Friday, January 9, 2009

Alaska Homesteading

" Why would anybody want 160 acres of Alaska?" wrote a worried mother to her Alaskan daughter.

"Because we’re land hungry," the daughter wrote back.

Jim and Sharon Bashore and their sons Randy and Ricky. They left Ohio in 1971 without any money. They homesteaded by the Holitna River in 1973. This picture was taken in 1978.

Between 1908, when homesteading began in Alaska and 1986, when it ended, more than a half a million acres of Alaska land were deeded to homesteaders. About 5,100 titles were granted to homesteaders beginning with the first one in 1908. Approximately 593,217 acres passed into the public sector. The average homestead was about 121 acres.

The history of homesteading in Alaska is filled with stories of hardship and shortage, stories of laughter and love. Some 6,800 people filled for homesteads but were never able to meet patent requirements after doing varying degrees of work on the land. Land was a big part of “why” they came to Alaska. But there are other factors.

Anchorage resident Connie Thompson says her homestead years were “the most peaceful” of her life. Other homesteaders claim it is a “great experience,” one full of toil and hardship. But one balanced with achievement, self-confidence and closeness to nature.

And it helps to have a sense of humor, Ms. Thompson says, adding that the hardest thing about homesteading is “getting inside the outhouse with your snowshoes on.”

Excerpt from an article published in the Anchorage Times, on April 12, 1978.

Related Links

"Homesteading in Alaska, the pamphlets will tell you, is finished. Gone. And it's true, in the sense..."

"That's called Urban Homesteading, a pale imitation of what still exists in but one state - Alaska..."

"As such, they were among the last of America's homesteaders, joining a tradition of pioneers..."

1 comment:

Embrace said...

I was out on a smoke break when I got into a conversation with a customer... he began to tell me about the homestead act of 1862, and how he has land in Alaska that he got for free.

And sure enough, its true. All that's needed is to apply, and be approved, then meet with the city. After that, put a house on the land and its yours! There might be a requirement, but all he put on his land was a shed. free property!