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The Naming of Alaska

Explorers: "P"


These biographies are from Marcus Baker's monumental Geographic Dictionary of Alaska, published in 1902 by the United States Geological Survey. It detailed the origin of thousands of geographical place names in the Territory of Alaska, and provided brief biographies of about 120 of the people who had given the names described.
Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I-J | K | L | M | N | P | R | S | T | V | W | Z

Pender, 1868

    Staff Commander David Pender, R. N., made a survey of Portland canal and vicinity in 1868. This was a survey along the boundary of the then newly purchased Alaska. The resulting map was published as a fly leaf attached to British Admiralty chart 2431.


Peters and Brooks, 1898-1899

    In the summer of 1898 a party of the United States Geological Survey in charge of Mr. William John Peters, topographer, with whom went Mr. Alfred Hulse Brooks as geologist, made a reconnaissance of parts of the White and Tanana river basins. A report on this work was made by Mr. Brooks and published in the Twentieth Annual Report of the Geological Survey, Part VII, pp. 425-494. In 1899 Peters and Brooks continued their explorations, going from the head of Lvnn canal northwastward and northward to Eagle, on the Yukon. The report on this work was written by Brooks and published in the Twenty-first Annual Report of the Geological Survey, Part II, pp. 331-391.


Petrof, 1880

    Ivan Petrof was special agent of the Tenth Census (1880) for Alaska and prepared a Report on the Population, Industries, and Resources of the territory, which forms 189 pages of Volume VIII of the Tenth Census of the United States, published in 1884. This report and two general maps of Alaska issued by the Census Office, one dated 1880, the other 1882, have been most useful and helpful in making this dictionary. The references to Petrof are chiefly to these two maps. References to Bancroft's History of Alaska are usually credited to Petrof, who wrote that work.
    A preliminary report on the population, industries, and resources of Alaska was published early in 1881 as House of Representative Ex. Doc. No. 40, Forty-sixth Congress, third session. In this report is a general map of Alaska showing Petrof's route of travel in his census work. He was at Kodiak, the Shumagins, Sannak, Belkofski, Unalaska, Unimak, Atka, Pribilof islands, and St. Michael, and traveled in western Alaska from St. Michael to Kodiak, including journeys for considerable distances up the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers.


Portlock and Dixon, 1786-1787

    The King George's Sound Company, organized as a commercial partnership in May, 1785, fitted out two vessels for trading on the northwest coast of America and China. One of these, the King George, was placed under the command of Capt. Nathaniel Portlock, the other, the Queen Charlotte, under the command of Capt. George Dixon. Both of these officers had served under Cook in his voyage on the Alaskan coast in 1778. The vessels departed from England on September 16, 1785, rounded Cape Horn, touched at the Hawaiian islands, and on July 16, ' 1786, arrived in Cook inlet. Leaving this anchorage, the two vessels cruised eastward and southward along the coast as far as Nootka and went thence to the Hawaiian islands, arriving on December 1, 1786. Here both remained until March 15, 1787, and then sailed together for Prince William sound, arriving on April 25, and remaining there till July 31, when the ships parted company and Portlock cruised east to the vicinity of Sitka and thence via the Hawaiian islands and China back to England. He made a few additions to the geographic knowledge of the then almost unknown Alaska coast, sketched a few harbors, and named a few places. Both Portlock and Dixon wrote accounts of their voyages, which were published at London in 1789. Portlock's is entitled A Voyage Round the World, etc., 4°, London, 1789.


Pribilof, 1786

    Gerassim Gavrilovich Pribilof , master in the Russian Navy, was the son of one of the sailors who accompanied Bering in 1741. He entered the service of the Lebedef-Lastochkin company in 1778. In 1786 he sought for and discovered in Bering sea the breeding place of the fur seals, the group of islands that now bear his name. He died in Sitka in March, 1796. It does not appear that he published anything.


Prospectors and Miners

    Ever since the purchase of Alaska, in 1867, prospectors and miners have visited it and gone from time to time here and there. Within the last four or five years there have been several gold excitements and grand rushes to the territory. These prospectors and miners rushing in have named many features, though rarely in print. Subsequently government explorers and surveyors have obtained these names from prospectors' stakes or by word of mouth and have published them. In this dictionary such names are, as far as practicable or known, accredited to the prospectors and miners.