Valdez, Alaska

Valdez, Alaska

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Valdez, Alaska
settlement_type = City
nickname =
motto =

imagesize = 250px


mapsize = 250px
map_caption = Location of Valdez, Alaska

mapsize1 =
map_caption1 =

pushpin_label_position = right
pushpin_mapsize = 300
pushpin_map_caption =

subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_name1 = Alaska
subdivision_type2 = Census Area
subdivision_name2 = Valdez-Cordova
government_footnotes =
government_type =
leader_title =
leader_name =
leader_title1 =
leader_name1 =
established_title =
established_date =

area_footnotes =
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 717.6
area_land_km2 = 574.9
area_water_km2 = 142.7
area_total_sq_mi = 277.1
area_land_sq_mi = 222.0
area_water_sq_mi = 55.1

population_as_of = 2000
population_footnotes =
population_total = 4036
population_density_km2 = 7.0
population_density_sq_mi = 18.2

timezone = Alaska (AKST)
utc_offset = -9
timezone_DST = AKDT
utc_offset_DST = -8
elevation_footnotes =
elevation_m = 30
elevation_ft = 98
latd = 61 |latm = 7 |lats = 51 |latNS = N
longd = 146 |longm = 20 |longs = 54 |longEW = W

postal_code_type =
postal_code = 99686
area_code = 907
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 02-82200
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = [Gnis3|1412465 1412465]
website =
footnotes =
Valdez (enPR2|văl-dēzʹ) is a city in Valdez-Cordova Census Area in the U.S. state of Alaska. According to 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 4,020.cite web | date = June 21 2006 | url = | title = Annual Estimates of the Population for All Incorporated Places in Alaska | format = CSV | work = 2005 Population Estimates | publisher = U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division | accessmonthday = November 9 | accessyear = 2006] The city is one of the most important ports in Alaska.


Valdez is a fishing port, both for commercial and sport fishing. Freight moves through Valdez bound for the interior of Alaska. Sightseeing of the marine life and glaciers, together with both deep-sea freshwater fishing, and heli skiing support a tourist industry in Valdez. The oil from the Trans-Alaska pipeline is loaded onto ships at the Valdez oil terminal. The natural setting for Valdez is one of the most beautiful on Earth, and it has been called the Switzerland of Alaska.

Alyeska Pipeline Service Company is one of the biggest employers in town but it started to move several positions to its headquarters in Anchorage since the town council passed a resolution charging a tax to all the tankers coming into the port to be loaded with oil. This has had an impact in the population size and the economy.

Valdez is connected to the interior of Alaska by the Richardson Highway, and is a port of call in the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system. Just north of Valdez on the highway is Thompson Pass, which has spectacular waterfalls and glaciers next to the highway. Thompson Pass is also known for treacherous driving conditions during the winter.

Valdez is also known as the "North Shore" of heli-skiing and is home to no less than five heli-ski operations.

Valdez is also home to several World Extreme Skiing Champs such as Dean Cummings of H2O Guides.


The port of Valdez was named in 1790 by the Spanish explorer Don Salvador Fidalgo after the Spanish naval officer Antonio Valdés y Basán. Because the Port of Valdez was an ice-free port, a town developed there in 1898. Some steamship companies promoted the Valdez Glacier Trail as a better way to reach the Klondike gold fields or as a better way to find new gold fields in Alaska than the route from Skagway. The prospectors who believed the promotion found that they had been deceived. The glacier trail was twice as long and steep as reported and many died attempting the crossing.

The Richardson Highway was built in 1899 and the early 1900s to connect Valdez to the interior of Alaska. In 1907 a shootout between two rival railroad companies ended Valdez’s hope to own the railroad line to the Kennicott Mine, one of the richest copper ore deposits on the continent. A half-completed tunnel marks the location of the right-of-way dispute in Keystone Canyon on the Richardson Highway. It was a summer-only highway until 1950, when it became a year-round route.

The city was destroyed in the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake. Liquefaction of the glacial silt that formed the city's foundation led to massive underwater landslides, causing a section of the city's shoreline to break off and sink into the sea. The underwater soil displacement caused a tsunami convert|30|ft|m high to slam the coast. In Valdez, 32 people lost their lives, most of them on the city dock, meeting a supply ship. The original town site was abandoned; the Army Corps of Engineers transported 60 surviving houses to firmer foundations, reestablishing the city at its present site.

From 1975-1977, the Trans-Alaska pipeline was built to carry oil from the Prudhoe Bay oil fields in northern Alaska to a terminal in Valdez, the nearest ice-free port, where the oil is loaded onto tanker ships for transport. The construction and operation of the pipeline and terminal boosted the economy of Valdez.

The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred as the oil tanker "Exxon Valdez" was leaving the terminal at Valdez full of oil. The spill occurred at Bligh Reef, about 40 km (25 miles) from Valdez. Although the oil did not reach Valdez, it destroyed much of the marine life in the surrounding area. The clean-up of the oil caused a short-term boost to the economy of Valdez but bankrupted the neighboring Chugach tribe, who had depended on the sea for their livelihood.

Geography and climate

Valdez is located at coor dms|61|7|51|N|146|20|54|W|.

Valdez is located near the head of a deep fjord in the northeast section of Prince William Sound in Alaska. It is surrounded by the Chugach Mountains, which are heavily glaciated. Valdez is the northernmost port in North America that is ice-free year-round. The northernmost point of the coastal Pacific temperate rain forest is in Valdez, on Blueberry Hill. [ [ "Prince William Sound / Copper River Ecosystem: Biological and Ecological Resources"] ]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 277.1 square miles (717.6 km²), of which, 222.0 square miles (574.9 km²) of it is land and 55.1 square miles (142.7 km²) of it (19.88%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 4,036 people, 1,494 households, and 1,042 families residing in the city. The population density was 18.2 people per square mile (7.0/km²). There were 1,645 housing units at an average density of 7.4/sq mi (2.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 83.62% White, 0.42% Black or African American, 7.19% Native American, 2.18% Asian, 0.45% Pacific Islander, 1.41% from other races, and 4.73% from two or more races. 3.96% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 1,494 households out of which 41.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.4% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.2% were non-families. 21.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 2.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the city the population was spread out with 29.7% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 33.2% from 25 to 44, 26.4% from 45 to 64, and 3.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 107.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 107.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $66,532, and the median income for a family was $74,188. Males had a median income of $56,932 versus $31,855 for females. The per capita income for the city was $27,341. About 5.0% of families and 6.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.3% of those under age 18 and 11.4% of those age 65 or over.

Media and culture

Despite its small size, Valdez was at one time home to two weekly newspapers, the "Valdez Star" and the "Valdez Vanguard". In 2004, the "Star" bought out the "Vanguard". Valdez is also home to radio broadcasters KCHU, KVAK, and KVAK-FM.

Valdez is also home to the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, hosted by the Prince William Sound Community College. The annual conference attracts playwrights and actors from around the United States.

cited Valdez as the birthplace of William Riker.

On Deadly Ground (1994) filmed at Worthington Glacier, Alaska. 30 miles outside of Valdez on Thompson Pass in the Chugach Mountains.

Notable People Involved With Valdez

*Athena, author, lived in Valdez and was a graduate of Valdez High School. []
*Donna Varnes, author, lived in Valdez and was a graduate of Prince William Sound Community College. []
*William Allen Egan, (1914 - 1984) Was the first governor of Alaska; born in Valdez. The William A. Egan Civic & Convention Center in Anchorage Alaska was named after Governor Egan.


External links

* [ Valdez] Official Website
* [] Visitor Information
* [] Valdez Museum & Historical Archive
* [] Maxine & Jesse Whitney Museum

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