Historical Note

Scope and Content

Terms of Access

Terms of Use

Inventory   [ + ]

Subject Terms


Preliminary Guide to the Alaska Steamship Company Photograph Collection



Collection No.: PH0483
Creator: Alaska Steamship Company, creator
Title: Alaska Steamship Company photograph collection
Date Span: circa 1940s
Quantity: 13 photographic prints
30 stereo slides
Languages: Collection materials are in English.




Historical Note

The Alaskan shipping industry began to grow in the late 1800s with the expansion of fishing and cannery activities. As a result, there was a dramatic increase in the need for transportation of other products to and from the lower 48 states. In 1894, six men, recognizing this need, incorporated; they gathered $30,000 by selling 300 shares at $100 each, and then set about scouting for a ship to begin hauling. They found and purchased the Willapa, which could carry passengers as well as freight. Their timing could not have been better; soon after the Alaska Steamship Company (ASC) opened for business, Alaska began to experience major economic benefits resulting from the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. In addition to fish products, ASC began hauling mining equipment, dog sleds, cattle, and miscellaneous supplies.

The company began by servicing Southeast Alaska, running only between Skagway and Seattle. Another shipping company, the Northwest Steamship Company, had organized the northern route as a result of the Nome gold strike in 1900, servicing Valdez, Cook Inlet, and the Bering Sea ports. A third party, the Guggenheim Company, bought out both ASC and the Northern Steamship Co., keeping the ASC name. They expanded the fleet into 18 ships and expanded service to all Alaskan ports from Ketchikan to Kotzebue.

For the next quarter of a century, ASC relied on copper from the Kennecot mines, gold, and salmon for backhauls from northern cities to the lower 48 states. By 1938, the copper mine had closed and the gold rush had subsided. With backhauls now significantly reduced, the Alaskan shipping industry was severely impacted. In addition, the much relied-upon fishing industry was only seasonal. The one-way haul was one of the great problems of the Alaska run; the other problem was the weather. Ships were constantly threatened by fierce Alaskan weather patterns.

Eventually, the Kennecot Company acquired controlling interest from Guggenheim Company. In 1944, G.W. Skinner of Seattle purchased all interests and retained the management identified with the Alaska Steamship Company for the next several years.

The ASC joined the war effort in 1942, losing five ships in various campaigns. In 1953, they expanded into container service. The holds of the vessels were paved to accommodate fork lifts. New masts were engineered to lift massive vans. New generators were installed to provide power for van refers (refrigerated vans) and heater equipment. Containerization was recognized as the most significant development in ocean transport since the steam engine. There was less damage to freight, less pilfering, and labor costs were significantly reduced as there was no more piece by piece handling of cargo.

In 1954, the company ceased passenger operations due to high costs of labor and union standards. By then, ASC had established itself as a pioneer in containerization. At one point, the company pumped $11 million into the economy by employing dockworkers, ship workers, and stevedores, hauling freight, and operating ship and dock facilities. However, because of increased fuel and insurance costs, increased competition from barges, ferries, and tugboats, and continual union demands, the Alaska Steamship Company ceased operations in 1971.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of 13 mounted 16x20 black and white photographs depicting scenes in Alaska circa 1940 that were used by the Alaska Steamship Company as promotional materials. Also included are 30 color stereo slides to be used with "The Stereo Realist Viewer" (not included). These include scenes from the S.S.Aleutianand its trip through the Inside Passage to Alaska.

Terms of Access

The collection is open to the public.

Terms of Use

Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries for details.


Inventory

 
 Date
Photographs
1Sitka, St. Michael's Cathedral, bellcirca 1940s
2Sitka, Greek Orthodox Churchcirca 1940s
3Sitka, St. Michael's Cathedral, interiorcirca 1940s
4Two boys with fishcirca 1940s
5Alaska scenic viewcirca 1940s
6Chilkoot barrackscirca 1940s
7Glaciercirca 1940s
8Hunting lodge, two huskies, man and woman in front of log cabincirca 1940s
9Totemscirca 1940s
10Sitka panoramacirca 1940s
11Cordova panoramacirca 1940s
12Skagway panoramacirca 1940s
13Valdez panoramacirca 1940s

 
 Date
Slides
30 color stereo views
Grenville Channel, S.S.Aleutiancirca 1940s
Pier 42, Seattlecirca 1940s
Seymour Narrows, S.S.Aleutiancirca 1940s
Wrangell Narrows, S.S.Aleutiancirca 1940s
Passing Butedale on the Inside Passage, S.S. Aleutiancirca 1940s
Boat deck, S.S.Aleutiancirca 1940s
Sunset, Inside Passage at Johnstone Straitcirca 1940s
Bubble Room, Baranof Hotelcirca 1940s
Mendenhall Glacier near Juneaucirca 1940s
Night lunch, S.S.Aleutiancirca 1940s
Pier 42, Seattlecirca 1940s
Corner of Club room, S.S.Aleutiancirca 1940s
Sitka Main street and old Russian churchcirca 1940s
Graham Reach, Inside Passage, S.S.Aleutiancirca 1940s
Alaskan sunset near Wrangellcirca 1940s
Corner of Observation Room, S.S.Aleutiancirca 1940s
S.S.Alaskaat Valdezcirca 1940s
Mt. Fairweather nearing Cape Spencer, S.S. Alaskacirca 1940s
Chichagof Island, near Sitkacirca 1940s
Valdez Harborcirca 1940s
Chugach Range leaving Valdezcirca 1940s
"Sourdough Dinner," S.S.Denalicirca 1940s
Petersburg on Alaska's Inside Passagecirca 1940s
Comfort on deck S.S.Aleutiancirca 1940s
Anchorage Alaska's new metropoliscirca 1940s
Corner of Lounge, S.S.Aleutiancirca 1940s
Brady Glacier near Cape Spencercirca 1940s
Sailing day, S.S.Aleutiancirca 1940s

Subject Terms

Genre Headings:
Photographic prints.
Slides.
Last modified: March 27, 2016
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