Thursday, January 23, 2014

Overlooked Alaska History: Collision with Western Canada

The land mass that forms the Alaska we know today used to lie just off the central coast of California. Dude! There, the balmy trade winds caressed the sun-kissed beaches and sparkling waters of the Great Land. Then, during the late Subcutaneous era, the entire shebang was wafted gently North by the Japanese Current, until it collided with the western edge of what we now realize is Canada, but at the time was thought to be Finland, or possibly one of the chillier regions of Spain. Fortunately, humanity had not evolved at that time, so nobody was hurt. We have been here ever since, but strangely, some maps insist we still float like Alcatraz off the California coast, forever superimposed on what should be a big blank spot.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Overlooked Alaska History: Ponce de Leon

Overlooked Alaska History: 1514, a terribly lost Ponce de Leon discovers that while Kenai Lake is no fountain of youth, it does have certain stimulating qualities.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Overlooked Alaska History: The Flattop Spaceport

Overlooked Alaska History: Archaeologists and geologists have long marveled at the nearly perfectly level summit of Flattop Mountain. Its startling contrast to the pointy peaks of the rest of the Chugach Range has led many to wonder "WTF, Flattop?" Now an interdisciplinary team of crack academics from UAA thinks it has found the explanation. After an exhaustive study of the area they have concluded it was leveled in 1300 A.D. by a technology so advanced that it could only have been extra-terrestrial. Furthermore, artifacts recovered in an extensive dig reveal evidence of many different technologically advanced cultures mingled in the ruins of what appears to have been an active space port and trading center. Interestingly, there are many items from across the Arctic as well, indicating trade with Northern peoples was part of the attraction to our off-planet visitors. Mysteriously all activity seems to have halted abruptly in 1390, according to carbon dating of the site, which quickly deteriorated in the harsh environment. Such an distinct and drastic halt points to either a great cultural upheaval or a tragically short attention span, according to the team.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Overlooked Alaska History: The Wreck of the Handsome Molly

Even after disasters like the Franklin expedition,  the idea of the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean remained a potent dream.  Like many before them, the Captain and crew of the Handsome Molly came to grief in the cruel North. Why have you never heard of them? So many good souls and true were lost in this fool's errand that the British Navy grew deeply embarrassed by the whole thing and hushed up the fact that they continued to send ships to their doom in the vain search for the shortcut to the Pacific up until the Norwegian Roald Amundsen finally succeeded in 1906. Was it blind obedience that led these men to undertake what by then was clearly a suicide mission? Ignorance? Hubris? Or was it simply that, as men, it was against their principles to stop and ask the locals for directions? 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Overlooked Alaska History: Teddy Roosevelt Poses With Trophy Mammoth

It's all but forgotten now, but a small population of Wooly Mammoths persisted past the Ice-Age on the Southern slopes of the Brooks Range. Sadly they were viewed as a "pest species" because they competed with moose for browse and were hunted to extinction, with the blessing of federal, and later, state game managers. (The last one was shot with a bow by Ted Nugent in 1978) Naturally as times changed, and people felt guilty about losing this most charismatic of megafauna, pictures such as this one were suppressed. But this photo escaped, proof of our tragic short-sightedness. Knowing what we do today, we are certain that TR himself would agree.