Fun Fact October 18, 2021.

According to History dot com, it was on October 18, 1867 that the U.S. formally took possession of Alaska after purchasing the territory from Russia for $7.2 million.  That works out to less than two cents an acre. The Alaska purchase comprised 586,412 square miles, about twice the size of Texas, and was championed by William Seward, the secretary of state under President Andrew Johnson.  Russia wanted to sell its Alaska territory to the U.S. because it was remote and difficult to defend and they didn’t want to risk losing it in battle to Great Britain. Negotiations between Seward and the Russian minister to the U.S. began in March 1867. However, the American public believed the land to be barren and worthless and dubbed the purchase “Seward’s Folly” and “Andrew Johnson’s Polar Bear Garden,” among other not so nice names. Johnson wasn’t a popular president, so that may have created some animosity toward the project. Nevertheless, Congress eventually ratified the Alaska deal. Public opinion of the purchase turned more favorable when gold was discovered in a tributary of Alaska’s Klondike River in 1896, sparking a gold rush. Alaska became the 49th state on January 3, 1959, and is now recognized for its vast natural resources.  Listen to the podcast here;

Fun Fact June 7, 2021.

Today in history, and we’re going North, to Alaska!  I’m currently working on an audio book about the history of Alaska.  It was on this date in 1913 that the first successful assent of the highest peak in North America was made by a missionary named Hudson Struck.  The mountain he and two other climbers reached the peak of is Denali, formally Mount McKinley.  Denali is an Athabascan Indian name for the mountain and means “the high one.”  At 20,320 feet the south peak towers above all the other peaks in the Alaska Range.  It is surrounded by Denali National Park, which covers 6.1 million, with an “M”, acres.  Larger than the state of Massachusetts. Although always known as Denali by the Athabascan people, in 1889 was named after a prospector named Frank Densmore. In 1896, it was renamed in honor of Senator William McKinley, who became president that year.  Mount McKinley National Park was established as a wildlife refuge in 1917. In 1980, the park was expanded and renamed Denali National Park and Preserve. In 2015, the mountain was officially renamed Denali.