They Moved the Whole Town
April 16, 2008 5:47 PM   Subscribe

The town of Valdez, Alaska is located in south central Alaska on the northeast tip of Prince William Sound. Incorporated since 1901, the community’s first century has been marked by a number of significant events the most notable of which are the 1964 Alaska Earthquake, being chosen as the terminus of the trans-Alaska Pipeline and the tragic 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.

Earlier this week Rafaelloello gave us a wonderful post about the Alaskan village of Whittier. The Alaskan town of Valdez has a history equally as interesting.

During the 1964 Alaska earthquake the North American plate released upward, displacing a huge volume of ocean water and causing a seismic wave, a tsunami, to travel outward. The wave traveled at an estimated 450 miles per hour in the deeper ocean in a long wave of almost imperceptible height.

At the shallow Valdez Inlet the wave reached a maximum height of nearly 200 feet. Further on, at the old town of Valdez, a 30 foot wall of water struck and demolished all structures. Twenty eight Valdez residents died when the tsunami crashed ashore. Valdez was later rebuilt at a higher elevation and further from the waterfront.

Valdez' distinguishing characteristics are the incomparable rugged beauty of its natural mountain ringed setting and its extremely high average annual snowfall of 360 inches (30 feet) the most of any community at sea level in North America. Valdez’s economy is based on oil, tourism, commercial fishing, shipping/transportation and city and state government.

Unfortunately, when most hear the word Valdez, they think oil spill.
posted by netbros (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I thought about putting together a post about the pipeline (given that last year was the 30th anniversary) but I never got around to it. I like the new Alaskacentric direction MetaFilter is heading in. (Thanks for this!)
posted by Nabubrush at 6:56 PM on April 16, 2008

When I hear the word Valdez, I think World Extreme Skiing Championships. That's why I wanna go there, anyway.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:32 PM on April 16, 2008

When I hear Valdez, I think Last Frontier Theatre Conference. So, they have skiing there, too? How about that.
posted by kyrademon at 2:50 AM on April 17, 2008

Motorcycling to Valdez.
posted by Eideteker at 5:08 AM on April 17, 2008

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