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The History of Valdez, Alaska

    Valdez is located on the north shore of Port Valdez, a deep water fjord in Prince William Sound. It lies 305 road miles east of Anchorage, and 364 road miles south of Fairbanks. It is the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline. It lies at approximately 61 07' N Latitude, 146 16' W Longitude (Sec. 32, T008S, R006W, Copper River Meridian). The community is located in the Valdez Recording District. The area encompasses 219 sq. miles of land and 55 sq. miles of water.

    The Port of Valdez was named in 1790 by Don Salvador Fidalgo for the celebrated Spanish naval officer Antonio Valdes y Basan. Due to its excellent ice-free port, a town developed in 1898 as a debarkation point for men seeking a route to the Eagle Mining District and the Klondike gold fields. Valdez soon became the supply center of its own gold mining region, and incorporated as a City in 1901. Fort Liscum was established in 1900, and a sled and wagon road was constructed to Fort Egbert in Eagle by the U.S. Army. The Alaska Road Commission further developed the road for automobile travel to Fairbanks; it was completed by the early 1920s.

    A slide of unstable submerged land during the 1964 earthquake destroyed the original city waterfront, killing several residents. The community was rebuilt on a more stable bedrock foundation four miles to the west. During the 1970s, construction of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline terminal and other cargo transportation facilities brought rapid growth to Valdez. In March 1989 it was the center for the massive oil-spill cleanup after the Exxon Valdez disaster. In a few short days, the population of the town tripled.

    As a result of significant oil taxation revenues, the city now offers a variety of quality public services.

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History and map graphic used with permission from the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development