The Girdwood Valley has a proud past
(Click on link to see a photo)
1778 – British explorer Captain James Cook searches Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm in his quest for the Northwest Passage. (National Maritime Museum, UK/Nathaniel Dance)
1867 – Secretary of State William Seward negotiates the purchase of Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, or about 2 cents per acre, on of the best bargains in America’s history. (Alaska State Library, Alonzo Chappel, Seward-William-6)
1896 – Chris Spillum came close to death when he made a midwinter dash in to file the Glacier Valley claims that later became Crow Creek Mine.
1898 – Miners find gold in Nome, setting off a gold rush. The Iditarod Trail, with a stop in Girdwood, was the best route to the gold fields. Wells Fargo hired Gus Norton and Bob Griffiths to move the gold from Nome to Seward. Here the mushers rest in Girdwood. (Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, B74.16.36)
1900 – James Girdwood files his gold claims near the present-day Crow Pass trailhead, and later built a cabin in Glacier City.
1907 – The little community of Glacier City is renamed Girdwood after gold miner James Girdwood.
1914 – President Wilson authorizes construction of Alaska Railroad that eventually connects Girdwood to the deep-water seaport of Seward to the south and Anchorage to north. (Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Alaska Engineering Commission Collection, AMRC –aec – h14)
1916 – Alaska Engineering Commission lays out Girdwood’s first street plan.
1920 – Harry Staser, a deputy U.S. marshal and a representative in the 1923 and 1925 territorial legislatures, acquires Monarch Mine, the most productive of the valley’s hard-rock gold mines. (Bruce I. Staser Family, UAA-HMC-0232, University of Alaska Anchorage, Archives & Special Collections)
1924 – Alaska’s first homegrown millionaire, Austin “Cap” Lathrop, films The Chechahcos in Girdwood, the first feature movie filmed entirely in Alaska. (Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, B99.14.1209/Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, B84.118-34)
1932 – Arne Erickson acquires sole ownership of Crow Creek Mine and later saved the property by turning it into a visitor attraction. The Tooheys took over the mine in 1969 and placed it on the National Historic Register. (Cynthia Toohey)
1937 – The Anchorage Ski Club develops City Ski Bowl with the first rope tow and ski jump in Anchorage. The Club went on to develop Alpenglow, north of Anchorage, which today serves as a feeder area for Alyeska. Here club members enjoy a summer outing to Eagle glacier in 1945. (Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Eide Collection, B70.28.137)
1939 – Joe Danich buys the Little Dipper roadhouse and it soon becomes the social center of Girdwood. Danich was an original incorporator of Alyeska Ski Resort and a former Mayor of Girdwood. The Little Dipper, at the entrance to the valley, burned down during the 1964 earthquake. (Georgia Pitzer)
1951 – Seward Highway opens, providing a road link between Girdwood and Anchorage, (© Ken Graham/Accent Alaska)
1955 – Ernie Baumann, ski entrepreneur and pilot, identifies Alyeska as a ski mountain worthy of Alaska. To help realize his dream, he files paperwork to purchase land at the mountain base, but loses his bid to Alyeska Ski Corp. Bauman’s Peak, southwest of here, is named for him. (Baumann Family)
1956 – Alyeska Ski Corp. buys 160 acres of Alyeska’s base and lower mountain and begins to develop a ski resort. (Bruce I. Staser Family, UAA-HMC-0232, University of Alaska Anchorage, Archives & Special Collections)
1957 – French Baron Francois de Gunzburg reorganizes Alyeska Ski Corp. with an initial investment of $200,000 to build new lifts and a day lodge. (Photo Courtesy of Anchorage Daily News)
1959 – Alaska becomes the 49th. State. The first poma lift is installed at Alyeska. (Ernest H. Gruening Papers, UAF – 1976-21 282, Archives, Alaska and Polar Regions Collections)
1960 – Chair 1, a 5,700-foot double chairlift that rose 2,000 vertical feet, opened Christmas Day to few skiers who braved freezing rain. The Roundhouse is its upper terminus. (Nancy Simmerman)
1963 – Alyeska hosts its first National Alpine Championships and Olympic Trials. Alyeska becomes a favorite site for Nationals.
1964 – The Girdwood area dropped an average of seven feet during the 9.2 magnitude Good Friday earthquake, forcing the community to relocate 2.5 miles up-valley.
1967 – Alaska Airlines signs a management agreement to operate Alyeska; it hires Chris von Imhof as general manger, a position he would hold for 40 years.
1970 – Chugach State Park is established and encompasses 490,866 acres of tidal flats, rivers, lakes, alpine tundra and glaciated peaks. The park includes a portion of Crow Creek Trail, which is part of the original Iditarod Trail.
1973 – Alyeska hosts the World Cup Giant Slalom ski race. (Alyeska Resort)
1980 – Seibu Alaska Inc., part of Yoshiaki Tsutsumi’s Seibu group, acquires Alyeska and makes a major infrastructure investment.
1989 – The U.S. Ski Team, led by its Alaska skiers, makes the best medal showing ever at World Junior Alpine Championships held at Alyeska.
1992 – Juneau’s Hilary Lindh, who trained at Alyeska, wins Olympic silver in downhill. Alyeska Tramway and Glacier Terminal open.
1994 – Girdwood’s Tommy Moe wins gold in Olympic downhill and silver in super giant slalom; Alyeska Hotel opens.
2006 – Girdwood’s Rosey Fletcher wins Olympic bronze in snowboarding.
Utah ski enthusiast and businessman John Byrne III acquires Alyeska Resort and launches major facelift, which may include an expansion into the Glacier-Winner Creek area. He is principal owner and president of Cirque Property, a private real estate investment company.