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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.

This fort, under the command of Lt. W.R. Abercrombie, was established to serve dual purposes: 1) to maintain law and order in the growing gold-rush establishment; and 2) to establish a military road and telegraph line to the Alaskan interior.

On September 6, 1900, the post was named Fort Liscum in honor of Colonel Emerson H. Liscum, who was killed while leading his regiment at the battle of Tien Tsing in China on July 13, 1900.

The original site was the area first chosen for the post; however, it was declared unsuitable after one year due to overflowing summer streams. The fort was relocated to Ludington's Landing several miles south, on the shores of Port Valdez. The new site offered a safe anchorage and an abundant supply of water and wood.

172 men were stationed at Fort Liscum. Their accommodations included two single sets and one double set of officers' quarters, a hospital, an adjutant's office, several storehouses, civilian quarters, a stable, and a bakery. The buildings were made of wood, and each of the quarters was two stories in height.

Fort Liscum

Fort Liscum, Alaska, 1913

After the completion of the telegraph construction in 1899 and the Trans-Alaska Military road to the interior in 1909, the need for the post began to decline. Fort Liscum was closed in 1923, and the facilities were abandoned in 1929. Later that same year, the buildings were purchased and the land was homesteaded by Andrew and Oma Belle day, the founders of Dayville.

Images are in the public domain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Viewing Information

Today the Alyeska Marine Terminal (terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline) sits on the original site of Fort Liscum. While the fort is no longer standing, travelers to Valdez can visit it's old location "across the bay" by taking Dayville Road. Excellent views are available from Dayville Road looking back at town from across the water. The Alyeska Marine Terminal is a secure zone closed to the public, though visitors may travel as far as the Allison Point Campground. 

You can learn more about the fort by visiting the Valdez Museum and their exhibit on Fort Liscum