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Alaska in the Late-19th Century: Stunning Historical Photos Show What Alaska Looked Like After It Was Acquired by US

Alaska is the largest state in the United States lies at the extreme northwest of the North American continent. It contains 17 of the 20 highest peaks in the United States. Alaska was admitted to the union as the 49th state in 1959. The US Secretary of State William Henry Seward, bought Alaska from Russians in 1867 for $7.2 million – less than 2 cents an acre. It took six months to persuade Congress to ratify the treaty. The Alaska Purchase was initially referred to as “Seward’s Folly” by critics who were convinced the land had nothing to offer. However, the discovery of gold in the 1890s made the purchase one of the most profitable investments of Henry Seward.

Here below are some stunning historical photos that show what Alaska looked like in the late 19th century.

#1 St. Michael’s Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox church in Sitka, Alaska, 1892.

St. Michael's Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox church in Sitka, Alaska, 1892.

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#2 The interior of St. Michael’s Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox church in Sitka, Alaska. 1892

The interior of St. Michael's Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox church in Sitka, Alaska. 1892

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#3 Members of the Metlakahtla Cornet band, a group of Native American brass musicians, pose for a picture next to buildings by the shore in an Alaska town, ca. 1892.

Members of the Metlakahtla Cornet band, a group of Native American brass musicians, pose for a picture next to buildings by the shore in an Alaska town, ca. 1892.

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#4 Totem Poles, Alaska, 1893.

Totem Poles, Alaska, 1893.

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#5 Record Moosehead–69-Inch spread shot in Alaska, 1897.

Record Moosehead--69-Inch spread shot in Alaska, 1897.

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#6 Two customs officals seize untaxed alcohol in Skagway, Alaska 1897.

Two customs officals seize untaxed alcohol in Skagway, Alaska 1897.

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#7 Tlingit women selling baskets and other small items, at the Treadwell Mine site, for tourists arriving in Alaska by steamship, January 1890.

Tlingit women selling baskets and other small items, at the Treadwell Mine site, for tourists arriving in Alaska by steamship, January 1890.

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#8 St George School Students And Teachers, 1860s.

St George School Students And Teachers, 1860s.

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#9 Man and woman as they pose at the doorway of a log cabin, Alaska, 1860s

Man and woman as they pose at the doorway of a log cabin, Alaska, 1860s

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#10 Inhabitants of the Tlingit village of Tongass, Alaska, 1868.

Inhabitants of the Tlingit village of Tongass, Alaska, 1868.

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#11 Amerindian family sitting beside a waterway, Alaska, 1868.

Amerindian family sitting beside a waterway, Alaska, 1868.

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#12 Cordova, Alaska, 1868.

Cordova, Alaska, 1868.

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#13 Pillar Rock, Fort Danger, 1860s.

Pillar Rock, Fort Danger, 1860s.

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#14 Indian Grave and Totems near Ft Wrangel, Alaska, 1860s.

Indian Grave and Totems near Ft Wrangel, Alaska, 1860s.

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#15 A row of tents marks the beginnings of Skagway, a boom town in the ‘panhandle’ part of Alaska, which sprang up following the gold rush in the Klondike, 1880s.

A row of tents marks the beginnings of Skagway, a boom town in the 'panhandle' part of Alaska, which sprang up following the gold rush in the Klondike, 1880s.

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#16 Inuits clubbing seals to death at the killing ground on St Paul Island in Alaska, 1880s.

Inuits clubbing seals to death at the killing ground on St Paul Island in Alaska, 1880s.

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#17 Muir glacier in Alaska, 1860s.

Muir glacier in Alaska, 1860s.

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#18 Crowd huddled next to building in Sitka, Alaska, circa 1890.

Crowd huddled next to building in Sitka, Alaska, circa 1890.

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#19 Chief Shake’s house canoe with Indian Funeral at Ft Wrangel, Alaska, circa 1890.

Chief Shake's house canoe with Indian Funeral at Ft Wrangel, Alaska, circa 1890.

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#20 A fine string of fox skins, Unalaska, 1890.

A fine string of fox skins, Unalaska, 1890.

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#21 Indian Avenue in Sitka, Alaska, 1892

Indian Avenue in Sitka, Alaska, 1892

Several Native American women sit on the street outside the Sitka Trading Company in Sitka, Alaska. Sitka was the headquarters of the Russian-American Company and during the 1800s was the site of a thriving fur trade, earning it the nickname the 'Paris of the Pacific.' Ca. 1892.

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#22 Sitka, Alaska, 1892.

Sitka, Alaska, 1892.

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#23 An Eskimo group of men, women, and children dressed in fur coats in Port Clarence, Alaska in 1894.

An Eskimo group of men, women, and children dressed in fur coats in Port Clarence, Alaska in 1894.

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#24 Sitka from Baronov Castle, Alaska, 1893.

Sitka from Baronov Castle, Alaska, 1893.

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#25 Three men and a woman standing and crouching around a riverbed while panning for gold during the Klondike gold rush, Alaska, 1895.

Three men and a woman standing and crouching around a riverbed while panning for gold during the Klondike gold rush, Alaska, 1895.

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#26 Members of Tlingit tribe (Alaska) in Klukwan village c. 1895

Members of Tlingit tribe (Alaska) in Klukwan village c. 1895

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#27 Indians in old dancing costumes in front of Chief Klart-Reech’s house, Chilkat, Alaska, 1895.

Indians in old dancing costumes in front of Chief Klart-Reech's house, Chilkat, Alaska, 1895.

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#28 Tlingits gather on bank of a gravely sandspit for a potlatch dance, prior to the actual potlatch feast, along the Chilkat River. Alaska 1895.

Tlingits gather on bank of a gravely sandspit for a potlatch dance, prior to the actual potlatch feast, along the Chilkat River. Alaska 1895.

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#29 Eight men haul their eguipment up the snow covered Devil’s Bluff near Sheep Camp, Alaska, 1895.

Eight men haul their eguipment up the snow covered Devil's Bluff near Sheep Camp, Alaska, 1895.

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#30 Kah-chuckte, of Killisnoo, Alaska (Chief of Neltusken), 1895.

Kah-chuckte, of Killisnoo, Alaska (Chief of Neltusken), 1895.

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#31 Men Heading for Yukon for Gold Rush. Alaska 1896.

Men Heading for Yukon for Gold Rush. Alaska 1896.

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#32 Ffour prospectors posed on a trail, Alaska, 1897.

Ffour prospectors posed on a trail, Alaska, 1897.

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#33 Gold miners working on W.M. Cowley’s claim, 22 Above, Bonanza, Klondike. Alaska, 1897.

Gold miners working on W.M. Cowley's claim, 22 Above, Bonanza, Klondike. Alaska, 1897.

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#34 Minor on the way to White Pass between Alaska and Canada to the gold fields of the Klondyke, 1897.

Minor on the way to White Pass between Alaska and Canada to the gold fields of the Klondyke, 1897.

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#35 Clancy’s Saloon, Alaska, 1897.

Clancy's Saloon, Alaska, 1897.

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#36 Juneau, Alaska, circa 1897.

Juneau, Alaska, circa 1897.

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#37 Juneau Street scene in Alaska, circa 1897.

Juneau Street scene in Alaska, circa 1897.

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#38 Klondike miners washing out gold, 1897.

Klondike miners washing out gold, 1897.

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#39 Alaska- Gold mining weighing winter clear-up of gold, 1897.

Alaska- Gold mining weighing winter clear-up of gold, 1897.

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#40 A man carries an actress across an Alaskan river while others must ford it to get to a gold mine, 1897.

A man carries an actress across an Alaskan river while others must ford it to get to a gold mine, 1897.

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#41 A group of prospectors eat lunch on a crate, on the Yukon Trail. Alaska, 1897.

A group of prospectors eat lunch on a crate, on the Yukon Trail. Alaska, 1897.

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#42 The Klondike Trading Company, a general store in a tent, during the Klondike Gold Rush. Alaska, 1897.

The Klondike Trading Company, a general store in a tent, during the Klondike Gold Rush. Alaska, 1897.

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#43 Two missionaries headed for the Klondike gold fields at the height of the Gold Rush in 1897

Two missionaries headed for the Klondike gold fields at the height of the Gold Rush in 1897

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#44 A group of actresses bound for the Klondike gold fields take a break at Happy Camp, Alaska, 1897.

A group of actresses bound for the Klondike gold fields take a break at Happy Camp, Alaska, 1897.

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#45 A group of Eskimos sit out side a large round house build out of wood and animal skins. Walrus meat dries on poles next to entrance, St. Lawerence Island, Alaska, 1897.

A group of Eskimos sit out side a large round house build out of wood and animal skins. Walrus meat dries on poles next to entrance, St. Lawerence Island, Alaska, 1897.

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#46 Prospectors pose with a dog sled team at an issolated camp in Yukon Territory near Dyea Canyon, Alaska, 1897.

Prospectors pose with a dog sled team at an issolated camp in Yukon Territory near Dyea Canyon, Alaska, 1897.

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#47 Five Chilkat porters pose with a miner and two oxen on the Dyea Trail, located at the head of the Chilkoot Trail, 1897.

Five Chilkat porters pose with a miner and two oxen on the Dyea Trail, located at the head of the Chilkoot Trail, 1897.

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#48 Mounts Malaspina, Augusta and Hitchcock, Alaska, 1897.

Mounts Malaspina, Augusta and Hitchcock, Alaska, 1897.

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#49 A Street in Sitka, Alaska’, circa 1897.

A Street in Sitka, Alaska', circa 1897.

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#50 Steamer “Queen”, Glacier Bay, Alaska’, circa 1897.

Steamer "Queen", Glacier Bay, Alaska', circa 1897.

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#51 Fort Wrangel, Alaska’, circa 1897.

Fort Wrangel, Alaska', circa 1897.

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#52 Gold Prospectors Near the Chilkoot Summit, Alaska, 1898.

Gold Prospectors Near the Chilkoot Summit, Alaska, 1898.

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#53 Mary’s Hotel, Alaska, 1898.

Mary's Hotel, Alaska, 1898.

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#54 A main street in Cordova, Alaska, with utility poles, boardwalks, and light traffic, 1868.

A main street in Cordova, Alaska, with utility poles, boardwalks, and light traffic, 1868.

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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