On March 30th, 1867 U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward signed a treaty with Russia purchasing Alaska for 7 million dollars. This price at 2.5 cents per acre added a land mass twice the size of Texas to the United States. Congress ratified the treaty by a mere one vote and detractors called the deal Seward’s Folly, Seward’s Ice box and my favorite- Andrew Johnson’s polar bear garden. On October 18, 1867 the U.S. Flag was officially hoisted above the Governor’s house in Sitka. By 1898 gold was discovered in Alaska and attitudes changed about the economic value of Alaska. But probably just as important, if not more, is the natural riches Alaska contains.
Alaska comes from the Aleut word meaning “Great Land"
Alaska comes from the Aleut word meaning “Great Land” and the shear size, natural features and wildlife are truly great both in size and scope. Alaska has 20 National Parks which encompass more land than all of the other National Parks combined. Another record goes to Denali National Park which has the tallest peak in North America, Mt. Mckinley which is 20,320 feet at its summit. You can also visit fjords, glaciers, tundra and over 3 million lakes. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the largest in the world covering 16 million acres.
When it comes to wildlife Alaska holds more titles- 98% of all brown bears in the United States live in Alaska. You can also find large populations of black bears, polar bears, caribou, lynx, wolves, arctic fox and moose just to name a few. In the Alaskan waters there are whales, seals, walrus and of course Danger Ranger Bear’s favorite-salmon!
Now, 148 years later we can thank Secretary Seward for his “folly” and for Alaska’s expansive frontiers that provide a place to view nature and experiencing an infinite amount of outdoor adventures. Not bad for less than 3 cents an acre!