Seventy-five years ago, a group of Ketchikan businessmen published the first issue of this magazine under the name The Alaska Sportsman.
That first Alaska was printed on glossy paper and featured lots of black-andwhite photos. The cover image was a dog team, and the story content was dedicated mostly to hunting and fishing, though it also featured poetry, a news section called “From Ketchikan to Barrow” that survives to this day, and an uncannily accurate prediction of what the future held for the territory of Alaska.
|Alaska magazine May edition cover|
In an essay titled, “Alaska Wonderland,” Dr. Will H. Chase of Cordova wrote, “Alaska is destined to be America’s playground and, in my opinion, the tourist traffic will be so vast in the not far distant future that we of today can form no adequate conception of the number of people it will bring to see our wonders and the increased development which will come in their wake.” Dr. Chase’s essay words were prophetic, and bold, because at that time Alaska was, for the most part, treated as a stockpile of raw resources for the rest of the country. Gold and copper, timber, fur and fish were mined, cut, caught and canned by Outside interests and sent south along with most of the profits. For anyone to suggest that Alaska, in and of itself, could be of more value than the sum of its various extractable resources must have been heresy to the establishment of the day.
Still, Chase wrote it, and more importantly, The Alaska Sportsman editors published it.
At first glance the first issue of The Alaska Sportsman is very different from the Alaska magazine of today. But a closer look tells another story. Alaska is one of—if not the only—general interest magazine that regularly features hunting and fishing stories. “From Ketchikan to Barrow” still gathers news from around the state and just two issues ago, we featured a sled dog on the cover.
Like Alaska magazine’s founders, we believe contemporary Alaska is unsurpassed both in beauty and in the quality of life it offers its residents.
While we rely on its natural resources to help sustain our society, we also think Alaska’s greatest value is intrinsic to the wild nature of the place and the way it makes life here unique and worth celebrating. We hope that comes through in each issue we produce.
Let’s hope that 75 years from now, the yet-to-be-born editors who create that day’s version of Alaska will feel a kinship to this magazine and will still be able to say that life on the Last Frontier is unique and beautiful.