You'll enjoy these Fun Facts About Anchorage Alaska including a look at early pioneers.
Anyone who grew up or lived in Anchorage, will remember this very popular local dairy.
But did you know how the name came about?
Back in 1935 or 1936, a contest was held in the Matanuska Colony to name the dairy.
A local high school student named Dorothy Ann Sheely (Bush) won the contest and a $25 dollar prize.
Dorothy submitted the name “Matanuska Maid”.
Pictured above is Dorothy Ann Sheely Bush in 1993, she was the school girl who won the Matanuska Maid naming contest. Also pictured is her mom Charlotte Sheely and Dorothy in 1935.
In 1960, Matanuska Maid wanted a name for the ice skater featured on their dairy products.
Mrs. John Secora of Anchorage came up with the name, “Anuska” which was the contest winner.
Notice that Anuska is Matanuska without the “Mat”.
Fun Facts About Anchorage Alaska uncovered this.
In 1921, the Anchorage City Council hired John J. Sturgus as the town's first Chief of Police. He was a one-man department.
In 1930, the Anchorage Police Department purchased its first patrol car. It was a used Ford that cost them $63.75.
By 1935, the APD was still operating mostly on foot. To fight crime, they sometimes borrowed a citizen's car and even used taxis.
Sally Miller was a registered nurse at one time, until she became part of the Anchorage, Alaska history books.
In 1946, she became the first “Policewoman” in Anchorage.
At the time, her job included working on cases where women and children were involved. And because of her nursing background, Miller also provided first aide during emergencies.
She was also responsible for purchasing and serving meals to prisoners three times each day.
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It all started around 1962, when Oro Stewart, of Stewart's Photo on 4th Avenue, decided she wanted a reindeer.
Then Oro and her husband Ivan got special permission to keep a reindeer in Anchorage.
Star was a female reindeer and got her name because of a white puff of fur in the shape of a star between her eyes.
The original star lived to be 23 years old. Since then, there have been numerous reindeer named Star.
Anchorage DJ, Ron Moore, the Royal Coachman, using the top floor of Blaine's Paint Store (pictured above) as the location for his popular teen nightclub, “The Royal Pad”.
Then in in 1965, a high school student named Jim Harlan turned the location into a teen nightclub called the “Cinnamon Cinder”.
In 1966, when Harlan left for college, he turned the club over to Larry Snipes and Terry Shank.
Did you know that the Royal Coachman had a name problem?
Ron Moore was one of the most popular radio personalities in Anchorage. Known as the “Royal Coachman”, he had a special theme song, his car was called the Royal Coach and his teen nightclub was the Royal Pad (seen above).
But when he started his top 40 call in program from the roof of the Bun Drive-In on Northern Lights Boulevard called, The Coke Show, Ron had a bit of an issue.
Local teens often referred to Ron as “RC”, which was short for Royal Coachman.
But RC was also short for a Coke competitor known as RC Cola, or Royal Crown Cola.
So, when Coca Cola began sponsoring The Coke Show, Ron carefully moved his audience away from calling him “RC”.
On the top of the Chugach mountains, just outside of Anchorage, the military built a Nike – Hercules missile defense location called Site Summit.
In 1960, school students all over Anchorage watched the first missile launch as they looked toward the mountain range?
As a student at Clark Jr. High School, Mike of Anchorage Memories recalls when all the students were taken outside to the front of the school where teachers told us where to look at the top of the mountain.
When the missile was launched, it was a remarkable site.
Missiles testing continued yearly in November and December from 1960 to 1963. Thereafter, the population growth of Anchorage made further testing unsafe.
Fun Facts about Anchorage Alaska include this:
In 1958, First Battery Commander, Captain Douglas Evert, gave the city of Anchorage a gift.
A lighted star was created on the side of Mount Gordon Lyon near Site Summit.
The star lights up every year on Thanksgiving weekend and is enjoyed by Anchorage residents during the holiday season.
1950 was the first year for the Blanket Toss in the Fur Rendezvous winter carnival.
Alaskan natives from Nome and Diomede Islands were flown in that year to demonstrate the blanket toss to happy Rondy attendees.
Adventurous people in the crowd could also be “tossed” for an incredible experience.
If you lived in Anchorage, are you in the crowd seen above?
Before Westchester Lagoon, there was a ski hill with a rope-tow where happy kids and adults could spend the day enjoying a great winter sport.
It was the perfect place to learn how to ski, before heading off to bigger hills near Anchorage.
Behind the skiers was West High School.
Romig Hill is named after Joseph Herman Romig, M.D., a Moravian Missionary Society Medical Missionary.
On October 1, 1925, Romig came to Anchorage to be the Railroad surgeon at the Alaska Railroad Hospital on 2nd Avenue between A and B Streets, in Anchorage.
From 1937 to 1938, Romig served as the Mayor of Anchorage.
From 1939 to 1940 he was the Chief Surgeon at Providence Hospital
Romig Hill is where the Romig family lived in their cabin.
Anchorage welcomed it's first Tastee Freez, located on Northern Lights Blvd., in the late 1950s.
Lynn Cluff purchased the Tastee Freez in 1962. She also purchased two Ice Cream trucks and had them driven up to Anchorage over the very muddy Alcan Highway.
In those days, the Anchorage Tastee Freez was not open during the winter.
But in 1963, Lynn decided to keep her store open all year long.
And yes, folks from all over town happily visited her Tastee Freez to get a frozen treat, even when it was 20 below.
On June 30, 1958, the Bill allowing Alaska to become a state, passed the United States House and Senate.
Notice the huge American flag on the side of the Federal Building in downtown Anchorage?
If you look closely, you'll see that a “49th” star was added to the flag to show the world that Alaska had become the 49th state.
To celebrate, there were parades, fireworks and a large bonfire.
But it wasn't until January 3, 1959, that President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Bill, officially making Alaska the 49th state.
Fun Facts About Anchorage Alaska found this gem.
On December 11, 1953, KTVA channel 11, broadcast the first television show seen in Anchorage, Alaska from their studios in the McKinley Building on 4th Avenue.
The program was “Range Rider”, a western series staring Jock Mahoney (father of Sally Field).
Other shows seen during the first week included wrestling, boxing, “The Gene Autry Show”, children's shows including “Time for Beany” and “Crusader Rabbit” which was the first made-for-TV cartoon series.
On a night in 1927, pioneer aviator Russell Merrill was flying back to Anchorage with a passenger who needed urgent medical attention.
Because it was nighttime, Merrill could not properly see the landing strip (now the Park Strip) below him.
With Merrill circling above, Anchorage citizens set bonfires around the field and used automobile headlights to mark the landing zone.
Russell Merrill then made the first ever night landing in Anchorage.
Aviation Field, Anchorage's first airport, was cleared and ready for planes in August 1929. The new airport replaced the landing strip, now known as the Park Strip, that was used by Anchorage's first aviators.
Fun Facts About Anchorage Alaska uncovered this gem.
In 1930, the Anchorage Women's Club led an effort to rename Aviation Field to Merrill Field in honor of the late Russell Hyde Merrill, one of the first bush pilots in Alaska.
Everyone who lives in, or used to live in Anchorage, remembers those fine ladies who hosted popular women's shows on Anchorage TV.
Norma Goodman, hosted the “Norma Goodman Show” on KTVA channel 11 and Theda Comstock hosted “The Woman's Touch” on KENI-TV (now KTUU).
But did you know that from 1954 to 1958, Lorene Harrison, who owned the Hat Box, hosted a Monday through Friday women's TV show called “Lorene's Scrapbook” on KFIA-TV (later KENI-TV, now KTUU).
The show featured interviews, cooking, sewing, music and community events.
Anchorage was dry and no alcoholic beverages were allowed from 1915 to 1933.
Because of that, moonshine was a big business.
Jack Marchin, known as “Russian Jack”, was a bootlegger who set up his still in the area now known as Russian Jack Springs.
He delivered his “squirrel juice” around town in plain sight. As a boy, John Bagoy, who would become a local florist, saw Russian Jack making deliveries.
“He'd get a woman to push a baby buggy with a doll and a jug of moon underneath it.”
Years later, the area where Russian Jack kept his still would become one of the Largest parks in Anchorage. Russian Jack Springs Park.
photo courtesy Patricia Brown
Fun Facts About Anchorage Alaska include this one.
Following World War II, there
was a lot of construction at both Elmendorf and Fort Richardson, with
many people coming to Anchorage for work.
Temporary housing was put together in Mountain View, circa 1952 to help accommodate the influx of people.
Charles H. Brewster was an Anchorage homesteader.
In 1952, he opened a store called Brewster's which was located in a log cabin in the area of town known as Muldoon.
Then, in 1959, Brewster relocated his store to North Bragaw street and Mountain View Drive in Mountain View.
His store became an Anchorage favorite.
Brewster's is now only a memory.
The following is the Brewster's closing sale newspaper ad.
Courtesy of Cindy Pendleton
In the picture below, Charles H. Brewster wows the crowd with his spectacular saddle in an Anchorage 4th of July parade.
Photo by Cindy Pendleton
Fun Facts About Anchorage Alaska include famous buildings.
Originally located at 4th Avenue and I streets, the Wendler building was relocated to 400 D Street in 1985.
The building was originally constructed in 1915 during Anchorage's tent city days to serve the community as Larson & Wendler Grocery, by A.J. “Tony” Wendler, his wife Florence and a business associate named Ray T. Larson.
In 1920, Florence Wendler converted the building into a boarding house.
Later, in 1948, Florence and her daughters changed the boarding house into Club 25, which was a private club for the women of Anchorage.
The Wendler's daughter, Myrtle Wendler Stalnaker, owned and operated the Club 25 restaurant until 1982.
Since 1988, the Wendler Building has been on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the Spring of 1909, a homesteader named Thomas Jeter built a cabin on a lake that became known as Jeter Lake.
However, the Chugach National Forest covered a vast area of what is now Anchorage and that land was closed to homesteading.
Jeter was forced to give up his homestead.
Not long after that, the area was opened up for homesteading and in stepped a man named Joe Spenard.
In the Summer of 1916, Spenard homesteaded on 160 acres that included Jeter Lake.
Soon after, Spenard convinced the Anchorage community folks to help cut down trees to build a logging trail. The corduroy road they created, ran from 9th Avenue and L Street, across Chester and Fish Creek to Jeter Lake, so they could haul lumber to the Anchorage town site.
That the trail was later named Spenard Road and Jeter Lake became known as Spenard Lake.
Fun Facts About Anchorage Alaska brings you this look at Hollywood North.
In the summer of 1922, Cap Lathrop began the Alaska Moving Picture Corp.
The first (and only) movie they produced was the 1923 silent movie, “The Chechahcos”.
In November 1922, a 7,000 square foot movie studio was constructed at the end of Third Avenue in Anchorage.
“The Chechahcos” was filmed in Anchorage, Mount McKinley and Girdwood where the movie production recreated the famous Chilkoot Pass.
When the movie was completed, it played to packed audiences all around the territory of Alaska.
The movie also played in movie theaters across America.
Did you know that when the 4th Avenue theatre first opened on May 31, 1947, there was something missing?
The first movie shown was “The Jolson Story” and the movie played to a packed house.
But theatre goers were unable to purchase snacks before, during or after the movie.
Because there was no concession stand.
Cap Lathrop, who built the 4th Avenue Theatre, thought that a concession stand would be undignified, so the theatre was built without one.
Fortunately for local movie goers, a concession stand was added later.
Click on the image above to see a short video about Z.J. Loussac and his many contributions to Anchorage.
While most remember the original Z.J. Loussac Library downtown, few people know that when Loussac first came to town he ran a drugstore.
Discover Z.J. Loussac.
Did you know that the Cook Inlet Pioneer was Anchorage's first daily newspaper in 1915 when the town was nothing more than a tent city?
The Cook Inlet Pioneer later became the Anchorage Daily Times.
Located at 420 M Street in Elderberry Park.
Built in 1915 by Oscar Anderson, this was the first wood-frame house in Anchorage.
Anderson lived in this house (now a museum) until his passing in 1974.
Click on the image above to watch this short video about the first flower shop in Anchorage and Alaska.
The video includes a picture of the first Flowers by Bagoy location on 4th Avenue.
In 1937, Eileen Bagoy, daughter of John B. and Maria Bagoy of “Flowers by Bagoy”, became the very first Fur Rendezvous Queen.
She was crowned by the Anchorage Women's Club.
Leopold David arrived in Anchorage's Tent City in 1915.
In 1917, he built this house which still stands at 605 West Second Avenue.
Leopold David was elected Anchorage's first Mayor in 1921.
Many of the workers who arrived at Ship Creek in 1915 also brought their families.
Jane Mears, the wife of Lt. Col. Fredrick Mears of the AEC, Alaska Engineering Commission, asked her husband to have a school built for the children.
But his reply was “I'm busy building a railroad. If you want a school, you'll have to build it yourself.”
And with that, on September 16, 1915, Jane Mears and a group of the town's women formed the Anchorage Woman's Club. The main goal was to build a school.
Left over material from the railroad was used in the construction.
But because the new town was growing so fast (by 1917 there were more than 6,000 people), the new school was only used for a short time.
The original school then served as a meeting place for community activities and was named “Pioneer Hall”.
Located at 500 and 504 West 5th Avenue in Anchorage.
This iconic Anchorage store operated at this same location from 1915 to 2002.
The store was run by Irving L. Kimball until his death in 1921.
The store originally offered general merchandise, hardware, and groceries. Paint was sold at the location for a time.
Following his passing, his wife Della and their daughter Decema ran the store. Following the passing of her mother, Decema ran the store until her passing in 2002.
Kimball purchased the land for 500 dollars and his family lived in a tent in the back of the lot while the store was being built? An apartment was included on the top floor.
Martha White drove the first spike in the Alaska Railroad.
She was born in a cabin on the shores of Cook Inlet about 200 miles from Ship Creek and what was known then as Tent City.
Fun Facts About Anchorage Alaska uncovered this gem.
The year was 1951
The building pictured above was the beginning of the first drive-in restaurant in Anchorage.
Located at 3105 Mountain View drive, Anchorage's first A&W Drive-In would also become home to Timbo and Princess – two live lions who greeted visitors to the restaurant.
In 1923, Arthur A. Shonbeck organized the people of Anchorage to clear a section of land to serve as a fire break for the new town of Anchorage.
That section of land would later become the 9th Avenue Park Strip.
But back then, it also became an airstrip for bush pilots and a 9 hole golf course.
Golfers were cautioned to give aircraft the right of way.
On July 4, 1924, bush pilot Noel Wien performed aerial stunts in his Hisso Standard biplane that he had named “Anchorage” to commemorate the opening of the Park Strip.
Notice the sign across the street in the background that reads:
“Anchorage, All American City”?
The National Municipal League and Look magazine named Anchorage an “All American City” in 1956, 1965, 1985 and 2002?
Fun Facts about Anchorage Alaska include:
On May 17, or 24, 1924, KFQD, the first radio station in Anchorage and Alaska, began broadcasting.
Pictured above is the 1940s home of the station in Anchorage.
Many radio personalities have called KFQD home at one time or another. Those include Ron Moore, Herb Shaindlin and Marcus in the Morning.
“My sister sent me an Anchorage Memories VIP Club publication a few weeks ago.
And I want to thank you for the connection to my past. I grew up in Anchorage and left for college in 1967.
My last visit to Anchorage was for a West high school class reunion over 20 years ago.
So, thanks for putting all this together.”
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