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Fort Liscum

1900 to 1923

Name of Ski Area: Fort Liscum
Location: Valdez, across Port Valdez to the south of the current Valdez townsite.  Two miles to the east of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline/ Alyeska Marine Terminal.  This location is the former site of Fort Liscum, which no longer exists.
Type of Area: Ski Trails
Dates of Operation: 1900 to 1923
Who Built It?: U.S. Army


Facilities: Fort Liscum, a U.S. Army outpost that supported 172 men.  Facilities included officers quarters, civilian quarters, a hospital, stables, storehouses, an office and a bakery. 
History: As the gold rush to Alaska gained momentum at the tail end of the 1890's, the U.S. Army arrived to help maintain order.   Posts were established at Fort Seward (Haines), Fort Liscum (Valdez), Fort Egbert (Eagle), Fort Gibbon (Tanana), Fort St. Michael (St. Michael), and Fort Davis (Nome).

Soldiers at these posts used skis for drills, patrols, recreation and for hunting for food.  A brief history of Fort Liscum, courtesy of the Valdez Alaska Convention and Visitors Bureau web site follows:

"The history of Valdez can be traced back to the establishment of Fort Liscum, which operated from 1900-1923, was located three miles from the head of Valdez Bay on the south shore.

This fort, under the command of Lt. W.R. Abercrombie, was established to serve dual purposes: 1) to maintain law and order in the growing gold-rush establishment; and 2) to establish a military road and telegraph line to the Alaskan interior.

On September 6, 1900, the post was named Fort Liscum in honor of Colonel Emerson H. Liscum, who was killed while leading his regiment at the battle of Tien Tsing in China on July 13, 1900.

The original site was the area first chosen for the post; however, it was declared unsuitable after one year due to overflowing summer streams. The fort was relocated to Ludington's Landing several miles south, on the shores of Port Valdez. The new site offered a safe anchorage and an abundant supply of water and wood.

172 men were stationed at Fort Liscum. Their accommodations included two single sets and one double set of officers' quarters, a hospital, an adjutant's office, several storehouses, civilian quarters, a stable, and a bakery. The buildings were made of wood, and each of the quarters was two stories in height.

After the completion of the telegraph construction in 1899 and the Trans-Alaska Military road to the interior in 1909, the need for the post began to decline. Fort Liscum was closed in 1923, and the facilities were abandoned in 1929. Later that same year, the buildings were purchased and the land was homesteaded by Andrew and Oma Belle Day, the founders of Dayville.

Today the Alyeska Marine Terminal (terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline) sits on the original site of Fort Liscum."

Sources of Information:

Ninth United States Infantry Regiment web site, Valdez Alaska Convention and Visitors Bureau web site, Dave Brann; Marcus R. Ritchie

~  PHOTOS  ~

Here is an early 1900's (pre-1913) shot of twelve soldiers (11 skiers and one toboganeer) at Fort Liscum.

[Photo credit: UAF Archives]

UAF_FortLiscum_1913_soldiers.jpg (104765 bytes)

A postcard image entitled: "Ski Club Fort Liscum, Alaska"

[Photo credit: Uunknown]


Here are two UAF Archive / Jim Oyler Collection pictures of Fort Liscum in the winter of 1913-14.  If you expand the picture on the left you can see ski tracks in the lower right corner.

[Photo credit left: Oyler / UAF Archives]

[Photo credit right: Oyler / UAF Archives]



Fort Liscum was a post for the Ninth United States Infantry Regiment, one of the oldest active units in the Army.  This regiment first came into existence in 1799. The Ninth has a very long history in Alaska.  They first arrived in Alaska in October 1867 when the sovereignty of Alaska was transferred from Russia to the United States.  Much information about the Ninth Infantry Regiment can be found on their web site.

The following pictures, taken in 1907 by Lt. John B. Schoeffel, were donated by his grandson and Vietnam Veteran Jay McGowan to the 9th Infantry "Manchu" web site, and appear here courtesy of the Manchu web site.

(click on any image to expand it)

(Left) Fort Liscum in 1907.

(Right) December 1907 snow accumulation.

[Photo credit: Jay McGowan, www.manchu.org]


Schoeffel_FortLiscum_1907_buildings.jpg (43719 bytes) Schoeffel_FortLiscum_1907_snow.jpg (48099 bytes)

(Left) A squad room in the barracks.

(Right) Manchus at Fort Liscum. Their motto: "Keep up the Fire".

[Photo credit: Jay McGowan, www.manchu.org]


Schoeffel_FortLiscum_1907_squadroom.jpg (59308 bytes) Schoeffel_FortLiscum_1907_manchus.jpg (103133 bytes)

(Left) 1909 - Private Grover (Tom) Hendrix Richie with a moose calf.  Gover used dog teams to maintain the telegraph line to Fort Egbert in Eagle, Alaska.

[Photo credit: Marcus R. Richie]


~  MAPS  ~

This large scale topo shows where Fort Lisum was located in relation to Valdez, south on the other side of Port Valdez.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_fortliscum.jpg (159876 bytes)

A zoomed in topo view shows the area around the Fort Liscum site.  The Trans-Alaska Pipeline Terminal is two miles to the west of the fort's site.

(click on this map to expand it)

topo_zoom_fortliscum.jpg (191188 bytes)

Research Correspondence 




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