Breathtaking glaciers, beautiful rugged vistas, amazing wildlife—Alaska is hotter (or shall we say cooler?) than ever with a record-breaking number of people visiting each year. And if you happen to be a history buff, this is an extra special time to visit.
That’s because this year marks the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Cession, which allowed the United States to purchase Alaska from Russia in 1876 for $7.2 million, making it an official U.S. territory. The official transfer was made in Sitka, a small city on the Alaska panhandle outside of Juneau and the former capital of the territory. The Russian Imperial flag was lowered and the American flag was raised here on October 18, 1867, now known as Alaska Day. In honor of this commemorative anniversary, fantastic events and celebrations are being held in ports around the state.
In Anchorage, the famous Emanuel Leutze painting The Signing of the Alaska Treaty depicting the Alaska Purchase, the original Treaty of Cession document and the signed check are all on display at the Anchorage Museum. (Come October, the painting will be on display at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau. This museum, which recently underwent an impressive $139 million renovation, also features a large display of Russian colonial-era artifacts as well as 15,000 pieces of Native Alaska historical artifacts and works of art.) Anchorage is also hosting a series of concerts, lectures and the commemorative Sesquicentennial United States Road Rally Challenge from Anchorage to southern Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula in September.
Fairbanks is also honoring the historic anniversary with a cultural series, “Over Near the Horizon,” which combines Native Alaskan, Russian and American music, dance, photography and video. Throughout the year, the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks is featuring an anniversary art exhibit that depicts life in Alaska in the late 1800s, a showcase of 2,000 years of Alaskan art and an exhibit about Alaska’s dinosaurs.
Additional events and celebrations are being added as the celebration continues this year. Check out the calendar of events at the Alaska Historical Society or call 907-276-2596.