The Matanuska Colony: The New Deal in Alaska
September 10, 2008 6:47 AM Subscribe
posted by merelyglib (33 comments total)
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The 'Dirty Thirties' saw farmers hit with the double-whammy of the Great Depression and the ecological disaster of the Dust bowl
"In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt offered 203 families from the hardest-hit areas of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan the chance to start fresh in a new land, in a fertile Alaskan valley with the melodic name Matanuska."
"It was heady, fine-sounding stuff on paper.
Picked from relief rolls in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, the prospective colonists knew their Promised Land was a wilderness, but the Government was going to turn the wilderness overnight into an Eden with running water, radios, a cinema. It was going to set each family up on fine 40-acre farms with every necessity, many a luxury, 30 years to pay." It didn't quite work out as well as they'd hoped.thirties' saw many farmers in the United States
Most of the Colonists spent the first year in tents. Fresh food shipped from the Lower 48 spoiled because it wasn't refrigerated, sharpeners arrived before there were axes to sharpen, rifles were in short supply
and when 24 carpenters arrived to build a school, hospital and permanent housing they found only four hammers.
67 families left within the first year and by 1939 fewer than 100 of the original Colonists remained.
A handful of farms
One business begun by the Colonists, state-run Matanuska Maid dairy closed it's doors last year
in spite of Governor Palin's
attempts to keep it open.