This Month in Alaska History
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This Month in History is compiled by Robert N. DeArmond of Sitka

May 1, 1914--Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane announced the selection of the Susitna route for the government railroad.  The rails would extend from Seward on the coast to Fairbanks. On this date 25 years later, in 1939, the Interstate Commerce Commission authorized the Copper River & Northwestern Railroad, another major link between the coast and the Interior, to abandon its route.

May 2, 1778--Captain James Cook, British navigator and explorer, sighted and named Mount Edgecumbe at the entrance to Sitka Sound.   He is believed to have named it for a mountain near Plymouth, England.

May 3, 1917--Governor John F. A. Strong approved a bill that created the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, today the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

May 4, 1911--At Cordova a group of residents, irate because nearby coal fields had been closed to entry, shoveled a quantity of Canadian coal from the wharf into the bay.  The event became known as the Cordova Coal Party.

May 5, 1898--Tom Lopp and Native reindeer herders returned to Wales after driving more than 400 reindeer 700 miles to Barrow.  This feat was part of the "Overland Relief Expedition" to supply food to whalers unexpectedly trapped in the ice in the fall of 1897 off Barrow.

May 6, 1941--A B-19 bomber was the first plane to land on the still unpaved Yakutat airfield.

May 7, 1906--An Act of Congress providing for a Delegate in Congress from Alaska was approved by President Theodore Roosevelt.

May 8, 1871--John H. Kinkead closed his mercantile business and left Sitka. He had been the town's first postmaster and had served briefly as mayor.  He would return in 1884 as Alaska's first governor.

May 9, 1879--Alonzo E. Austin arrived in Sitka with John Brady.  Two years later he opened a boarding school for Native boys, the beginnings of the Sheldon Jackson School, now Sheldon Jackson College.

May 10, 1957--President Dwight Eisenhower nominated Mike Stepovich to be governor of territorial Alaska.  Stepovich served as the last governor before Alaska became a state.

May 11, 1852--Charles Warren Fairbanks was born in Ohio.  He became Vice President of the United States and Fairbanks, Alaska, was named for him.

May 12, 1898--Dr. Charles C. Georgeson arrived in Sitka to begin the U.S. Department of Agriculture's experiment station program in Alaska.  He picked the hill where Baranov's Castle had stood as the site for the administrative building.

May 13, 1866--Major Robert Kennicott, a member of the Western Union Telegraph Expedition, died unexpectedly at Nulato.  Several geographic features and a state ferry have been named for him, directly or indirectly.

May 14, 1898--An Act of Congress was approved granting a right of way for the White Pass & Yukon railroad from Skagway to the Canadian border.

May 15, 1926--The dirgible Norge with Roald Amundsen on board, arrived at Teller, Alaska, after flying over the North Pole from Norway.

May 16, 1924--The Army's Round-the-World fliers left Attu Island for Paramashiru Island, the longest leg of the trip and most of it over water.  They landed successfully.

May 17, 1906--Congress passed the Alaska Native Allotment Act authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to allot 160 acres to Alaska Natives.  The land would be inalienable and non-taxable.  Administrative interpretations of the law, however, would limit the number of Natives qualifying for the land for nearly three-quarters of a century.

May 18, 1937 -- Construction of a Navy air base was commenced on Japonski Island, a Navy reserve since 1891.

May 19, 1932--The German armed cruiser Karlsruhe arrived at Juneau on a round-the-world cruise.

May 20, 1909--Walter Eli Clark was appointed the 7th governor of the District of Alaska.  In 1912 he became the first governor of the Territory of Alaska.

May 21, 1913--John F. A. Strong was appointed the 8th governor of Alaska, the first man appointed to the position after Alaska became a territory.  In 1918, soon after he was reappointed to the office, he was asked to resign when it was disclosed that he was still a Canadian citizen.

May 22, 1906--A devastating fire swept through the Fairbanks business district.

May 23, 1935--Officials held a drawing at the newly established Matanuska Colony to award the first 200 tracts to the settlers of this government-sponsored relief and development project.

May 24, 1894--St. Michael's Cathedral in Sitka was threatened by a fire that destroyed a nearby building.  Valuables were removed from the cathedral and returned the following day.  In 1966 the cathedral was destroyed by fire but was subsequently rebuilt.

May 25, 1799--Alexander Baranov arrived on Sitka Sound from Kodiak to establish a post for the newly organized Russian American Company of which he was chief manager.

May 26, 1900--Congress passed a bill creating the Washington-Alaska Cable System.  Over the cable Alaska would be connected to the worldwide telegraphic system.

May 27, 1905--The steamer White Seal was launched at Fairbanks, the first registered vessel to be built on the Tanana River.

May 28, 1867--The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty providing for the purchase of Alaska from Russia.  Ninety-one years later, on May 28, 1958, the House of Representatives passed the Alaska statehood bill by a vote of 208-166.

May 29, 1943--The U.S. Army activated the Shemya post with 236 officers, seven of them women, and 4,565 enlisted men.

May 30, 1778--The vessels of Captain James Cook discovered Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet.

May 31, 1977--The final weld was completed on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.