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Anchorage, the Tent City  -  Related Materials
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Film and Video:

Building the Alaska Railroad, University of Alaska Fairbanks Film Collection
49-second film clip, black and white, silent, of a film clip organized like a film newsreel. Shown is a railroad construction camp, the Alaska Railroad bridge over Eagle River, and a railroad observation car. Captions on the film read: "The government railroad north of Anchorage will pass through miles of cranberry swamps on the way to the greatest coal fields and copper-producing sections of Alaska," "Crossing Eagle River on a 100-foot span, the largest native timber construction on the government railroad," and "Observation car formerly used in Panama."

Life in Early Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks Film Collection
67-second film clip, black and white, silent, of life in Anchorage, 1915-1917. Clip is in a film newsreel format and shows Anchorage street scenes, the 3 in 1 Laundry, a pie-eating contest, some Anchorage houses and finally the Alaska Labor Union of Socialists and Pioneers Hall. Captions for the silent film read: "Smith Films - Alaska," "Anchorage -- typifying the new era of progress and civic development in Alaska, growing in one year -- from a tent to a population of 10,000," "3 in 1-All blonds (sic)," "A few bungalows in Anchorage," and "The largest log cabin in Alaska which recently was destroyed by fire during labor troubles."

Visit the Library for More Information:

Alaska's libraries hold audio, visual, and written material about the settlement of Anchorage and Alaska Railroad construction. Visit your local library or go online to see what's available in holdings all over the state. Take these simple steps:

  1. Access SLED (State Library Electronic Doorway) at
  2. Click on the listing for ALNCat (the Alaska Library Network Catalog) to view the Basic Search window. Go to the Keyword field, and type in SHIP CREEK or ALASKA RAILROAD.

Recommended Reading:

Barry, Mary J. Jack and Nellie Brown. Pioneer Settlers of Anchorage, Alaska. Anchorage, Alaska: The author, 2000.

Bernhardt, Joshua. The Alaskan Engineering Commission: Its History, Activities, and Organization. New York: D. Appleton, 1922.

Cohen, Stan. Rails across the Tundra: A Historical Album of the Alaska Railroad. Missoula, Mont.: Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 1984.

Frankfourth, Jo and Lidia Selkregg. Anchorage "Roots" through Multiple Land Use for Ship Creek Landing. Anchorage, Alaska: Municipality of Anchorage, 1982.

Johnson, Kaylene and Roy Corral. Portrait of the Alaska Railroad. Anchorage, Alaska: Alaska Northwest Books, 2002

Salt, Harriet. Mighty Engineering Feats: Clear and Concise Descriptions of Ten of the Greatest American Engineering Feats. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1937, 1969.

Sherwood, Morgan B. The Cook Inlet Collection: Two Hundred Years of Selected Alaskan History. Anchorage, Alaska: Alaska Northwest Publishing Co., 1974.

Tower, Elizabeth A. Anchorage: From its Humble Origins as a Railroad Construction Camp. Fairbanks: Epicenter Press, 1999.

Wilson, William H. Railroad in the Clouds: The Alaska Railroad in the Age of Steam, 1914-1945. Boulder, Colo.: Pruett Publishing Co., 1977.

Archival Materials:

U.S. Alaska Engineering Commission photograph collection. P.S. Hunt, Sydney Laurence, H. G. Kaiser, and Albert J. Johnson. 1916-1918. Alaska State Library. This collection includes views of Anchorage churches, buildings, hotels, theatres, and festivals, construction activities, facilities and equipment of the Alaska Railroad, then identified as Alaska Engineering Commission Railway.

Miscellaneous Alaskan views, Nellie Shepard Brown, 1913-1950. Alaska State Library. Collection includes images of the Bear Creek Mining Co.'s activities in the Upper Kobuk Valley, taken by Mac's Foto (Anchorage), Anchorage pioneers Jack (John) and Nellie Edyth Brown's life in the Knik, Ship Creek and Anchorage areas (1915-1917), and views of buildings and people at St. Michael and Fort St. Michael collected by a Mr. Grenfel from1913-1914 while serving as an engineer for the military.

Augusta Pyatt photograph collection, Augusta Pyatt and Sydney Laurence, 1915-1916. Alaska State Library. Little is known about Augusta Pyatt except that she worked for Sydney Laurence, Alaska's most famous painter, in his photography lab in Anchorage. Her photographs include people, views, and activities from the Anchorage area during the years 1915 and 1916. Also includes several photographs by Sydney Laurence.

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Anchorage Tent City

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