Friday, July 17, 2009

What's In A Name: Turnagain

Take A Left, Then A Right, Then Turnagain...
Yes, you read correctly, Turnagain.  That is, Turnagain, Alaska.  Admittedly, it's not as creative as Dead Horse, Alaska, but it does make one think.  At least, it made me think about how it became known as Turnagain.  [I just couldn't pass it up.]

Mutiny on the Bounty
Ever heard of "Mutiny on the Bounty"?  Well, a William Bligh was the commanding officer of the British Royal Navy ship, "Bounty" on that mutinous day 28 Apr 1789.  However before this time, he served as James Cook's Sailing Master on Cook's third exploration for the Northwest Passageway in 1776.  They entered into what is now known as Cook's Inlet [so named after Cook by George Vancouver in 1794].  There were two bodies of water there that Bligh felt were probably just headwaters of rivers and not the much sought-after Northwest Passageway.  However, Cook sent Bligh and some men to check it out.  The first one [now known as Knik Arm] was indeed just the mouth of a river, which frustrated the explorers.  Cook then sent Bligh and some more men back out to check the second one.  Again, this body of water turned out to be the mouth of a second river.  In his frustration, Bligh named the river...Turnagain.  I would suppose that Bligh had a wee bit of a sense of humor.  Older maps have it listed as Turnagain River, but it eventually became Turnagain Arm [from the shape, maybe?].  Also the area on the mainland near Anchorage became known as Turnagain as well.

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Making People Want To Turnagain
Could Bligh have ever guessed that almost 200 years later that the river that he and his men named so haphazzardly and the surrounding area named after the river would be so devastatingly changed forever?  Something so horrific that it would make the survivors feel like turning 'round again and heading for safer ground?  Probably not.  How could he possibly predict that on Good Friday, 27 Mar 1964 at 5:36 P.M. the largest earthquake in U.S. and North American history would occur in the Anchorage Area, forever changing the landscape?  It registered between 8.4 & 8.6 on the Richter Scale, but was later upgraded to a 9.2, but no matter what the category, 131 people lost their lives due to the earthquake and the following tsunamis.  The hardest hit in the Anchorage area, by far, was Turnagain.  A portion of the community simply fell off the face of the earth.  Well, it seemed that way.  It actually slid into the inlet.

Roles In History
My Uncle Harry is Retired Air Force, and he and my Aunt Carole [my Dad's sister] were stationed in Anchorage, Alaska at the time of the Good Friday Earthquake.  Lucky for me, she's a stickler for documenting events.  Not only did she save a copy of the Anchorage Daily Times, Special Edition, "The Quake Story" dated Tuesday, 14 Apr 1964, but she took photos of the earthquake's aftermath, labelled each photograph, and sent them all to my Paw Paw in San Antonio, Texas.  When she passed away, my father ended up with them, and now they're mine.  Below are some designs I made for the photos.  My aunt and uncle had lived on Govt. Hill just north of downtown, and the Turnagain area is located just south of downtown along the coast.

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This just goes to show you how our family stories really do fit into history.  Sometimes our family members are the main players, and sometimes they are the spectators recording events as they happen.  No matter what role they have, though, the important thing to remember is that they had one.  They were there participating in history...

...participating in their family story... our family story.


The Mariner's Museum
Photos are part of the private collection of Caroline Pointer.
Photo Background Designs: "Northern Lights" by Caroline Pointer
"Northern Lights" Design Credits:
Photoshop Elements 7
"Beyond the Mist" Brush by Midnightstouch

1 comment:

  1. When I was in Alaska about 14 years ago. I went to Earthquake park. That is great that you have the newsprint from it.


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