Alaska Facts and History
Did you know that Fairbanks was founded because of a series of mishaps? And that it got its name following a conversation with a judge?
Meet Elbridge Truman “E.T.” Barnette, (1863–1933)
The man who founded Fairbanks.
He was a riverboat Captain, a banker, and a swindler.
When the steamship Portland arrived at the West Coast with its one ton of gold from the Alaska gold strike, like many others, E.T. Barnett came down with a bad case of gold fever.
He decided to take the “Rich Man’s Route” to avoid Skagway and the passes. He boarded the ocean steamer, Cleveland in Seattle to travel to St. Michael, where he had booked a river steamer to Dawson City.
But the Cleveland ran into fog, bad weather, and had a fire in the hold compartment. A disease also broke out among the passengers. Eventually, the steamer made it to St. Michael where Barnette discovered that his river steamer to Dawson had already left.
So Barnette and 60 other passengers from the Cleveland purchased their own river steamer, the St. Michael, to take them to Dawson.
On their way to Dawson, the St. Michael became frozen in the river at Circle City.
But Barnette was determined to get to the Klondike. So, he bought a fast dog team to take him to Dawson.
Once he was there, Barnette discovered that every creek on the Klondike river had already been claimed.
E.T. Barnette was forced to take a job to earn enough money to go back home.
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Try, Try Again
In the early 1900s, Barnette had enough money and decided to go back to Alaska where this time he would set up a Trading Post along a new Railroad Route at Tannana Crossing.
In St. Michael once again, along with 130 tons of freight to start his Trading Post, he bought the river steamer, Arctic Boy.
Unfortunately, the Arctic Boy struck a rock and sank in St. Michael harbor.
So Barnette convinced Captain Charles Adams of the steamer Lavelle Young, to take him, his wife Isabelle, his employees and freight to Tannana Crossing.
The Captain agreed, with one important contractual agreement.
Barnette, his wife, employees, and freight would be put ashore at the “farthest point” the boat was able to reach… regardless of where that was.
Eventually, as they headed up the Tannana River, they ran into low water. But Barnett convinced Adams to head for the Chena River.
But, as they headed up the Chena, they ran into low water once again.
This time, Barnette and Captain Adams had an argument that ended with Barnette, his wife, several employees and 130 tons of freight being put off the steamer and on to the banks of the Chena River.
As Captain Adams and his steam boat headed back down the Chena, Isabelle stood on the riverbank and cried.
Photo above is the first Trading Post camp on the Chena River in 1903
E.T. Barnette established his trading post.
Some time later, in a conversation with Judge James Wickersham, the Judge convinced Barnette to name his trading post after U.S. Senator Charles W. Fairbanks of Indiana.
Yes, Fairbanks was founded because of a series of mishaps and was named following a conversation with a Judge.
To learn more, and how a swindle nearly caused a hanging, take a look at:
Fairbanks, Alaska and discover.
From Our North Stars
From Anchorage Hospital Memories
“I am a 1955 graduate of Anchorage High, when there was only one high school. I was in Juneau when the '64 quake hit. My parents were in Anchorage.
My 63-year-old mother was in the new Presbyterian hospital when the quake hit.
If my memory serves me right, in the '70s the Presbyterian hospital building eventually became the city health department and clinic.
The hospital built East of the airport was known as the Teamster's hospital, but today is known as the Alaskan Regional Hospital.”
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