5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Alaska

On this day in 1867, the U.S. formally took possession of Alaska after purchasing the territory from Russia.  Here are things you probably don’t know about the largest state in North America...

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It reached 100 degrees in Alaska – Once Over a hundred years ago, in 1914, Fort Yukon recorded an official temperature of 100 degrees, according to USA Today. Believe it or not, that mark of 100 degrees ties the all-time high temperature in the state of Hawaii. Not surprisingly, Alaska also holds the record for the lowest temperature ever observed in the United States. That bone-chilling figure of -79.8 degrees was recorded in the mountains of northern Alaska in 1971.

Japan Attacked Alaska During World War II You thought Pearl Harbor was the only major attack on U.S. soil during World War II? Nope! The Japanese attacked Alaska during World War II. On June 6, 1942, the Japanese attacked Attu and Kiska, two of the Aleutian Islands, and held them for months, enslaving the small number of residents. American troops arrived to take back the islands, but they were woefully unprepared for the Alaskan climate. The ensuing battle lasted 15 days and resulted in the deaths of 2,650 Japanese and 549 Americans, a total higher than the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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Most of Alaska is Inaccessible by Car At least 75% of the state is unreachable by car. Instead, snowmobiles and bush planes are typically used for travel. Because many of the highways are only two lanes, there’s a law requiring drivers to pull over if at least five vehicles are behind them, to allow the faster traffic to pass. 

North America’s Strongest Earthquake Was in Alaska A 9.2 earthquake struck Prince William Sound off the Alaska coast on March 27, 1964, and was the largest ever recorded in North America. It lasted more than four minutes and produced more than 10,000 aftershocks in the ensuing days. Approximately 130 people died from the resulting tsunamis in Alaska, Oregon and California. Anchorage was severely damaged, and some communities southeast of the city saw the land drop by up to eight feet.

The Purchase of Alaska Was a Real Bargain Alaska is home to the country’s best real estate bargain In 1867, the United States bought Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, which is a lot less than some celebrity homes these days. Some mocked the purchase because the land was considered worthless, so they called it “Seward’s Folly” after William Seward, the Secretary of State who brokered the deal. Those people who mocked it might have changed their minds if they had known gold and oil would be discovered years later, which produces billions in tax revenues each year.