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Facts About Alaska History: 6 Things You Might Not Know

By    |   Monday, 23 February 2015 11:32 PM

The United States purchased Alaska from Russia for $7 million, or around two cents an acre, in 1867. U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward signed the treaty, despite the fact that he was ridiculed by Congress and the press, who referred to the deal as “Seward’s Folly” or “Seward’s Icebox.”

Seward was a proponent of land expansion, but he could not have predicted how the discovery of gold there would affect the nation.

Here are six facts you might not know about Alaska:

1. Alaska is just 2.4 miles from Russia — at least at one point. Alaska’s Little Diomede Island, with a population of around 120, is located in the middle of the Bering Strait just two miles east of Russia’s Big Diomede Island, according to PBS.

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Little Diomede Island, covering two square miles, is also separated from Russia by the International Date Line. Summer temperatures average 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit while winters range from the single digits to below zero.

2. If you had a hammer, would you hammer in the morning? In the evening? Actually, you don’t have to hammer or even sing Pete Seeger and Les Hays’ “If I Had a Hammer,” not when you can visit The Hammer Museum in Haines. It’s the first museum to celebrate and preserve the history of man’s first tool, the museum’s website said.

The story of the hammer is told from ancient times to the industrial age. The museum is open from May to September and run by volunteers. If you ever get lost, just look for the huge hammer in front of the museum — it’s just four inches shy of 20 feet high.

3. A 13-year-old boy designed the Alaska state flag. In 1927, Benny Benson won a contest that was open to all Alaskan students in Grades 7 through 12, according to the University of Alaska. Benson’s design consisted of eight stars representing the Big Dipper on a blue background.

The teenager was living in the Jesse Lee Home in Seward, an orphanage for Aleut children, when he won the contest. He received a watch with the flag emblem on it and a $1,000 scholarship.

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4. The long summers in Alaska, in which the sun can shine 20 hours a day, often results in larger fruits and vegetables. How large? Try cabbages upwards of 130 pounds or 65-pound cantaloupes. Zucchini and broccoli, as well as other veggies give the term superfood a whole new meaning.

Steve Brown, an agricultural agent at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, told NPR
the profuse sunlight makes the produce sweeter too.

The Matanuska Colony, a New Deal project that President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was put forth in the mid-1930s to help unemployment. The result of that is one of Alaska’s few agricultural-based economies in and near Palmer, Alaska, according to the Mat-Su Valley Visitors Bureau. The area is an area responsible for many giant-sized veggies. 

5. Two of Alaska’s islands, Attu and Kiska, were occupied by the Japanese during World War II, according to History.com.

6. Say "earthquake," and most people in the United States will think of California. Alaska, though, is more seismically active than any other state in the nation.

In 1964, an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.2 occurred in Prince William Sound. The Alaska Earthquake Information Center reports that Alaska has about 22,000 earthquakes per year.

URGENT: Do You Approve of the Job Dan Sullivan Is Doing as an Alaskan Senator?

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The United States purchased Alaska from Russia for $7 million, or around 2 cents an acre, in 1867. Here are six facts you might not know about Alaska.
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Monday, 23 February 2015 11:32 PM
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