The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 10, 2013

Rhode Island could fit into Alaska 425 times? 525? 625? Read on

20 facts you need to know before visiting Alaska

— 1. Outsiders first discovered Alaska in 1741 when Danish explorer Vitus Jonassen Bering sighted it on a voyage from Siberia.

2. Russian whalers and fur traders on Kodiak Island established the first settlement in Alaska in 1784.

3. In 1867 United States Secretary of State William H. Seward offered Russia $7,200,000, or two cents per acre, for Alaska.

4. On October 18, 1867 Alaska officially became the property of the United States. Many Americans called the purchase "Seward's Folly."

5. Joe Juneau's 1880 discovery of gold ushered in the gold rush era.

6. In 1943 Japan invaded the Aleutian Islands, which started the One Thousand Mile War, the first battle fought on American soil since the Civil War.

7. Alaska officially became the 49th state on January 3, 1959.

8. Alaska's most important revenue source is the oil and natural gas industry.

9. Alaska accounts for 25% of the oil produced in the United States.

10. The state of Rhode Island could fit into Alaska 425 times.

11. Prudhoe Bay, on the northern Alaskan coast, is North America's largest oil field.

12. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline moves up to 88,000 barrels of oil per hour on its 800 mile journey to Valdez.

13. The fishing and seafood industry is the state's largest private industry employer.

14. Most of America's salmon, crab, halibut, and herring come from Alaska.

15. The term Alaska native refers to Alaska's original inhabitants including Aleut, Eskimo and Indian groups.

16. The wild forget-me-not is the official state flower. The Territorial Legislature adopted it in 1917.

17. The willow ptarmigan is the official state bird. The Territorial Legislature adopted it in 1955.

18. The Sitka spruce is the official state tree. The Territorial Legislature adopted it in 1962.

19. Dog mushing is the official state sport. The Alaska Legislature adopted it in 1972.

20. An unnamed draftsman created the state seal in 1910. It consists of a rising sun shining on forests, lake, fishing and shipping boats, and agricultural and mining activities.