Alaska's Past - Regional Perspectives
As you begin this unit, look at the map of Southcentral Alaska in this introduction. Southcentral Alaska is different from all but one of the other regions discussed in this book because it has boundaries with three other regions. Southcentral borders Southeast, Southwest, and Interior Alaska. Only Interior Alaska shares this trait of touching three other regions (Northwest and Arctic, Southwest, and Southcentral), but Southcentral Alaska, unlike the Interior, also touches the sea.
These links between Southcentral Alaska and other regions of Alaska and the world have had much to do with the course of human history in the area. Another influence has been the internal geography of Southcentral Alaska.That internal geography is characterized by the Alaska Range which separates Southcentral Alaska from the Interior and the Southwest; by the Wrangell, Chugach, and Talkeetna mountains which divide Southcentral into three river valleys-the Copper, Matanuska, and Susitna; and by Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet, which offer protected waters and good harbors to those who approach Southcentral Alaska from the south.
The areas around Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet have a maritime climate, characterized by relatively warm temperatures and high levels of rain and snowfall. Farther inland, there is a continental climate with higher summer and lower winter temperatures with less precipitation.
Those lands and waters, the plant and animal resources they have supported, and the human cultures which have occupied them have interacted with influences from outside the region to create the history of Southcentral Alaska. Much of that history has been concerned with the concept of transportation, the movement of goods and people to and from the region. You will find a number of ideas about transportation in this unit. They will help you to understand not only the history of Southcentral Alaska but also of Alaska and the world.
TAMING THE LAND OF FIRE AND ICE
1880-1900 ROUTES TO THE INTERIOR
1900-1915 FIGHT FOR A RAILROAD
1915-1930 THE RAILROAD YEARS
1930-1970 THE EXPANDING ECONOMY
1970-1980 THE LAND AND ITS USES