"Snapshots at Statehood" captures local history

Posted: Wednesday, January 06, 2010

As the year long celebration of Alaska's becoming the 49th star of the field of blue draws to a close, fresh off the presses is a new book written by thirty local authors as a project of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula Historical Association. "In the spring of 2008, Borough Mayor John Williams asked the Historical Association to write a book commemorating statehood," says Brent Johnson, president of the Kenai Peninsula Historical Association. "The Williams administration also set up the AK 50 on the Kenai Committee to organize various programs for the state's 50th birthday. It was the book committee that conceived the unique 'snapshot' approach to focus on the statehood years 1958-59 and this book is the results of their efforts," Johnson told the Dispatch. According to Johnson the money needed for the project came from BP and Icicle Seafoods, "Since petroleum and salmon were and are so important to the economy, these donations were a perfect fit. When Dave Carey became Borough Mayor he also directed AK 50 funds to the project, but the thirty different writers who worked on this project didn't receive a dime of compensation but all donated their time, efforts and documents to compete the project," he said.

As the Historical Societies on the Peninsula began the work of gathering historical stories and documents the original concept of the book took on greater proportions, "In the beginning we thought if we all wrote a few pages it could be put on as an addendum to 'The Road We've Traveled' that was published earlier. Then we thought we could make something maybe one hundred pages big, then as we got writing we kept finding more and more old timers with great stories that we wanted to include so we ended up with 288 pages of great stories that we are proud to have captured," said Johnson.

Johnson writes in the Acknowledgement in Snapshots At Statehood, "We live in a land of accomplished people and were not shy in asking for their help. Territorial Commissioner and three-time Borough Mayor Stan Thompson agreed to write our Forward. Stan, now 88, holds the respect of any crowd and we are honored to have him in the book. Former Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman was raised in Ninilchik and returns to fish every summer. His help with the Ninilchik and Kasilof sections was appreciated. In the end, it is to the people who pioneered the Kenai Peninsula and Cook Inlet area to whom we owe the most. It was they who chose Alaska over 48 places already enjoying statehood. It was they who poured the sweat equity into the area that became the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Without them there would be neither a tale nor anyone to tell it." Snapshots At StatehoodA Focus on Communities That Became the Kenai Peninsula Borough, is available at River City Books in Soldotna, or at any of the Kenai Peninsula Historical Associations.

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