This year America celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. Alaska was still celebrating its first decade of statehood when the Preservation Act was passed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966. Since then, the act has empowered the U.S. Forest Service to identify and preserve the state’s rich cultural history, including heritage sites that date back to time immemorial.
In honor of the 50th Anniversary, the 49 Sites in the 49th State website was developed by the Alaska Region and partners such as the State of Alaska, Native corporations and tribes, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management, and others to help state residents and out-of-state visitors explore. The site features many historical sites and treasures such as the Iditarod National Historic Trail, Lost Whaling Ships in the Bering Strait, and M/V Chugach ranger boat, the last of 10 Forest Service ranger boats that once plied the waters of the Tongass and Chugach national forests.
In addition, the Forest Service will also host a series of celebratory events over the next year. A new historic property sign was unveiled at the Three Lakes Shelter on Mitkof Island. The Petersburg Ranger District led interpretive hikes in the surrounding forest for kids and adults following the ceremony. The shelter was originally built in 1938 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program created in 1933 as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. It is one of 39 Adirondack-style shelters built on the Tongass National Forest between the mid-1930s and the early 1940s.
This month, there will be an open house and plaque unveiling for the Cordova Post Office and Court House, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. At that time, it was reported to be the oldest post office buildings in Alaska still in use as a post office. Currently, the building functions as the office for the Chugach National Forest’s Cordova Ranger District.