Roadtrippin’ 2023: The birthplace of ‘modern day’ Alaska

Roadtrippin' 2023: The birthplace of 'modern day' Alaska
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 8:14 PM AKDT|Updated: May. 18, 2023 at 8:21 PM AKDT
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SITKA, Alaska (KTUU) - Sitka is a place of many firsts in Alaska. Up on Baranof Castle Hill is the site of an important first for the state of Alaska — it’s where Alaska became American.

“The transfer of what we call modern-day Alaska happened on Oct. 18, 1867 on this spot,” Hal Spackman, the executive director for the Sitka Historical Society, said.

Almost a century before Alaska formally became a state, the Russian flag was lowered on the Baranof Castle hilltop following the United States’ purchase — priced around 2 cents per acre — and the stars and stripes was raised in its place.

When cruise ship visitors arrive, the site sees around 4,000 visitors a day. But on a typical day, it’s a little calmer — around 200 to 300 visitors will walk up the path to visit the historic site. There, visitors can get a 360-degree view of the city and see artifacts that were left behind by the Russians.

Spackman said it is important to remember that this site and its history might mean something different to each visitor.

“We should always try to understand that there are different views regarding what happened, and try to dive into the true events of what happened and not just gloss over them and think in terms of what’s fun and interesting all the time,” Spackman said.

Every year on the October 18 anniversary of the transfer, Sitka hosts a reenactment of the ceremony followed by a parade.