Here's a postcard from the early 1970s along with some facts and background about Wrangell, Alaska, that I have "wrangled" for you:
1. It's really in the middle of nowhere, way down in the southeastern panhandle of Alaska. If you want to get to or from Wrangell, you're going to need an airplane or ferry. Traveling by a combination of ferry and car, the closest major city is Juneau, Alaska, which is only 200 miles away but the trip apparently takes about 12 hours.1
2. To get from Wrangell to Anchorage, Alaska, using only car and ferry, would be a 1,022-mile journey taking 34 hours. By comparison, it's 1,077 miles from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Des Moines, Iowa, and that trip would only take you about 17 hours by car -- half the time.
3. While Wrangell Island has been occupied by the Tlingit peoples2 for thousands of years, Wrangell, in the northwestern corner of the island, is a non-native settlement. Baron Ferdinand Friedrich Georg Ludwig von Wrangel (pictured at right), who was in charge of Russian government interests in Russian America, ordered a stockade built in the middle of what is now Wrangell Harbor. This is considered the founding date of the city, which passed to British hands in 18393 and American hands in 1867.
4. The "Wrangell History" page on the Wrangell Chamber of Commerce website contains some fascinating tidbits that have been compiled by Pat Roppel and the Friends of the Library. Check it out and read all about a "prohibition drink" that involves raisin pie, yeast, water and a hot stove; a colorful description of the city at the turn of the 20th century; seafaring superstitions and more.
5. The aforementioned chamber of commerce website also lists the "perks" of living in Wrangell, which include:
- Parents welcome in school
- No gangs
- Volunteer in schools
- Fantastic Public Library with Free Internet Access
- Medical Facility with Doctors on staff
- Wrangell Fire Department has excellent response time
- Senior Citizen Meals on Wheels
6. Wrangell has a newspaper, the Wrangell Sentinel, which claims to be the oldest continually publishing newspaper in Alaska. And it has a library -- the Irene Ingle Public Library. But it does not appear to have its own bookstore.
1. All travel times and distances are from Mapquest.
2. The Native Languages of the Americas website has a outstanding collection of links to Tlingit folklore, legends and mythology. One of the important mythological figures is "Property Woman," a spirit with curly hair who brings prosperity to anybody who catches sight of her.
3. The British Hudson's Bay Company leased the fort in 1839 and named the stockade Fort Stikine.