Valdez Museum Celebrates 50 year Anniversary of New Valdez

Valdez, Alaska, September 12, 2017 – On March 27, 1964, Alaska experienced the largest-ever recorded earthquake in North America known as the Good Friday Earthquake. This event caused an underwater landslide that washed away the waterfront area of Valdez and resulted in the loss of 32 lives. As a result of the earthquake, the Valdez town site was deemed unsafe for habitation, causing the entire town to be relocated to its present, safer location approximately four miles away, a process completed over the next three years. On October 1, 1967, all services to the “Old Town” were severed and the building of the new town site complete. About sixty-eight residents and businesses relocated to the new site.

After the disaster Valdez residents realized that to assure the recovery program’s success the city had
to play a strong part in the formulation of policy. The success in the relocation efforts came from
strong and forward thinking leadership, including H. Bruce Woodford (Mayor), Max H. Wells
(Mayor), George H. Gilson (Mayor), Nels Kjelstad, James F. Bedingfield, Don. J. Williams, William
L. McIlroy, Robert Oligney, William Pettit, Don Teeters, D’Burl Teeters, Ralph Migliaccio, David
Vietti, Walter Day, Helen Long, William Stouder, Raymond Huddleston, Marvin Beals, Jack
Devault, Frank J. Minish, Harvey F. Stelling, Walter Farmer, Ed Walker, James Brayton, Herman
Londagin, L.H. Parker, Leora L. Rutledge, Orville G. Ness, and John “Slim” Giesler.

For more information, please contact the Valdez Museum at 907-835- 2764 or



1967 Relocation to new Valdez from Old Town complete

1967 Valdez Museum opens and “centennial building” constructed at 217 Egan Drive

1967 Oil discovered in Prudhoe Bay

1967 Post Office located in City Hall building (A-frame)

S.S. Manhattan unsuccessfully attempts marine delivery of Prudhoe Bay oil, prompting Trans Alaska Pipeline construction: 1968

1968 Auditorium of Southern Baptist Church purchased by Masons

1960s and 70s Eagles serves as movie theater in Valdez

1969 Valdez Breeze newspaper’s run ends

1969-76 Valdez-Copper Basin News

1969 Dayville purchased to create Alyeska Pipeline Terminal

1970-71 first pipe ship

1973 or 74 Coast Guard operations begins

1974 Begin construction of pipeline

1975-93 Valdez Vanguard newspaper

1975 Post office opens on Tatitlek Street

1975 First barrel of crude oil transported to Valdez via dogsled by Red Olson from Prudhoe Bay

1977 Alyeska Pipeline Terminal construction completed

1977 Pipeline open with oil flowing

1978 Prince William Sound College founded

1978 Valdez Fisheries established

1977? Valdez High School opens

1978-79 Valdez News newspaper publishes

1980 Terminal Radio, Inc. formed

1980 Rescue of the Dutch cruise ship Prinsendam

1981 Hermon Hutchens Elementary School dedicated and open

1981 Valdez Fisheries Development Association builds Solomon Gulch Hatchery (SGH)

1982 KVAK Radio first broadcasts

1982 Valdez Convention and Civic Center opens

1982 Valdez Container Terminal, the world’s first floating concrete container terminal put in service

1982 Valdez voted All America City for the second time

1984, ERA Aviation starts serving Valdez

1986 KCHU Radio makes first broadcast

1986 Valdez Container Terminal “silos” constructed

1989 – 92 Valdez Pioneer newspaper publishes

1989 Kelsey family concludes the running of Valdez Dock Company

1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

1989 Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council (RCAC) formed

1989 Alyeska’s Ship Escort Response Vessel System (SERVS) created

1989 First heli-skiing took place

1989-90 snowfall record of 568 inches in Valdez

1990 World Extreme Skiing Competition begins

1990 Oil Pollution Act of 1990 improving oil spill prevention, response planning and more

1990 Alyeska’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System (SERVS) formed

1992 Valdez Star begins publishing

1993 First annual Last Frontier Theater Conference

1993 Petro Star Valdez refinery completed, producing 60,000 barrels-per-day

1995 New Providence Valdez Medical Center opens

1994-98 Valdez Vanguard newspaper publishes

1996 KVAK Radio purchased by Laurie Prax

1997 Valdez Museum & Historical Archive Association, Inc. (VMHA), a private non-profit forms

1998 Maxine Whitney donates collection to PWSC establishing the Maxine and Jesse Whitney Museum

1999 Museum Annex opens to display Old Town model

2000 Last year of World Extreme Skiing Competition, WESC

2001 September 11th terrorist attacks result in stricter security for the Valdez Marine Terminal: public tours are discontinued, the entry gate is moved beyond sight of the Pipeline Workers’ Monument, and a marine security zone is enforced.

2001 Coast Guard operations greatly expand

2003 First annual May Day Fly-In

2003 U.S. Coast Guard transferred from U.S. Department of Transportation to U.S. Department of Homeland Security

2007 Valdez City Dock renamed John Thomas Kelsey Municipal Dock

2008 Valdez designated as “Tsunami Ready”

2008 Richardson Highway Rendezvous launches

2014 “Damalanche” heavy rains close the Richardson Highway and bring about avalanches

2013 Original George H. Gilson Middle School closes

2015 New George H. Gilson Middle School opens

2015 Groundbreaking and construction of new small boat harbor underway

2016 Allison Creek Hydroelectric Project construction completed and first kWh of commercial power generated

These are possible additions to the timeline.

  • Telecommunications: installation of fiber optic cable, first cell phone tower – I do not have dates for these, maybe contact GCI or Copper Valley Telephone?
  • Benchmark(s) for environmental recovery post-EVOS – don’t know what that would be, maybe check EVOS Trustee Council web site?

Other airlines:  Polar Air, Era, Cordova Air, Lepage’s Charter Service, Kennedy Charter Service

Court House opens

Valdez News becomes Valdez-Copper Basin News

Sale of Valdez-Copper Basin News

Black Gold subdivision opens; Mineral Creek Subdivision opens; Robe River Subdivision opens;  trailer courts every where; Nordic Subdivision

Valdez News- Valdez Star- Valdez Vanguard

Fly-In; Gold Rush; Silver Salmon Derby; Halibut weigh-in; Octoberfest; Road House dinners; College

Fund Valentines fund raiser dinner; 100 + 10 Club (Gold Rush);

Porcupine Street residents forced to move because of avalanche

Sports fans rescued from avalanche (Judy Londo and friends were trapped in a motor home under a snowslide.)

Valdez Medical Clinic opens

Valdez Mental Health Clinic opens

Valdez Banks: First Bank of Valdez, First National Bank of Anchorage, National Bank of Alaska, First Federal Savings & Loan; Wells Fargo; First National Bank of Alaska(just a new name, dropped Anchorage)

Opening of City Hall

Building three other fire stations.

New Library building

New agreement with the City Library and PWSCC – Consortium Library many thousands of volumes added.