By Walter R. Borneman
The heritage of Alaska is stuffed with tales of latest land and new riches -- and ever current are new individuals with competing perspectives over how those assets could be used: Russians exploiting a fur empire; explorers checking rival advances; prospectors stampeding to the clarion name of "Gold!"; infantrymen fighting out a decisive bankruptcy in global battle; oil wildcatters searching for a special type of mineral wealth; and continually on the center of those disputes is the query of the way the land is for use and via whom.Major topics contain Alaska Natives, exploration and climbing, mining rushes, railroads and aviation, army operations, and the clash pitting conservation opposed to improvement, with a focus at the present debate over oil drilling in ANWR.Some wish Alaska to stay static, others are within the forefront of switch. Alaska: Saga of a daring Land exhibits that there are not any effortless solutions on both sides and that Alaska will consistently be crossing the following frontier.
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Extra resources for Alaska: Saga of a Bold Land--From Russian Fur Traders to the Gold Rush, Extraordinary Railroads, World War II, the Oil Boom, and the Fight Over ANWR
All of the forces that built this diverse landscape are still very much at work. Cataclysmic, landscape-altering events continue to occur here, some with little or no warning. On July 9, 1958, an earthquake rocked Lituya Bay on the Fairweather Fault just west of Glacier Bay. During this one episode, the Pacific plate moved northwestward an estimated twenty-one feet. The quake triggered several large landslides that in turn created a giant tidal wave in the bay. As it surged toward the ocean, the wave tore mature trees from Lituya’s shoreline up to an elevation of 1,740 feet, leaving a mountainside scar that is still visible.
By Alaska Range and St. Elias Range standards, Coast summits are not particularly lofty, but their dramatic rise within a comparatively short distance from sea level, combined with fickle southeast Alaska weather, crumbling sedimentary rock, and extensive glaciers, make them mountaineering challenges. The international boundary runs along the crest of the range, and the highpoint of the Alaskan portion is 10,023-foot Kates Needle above the Stikine Icefield. As in the Alaska Range, warm moisture-laden air from the Pacific cools on the windward side of the range and deposits its cargo.
The Aleutian Range dominates the sweeping arc of the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands as they slice between the waters of the Bering Sea and the North Pacific Ocean. This wild, 1,600-mile tail of Alaska is a grand necklace of rugged peaks, lowland plains, and rocky beaches cast upon a restless and frequently rambunctious sea. The highpoint of the range, 11,413-foot Mount Torbert, lies near its tangled juncture with the Alaska Range. Chakachamna Lake and the Chakachatna River slice through the range just south of Mount Torbert and Mount Spurr (11,070 feet) and tempt some to lump these peaks with the Alaska Range rather than the Aleutians.