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  • Day14

    More on Valdez

    May 29, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 45 °F

    Today we visited two of the museums in town to learn some of the history of Valdez.

    In 1897 gold seekers came to Alaska to follow the "All American Route" (instead of going through Canada) over the Valdez Glacier into the interior of Alaska. A tent city sprang up at the head of the bay, thus forming the city of Valdez. Prior to that the territory belonged to the Chugach, an Alaskan Native people in the region of the Prince William Sound. Prince William Sound was originally named Sandwich Sound, after the Earl of Sandwich by Captain Cook in 1779. Editors of Cook's maps renamed the Sound to Prince William Sound after Prince William IV. IN 1790 Spanish explorer Salvador Fidalgo was sent to Alaska to investigate Russian involvement and to establish claim in the area. There is a street named after Fidalgo. The port of Valdez was named after Antonio Valdés y Fernández Bazán a Spanish Navy Minister in 1790.

    In October 1980 the luxury cruise ship MS Prisendam was enroute to Japan, having cruised the inside passage way from Vancouver, put out a distress call as they had a fire that started in the engine room and was spreading. It was determined to abandon ship. The US Coast Guard and a tanker near by came to rescue and bring the passengers and crew to Valdez. One life boat was lost for 12 hours but was found. It is on display at the museum. There was a pilot, Bob Reeve, who became a famous Alaskan bush pilot. He his supposed to be the first to but skies on the wheels of is plane to be able to land in the snow (photo 2 & 3). The other museum was all about the damage done to the town by the earthquake and tsunami. Photo 4 shows what the intersection looks like today - photo 5 show what the intersection looked like before the damage (see where the red VW bus is). Photo 6 is part of a house that was an actual home in the original town.

    Photo 9 is the Valdez Marine Highway Terminal. Alaska is over 650,000 square miles and much of that has no road access. The primary forms of transportation in areas without roads are by air or sea, so the Alaska Marine Highway is a big part of the 'highway system.' It is such a unique set of routes that is has been designated as a National Scenic Byway and an All American Road, the only marine route with this distinction.
    With its southernmost port in Bellingham, WA, the Alaska Marine Highway extends more than 3,500 miles to Dutch Harbor, with over 30 stops along the way.
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