Are you a history buff? Alaska has a rich ecological, cultural and scenic history that you might fall in love with! The United States’ 49th state boasts 50 national historic landmarks, ranging from Native Alaskan ruins to World War II bases and gold-rush mines.
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Alaska is a perfect destination for history fanatics who crave adventure and want to learn about remote places and cultures. Visiting many of these landmarks also means exploring Alaska’s world-famous national parks like Denali, Katmai and Gates of the Arctic. If you’re working in Alaska and want to get in touch with the local history, here are six historic Alaskan landmarks and monuments to visit during your stay.
Oscar Anderson House
Take a step back to the past and discover what living in Anchorage was like in 1915. The Oscar Anderson House Museum, located in Elderberry Park, was the first wood-frame house in Anchorage and showcases the interior style and daily life of Alaskans in the early 1900’s.
The original owner, Oscar Anderson, was an important businessman in developing early Anchorage. Anderson helped develop various industries, including meat packing, coal production, air transportation, and newspaper publishing. As a bonus, if you visit during the first two weekends of December, the house is elaborately decorated and tour guests are offered traditional Swedish treats.
Kennicott Mine & Ghost Town
Glacier hoppers leaving from Anchorage will want to stop by Kennicott Mine along their journey. The mine is an abandoned copper mining camp established in 1903 by the Kennecott Mining Corporation, which operated five mines in the area. Before long, the mining camp transformed into a bustling community brimming with miners and their families. However, the ore rush didn’t last long, and by 1938 Kennicott was a ghost town.
Today, Kennicott is a popular tourist attraction. The National Park Service is rehabilitating many historic camp buildings and offers tours of the safe ones. The postcard-perfect photo opportunity is the iconic giant red mill building, a hulking 14-story building that towers in front of the Kennicott Glacier. Tours of the mill where you can learn about the town and its history are available with an NPS guide.
Russian Orthodox Church
The Holy Assumption Orthodox Church signifies an enduring Russian culture in Kenai and south-central Alaska. The late 19th-century wood-frame structure is an hour-and-a-half drive from the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge and features a distinctive two-story bell tower and a crown-shaped cupola. You’ll enjoy touring the inside of this still-active church to see icons, religious artifacts and historic objects that hold significance to the local community and the Russian Orthodox faith.
Fort William H. Seward
A stone’s skip away from Skagway, Fort William H. Seward is an impressive piece of American history and a worthy day trip. The fort was built by the U.S. Army to crack down on the unruly gold miners who flocked to Alaska during the height of the Klondike Gold Rush era. Besides instilling order, the military base provided a critical military presence in Alaska during a boundary dispute with Canada. After the dispute settled in 1903, Fort William H. Seward soon became the only active Army post in Alaska, a reign that lasted from 1925 to 1940.
During World War I, the relatively new Army base was used to train Alaskan draftees. Throughout World War II, the fort mainly operated as a recruitment station and training center for troops involved in the Aleutian Campaign.
Crow Creek Mine
Alaska is home to hundreds of gold panning areas; however, very few of these places let you really work the claim like panhandlers during the height of the Alaska Gold Rush. If you want that authentic experience (and the chance to find a golden nugget), then visit the Crow Creek Mine.
Crow Creek is a family-owned mine that still operates less than an hour from Anchorage. Take a tour of the facilities and you’ll learn how to work a pan and run a creek-side sluice box. After you’ve filled your pockets, go for a hike in the surrounding 400 acres of stunning wilderness, including the Historic Iditarod Trail, or browse through the beautiful outdoor museum that showcases Anchorage’s oldest buildings.
Alaska has so many meaningful adventures waiting for people who are willing to explore it. If you want to experience these historical sites and everything else Alaska has to offer, take a look at our destination jobs and plan your perfect working trip!