On the Road Adventures

Saturday, August 8, 2009

August 7 - Happy Anniversary

We moved back into town for a night of hook-ups and laundry. After chores we drove up to see the Valdez glacier. The reason Valdez was established was to provide an “All American Route” for the Klondike gold rushers. When the hopeful prospectors got to Valdez, they found a few tents, and a route that took them over the Valdez glacier, a treacherous trail that could change overnight from a smooth path to one crossed with crevices hundreds of feet deep. Eventually the Army blazed an only barely better trail through the mountains, but some of the prospectors stayed in Valdez, and some came back after their tries at gold mining didn’t work out and started “mining the miners” by building stores and saloons.

Unfortunately, they built their town on the silt of the Valdez glacier run-off, and when the earthquake of 1964 struck, the silt and rocks turned to jello and a massive under-water landslide wiped out the docks, and then the oil tanks caught fire and finished the job off. Eventually, they moved the whole town down the bay to an area that was on bedrock and behind a row of low hills to protect the town when the next “big one” comes along.

The town was basically a fishing town until the oil terminal came in, and now Alyeska is the biggest employer in town. The oil terminal is on the opposite side of the bay from town.

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