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Harriman Expedition Retraced

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August 4, 2001 Souvenir Album:

Homer; Anchorage


Images (click images for larger view)

Pratt Museum cover

Homer's Pratt Museum, like many other institutions in Alaska, made an exceptional effort to welcome the Harriman Retraced expedition. This custom-made brochure, along with custom-made baseball caps, was offered to every participant. Like the museum itself, the brochure is a clever mixture of the past and the present, with cover photos of a traditional kayak and Native dress and a very modern example of Alaska art. In addition to traditional exhibits, the Pratt has two extraordinary electronic exhibits that use remotely-controlled video cameras to "watch" bears at the McNeil River brown bear sanctuary and the Gull Island seabird rookery.

Harrington cabin

The Harrington Cabin is a one-room log cabin dating back to 1935, and relocated to the Pratt Museum grounds. It is typical of the dwellings used by homesteaders in Alaska well into the 20th century, and this particular cabin was used as a home until the mid-1960s. Exhibits inside mention that homesteaders led a simple, "rugged" life. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Harrington stove

Iron stoves like this were not only a homesteader's main source of heat during Alaska's winters, but the only means of cooking food. No other kitchen appliances were either available or appropriate. The stove and the energy needs of an earlier age are a stark contrast to the Pratt's superb exhibit on the Exxon Valdez oil spill, an offshoot of the energy needs of the modern world. Using models, photos, artifacts and text, the exhibit shows the popular view, the oil industry view, and the scientific view of what happened in 1989, when the nation's largest oil spill blackened Prince William Sound. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Homer-Anchorage plane

The expedition stop in Homer also marked a large-scale change in expedition participants. Roughly half those on board left for home, replaced by new arrivals eager to join the expedition as it ventured into the Aleutian Islands and Russia. After two weeks at sea, the quick flight to Anchorage was somewhat disconcerting. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Airline safety card

Some of the greatest changes in Alaska are revealed in very mundane ways. One hundred years ago, with Pax Britannia ascendant and an aggressive United States pushing out across the planet, "the future" was written in English. In 2001, this airline safety card is multilingual. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

Puffin Inn

Alaskans are aggressively independent, and even urban residents of Anchorage, where half of all Alaskans live, think of themselves more as frontier pioneers than as city folks. Reminders of the Alaska frontier are popular, such as this highly stylized puffin logo for a chain of motels. Even less attractive aspects, such as the infamous mosquitoes, are used to promote Alaska and Alaskan businesses. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

stuffed polar bear

Probably the single most contentious issue in Alaska is how to preserve the wilderness. Everyone recognizes that the wilderness is Alaska's greatest strength, but many want to exploit it -- for oil, for tourist, and for other purposes. So how much wilderness is enough? And how little can you have before it all goes away? One of Anchorage's finest hotels has its own answer: the wilderness can be preserved in tidy, convenient display cases in the lobby. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

seaplane lake

The original Harriman Alaska Expedition made extensive use of sea travel, as did the Harriman Retraced expedition. Most of Alaska's commerce still travels by sea. But impatient people tend to travel by air, and the seaplane, in particular, has an almost mythic status in modern Alaska. This lake next to the Anchorage airport is actually controlled by the airport; you can see the airport tower in the center-left portion of the photo. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

fowl warning

If one of the big questions is "How much wilderness does Alaska need?" a companion question might be "How much civilization can the wilderness stand?" The lake provides a convenient landing spot for rural pilots visiting Anchorage, but urban Anchorage residents -- and passing tourists -- have created a new hazard. The needs of geese and seaplanes collide quite literally, both here and throughout Alaska, and trying to solve this and similar problems is Alaska's main challenge in the 21st century. (Photo by National Ocean Service, NOAA).

(Community Profile: Anchorage)


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For information on the Harriman Retraced Expedition e-mail: harriman2001@science.smith.edu

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