National Geographic : 1956 Jun
T HE fastest-growing portion of the United States lies not within its main land boundaries but 1,000 miles to the north. In 1940 Alaska had 72,524 people. In 1956 it has more than 208,000-and plenty of room for more. While the States average 54 people per square mile, Alaska still boasts a reverse ratio: 2.8 square miles per person. Much is frozen wasteland, but rich forests, farmlands, fisheries, and untapped resources of oil and minerals abound in this Territory which has long awaited Statehood. A new 10-color map of this far-northern frontier goes to the more than 2,150,000 mem ber families of the National Geographic Society with this issue of their Magazine.* It supplements, in the same issue, three arti cles and 91 photographs on Alaska today. Based largely on new aerial surveys, the map charts Alaska with accuracy and detail never before possible. Especially in the rug ged region of Mount McKinley, North America's tallest peak, and in the vast glacial wilderness around Mount St. Elias, the map owes much to the National Geographic-spon sored flights and explorations of Bradford Washburn. The Air Force helicopter above, near Mount Brooks, brought his party to the base of Mount McKinley. Large insets show Alaska's long panhandle and the Aleutians. A smaller inset shows its four Judicial Divisions. Another illustrates the size of the Territory by superimposing it on a map of the United States. Two more dramatize Alaska's strategic importance: across the Bering Sea the mainland of Asia reaches within 55 miles of North America, and in the Diomedes only 22 miles of water separate Soviet from United States soil. Red lines trace a growing network of roads, including the war-built Alaska Highway. Good roads, however, are still largely confined to the southeast corner of the Territory. Travel elsewhere is almost entirely by air. Red stars mark 235 airports with scheduled service. Even these only hint at Alaska's airmindedness: bush pilots touch down with pontoons or skis in remotest lake or field. Bush pilots, incidentally, helped National Geographic cartographers clear up many puz zles. Buckland, on Seward Peninsula, has 108 Eskimos in winter. Visit it in summer and you will find none: everyone moves north to Elephant Point to fish. Small open circles indicate such seasonal or deserted settlements, and ghost towns of gold-rush days. From northern pilots, too, comes new in formation on the "tree line," used by flyers for visual position checks. The red line marking "limit of wooded country," moved as much as 50 miles in some areas, reflects their observation that forests are slowly extending. * Members may obtain additional copies of the Alaska map (and of all standard maps published by The Society) by writing to the National Geographic Society, Washington 6, D. C. Prices, in the United States and elsewhere, 50~ each on paper; $1 on fabric. Indexes to place names, available for this and most other maps, 25( each. All remittances pay able in U. S. funds. Postpaid.