Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Valdez Museums

It was raining today so we decided to visit some of the town's museums.

We started with the Old Valdez Exhibit.  It is a tribute to the old town of Valdez and life there before the historic Good Friday 1964 earthquake as well as informative displays about that earthquake.  This 9.2 earthquake was the largest in North America and the second largest one on earth.  Here are some photos of a few of the displays.  Photos were allowed.

Many of the items seen here were donated by families during the moving process of relocating the old town site while the new town site was being prepared, where it sits today.

The next museum on the list was the Valdez Museum Historical Archive.  This museum housed exhibits displaying Native American artifacts, information on the Gold Rush of 1898 in Valdez, the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake all the way to the oil spill of the Exxon ValdezPhotos were allowed here too.

This is the "scraper pig", a device used to scrap the wax build-up from the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

This 1907 Ahrens Steamer was restored by volunteers in the 1980's.  It was too heavy to pull and didn't get used much.  It was purchased in 1906.

Here we have a waterproof, breathable coat made by Native Alaskans with bear intestines..yep, bear intestines.

Complementing the artifacts from long ago, were modern works of art by Native Alaskans.

Artifacts from the 1898 Gold Rush Days.  This is a hand-made gold pan.
...and a book on how to prospect for gold and silver.

The Richardson Highway has to be one of the most scenic roads in North America.  The road is historically significant in that it connected Fairbanks with the port of Valdez in 1913.  How this road was built in that rugged landscape..at that time period, is a feat!

There was a great exhibit on the Good Friday 1964 Earthquake but I covered that earlier in this blog post.  The museum had on display some of the newspapers describing the aftermath, that was interesting.

The historic oil spill of the tanker Exxon Valdez display.

Yep, that's a piece of the Exxon Valdez's hull....
and the route the tanker should have taken..but didn't.
Some things are back to normal and have recovered.  Unfortunately, some ecosystems have not.  Oil did not reach the beaches of Valdez but further down the sound's waterway.

And the last Valdez Museum of the day was the Maxine & Jesse Whitney Museum.  It displays one of the most amazing collections of Native American art and artifacts in the world.  The trophy class mounts of some of Alaska's big game animals was incredible.  Here are more pictures as this museum also allowed photographs.

The fur texture board on the lower left corner here was most interesting to me.  You could touch samples of all of these animals' fur and compare them.  The softness of a lynx's fur felt like butter. 

This pen and ink drawing on a seal skin was impressive to me. It's made by Florence Malewotkuk in the 1950's
This is a type of scrimshaw drawing made on a walrus tusk.

Grizzly bear mount
This moose mount was so large that it wouldn't fit through the door and had to be completed once inside the building.  I should have had Ronnie stand beside it to see the scope of it's size.  The museum's docent described this moose almost as a anomaly as it is quite larger that most adult moose.

When Maxine Whitney and her husband Jesse moved to Alaska in 1947, she began collecting Native American art and artifacts to sell to tourists in her gift shop.  This huge collection of theirs is now housed in this museum where one can view the items up close and personal. Her collection of big game Alaskan animal trophies are from local hunters she knew and Northland Taxidermy.

 These ivory carved animals were very tiny and the detail seen in them was amazing.

The rains finally stopped and we were able to take a drive out to the town site of Old Valdez.  
To read more about the devastating Good Friday Earthquake of 1964, click here.
Here are some of our views of the old town site.

This was the location of the Valdez Post Office.
Remnants of the old pier and dock

More old remnants of the dock

An old forklift from times gone by, left to rust away..

I looked down and saw this rusty old bolt..

We enjoyed our museum visits and learned a lot about the history of Valdez. We also discovered this area is sometimes called "The little Switzerland of North America".  We have yet to see all of the surrounding mountainous landscape with a clear-view sky to get that impression, hopefully soon.

More Later.

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