In the fall of 1914, the talk in Seward covered everything from the Great War in Europe to which town would get the new government railroad. In 1915 Seward became the terminus of the Alaska Railroad, and life in our small town changed rapidly as thousands of newcomers began arriving in Alaska.
A few nights ago, stretched in a tent on the blue-gray gravel of the Lowe River floodplain, I woke to a series of sharp jolts. It felt like the earth was a giant halibut, and I was the fishing pole.
Florence Barrett Willoughby was as Alaskan as it comes. Though not born in Alaska, she had come north as a child with her family. She always fiddled with her age for many reasons, though she claimed to be uncertain of her birthdate. The 1910 U.S. Census records her birthplace as Wisconsin in…
With fall approaching, our heating season is coming soon. Many Alaskans like the smell of burning wood and the type of heat they get from a wood stove. This time of year, they may think about the size of their wood pile, drying the wood, and the relative price of heating oil as a competitive…
While wandering middle Alaska this summer, I noticed orange spruce trees along the entire length of the Denali Highway, from Paxson to Cantwell. In what looked like a dendrological case of frostbite, tips of every branch were afflicted with something.
Early in his career, on a wet, windy, foggy night, Guy Tytgat checked into the loneliest hotel in the Aleutians. His room was four feet wide and five feet tall, made of fiberglass, and perched on the lip of a volcanic crater.
Right now, on the brushy tundra of northern Alaska, grizzly bears are gathering at quiet streams and rivers, attracted by the largest calorie reward they can find — spawning salmon.
High summer is here in middle Alaska. North of Fairbanks, in bright sunshine, alder flycatchers are perched in spruce tops, just arriving from Bolivia and Peru. A few steps away, accompanied by the smell of sulfur, dozens of carrion flies buzz on and above a moose carcass.
Jerry Lavarne did not use nets to catch sharks in Resurrection Bay, as the U.S. Fisheries Bureau suggested. He was clear about this in a feature article in the January 1920 issue of Pacific Fisherman: “At the present, line fishing method is the only one which presents itself as practicable f…
Glacier mice are soft green ovals, about as big as your hand. Each summer day, they creep an inch across the surface of some Alaska glaciers. They roam in groups, sometimes changing direction together like a herd of caribou.
It is a pleasant day for a walk in middle Alaska, with blue sky overhead, and people perhaps looking for something to do outside, with lots of space and sweet-scented summer air around them.
After the final steps of a long run in early March, Greg Finstad took his pulse rate. His heart was at 38 beats per minute. Perfect. The reindeer biologist and marathon runner was in top shape to run this year’s Boston Marathon.
By the fall of 1913 some of Otto Bergstrom’s friends in Seward were concerned. One of his periodic mishaps was due. These events were always good for a sympathetic chuckle, though his friends really liked the man and wished him no harm. But the mysterious anticipation of what might come next…
Every town has one, and in Seward’s early days it was Otto Bergstrom. If there was anyone in town who elicited “schadenfreude,” it was Otto. The German term “schadenfreude” is defined as “pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune.” It wasn’t so much pleasure his fellow pio…
The recent discovery of the most complete dinosaur skeleton ever found in Japan suggests the duck-billed creatures once stomped across the Bering Land Bridge.
It was the first weekend in May, and Alaskans were getting out. Emboldened by words from the governor to get outside, or more likely their desires to escape the house, people were driving south on the Richardson Highway from Fairbanks.
On these wet, mushy April days, as returning ducks set their wings for landing at Creamer’s Field in Fairbanks, spring breakup is proceeding as it always has. This year is different, though, noticed in the striking quiet of places that would usually be hopping.
Howard Pass, a rock-stubbled tundra plateau in the western Brooks Range, is one of the lowest points in the mountains that arc across northern Alaska. It is a broad gateway between the great drainages of the Colville and Noatak rivers.
It is strange to be voluntarily stuck in one’s own home; and if it wasn’t for cell phones, Facebook, and FaceTime, this would be a lonely experience for sure. The cats and I have some Interesting, albeit one sided, conversations. The key word in this paragraph is “voluntary.”
One-hundred-two years ago, a strain of influenza virus spread across the globe, eventually reaching Brevig Mission in Alaska. Five days after the flu hit the Seward Peninsula, 72 of the 80 villagers in Brevig Mission were dead.
Eat Right, Bite by Bite! That’s the theme of National Nutrition Month this year. Make March the month to try and focus on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
On the cusp of Interior Alaska’s springtime, Melinda Webster will not experience it this year. She’ll miss most of summer, too. Webster will soon head north of Earth’s land masses, to spend the next half year cradled in ice.
William Burt was pleased. As the research vessel Oceanus sailed away from Seward in July 2016, his equipment began detecting just the sort of phytoplankton he expected to be floating around the surface of the northern Gulf of Alaska.
Fairbanks’s recent mornings in the minus 30s Fahrenheit may be extending local residents’ winter fatigue, but there are some rewards that come with cold, clear skies.
When two National Hockey League hockey players collide, their pads and body tissues can absorb enough energy to power a 100-watt light bulb for a minute and a half. During the 60 minutes of a hockey game, players can burn 6,000 calories and lose up to 15 pounds.
In cold, dry, subarctic air, a rocket taller than a house tilts northward, awaiting the moment when a person inside a nearby concrete building pushes a button.
By the summer of 2020, a landslide will bury a portion of the road from the Denali National Park entrance to Wonder Lake. That’s the conclusion of Zena Robert, a UAF graduate student who visited the park in summer 2019.
For the 20th straight year, in December 2019 I carried a notebook into the halls of the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Most of those years the conference was in San Francisco (as it was this year).
A father wakes, rolls out of bed, and drops his toes to cold carpet. He grabs a flashlight and shines it outside the window. The thermometer reads 40 below zero, the only point at which the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales agree. The red liquid within his thermometer is alcohol; mercury freezes…