Thursday, May 9, 2013

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 90

Pelican, Alaska

Pelican or Pelican Bay is located in southeast Alaska not far from Juneau on Chichagof Island in Cross Sound.   This black & white used postcard is dated 1949.   Something that makes this card historically interesting is noted in the PS to the message indicating that some people in southeastern Alaska felt a tremor from the large 7.1 earthquake that jarred the Puget Sound area in August 1949.   At that time it was the largest earthquake to hit the area since the arrival of non-native people.  It shook the ground for 30 seconds and was felt over a 230,000 square mile area.  Eight people were killed and dozens of others were injured. 

For more information about the earthquake, see this link:


Early Russian ships were said to have roamed Alaskan waters.  Legend has it that one foundered in the uncharted waters of Cross Sound, the survivors rowed up an inlet that was later called Lisianski.  They cleared the land and planted gardens, trapped and hunted founding a settlement.  Eventually a shipyard was constructed and once a ship was built these survivors were able to return to their homeland.  The settlement left untended reverted back to a wilderness.  Many years later hunters and trappers noticed the clearing in the woods and found tools and graves.  They named the abandoned settlement “Sunnyside.”  

Mining, fishing, and fish canneries have been the main industries.   By 1938 there were several gold mines, one produced 18,000 ounces of gold.  Kalle “Charley” Raatikainen was an Alaskan pioneer and fish buyer.  He started a cannery near a gold mine operated by his friend Hjalmor Mork.  After a year or so other fishermen and canners joined in the operations.  The locality was ideal as it is situated between Juneau and Sitka.  This was the beginning of the permanent settlement, once called Sunnyside, now known as Pelican.  It is thought that the name of the town was derived from Raatikainen’s boat, the Pelican. 

More information about Pelican, Alaska can be found at,_Alaska

The stamps on the card are from the 1938 2-cent series and feature President John Adams.   It took 2 stamps to send the postcard from Alaska to Seattle via airmail in 1949.  

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