Discover Valdez: History

Short History of Valdez

The city of Valdez lies at the head of Port Valdez (pronounced "val-deez"), a natural fjord that reaches inland about 11 miles from Prince William Sound.

BEFORE 1778
Historically—as well as now—the territory south of Valdez belonged to the Alaskan Native people of the Chugach (pronounced "chew-gach") region, a maritime hunting people. To the north the land is that of the Ahtna, an Athabaskan speaking people of the Copper River Basin. Although there was no permanent native village in Port Valdez, it is certain that the Chugach and Ahtna did use the area for fishing and trading copper, jade, hides and other furs. The Chugach had eight principal village spread throughout the rest of Prince William Sound. Of these, only Tatitlek survives today.

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Valdez History - Trans-Alaska Pipeline

A BRIEF HISTORY OF ALASKA OIL EXPLORATION & PIPELINE DEVELOPMENT

The presence of crude oil on Alaska's North Slope was suspected for more than a century. In 1968, Atlantic Richfield Company and Humble Oil (now Exxon) confirmed the presence of a vast oil field at Prudhoe Bay. Within a year, plans were under way for a pipeline.

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Valdez History - 1964 Good Friday Earthquake

On Good Friday, March 27, 1964, the largest earthquake ever to hit North America struck Alaska. It was the second largest earthquake ever recorded, second only to Chile in 1960, which experienced a quake of 9.5 Moment Magnitude (Mw). The epicenter of this awesome quake was a mere 45 miles west of Valdez and 14 miles under the earth's crust. Initial shocks lasting over five minutes affected nearly all of the coastal communities of Alaska.

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Valdez History - Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

On Good Friday, March 24, 1989, 25 years after the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground at Bligh Reef. The vessel spilled 10.8 million gallons of unrefined Alaskan crude oil into Prince William Sound, causing the largest oil spill in North American history.

 No crude oil actually made it into the Port of Valdez, as Bligh Reef is about 25 miles south of the Port. However, winds and tides moved the floating crude oil further south into the Sound and onto beaches. Oil covered over 1200 miles of rocky beaches — the task of cleaning it up was a big one.

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Valdez History - Keystone Canyon

When driving into Valdez, you will pass through Keystone Canyon. It is a place of spectacular waterfalls, magnificent geology and fascinating history. Keystone Canyon is located at miles 14 through 17 on the Richardson Highway.

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Valdez History - The Goat Trail

W.R. Abercrombie, a Lieutenant in the US Army, was sent to Valdez with orders to find or build a road connecting Valdez to the interior of Alaska.

After many searches, in 1898 he found an old native trail that began in Keystone Canyon. By 1909 the trail was widened and ran from Valdez to Eagle and was called the Military or Valdez Trail.

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Valdez History - The Stamp Mill

Part of Valdez's heritage is located 7 miles up beautiful Mineral Creek Canyon. Established as a result of gold fever, the same fever that gave birth to the town of Valdez, the Stamp Mill stands a tribute to the efforts of early miners to strike it rich.

The Stamp Mill then and now is state owned, but it was built by W.L. Smith during the summer and winter of 1913. It took a total of two men to work the stamp mill at all times.

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Valdez History - Gold Rush of 1898

"Gold in Alaska!" "Valdez Glacier — Best Trail!" So rang the headlines in 1897-1898.

Steamship companies promoted the Valdez Glacier Trail, praising it as the only All-American trail to Alaska's interior. The Copper River, they said, was on American soil. Prospectors were bound to find even more gold there than in the Klondike.

It was one of the greatest hoaxes in Alaska's history. The prospectors arrived to find a glacier trail twice as long and steep as reported. With frontier grit, they set about hand sledding more than a 1000 pounds of supplies over the glacier, building boats, rafting the Klutina River's Hell's Gate rapids, and prospecting unnamed creeks.

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Valdez History - Women of the Gold Rush

Mrs. Dowling, Mrs. Anne Barrett, Miss Lillian Moore — these women and 60 others joined the Valdez Gold Rush.  Some were married, some were adventuresome unmarried women. They were all looking for something more exciting than church socials and tea parties.

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Valdez History - Fort Liscum

The history of Valdez can be traced back to the establishment of Fort Liscum, which operated from 1900-1923, was located three miles from the head of Valdez Bay on the south shore.

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Valdez History - Meteor Mountain

ARCHIVE REPORT
from The Valdez Miner, July 9, 1927

Whatever doubt may have existed as to the nature of the disturbance which occurred in Craig basin, about 15 miles from valdez, last January [1927], was set to rest last week when John DeHart and Peter Mass visited the scene, and returned with a series of photographs, 30 in number, taken by Mr. Maas, who is an expert photographer, which demonstrates that the theory of a huge landslide is erroneous.

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Business Directory

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Contact Us

Valdez Convention &

Visitors Bureau

104 Chenega Street

Valdez AK 99686


Tel: 907-835-INFO

 info@valdezalaska.org

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