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Valdez is a large, ice free port located on the south central coast of Alaska. It has become one of the most important ports in the state and since as early as 1899 has been the major supply source for inland communities in Alaska.
The port was originally named by Spanish explorer Salvador Fidalgo in honor of Spanish naval officer, Antonia Valdez. The town was originally erected in 1898 as part of a scam to lead gold prospectors away from Skagway, claiming that the Klondike Gold Country could be more easily reached via the trail from Valdez. Those who set out on the newly publicized route soon discovered the route to be longer, steeper and more perilous, resulting in the death of many who attempted to cross.
With the completion of the Richardson Highway in 1899, Valdez was linked to Fairbanks. This opened the door for international trade to reach much of Alaska through the port in Valdez. In 1907, Valdez was in hopes of establishing a railroad link with the Kennicott Copper Mine which was one of the richest copper mines in North America. The proposed project was disrupted by an actual shootout between competing railroad companies which resulted in the death of one and injuries to several others. A half completed railroad tunnel still lies silently just outside of the city.
Tragedy seemed the norm in Valdez for many years. First it was the gold route scam, then the railroad wars and in 1964 a very large earthquake rocked the city which caused much of the city’s shore line to break off and sink into the bay. The displacement resulted in a 30 foot tsunami that swept away everything in its path and the death of thirty-two men, women and children who were on the dock when it collapsed into the sea. As a result of the quake, the townsite was abandoned and a new town was built on more stable land.
The old townsite became a construction yard for the building of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1974. Laying of pipe continued until completion in 1977 when the pipes were opened the oil began to flow. The pipeline carried oil from the Prudhoe Bay fields to Valdez where it was loaded into large tankers for transport. It was one of these tankers which brought tragedy once again to Valdez. The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill was a tragedy, but led to more awareness of ways to protect the native environment.
It seems as though Valdez has earned its stripes to become a wonderful destination for
. There is sightseeing galore with picturesque vistas in every direction and a Good Sam Club RV Park with great
for members is sure to welcome you to their glorious setting.
For enthusiasts of excitement and a true challenge, look into a Heli-Skiing adventure. There are five different Heli-Skiing operations in Valdez and each has its own unique approach.
Nearby Worthington Glacier is an amazing location for artists and photographers who often spend days recapturing its beauty.
If you want to experience pure beauty and the vastness of Alaska, plan you next
adventure to Valdez.