Applications are being accepted for summer seasonal positions.
The application period is open for summer seasonal positions. Please click on the "Employment" link for more information. More »
Nabesna Area ORV Regulations Proposed by Wrangell-St. Elias
A regulation package for the management of off-road vehicle (ORV) use in the Nabesna District of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve was published in the Federal register on Jan. 15. It is available for public review and comment for 60 days. More »
HEADQUARTER’S VISITOR CENTER TO REOPEN FOR THE SUMMER
The Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Visitor Center in Copper Center will re-open on April 1, 2014. More »
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Seeks Candidates for Subsistence Resource Commission
Nominations for candidates to fill upcoming vacancies on the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Subsistence Resource Commission are being accepted through March 31, 2014. More »
Hearings Set for Hunting and Domestic Goat Restrictions
The National Park Service is holding public hearings in March on temporary restrictions for certain sport hunting practices in several national preserves in Alaska. WRST will also take comments on a proposal to prohibit domestic goats. More »
The Valdez Trail
In 1896, discoveries near Canada's Klondike River precipitated the region's greatest gold rush. Most stampeders reached the district via a largely Canadian route leading from the southeast Alaskan community of Dyea through Chilkoot Pass. Many American participants, however objected to foreign control of that transportation corridor. In response, the US government agreed to construct an alternate trail, leading from Prince William Sound into the Yukon Basin.
A Trail to Eagle City
Mountaineer Robert Dunn employed the trail the following year on his way to Copper Center. Unlike the stampeders, who were often too preoccupied to note its spectacular scenery, Dunn recorded a vivid description of the route:
The Route to Fairbanks
The new path soon received its first improvements. In 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt established the Board of Road Commissioners for Alaska and designated Major Wilds P. Richardson as president. Richardson was particularly concerned about the development of interior Alaska and emphasized the speedy construction of a more permanent Valdez-Fairbanks route.
Roadhouses & Automobiles
By 1913 the first automobile traveled the entire length of the trail. Although it only averaged about nine miles per hour, others quickly followed. By 1918, automobile stage coaches plied regular routes between Valdez and Fairbanks, and motorized vehicles carried most of the mail. No longer a trail, in 1919 the Road Commission redesigned the route as the Richardson Road in honor of its newly retired first president, Wilds Richardson.
The Trail Today
The Valdez Trail provided the first overland access to much of interior Alaska and played a major role in its subsequent development. A closing thrust in a period of pioneer American trail building, the Valdez Trail channeled people, freight, and mail into the region, promoting mining activity, aiding the development of supporting industries, and hastening the settlement of the Copper, Yukon, and Tanana River Valleys.
Want To Learn More?
History of the Valdez Trail
Another excellent overview of gold rush activity in the Wrangell St. Elias area is William Hunt's book, Mountain Wilderness: An Illustrated History of Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve (Anchorage, Alaska Natural History Association, 1996), 224 pages. You can purchase this book online by visiting the park's bookstore.
Another well-done history of the Alaska gold rushes is William Hunt's North of 53: The Wild Days of the Alaska-Yukon Mining Frontier, 1870-1914 (New York, MacMillan Press, 1974), 328 pages. It is widely available in libraries both in Alaska and elsewhere.
Did You Know?
Since 1889, Alaska has experienced 10 earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 8.0 on the Richter scale