Once upon a time, the only people who knew about Alaska were Santa and Mrs. Claus. The elves all knew but they like secrets so they didn’t tend to tell people. There were also a bunch of polar bears in on the secret, but polar bears are not big on map making. Seals like cartography (extra points for knowing that means map making) but then they generally eat the maps, so Alaska remained largely unknown.
In 1741, a Russian expedition (led by a Danish navigator—go figure) found the Alaskan mainland. No one much cared except for bunch of Russians who liked to hunt. The hunters spent a lot of time trekking back and forth and hunting. Being multi-taskers, they also brought a bunch of weird (and by “weird” I mean not native to the Alaskan area) with them. This was not good for the Aleut population. Especially since Puffs Plus hadn’t been invented yet.
In 1784, the first Russian colony was established on Kodiak Island.
In the early 1800s, a polar bear named Bear 987 ate a Russian. It gave Bear 987 a tummy ache but was good advertising for leaving polar bears alone.
By the 1860s, Russia was facing severe economic trouble (and by “severe economic trouble” I mean Russia was just about bankrupt). Russia checked the Asset Closet and discovered Alaska and three paper clips. Since the US had a sufficient supply of paper clips, Russia sold off Alaska to the US for $7.2 million which was a serious bargain even then but a most of Congress thought it was waste of money.
The media came up with several names for the scandal (none of which included the suffix –gate) including “polar bear garden.” Polar bears are far too cool to get annoyed; no telling what would have happened if they’d called it “iceberg garden” as icebergs have been known to be extremely vicious (just ask the Titanic).
Nothing interesting happened until the discovery of gold in 1898.
The territory of Alaska became the 49th and largest state in the Union on January 3, 1959. Happy birthday, Alaska!
Now you know.