Happy Birthday to Seward

Seward small board harbor. Source: City of Seward website

Seward, the city named for the man who purchased Alaska for the U.S., turns one hundred years old today (Friday). The community on the Kenai Peninsula is noted for its beauty, its fishing and its rocking Fourth of July celebration. KSKA’s Ellen Lockyer spoke with some community leaders about the town and its centennial.

Dorothy Erbach has lived in Seward for 58 years. She says she never wanted to live anywhere else

“I met my husband at the University of Washington, and we moved back again in 1954, right after the polio epedemic, and Seward welcomed, as always, everybody with open arms, and we’ve lived here ever since and raised our family. ”

“The business opened up in 1915. My husband’s family opened up a grocery and men’s clothing store. And today, it is 80 percent women’s and 20 percent men’s and shoe store. We have customers off the cruise ships as well as from the Valley and the Kenai Peninusla. But we still have cruise ships, not as many as we used to. We used to have 100 or 120, now we are down to I think 57. But, we get a lot of rubber traffic. A lot of people drive in from other places in Alaska. And throughout the world.”

Seward may have lost state ferry service, but that doesn’t stop visitors from coming in from every place imaginable.

Patti Lindvill, the city librarian, says the town’s counting one hundred years from the earliest recorded incorporation.

“Seward was founded by John Blaine. And his whole reason for being here was to build the railroad into the Interior, and Seward become the gateway to Alaska. And he worked on it for four or five years, but he was not successful. And then later, I think in 1912 or 13, that the Alaska Company or something like that was successful in getting the railroad. ”

The Alaska Railroad remains one of the town’s economic drivers, along with fishing, tourism and maritime support services. David Seaward, (no relation to the city’s namesake ), has been mayor of the city only since October. But he’s proud of Seward’s eventful history

“We have really come a long ways from the Russians exploring this place, settling for gold, and from the Good Friday Earthquake. The people here have been really resilient, and today we are expecting great things. Of course this is the birthplace of our flag at the Jessie Lee Home. We have a rich heritage, we have a rich culture. We have a lot to offer, so come down to Seward!”

Seward’s assistant city manager Ron Long says the 100th year party started this week in the city council chambers, and will continue with special events throughout the year

“We had a little bit of a kick off party before last Tuesday’s Council meeting, where we had a cake cutting and dessert celebration. And at 6:30 we will be starting a city wide party. We will welcome everyone to come to the library basement. Our guests of honor will be our former and current mayors and Council members. We are trying to get as many together as we can. That’s quite a list of who’s who around Seward who we hope to have there to kick off the event.”

The community will wrap up it’s centennial celebration with a ribbon cutting on a new library and museum later this year.

Happy Birthday.

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APTI Reporter-Producer Ellen Lockyer started her radio career in the late 1980s, after a stint at bush Alaska weekly newspapers, the Copper Valley Views and the Cordova Times. When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Valdez Public Radio station KCHU needed a reporter, and Ellen picked up the microphone.
Since then, she has literally traveled the length of the state, from Attu to Eagle and from Barrow to Juneau, covering Alaska stories on the ground for the AK show, Alaska News Nightly, the Alaska Morning News and for Anchorage public radio station, KSKA
elockyer (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8446 | About Ellen

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