pass transportation corridors began seeking an All American route to the Klondike goldfields, but they found only one way across the mighty Chugach mountain range: an exceptionally difficult and dangerous path over the Valdez and Klutina glaciers. In 1898, the army sent Abercrombie back to locate a safer way. Spotting the remains of a Chugach trail leading to the north toward Keystone Canyon, he proceeded to the interior via the Valdez Glacier, and found an Ahtna path leading up the right (or western) bank of the Copper River. Both were eventually utilized by the Valdez Trail.
Read more about the early trails in Alaska in the March-April issue of Alaskan History Magazine. Link will open a new window to the Alaskan History Magazine page at Northern Light Media.
The March-April, 2020 issue of Alaskan History Magazine features a wide range of Alaskan history, from some of the first photographs and the earliest settlers at Valdez to an adventuresome lady musher who blazed trails where today’s Alaska Highway crosses the northern landscape.
Eadweard Muybridge was a man as strange as his oddly-spelled name, but his photographs of southeastern Alaska and Sitka for the Department of the Army provide a fascinating look at the area barely six months after the transferral ceremony of the land purchased from Russia by the U.S. government. The second article explores the contentious disagreement over the geographic boundaries between the southeastern part of the territory of Alaska and the province of British Columbia, whose foreign affairs were still under British authority.
Dr. Gary Stein shares letters penned in 1894 by physician James Taylor White, who wrote them to his mother while serving as surgeon aboard the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear, under Captain Michael A. Healy. Dr. White described the journey, the land, and the people, and shared his personal opinions about what he saw on his Arctic travels.
Dr. Thomas Eley writes of the adventurous Luther Sage “Yellowstone” Kelly, an Indian scout from the Old West whose wide travels in Alaska helped write our state’s history. The founding and settling of the gold rush town of Valdez, and the 1,000 mile sled dog journey of Taku Lodge owner Mary Joyce, from Juneau to Fairbanks in the winter of 1936, round out this issue!
Single back issues of Alaskan History Magazine, which carries no advertising in its 48 page 8.5” x 11” full-color format, are available for $10.00 each postpaid (U.S. only). Descriptions are on this page, select the issue or issues you’d like to order and payment can be made via PayPal or with any credit card – but please indicate which back issue(s) you are ordering.
A completely different website layout for Alaskan History Magazine gives articles from each issue the entire screen rather than sharing the screen with the large sidebar on the previous rendition of the site. The menu at the top of each page now becomes the primary tool for navigating around the site’s features.
The posts are gathered under the Archives heading, and a later editing will make that easier to negotiate with dates and short descriptions of each linked post.
The About heading drops down a menu which includes the FAQ, or Frequently Asked Questions; the social media links to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts; Writer’s Guidelines, the history Timeline, and the Index to the first four issues.
Under Ordering you’ll find the links to Ordering from PayPal (and with credit cards, checks, or money orders), Ordering at Amazon, Back issues, Digital issues to read online, and a downloadable full color brochure for the magazine.
I hope this new format will make everything easier to navigate and enjoy!
The November-December issue, now printing, ranges widely across Alaska, from the early settlements of Tyonek and Knik to the frontier towns of Cordova, Chitina, and Valdez, and from the goldfields of the Fortymile District to the halls of the Territorial legislature in Juneau. Among the articles for this issue:
• A guidebook to territorial Alaska from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s U. S. Work Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal jobs program which created the Federal Writers Project.
• An unusual but little-known earth-moving project, notable for the remote location and for the size of the undertaking.
• The Ed. S. Orr Stage Company, an important part of our past, which proudly claimed “Eight day service between Valdez and Fairbanks, a distance of 364 miles,” and “All stages equipped with abundance of fur robes and carbon-heated foot warmers.”
• The Woodchopper Roadhouse, at one time the oldest and largest log structure on the Yukon River between Eagle and Circle City.
• The story of pioneer Native rights activist Elizabeth Peratrovich.
• The 1898 explorations of Capt. Edwin F. Glenn and W. C. Mendenhall through the Matanuska Valley.
• Pioneering Alaskan artists, color postcards from the turn of the century, a timeline, an index to the 2019 issues, and a few classic Alaskan books worth seeking out make this issue another worthwhile addition to your library shelves.
Click here to go to the orders page for subscriptions or single issues!
The July-August issue of Alaskan History Magazine features an article on the early bush pilots of Alaska, spanning the years between 1911 and the 1930s, a time when the pioneer pilots, utterly fearless and a breed apart, totally dedicated to their work, soared over the Last Frontier. They crossed an incredibly immense and all-too-often hostile landscape which tried to kill them as frequently as it left them in awe of its towering mountains, endless rivers, and pristine lakes. And yet the fliers stayed the course, wresting information about the inhospitable landscape and the hostile weather at every turn, information which helped their fellow pilots adapt and learn and persevere, for while the hardships were many, there was magic in the air over Alaska.
The article opens with the somewhat amusing observation that the first airplane in Alaska never left the ground:
Professor Henry Peterson, an accomplished pianist, piano repairman, and music teacher in Nome, fabricated the first airplane ever built in Alaska. Intrigued by the idea of flying, he ordered an engine and a set of plans and constructed a biplane of muslin cloth, light wood, and – rather fittingly – piano wire. The “Flying Professor,” as he was fondly known, named his plane the Tingmayuk, Eskimo for bird, and scheduled its first flight for May 9, 1911, near Nome. Unfortunately, as the Nome Nugget later reported, the good professor was “unable to defy the laws of gravity,” and his carefully crafted Tingmayuk faded into obscurity.
Two years later, in July, 1913, some businessmen in Fairbanks hired pioneer British aviator James Martin and his wife Lily to provide the first aerial exhibition in Alaska with their Gage-Martin tractor biplane, which they freighted to Alaska via the White Pass & Yukon Railway to Whitehorse, where it was loaded onto a barge for the trip down the Yukon River to Dawson City, Eagle, Circle City, Fort Yukon, Rampart, and finally up the Tanana River to Fairbanks, a trip of over 2,500 miles. They put on an impressive airshow, but once they re-crated their plane and headed south, it would be seven years before another airplane graced the northern horizons.
That was the famous Black Wolf Squadron in June, 1920, selected by U.S. Army Brigadier General William “Billy” Mitchell and tasked with making a historic flight to demonstrate how the East Coast could be linked to Siberia and the Far East via an airway crossing Alaska.
The article tells of Charles Hammontree and his Boeing C-11S, dubbed the ‘Mudhen,’ the first model designed by W.H. Boeing himself and the first plane to soar over the skies of Anchorage; Roy F. Jones, of Ketchikan and his biplane ‘Northbird;’ Carl Ben Eielson, who learned to fly in the U.S. Army Air Corps; James S. “Jimmy” Rodebaugh, a senior conductor on the Alaska Railroad who saw the potential of aviation in Alaska earlier than most; and Noel Wien, who spent several decades building a pioneer airline with his brothers, Ralph, Fritz, and Sig, and watched it grow to provide flights to most of the world.
Joe Crosson and his sister Marvel, Russell Merrill, famed aviator Wiley Post – the first pilot to fly solo around the world – and the humorist Will Rogers, and even the legendary Charles Lindbergh and his equally legendary wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, all played roles in the early aviation history of Alaska. You can read the article, illustrated with over a dozen historic photographs, in the July-August issue of Alaskan History Magazine.
Other articles in this issue: Alaska’s first newspaper, The Esquimaux, which was published a little northwest of Nome; the Alaska Steamship Company, which became an Alaskan shipping monopoly; a 1916 horseback trip across the Kenai Peninsula by the dauntless world traveller Frank G. Carpenter; Alaska’s first commercially successful novelist, Barrett Willoughby, whose every book was about or set in Alaska, and two were made into movies; and an exciting childhood in the gold rush town of Nome by Irving Kenny, who saw it all first-hand!
The May-June issue of Alaskan History Magazine is available to read online, download, or share via email, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest at the digital magazine site issuu, an electronic publishing platform which was named one of Time magazine’s 50 Best Websites.
The 48-page May-June issue, which carries no advertising in its 8.5” x 11” format, is an anthology of excerpts from books published by Northern Light Media, featuring a look at the construction of the Alaska Railroad; a 1918 trip by Margaret Murie, traveling the Fairbanks-to-Valdez Trail as a 16-year-old girl; Addison Powell’s 1902 adventures in the Copper River Valley, the great All Alaska Sweepstakes sled dog race, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle, and the 1935 Matanuska Colony barns. Shorter articles include a photo-feature of snowshoes, a look at a few Alaskan photographers, and brief reviews of a half-dozen classic books on Alaska.
The first three digital issues will be free to view by anyone; issues after Sept-Oct, 2019 will be available only to subscribers and anyone who purchases that print issue of the magazine. For more information and to subscribe or purchase a single issue (also available at Amazon), visit the Alaskan History Magazine website.
Alaskan History Magazine’s second issue ranges widely through Alaska’s past to bring an assortment of topics for readers to enjoy! In the opening photo feature the focus is on the missionaries who blazed trails across territorial Alaska, sharing their various versions and interpretations of God’s Word and building hospitals, schools, and churches which would change Alaska forever. Many missionaries, such as Hudson Stuck, wrote extenisvely about their northland adventures, leaving first-hand accounts and invaluable records of the times.
The cover touches on the main feature for this issue: the aviation pioneers who braved Alaskan skies with sketchy flying machines and even sketchier maps of the land below. Flinging themselves aloft with fragile contraptions of fabric and wood, they too changed Alaska forever.
Other articles in this issue explore Alaska’s first newspaper, the Alaska Steamship Company, a 1916 horseback trip across the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska’s first commercially successful novelist, and an exciting childhood in the gold rush town of Nome.
The back section of each issue begins with a photo collection highlighting one aspect of Alaska’s history, and for tihis issue we’ve chosen the ubiquitous plain white canvas tent which gave shelter to countless explorers, pioneers and homesteaders. Here are tent stores, banks, schools, hospitals… One might say the history of Alaska was written on white canvas.
Wrapping up this issue are brief highlights from half a dozen classic books on Alaska’s history, and a guide to some of the sources and resources used in researching this issue. You won’t want to miss this one!
Click here to go to the orders page for subscriptions or single issues!
Single issues of Alaskan History Magazine are now available at Amazon for $10.00 plus shipping (free for orders over $25 or free two-day shipping for Amazon Prime customers, visit the site for details). The first few pages of the May-June issue can be previewed with Amazon’s nifty “Look Inside” feature, and future issues will always be available for viewing and purchase through Amazon. Please note that Amazon ONLY sells single issues; subscriptions can ONLY be ordered from my website or via mail or email. Click here, or click on any image to visit the Amazon website.
For those who may be wondering, I don’t make as much money on orders placed through Amazon, but for those who prefer this option it’s a fail-safe way to order, and the orders do add to my overall seller’s status at Amazon, so it’s still a win-win. Plus I don’t need to handle anything, Amazon does it all, so it saves time and effort on my end (time is money!). It’s probably most convenient to add a copy of the magazine to another order being placed to take advantage of the free shipping option.