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Meet Benny Benson: An Alaska Kid Who Made History + 13 Wild Facts About Alaska

Before 1927, Alaska did not have a flag. At the time, Alaska was still a territory, meaning that the federal government controlled Alaska and its citizens lacked voting representation in Congress. Since Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867, Alaskans had flown only the U.S. flag. But in 1927 everything changed. In our next report TKN reporter Brandon tell the story of how Alaska got its flag.

Before you go, Here are 10 wild facts about the last frontier.

1. The state holds the U.S. record for coldest recorded temperature.

A low of -80° F was recorded on January 23, 1971. This took place in Prospect Creek, an isolated town that’s 31 miles away from the city of Coldfoot, which itself has a population of around 150.

2. There’s a whole lot of coastline in Alaska.

The state has more coastline than the other 49 states combined.

3. You can grow a zucchini the size of a dachshund.

Because of their long summer days, Alaska is capable of producing some unusually oversized produce. Some notable specimens that have been harvested in recent years include a 35-pound broccoli, a 65-pound cantaloupe, and a 138-pound cabbage.

4. There’s a town dedicated to Christmas in Alaska.

Alaskan Post Office
North Pole, Alaska, Post Office. / Evans/GettyImages

About 1700 miles south of the geographic North Pole lies the Fairbanks suburb of North Pole, Alaska. The town’s famous Santa Claus House gift shop is open year-round, and thousands of letters addressed to Santa are sent to the ZIP code each year. (A real-life Santa Claus was even elected to City Council.)

5. It might be possible to see Russia from Alaska (but just in one spot.)

The Bering Strait that separates Alaska from Russia is around 55 miles wideat its narrowest point. Within it sit the Russian island of Big Diomede and the U.S. island of Little Diomede, which are just two and a half miles apart. So in theory, it would be possible for some Alaskans to see Russia from their houses.

6. Japan invaded Alaskan islands during World War II.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces bombed and invaded the Aleutian Islands of Alaska in June of 1942. The occupation lasted nearly a year. (The United States owned Alaska at this time, but it didn’t become a state until 1959.)

7. Alaska is home to America’s largest national forest. 

Waterfall on Baranof Island, Tongass National Forest.
Waterfall on Baranof Island, Tongass National Forest. / Wolfgang Kaehler/GettyImages

America’s largest national forest is the Tongass. It’s about three times the size of the runner-up, the Chugach, which is also located in Alaska.

8. If you’re so disposed, you can take part in an outhouse race.

Each year, brave Alaskans compete to be crowned the king or queen of their throne in the Fur Rondy Festival outhouse races. Teams outfit the bottoms of their custom-built outhouses with skis and race each other down a two-lane track. In addition to the title of first place, prizes are awarded for the most colorful, best-engineered, and cleanest commodes.

9. An iconic horror movie was filmed in Alaska.

The Thing, John Carpenter’s 1982 horror classic set in Antarctica, was filmed in Juneau, Alaska.

10. Some nights can last for two months.

In Barrow, Alaska, the longest night lasts for 67 days. In the summer they make up for it with 82 days of uninterrupted sunlight.

11. Alaska is absolutely gigantic but sparsely populated. 

USA, Alaska, Near Juneau, Tracy Arm, Fjord Carved By Glacier...
Alaska, Near Juneau. / Wolfgang Kaehler/GettyImages

If New York had the same population density as Alaska, only about 53,844 people would live in the entire state (there are more than 19 million NY residents today.) The real kicker, though, is that Alaska is so big that you can fit 12 New Yorks inside of it.

12. You can’t get to the state’s capital by road.

You need to take a plane, cruise ship, or ferry to get to Juneau.

13. The United States bought Alaska for just a few million bucks.

That's all it took to buy 600,000 square miles of land.
That’s all it took to buy 600,000 square miles of land. / Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

In 1867, Russia agreed to sell Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million, which amounted to about two cents an acre. 

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