Anchorage Early Memories
Do you know how Bootlegger Cove got it's name? What were the names of some of the early Anchorage characters? And a few surprises.
Bootlegger Cove 1968
photo courtesy Cindy Pendelton
United States President Woodrow Wilson wanted to protect the “morality and sobriety” of the new town that was springing up on the banks of Ship Creek, that would become known as Anchorage, Alaska.
The town was laid out in a grid pattern and sections were auctioned off.
There was a ban on alcohol in place, and anyone who purchased property was required to honor that ban. Anyone caught breaking the ban would have their property repossessed.
The Literal “Way Around”
The area along the shores of Cook Inlet, near the outlet of Chester Creek, soon became a popular location for bootleggers to come ashore with their wares.
Because the location was “around the bend” from Ship Creek, the site of the tent city and the area where property was being auctioned off, the cove was out of site of the authorities.
What Was that Name?
Most folks that live in, or have ever lived in Anchorage, know the name “Russian Jack”. He was one of those early pioneers who went by a nickname.
But have you ever heard of The Pale-Faced Kid, Dago Jim or Cream Puff Bill?
What about Happy Jack Smith, Big Red or Walking Swayze?
As for Cream Puff Bill, he was a baker for the railroad and word was that the pastry he baked, especially his cream puffs, were legendary.
By the Way
Notice the flyer to elect Russian Jack the Mardi Gras King?
Well, as you might have heard, Russian Jack was a scoundrel and the local citizens decided not to elect him Mardi Gras King.
Russ Merrill, Alaska Aviation Pioneer
A graduate of Cornell University and a World War I Navy pilot.
Did you know that his flying time in Alaska, was only four years? If you look across Cook Inlet at the Alaska Range, you’ll be looking at Merrill Pass.
Those Pesky Mosquitos
The good ol’ summertime in early Anchorage brought with it a special problem for ladies.
Those early pioneer ladies used to wrap newspapers around their legs, wear leather gloves and even nets over their heads to protect them from… you guessed it. Mosquitos.
On April 24, 1915, Martha White, the daughter of “Mother White”, drove the first spike in the Alaska Railroad at Ship Creek Flats.
Joe Spenard Did What?
You’ve probably heard that the town of Spenard and Spenard Lake are named after a flamboyant character named Joe Spenard.
Joe talked an early Anchorage club into helping him create a road from tent city to the area now known as Spenard.
His purpose was to cut trees in the area and transport them back to the citizens of Anchorage as they began building their community.
But, the forested area was actually the Chugach National Forest Reserve and cutting down trees was prohibited. Apparently, Joe did not get caught.
To learn more, take a look at the following Joe Spenard video.
A Note from an Anchorage Memories VIP Subscriber
“The Army told me I would serve in Anchorage, Alaska, even though I had written that my top three duty station selections were “Hawaii”.
I served at Fort Richardson and spent more time in town than most of the others I served with.
One night I met Ron Moore, the Anchorage radio personality known as The Royal Coachman, at a dance in Carpenter Hall. I was so impressed with his ability to speak, his selection of music and his overall gentlemanly demeanor, that one night I ask if he would recommend a broadcast school where I could train to go into radio broadcasting.
I eventually chose one of the schools he recommended and ended up becoming a radio announcer”
Mike, Mary, and our Daughter Nikki
You guessed it… we were not in Anchorage when this picture was taken some years ago at a sidewalk café in Beverly Hills, California.
The long white, stretch limo in the background just happened to be driving by. We think it was full of some folks from Anchorage on a winter break… or not.
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Until Next Time
Mike and Mary