It’s hard to describe how vast Alaska is and, truthfully, even with living here the concept is still difficult to put into words. Seward’s Folly turned out to be a really good buy. In 1867, William H. Seward, US Secretary of State, purchased 586,412 square miles of land for $7,200,000, or about two cents per acre. Generally, the purchase was approved, but those opposed called it Seward’s Folly that over time has proven to be a wise purchase.
Those half a million plus square miles sprawl from the Arctic to the Bering Sea and is surrounded by water on three sides by water with lakes, rivers, marshes, and waterfalls everywhere inland. Alaskans, both native and transients, live on only one percent of the land, a state which is so large it could hold Texas twice. If you were to use the same population density of Alaska for Manhattan, only fourteen people would live there.
Containing 1/5 the land mass of the remaining United States, it has so much waterfront that it accounts for forty percent of the nation’s entire waterfront. Flying from the Aleutian Islands, located in extreme western Alaska, to British Columbia, Canada, which lies on Alaska’s eastern border, would be the same as flying from Los Angeles to New York.
There are five distinct geographical areas of Alaska, Arctic (think Barrow), Interior (think Fairbanks), Western (think Nome), South Central (think Anchorage), and South East (think Juneau). The terrain is rough and rugged with tall, forbidding mountain ranges including Mt. McKinley, known here as Mt. Denali, which is the tallest mountain in the United States. This isn’t a place for the faint of heart. Okay, that’s our history lesson for today. Class dismissed.