Blue Hawaii Print for Elvis birthday
Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling in Love With You
December 31, 2017
Gale Storm
My Little Margie, Gale Storm, Dark Moon
January 4, 2018
John Wayne in North to Alaska

During this first era of rock and roll, America acquired two new states, Alaska and Hawaii. On January 3, 1959, Alaska became the 49th U.S. state. (Hawaii followed a few months later as the 50th.) To tell the nation a little about “the last frontier,” the film North to Alaska  was released in 1960. It was a romantic comedy starring John Wayne, Stewart Granger, Ernie Kovacs, Fabian, and Capucine. Set during gold rush days in Nome, 1900, the film has the men fighting for their claim and a girl, the fallen Angel.

The road to statehood for Alaska was a very long, heated battle; Alaskans had wanted it since the 1920s. Alaska’s vast natural resources have always been attractive. The Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Athabascans, Aleut, Inupiat and Yup’ik peoples came over the Bering Strait bridge more than 10,000 years ago. The Russians settled there from the 17th through the 19th century because of trade in sea otter furs. U.S. Secretary of State James Seward, in what was known as “Seward’s folly,” facilitated the purchase the land from the Russians in 1867. Many Americans went north during the gold rush from 1890 through 1900. Fishing, trapping, and mining were the big industries. Alaska was a U.S. Department, Military District, and Territory. Then there was the discovery of oil, and President Dwight Eisenhower clinched the deal.

If you are interested in a DVD of North to Alaska: North to Alaska

Johnny Horton sang “North to Alaska” for the opening titles of the film. Horton was a country and rockabilly singer, known for his story songs and historical ballads. Among them were “The Battle of New Orleans” and “Sink the Bismarck.”

Here are the lyrics to “North to Alaska” by Johnny Horton:

Way up North, North to Alaska
Way up North, North to Alaska
North to Alaska, go North, the rush is on
North to Alaska, go North, the rush is on

Big Sam left Seattle in the year of ninety-two
With George Pratt his partner and brother Billy too
They crossed the Yukon river and found the bonanza gold
Below that old white mountain
Just a little south-east of Nome
Sam crossed the Majestic mountains to the valleys far below
He talked to his team of huskies
As he mushed on through the snow
With the northen lights a-runnin’ wild
In the land of the midnight sun
Yes Sam McCord was a mighty man
In the year of nineteen-one

Where the river is windin’ big nuggets they’re findin’
North to Alaska, go North, the rush is on

Way up North, North to Alaska
Way up North, North to Alaska
North to Alaska, go North, the rush is on
North to Alaska, go North, the rush is on

George turned to Sam with his gold in his hand
Said Sam you’rea- lookin’ at a lonely, lonely man
I’d trade all the gold that’s buried in this land
For one small band of gold to place on sweet little Jenny’s hand
‘Cause a man needs a woman to love him all the time
Remember Sam a true love is so hard to find
I’d build for my Jenny a honeymoon home
Below that old white mountain
Just a little south-east of Nome
Where the river is windin’ big nuggets they’re findin’

North to Alaska, go North, the rush is on
North to Alaska, go North the rush is on
Way up North, North to Alaska
Way up North, North to Alaska…

If you like historical novels, James A. Michener’s Alaska is a good winter’s read at about 900 pages: Alaska: A Novel

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