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Description

Fine Topographic Poster Map of Alaska with Images of Alaskan Life

Detailed map poster depicting the topography of Alaska set amongst stippled drawings showing pictures of Alaska’s snowy landscape and life. This is the first time we have seen the poster.

The map shows the state of Alaska, with roads, towns, rivers, mountains, and glaciers. Also included are national parks. Above the map are the words, “North to Alaska” in letters shaped from wooden logs. Additionally, marked on the map are two dark, snaking, routes. These are the Iditarod Trail and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

Behind the cut-out map are black-and-white scenes associated with the state; they are drawn with stippling. The image to the top right is of a Native Alaskan child who is ice fishing with a bush plane taking off in the background. The image on the bottom right is of a dog sled parked in front of an igloo with a man going off to hunt. The image in the middle right is of two Native Alaskans hunting a whale. To the top left is a prowling polar bear.

“North To Alaska”

The title on the poster is a reference to a 1960 song of the same name. “North to Alaska” was written and performed by the country singer Johnny Horton. It is about a traveler going north to take part in the Yukon Gold Rush. It was the last single that Horton released while he was alive, as he died in a car crash two months after the song debuted. It was a highly successful song, charting #4 overall and #1 for country singles in the US, #1 in Canada, and #2 in Australia.

The song featured as the title track to a film of the same name. “North to Alaska,” starred John Wayne and told the story of two brothers and their partner fending off attempts to take their goldmining claim.  

The Iditarod Trail

The Iditarod Trail was initially a composite of trails used by the Native Alaskan peoples. The trail consolidated and gained prominence when it was used by Alaskan gold miners to get to rumored gold deposits. The frequent passage of miners caused small towns and farmsteads to start popping up on the trail.

After the Gold Rush ended, the Iditarod Trail continued as a route for dogsleds to deliver supplies to the remote communities in the wilderness of Alaska. The trail, however, lost popularity with the advent of aviation in Alaska, which allowed for faster transport.    

While the Iditarod Trail lost prominence as a commercial road it gained fame thanks to the now annual 938-mile Iditarod Dog Sled Race. This race began in 1973 to preserve and protect the designation of the Iditarod Trail as a national historic site. Since then, the trail has become the site of the highly competitive, and popular, dog sled race.

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline was built between 1975 and 1977. The oil crisis of 1973 spurred the US to seek more oil independence and one way to gain this independence was the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. This pipeline made the extraction and refinement of Alaskan oil financially feasible and opened the state to the oil industry.

Businesses invested billions of dollars in Alaska, both during the construction of the pipeline and after its completion. The state revenues were so great that, eventually, Alaska was able to completely abolish its income tax and to set up a fund which distributes money to Alaskan permanent residents annually.

This is the only known example of this map poster, a rare and beautiful example of the ability of a map to tell the story of Alaskan heritage and growth.

Condition Description
Laid on archival poster Linen.
Reference
Joel Whiteburn, The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Eighth Edition (New York: Billboard Books, 2007), 85; Pierre Berton, Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush 1896-1899 (Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2001); Neal Fried, “Alaska’s economic landscape was transformed by oil,” Alaska Journal of Commerce, no. 1 (October 9, 2007); ”Race Archives,” https://iditarod.com/race/archives/; Pierre Breton, Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush 1869-1899 (Toronto: Anchor Canada, 2001). OO