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Alaska Economic History


Mount McKinley Alaska
Mount McKinley Alaska

Fur seal, sea otter, and beaver pelts were the basis of economic activity in Alaska for more than 150 years after 1741. The first Americans arriving in Alaska after 1867 entered into the fur trade, established a small steamboat trading system along the Yukon River from its mouth to Fort Reliance, near present-day Dawson, and began exploration for gold. By the late 1870s Alaska was recognized as a significant source of canned salmon, and in the 1880s and 1890s major gold deposits were discovered along the south bank of the Yukon and in what became the city of Juneau.

The major gold rushes began in the late 1890s after the 1896 discovery of gold in the Klondike in the Yukon Territory, and continued through the next two decades. To produce food to support mining operations, farming began in the Fairbanks area, Glenallen, and elsewhere in the early part of the 20th century, while fish canneries became very significant in the years from 1900 to 1920. Other minerals, particularly copper, tin, mercury, and silver, were also mined in large quantities.

During the 1940s and 1950s large military bases were built throughout Alaska. The construction industry developed rapidly during and after World War II and manufacturing began to develop in the 1960s. Beginning in the late 1970s, the economy of Alaska underwent a fundamental, and rapid, change as the state’s enormous oil deposits, discovered in the 1960s, were exploited. Crude oil was first shipped from Valdez in 1977. By 1980 state government revenue from the oil industry had grown to the point where the state government abolished its personal income tax. "USA" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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