National Geographic : 1959 Jul
Alaska Proudly Joins the Union vote gave this new community its name: Anchorage. Seward, in one of the most favored of nature's locations, has struggled valiantly for 45 years to overcome the handicap. It is an ocean terminus of the Alaska Railroad, if not its headquarters, and defense needs connected it with Alaska's interior by highway. But de fense also created a formidable competitor on the upper east coast of the Kenai Peninsula: the port of Whittier, through which most of the State's military freight moves. Racers Climb a Mountain Seward now attracts tourists with its annual Salmon Derby and its trout fishing. Each July 4 the city also stages a unique sporting event: the grueling Mount Marathon race, inaugurated in 1915. Entrants start down town, dash three-fourths of a mile to the mountain's base, scale its steep 3,022-foot peak, and return. Contestants from Scan dinavia, as well as Hawaii and the 48 other States, have sought the cash prize-as much as $2,500-and trophy. The record was set in 1957 by Alaska's Sven Johansson, who made the round trip in 51 minutes 40.7 seconds. Seward-all of Alaska, in fact-hummed with excitement two years ago when a well on the Kenai Peninsula began spouting 900 barrels of crude oil daily. The strike was not unexpected. Travelers discovered surface-oil seeps in Alaska a century ago, and some geologists believe the State is potentially one of the world's greatest petroleum producers. But oil prospecting on Alaska's forested ridges and trackless tundra is a rugged, costly enterprise. Geologists reach many remote prospects only by helicopter. Drilling rigs have been beached by landing craft and labo riously hauled inland. Even so, more than a score of oil companies plan to spend up to $300,000,000 in the next decade searching for black gold (page 52). Already nearly 40 million Alaskan acres have been leased, and I am no longer startled Forests Yield to a Growing Campus at the University of Alaska The world's northernmost university began in 1922 as a land-grant college. This view shows the domed observatory (left) of the Geophysical Institute, a laboratory for study of magnetism, the aurora, and other phenomena. The campus and surrounding community of College lie near Fairbanks.