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Alaska Railroad Commission Townsite Lot Sales Volumes, 1915-1930

On February 2, 1912, President William Howard Taft sent a special message to Congress asking for government construction and ownership of an Alaskan railroad. The following August, a bill was passed by Congress which provided for a territorial legislature and also carried a rider authorizing the president to study and recommend Alaska railroad routes that would develop both the land and resources for the use of the people of the United States.

The Alaska Railroad Commission was appointed with findings to be reported to the President in December 1912. The result of their investigations into the options available to the federal government in the construction of a railroad were presented in January 1913 to the new president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson. An act was passed in March 1914 that empowered the president to locate and construct a railroad or railroads connecting at least one Pacific port with the interior rivers and one or more coal fields. The president could buy or lease any necessary private property, including rail lines, docks, terminals, telephones, and telegraphs.

President Wilson created the Alaskan Engineering Commission and appointed William C. Edes chairman and Frederick Mears and Thomas Riggs as member of the new commission. From 1914 to 1923 the Alaska Engineering Commission constructed and developed the U.S. Government Railroad. These townsite volumes are part of the records of the Alaskan Engineering Commission, now the Alaska Railroad Corporation, transferred from the National Archives and Records Administrations holdings in Anchorage, Alaska.

Page last updated 09/10/2018