Fun Facts About Anchorage Alaska

You'll enjoy these Fun Facts About Anchorage Alaska including a look at early pioneers.

Fun Facts About Anchorage Alaska

You are about to discover all kinds of fun facts, pictures, and videos about the largest city in Alaska.

How the Dairy

and the Maid

Got their Names

Matanuska MaidDo you know her name?

Growing up and living in Anchorage, you probably 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”.

They Took a Taxi

to Fight Crime

Old Anchorage Police DepartmentAnchorage Police Department Circa 1940s

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.

The First TV Show

Seen in Anchorage

Range Rider TV Show

Did You Know?

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 cartoon series made-for-TV.

Fun Facts About Anchorage Alaska

He Made the First

Night Landing in Anchorage

Russell MerrillPioneer Bush Pilot Russell Merrill

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.

“Lorene's Scrapbook”

Lorene HarrisonAnchorage pioneer Lorene Harrison

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.

He Went by the Name

Jack Marchin

Russian JackMeet Jack "Russian Jack" Marchin

Anchorage was dry 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.

Mountain View

Circa 1952

Mountain View circa 1952Temporary Housing in Mountain View

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.

Remembering Brewster's

Brewster's in Anchorage AlaskaA fond look back at Brewster's store

Charles H. Brewster was an Anchorage homesteader.

In 1952, he opened a store called Brewster's which was located in a log cabin in Muldoon.

Then, in 1959, Brewster relocated his store to North Bragaw street and Mountain View Drive in Mountain View.

Sadly, Brewster's is now only a memory.

The First Color TV Show

Seen in Anchorage

That Girl TV showDid you watch this?

On June 18, 1966, KENI-TV channel 2 (now KTUU) broadcast the very first color TV program to Anchorage audiences from their studios in the 4th Avenue Theatre Building.

The show was “That Girl”, starring Marlo Thomas in an episode titled “Don't Just Do Something; Stand There”.

Earlier, a color program had been broadcast by closed circuit to a group of advertisers gathered in the Westward hotel.

The program the advertisers watched was the “Atom Ant” cartoon show.

An Anchorage Icon

Wendler BuildingClub 25 in Downtown Anchorage

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.

How Spenard,

Spenard Road

and Spenard Lake

Came to Be

Joe SpenardMeet Joe Spenard

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.

And, 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.

Did you know that the trail was later named Spenard Road and Jeter Lake became known as Spenard Lake?

There was

a Movie Studio

on 3rd Avenue

in Anchorage

Graphics from the movie,"The Chechahcos"a silent movie

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.

Anchorage Pioneer

Z.J. Loussac

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 he first came to town he ran a drugstore.

Discover Z.J. Loussac.

Anchorage's First


Cook Inlet PioneerCook Inlet Pioneer Newspaper

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.

It was the First

Oscar Anderson HomeOscar Anderson House

Located at 420 M Street in Elderberry Park.

Oscar Anderson was the 18th person to set foot in the tent city that became Anchorage.

Built in 1915, this was the first wood-frame house in Anchorage.

Oscar Anderson lived in this house (now a museum) until his passing in 1974.

Fun Facts About Anchorage Alaska

Anchorage and Alaska's

first flower shop

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.

First Fur Rondy Queen

Daughter of

John and Maria Bagoy

Eileen BagoyMeet Eileen Bagoy

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.

Anchorage's First Mayor

Leopold David home.Leopold David Home

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.

Anchorage Pioneer

School House

Anchorage Pioneer School HouseFirst School in Anchorage

Many of the workers who arrived at Ship Creek in 1915 had 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 helped build the school.

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”.

One of the First Buildings

Kimball's Dry GoodsThe Kimball's Dry Goods Building

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. 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.

Did you know that 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.

She Drove the First

Alaska Railroad Spike

Woman drives the first spike in the Alaska Railroad.Martha White Drives the First Spike

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.

The Beginning of

A&W Drive-In

A&W Drive-InBuilding A&W Drive-In

Fun Facts About Anchorage Alaska uncovered this gem.

The year was 1951

Did you know that 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.


Get the whole story about Brown's A&W Drive-In right now.

Anchorage's Park Strip

Circa 1924

Anchorage Park Strip circa 1924Airplanes on the Park Strip in Anchorage

In 1923, Arthur A. Shonbeck organized the people of Anchorage to clear the 9th Avenue Park Strip to create an airstrip for bush pilots and a 9 hole golf course.

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.

The Park Strip was originally cleared to serve as a fire break for the new town of Anchorage.


Check out The History of Aviation in Anchorage right now.

Anchorage All American City

Anchorage downtown 19504th Avenue in 1950

Notice the sign across the street in the background that reads:

“Anchorage, All American City”?

Did you know that the National Municipal League and Look magazine named Anchorage an “All American City” in 1956, 1965, 1985 and 2002?

The First in Anchorage

KFQD radioKFQD Radio studios in 1940

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.

Anchorage Memories VIP Newsletter

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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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