Our Nation: United on September 11, 2001

The events of September 11, 2001 both stunned and united this country, when terrorists hijacked four air planes, plowing them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The fourth plane was brought down in a Pennsylvania field after heroic passengers rushed the cockpit, preventing further loss of life. Universal outrage followed the action by 19 Islamic al-Qaida extremists. While the disaster was perpetrated on the East Coast, its effect was felt in Alaska and around the world. In Chugiak-Eagle River, a heavy silence was noticeable after all air traffic was grounded.

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Threat of War Brings Memories of Alaska’s Past

A few days before this column was written, news broke that North Korea had developed a nuclear warhead that could be attached to its long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles. Those missiles could reach Alaska. That was followed by angry exchanges from both President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, who threatened to use the deadly weapon. Worry over a potential nuclear conflict is reflected around the world. Most likely before this appears in print, there will be a peaceful outcome.

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Alaska State Fair Opens Today!

The Alaska State Fair in Palmer opens Today and continues through September 4th, Labor Day. Gates open at noon Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. over the weekend. They close at 10 p.m. each night until the final day when the celebration comes to an end at 8 p.m. The Fairgrounds are located on the Glenn Highway just south of Palmer. Except for a four-year period during World War II, Palmer has hosted an annual Fair since 1936. That first one featured crops raised in the fertile soil of the Matanuska Valley by pioneers new to Alaska. A year earlier, 200 families drew lots for tracts of land offered through the Matanuska Colony project. The colonists had been relocated from Depression-ravaged locations in the Midwest in a New Deal program intended to both improve their lives and develop the Valley. The area’s agricultural potential had long been recognized by government officials.

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Local Students Return to School Monday

Bells ring Monday morning to signal the start of classes in Chugiak-Eagle River schools. Opening day two-thirds of a century ago was about three weeks late because the first local school building was still being finished. It was a happy occasion for both parents and students. Until then a lone bus traveled the unpaved Palmer Highway to pick up children from stops between Eklutna Village and Eagle River and take them to Anchorage. There the elementary and high school were both located on a single block bordered by 5th and 6th Avenues and F and G Streets. Even though there was no rush hour as we know it, the trip still took a whole lot longer than today.

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Football Fields Rose from Gravel Patches to Lighted Stadia

Local high school football play begins this week, with the first game for Chugiak’s Mustangs tomorrow (Friday) at East while Eagle River’s Wolves host Ketchikan Saturday afternoon. Both schools have their own artificial turf fields with lights. That has not always been the case. When Chugiak High School opened in the fall of 1964, the building was designed for 400 students. Built by the state, it was turned over to the Anchorage School District due to the creation of the Greater Anchorage Area Borough that year. Until passage by the Legislature of the Mandatory Borough Act in 1963, Chugiak-Eagle River had been an unincorporated area halfway between Anchorage and Palmer. Its population numbered fewer than 3,000 people. There were two schools for grades 1-8, the original one in Chugiak and a newer building in Eagle River. High school students were bussed to Anchorage, a situation that ended with opening of the new secondary school.

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4th Avenue Theatre built by Cook Inlet Pioneer

The 70 year old 4th Avenue Theatre is listed as a National Historic Place with a future uncertain, but an effort is underway to save the majestic landmark.

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Alaska Names Unique, Have Interesting Meanings

A big percentage of Alaska’s place names are Russian. Another huge part are renditions of names applied by the Aleut, Eskimo and Indian inhabitants.

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Early Writers

Many writers heeded the call of adventure. They came and wrote about those who moiled for gold. That term, by the way, was written by Robert Service.

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July 17, 1898, Headlines Spur Klondike Gold Rush

Among those who mined or otherwise profited from the Gold Rush, many remained in Alaska. “Wise Mike” Stepovich stowed away on a steamer headed for Skagway.

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Hope For Gold: Upper Cook Inlet Once Saw A Big Gold Rush

The Gold Rush seems to be the reason everyone came to Alaska, but where did they look for these rich-man's veins? Cook Inlet was a popular place to start.

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