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The History of the Denali National Park

By Phineas Upham

Any trip to Alaska should include a short stay in Denali National Park. It is the ultimate source of nature for the enthusiast that is inside all of us, offering 6 million acres to explore. Along the way you’ll encounter vast forests, tundra at middle elevations, mountainous terrain including glaciers and rock faces, and plenty of snow.

The park attracts everyone from backpackers to cross country skiers and snowboarders, but 11,000 years before humans shredded snow they walked the Denali region. Sites just outside of the boundaries of the park confirm human settlements 8,000 years ago, but the park itself only contains about 84 sites itself.

The Teklanika River site is the oldest in the park, carbon dated to be somewhere around 7130 BP.

Preservation of the park began with Charles Alexander Sheldon, who wanted to preserve the Mount McKinley region back in 1906. He knew a battle in congress would lead to an outright loss, so he turned to the Alaskan delegate instead and worked to get his favor for the idea. He had the biological survey work up a suitable draft of the bill, even getting the approval of the state Game Committee to authenticate it.

When all the preparations were complete, and the appropriate environmental and hunting organizations appeased, Sheldon took the bill to the Alaskan delegate. With everything in order, James Wickersham gave it some deliberation and decided to introduce it. The bill was eventually passed in 1917, a full eleven years after Sheldon had first conceived the idea.

Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Twitter page.

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